Sunday, 4 November 2012

London Markets Tour: Kerb, Berwick, Real Food Festival

Working as I do over in Canary Wharf, I am in a street-food wasteland. There is one Wahaca van and a market once a month that is so full, crowd surfing above a sea of suits ad ties is the only way to get across it. In general, the only time I get tasty lunchtime treats are on weekends. Enough was enough and I took Friday off work in order to partake in a bit of a London tour and visit some of the major markets in London.

Kerb was the first on the hit list with some great traders due to be serving that day. The better half and I neglected breakfast in order to make the most room for the feast that awaited. Unfortunately a freak issue with power meant that when we arrived at 11:30am, we were told that it wouldn't be until 12 that we could eat. Safe to say I wasn't the most popular boyfriend right then.

Everything we ate was between £3-7. Overall it was a pricey day but then again most people don't eat like I do. For the experience, extra engagement with traders and friendliness of everyone we met, the value is superb.

We started off with  fiodena from the fabulous Gurmetti boys. A toasted and crispy foccacia with wafer thin wild ham and onion jam. Such a great sandwich on a cold day like this. The ham had bags of flavour and the fatty slivers that hung out the sides were gobbled without mercy. The onion jam was sweet and so moreish. Sharing was difficult. A photographer for the Evening Standard was taking pictures of London markets and yours truly may be in the paper next week receiving the below beauty from the boys from Parma and Turin (UPDATE: I wasn't :/).
Gurmetti boys

Next up: Bangra Burger. No burgers today but a tikka lamp rump wrap with slaw, minted peas, yogurt and chutney. The lamb was beautifully spiced and the chunks had that fatty, silky deliciousness. The only negatives really were that the salad was overly generous with the chilies and the slaw had some slightly large cabbage pieces that wouldn't bite in half. Overall though the size and complexity and layering of flavours was fantastic. Would love to see this guy do a burger.
Bangra Burger - Tikka lamb rump wrap

This was washed down with something I have been looking forward to trying for a long long time now. A yum bun. The bun was beautifully pillowy and light and yet retained a great taste. The pork belly slice was crispy and fatty but with a good fat to meat ratio. The addition of hoisin and cucumber and I was almost in heaven. It was genuinely one of the tastiest things I have eaten all year. I was almost in tears that I had so much left to try that day that I couldn't buy 10.
UPDATE: 03/2013 - Yum Bun are opening a residency in March at the Rotary Bar in Old Street till almost the end-of the year. Go check them out!
Yum Bun - Pork bun

We left Kerb and got the Northern Line down to Berwick Street Market. We were there to head to Pizza Pilgrims. The boys and their three wheeled vans are cooking up a storm, their knowledge honed during a tour of Italy. The pizzas are very different to those cooking at Franco Manca. The base is a more traditional yeast dough that puffs and crisps more. Crisp, blistered, it is arguably an easier eat than a Manca, something that requires less pontification over. The tomato base was a little overly sharp but the mozz and the nduja sausage were high quality and as tasty as anything else in London.
Nduja pizza

Apr├Ęs la pizza, we were off to the Real Food Festival behind the Royal Festival Hall. Somewhere I have always enjoyed going, I was excited to see how it has developed since last. 
We enjoyed walking around and looking at each trader, the RFF is one of the most comprehensive markets in London. We first got some pani puri from Horn Ok Please. A great team that produces Indian favourites. The mild puri were filled with the usual potato and chickpeas with yoghurt and pomegranate. The spicy had a flavoursome green chili sauce. Both were light and crispy although the spicy was slightly overly filled with liquid which made eating a little messy.

UPDATE 03/2013. I visited Horn OK again the other weekend and had one of everything on the menu. Dosa, samosa chaat and bhel puri. I've gotta say guys, for a BIG meat-eater these veggie-only guys converted me (for a day). I was planning on hitting up some burgers after this but I ended up just having seconds. Huge, punchy flavours. The tamarind in the bhel puri was a warm blanket on an unbelievably cold day. Londoners, you can make it tough on these veggie guys, but I couldn't recommend them enough. Plus its lent; you should be off the meat at least once a week! They are hitting a few new markets such as KERB nowadays so check their website to find them. And say hello, they are a lovely couple!
Pani puri

The hors d'oeurve finished, I wondered over to the hog roast because, well, how do I resist? The hog was delicious, the fennel seeds gave an aromatic punch that gave it another dimension that so many hog roasts lack. The apple sauce was sweet but retained a little sharpness that cut alongside the pork.
Roast hog sandwich

 The evening was finished with a visit to MEATmarket. One dead hippie and one black palace and overall we'd had a great foodie day.

Dead hippie

London has so much to offer and has come such a long way since even the turn of the millennium. I can only see markets like Kerb; that embraces social media, optimises their websites and gets a buzz among Londoners, taking off further.

On Saturday we made the trip to Marlybone High Street where Bleecker Street burger were trading for the day. I was so hungry and chatting away to the team that I forgot to take a picture of my double cheeseburger. They make the American style burger that we have become familiar with through Yanni and others. Its a seriously good burger with pink patties, American cheese and a special burger sauce. Great stuff and somewhere I seriously hope to visit again soon in less of a rush.

London Street Food is finally something to be proud of and something that I hope to make a bigger part of my life going forward.

Where: Kerb, behind King’s Cross station on Good's Way.
Berwick Street Market is on Berwick Street, closest station: Piccadilly Circus.
Real Food Festival: Behind Royal Festival Hall. Closest tube: Waterloo 

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