Tag Archives: street food

pancake of the week: street food

yes, it’s all the rage this week, so much so that it’s our first pancake of the week.

Bangkok street stall selling grilled bananas – try it at home with caramelised sugar

From the launch of KERBside street food on the 6th October to M&S’ modern Asian range, us Brits are going mad for food with a bit of gutter glamour.So what’s it all about?

Well, street food was widely found in Ancient Rome and China; the former for poor urban citizens with no kitchens while in the latter, servants would scurry down to the stalls to collect meals for their masters. African emmigrants in America sold coffee, biscuits, fruit and cakes while even in the Aztec marketplaces one could find a doughy gruel or grilled beef. Even the infamous French frie began it’s life as a street food speciality in 1840s Paris, while life in our own Victorian London saw tripe, pea soups and jellied eels; oh, weren’t we the foodie centre of the world?

Currently, 2.5 billion people eat street food every day. Whether it be for the cheap prices, the ethnicity and often quirky cuisines, or to meet the unstoppable rush of our locomotive lives, street food is one the rise; by 1970 in Thailand, it had displaced home-cooking. Today it is an artisan market; not the greasy chicken shop that is most-frequented by Brits, or even the burger van that does the midnight rounds, no, today, street food is innovative in its methods and ingredients but it’s also aspiring in quality.

So what’s the street serving up?

The great thing about street food is it’s global, fresh and forever-changing. In New York the business high-fliers swing from hot-dog stalls to jerk chicken to chunky Belgian waffles as easily as they navigate the morning rush. For something fiery and fishy you want to visit the Thai vendors while even in Hawaii you can see Japanese influences of the bento box in their plate lunch – rice, meat and macaroni salad.

For UK residents, here is a round up of  the filling for this week’s pancake.  There’s the Flying Burrito Brothers at Whitecross Street, Londonserving up slow cooked pork carnitas with full Latin-American flavours while at the Treacle Market, Macclesfield you can stock up on sweet and savoury scones by The Lonely Scone. At the Tobacco Market, Bristol Pieminister will be dishing out their mouth-watering selection of pies, including the new Free Ranger Pie – stuffed with chicken, ham hock, leek and cheese this is one you have to try! If London’s more your scene then why not get down to Eat Street, Kings Cross, to sample simple smoked delicacies from The Red Herring Smokehouse or for a real treat try You Doughnut’s original bite-sized doughtnuts with salted caramel sauce and toasted pecans – sweet, salty and suitably nutty!

Why is street food this week’s pancake?

Recently we’ve seen Britain embrace street-food. Autumn is a wonderful time to try out those spicy, sweet and warming international flavours, as well as savouring our own native dishes that street vendors often pull off with their own funky twists. We’re demanding little morsels of this and thin slices of that, no longer is the 3-course set meal in fashion; street food is sociable in a more casual and dynamic way. I’d even go so far as to say there’s something sexy about it, something so slightly dirty about those polystyrene trays, bursting burritos and juices that can’t be contained.

M&S’ modern Asian range attempts to capture what we love about street food with 26 dishes revolving around noodles, bento boxes, dim sum and curries; Waitrose has inspired it’s Good To Go range with flavours from Jamaica, Turkey, Vietnam and Morocco. Supermarkets are trying to capitalise not only the street food craze but on the pairings and combinations that street food vendors are throwing under our noses on every city corner we stumble around.

Are you a fan?

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eat your food KERBside

KERB: Opening Launch

If you’re looking for somewhere to go next Thursday then look no further.

KERB your excitement (sorry) and head down to the launch of the much-anticipated street food crew KERB. It’s taking place on Thursday 4th October from 6-10pm next to King’s Cross under the West Handyside Canopy.

From 1pm there’ll be a food van parade up King’s Boulevard or drop by in the evening for street classics from the likes of You Doughnut, Sorbitum Ices, Bhangra Burger and sput and roast spinning records from the Chicken Van to boot.

Links:

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way to jerk!: Mama’s Jerk Station, Camden

We’re back in Camden Market, this time scouring the West Yard of the Lock Market for something tasty for lunch.

Enter: Mama’s Jerk Station. This family run company specialises in Carribean street food and does it damn well. The short but spicy menu consists of dumpling soup, jerk salad boxes or wraps, all of which are available in a vegetarian variety using jerk bean cakes. Fried plantain is a great side addition and if you’re a real meat-eater then try the sumptuous jerk pork sausage too!

