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Food Festivals

One of the things I loved most about the Street Food Festival at the weekend wasn’t just the vast array of foods on offer but also the combination of this with the great drinks producers also selling their wares. There were smoothies and juices and, of course, some alcohol-based treats such as locally brewed beer and English sparkling wine.  This, combined with the seating area in the middle gave the event a real festival atmosphere, with everyone ignoring the grey clouds and making the most of their extra long weekend.

I make  no secret of the fact that one of my other great loves in life is red wine and although I was initially wary, I made a great new discovery while at the festival. Wines of Uruguay had a tasting stall, showcasing the delicious wine that is coming out of this South American country, which isn’t usually recognised as a great wine producer. In fact, the wineries in Uruguay are still small and family-run; you won’t find any mass-produced wine from the area and it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to pick it up in the supermarket.

I’ll leave it to you to read up the rest of the details if this takes your fancy (http://www.winesofuruguay.co.uk/) but what I can vouch for is that the all three wines I tasted were delicious, ranging from a heavy, oaky red that would perfectly compliment a steak to a much lighter blend that can easily be drunk in volume on it’s own…not that you’d ever catch me doing such a thing, of course! If you ever get the chance to have a taste of some wine from Uruguay, I highly reccommend it.

Moving back on to the food, I managed to devour one more savoury treat, which was a colourful Bruschetta with the addition of some chilli paste from Breadtree. (http://www.breadtree.co.uk/) Their stall easily took the prize for one of the most visually attractive, with rows of bruschetta lined up ready to be eaten. Obviously in the mood for spice that day, I opted to add some chilli paste to mine for an extra 50p and you definitely can’t say they conned us out of value for money on the paste. In fact, although the bruschetta itself was flavoursome, just the right mix of the crunchy bread and the sweet, fresh tomatoes, the y were slightly over-generous on the paste and the heat of the chilli was overpowering. I’m certainly not afraid of a good bit of spice and the paste tasted great but there was so much of it that I found myself trying to scrape some of it off, to stop my mouth from burning quite so intensely.  Nonetheless, if I could have afforded it, I’d definitely have been in the market for some of their chili paste but at £6 a jar, sadly it wasn’t to be this time. You can find Breadtree at the Real Food Festival on the Southbank every weekend, so if you’re looking for some great pastes to stock your cupboards with, they are definitely worth paying a visit.

Of course, that just left room for something sweet and there were certainly plenty of options. As a child, we used to regularly go on holiday to Brittany (home of the crepe, for those that haven’t been lucky enough to go for a visit) and so the second I saw Creperie Nicolas ( http://www.creperie-nicolas.com/) and their beautiful blue Citroen van, my mind was made up. Being a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to my crepes, I opted for the classic Butter and Sugar option and it was everything I’d hoped for; crispy on the edges, lovely and soft in the middle with just the right amount of butter and sugar to take me straight back to Brittany. It was also great to see a crepe stall using traditional recipies, with buckwheat flour for their savoury galettes and the traditional vanilla flavour batter for the sweet treats. I wasn’t the only one appreciating the treats from Creperie Nicolas, the queue was one of the longest at the festival and quite rightly so.

I had a great day at the festival and left feeling enthused and happy, if very full! I saw so many other fantastic looking stalls to look out for at future events or dotted around London- even if you don’t get to try a full dish of everything, a full festival like this gives a great opportunity to see what a wide range of dishes are available on the streets of London.

You can find Creperie Nicolas on Twitter: @creperienicolas

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It seems quite fitting that the first post on the blog features one of the most exciting festivals of the year for street food in the capital; The London Street Food Festival.  In fact, it was this festival that has inspired me to take my fascination for food to another level and start to blog about it so it seems a great place to start.

The festival has been running behind the Southbank Centre for the entire Jubilee weekend, offering tourists and Londoners alike the opportunity to sample some of the best street food that we have to offer; there was everything from strudel to curry and from brilliant burgers to octopus balls to sample and one of the biggest challenges was deciding which stalls to try. Having done a quick bit of research online beforehand, some of the highest praise seemed to be coming in for Anna Mae’s Southern Street Food, who had a huge pan of their flagship Mac’n’Cheese on the go. (http://www.anna-maes.co.uk/) I couldn’t resist such tasty comfort food however, I did decide to spice things up a bit by opting for ‘The Spicy Juan;’ Anna Mae’s flagship mac’n’cheese with the addition of jalepenos, paprika, sour cream and coriander.

Although the Mac’n’Cheese was certainly tasty and had a good consistency, I have to admit I found it a little disappointing, as it wasn’t as cheesy as I was hoping it would be. I did find however that once we stepped away from the main market area and perched on some steps to eat, the flavours became much clearer- sometimes I think at these events, the overpoweringly good smell of grilling meat can take away from the taste of some of the more subtle flavours available. However, the macaroni cheese could definitely have done with a little more flavour and seasoning. The spice coming through from the flavoursome jalepenos definitely packed a punch but the toppings balanced each other out well so it’s a shame the flagship Mac’n’Cheese didn’t have a slightly stronger cheese flavour as it has the potential to be an exceptional meal.  I’ve heard great things about Anna Mae’s pulled pork however, so I’ll definitely be giving that a go when I get the chance.

While my first choice was slightly disappointing, the  Label Anglais chicken wings and salad from S J Frederick certainly made up for it. (http://www.sjfrederick.co.uk/) These special breed of chickens are normally sold to some of the country’s top chefs however, if you ever get the opportunity to try some of their chicken from their street food stall, make sure you do. Normally, I wouldn’t get particularly excited about a plate of chicken wings and salad however, the slightly spicy marinade on the wings, succulent chicken and really well balanced accompniments of coleslaw, potato salad and fresh salad made this a must-have dish for me.    We also were given a taster of their chicken sausage, which was equally delicious, it’s definitely a stall to look out for whenever you get the chance.

It’s lucky we were sharing the food between two as the portion was very generous and it could easily have been all I managed to eat, so it’s great value for a fiver. But, as it was, I couldn’t resist a few little snacks from elsewhere which I’ll write up in Part 2 of the London Street Food Festival, coming to Eats of London very soon.

You can find these street food vendors of Twitter, so look out for them coming to a spot near you: @Anna_Maes & @LabelAnglais