Typical of the Carribean-style jerk spice, Mama’s make fantastic use of hot peppers (scotch bonnet variety), both in the spice-rub on their chicken but also in a fiery hot pepper sauce. If the jerk spices are enough then you can always opt for a dollop of the tropical mayo; an exotic and refreshing drizzle is just what you need to put the fire in your belly out. The chicken is also grilled traditionally, with the added smoky flavour that Carribean jerk food is known for compared to the Jamaican variety, by using charcoal in the grilling drum. The marinade itself is primarily pimento (or allspice) and Scotch Bonnet Peppers but also includes garlic, thyme, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, scallions and salt.

I opted for a jerk chicken salad box. Crisp iceberg lettuce was piled into my polystyrene box, followed by hearty scoops of diced tomato and cucumber; this was surprisingly fresh and with a great bite. Next came grated carrot in Mama’s own coleslaw; light, laid-back on the mayonnaise/cream and with a really defined texture. Finally, the star of the show. Slabs of chicken were pulled off the grill for me and hacked up with a cleaver’s knife. Chunks were then tossed into my box with a drizzle of the hot pepper sauce. The chicken was juicy, mouth-wateringly so, and the spices caught in the back of my throat before raging down my insides. Delicious! The whole box had a freshness and vibrancy that is so often missing from street food. My servers were both friendly, determined to get passers-by to try their food, and wonderfully efficient.

Imagine all the above mentioned stuffed into a pillowy tortilla and you have a fat, saucy wrap bursting with a dose of the Carribean.

Mama’s jerk recipe has passed through the generations, first created in Jamaica as an offshoot of the country’s classic marinade. You can find Mama’s Jerk Station at:

  • West Yard, Camden Lock Market, Camden
  • Vibe Bar, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane
  • Portobello Road Market, Portobello Road (Saturdays only)

Get jerkin!

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to market, to market! a cry for street food lovers

Mexican: Camden Market, London

I love Camden Market. I love its vibrancy, how my scene thrives and its fantastic variety. The area of Camden itself, including the market, is a haven of culture and style for all scenes and for foodies, it is no different.

The markets are spotted with street food stalls from freshly squeezed orange juice to Polish hot dogs, slabs of Pizza to daintily decorated cupcakes and from Mexican faijtas to all-you-can eat Chinese’s.

Today, I share with you one of my favourite Mexican stalls. There are several in Camden that serve pretty much the same menu compromising burritos, fajitas and rice/chilli bowls. The prices, again, are pretty similar though the quality of food varies a little. This stall has always looked the freshest, the friendliest and, the determining factor, the most popular!

This particular stall can be found on Chalk Farm Road/Camden High Street, the far side of the bridge if you are approaching from Camden Town Tube Station and just before the railway bridge on the right hand side. It’s especially good because of its location; it is more open than the Lock Market stalls and often a little quieter and to boot, the scooter seats are pretty cool – if you can get a roughed up scooter by the canal, clutching your polystyrene box bursting with food, consider yourself triumphant!

My fajita was prepared by toasting a large tortilla on a smoking griddle. It was smeared with a tricolore of sour cream, tomato salsa and guacamole. The sauces looked a little wet consistency wise and didn’t hold together when I started eating but the taste was definitely there. Chicken and peppers, tossed in spicy seasoning, were piled in next before a sprinkle of cheese finished it off. The chicken was succulent, the peppers breaking from the wrap in thick strips. I asked for added jalapenos and these were sweet, hot and juicy – a great addition! You also have the option to add salad, beans and extra salsas if you so wish. Drinks were expensive though, despite the location, at £1 for a small can.

The lettuce was sweet and crunchy, despite sitting out waiting on the stall. The wrap was too full to pick up and eat – for me anyway – but was great to dig in to with a fork and useless plastic knife. The cheese was just enough to add a touch of flavour without undermining the spiciness or ruining the coolness of the sour cream. My one complaint would be that as you went further through the food, the flavours began to mingle and merge too much, making it bland and a little mushy.

For £5 it was a substantial portion and very filling. You have to consider the prices of Camden market in general and the street food is often a little more expensive than one would consider paying usually but it is a tourist hot-spot so don’t be put off – but don’t think higher prices mean better quality either. Make sure to have a good look around before choosing where to try.

Some of my other favourites:

  1. The freshly squeezed orange juice stall in Camden Lock Place- one of a couple of stalls, this one seems to have irregular hours but is always top on quality
  2. Paella by the canal in the West Yard of the Lock Market – served from a huge pan, this dish is colourful, sizzling and always makes me hungry
  3. Garlic bread from Benjamin’s Cafe just after the main Camden Market on your right hand side (if walking towards the bridge) – served in thick slices that make up in flavour what they lack in expected grease
  4. Cupcakes – for a sweet fix head to the square by the steps in the Stables Market (easiest accessed via the arch on Chalk Farm Road after the bridge) and choose from exquisitely decorated cupcakes with light icing. Expensive but delicious.

Keep checking back here for more street food reviews and stalls

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