There are some new doughnuts in town…..but they’re not just any doughnuts. Oh no, these are doughnuts from artisan doughnut chef (yes, that’s what the website says!) Paul Hurley, who has been making doughnuts since 1997. These are breaking away from the stereotype of fat American cops munching them police cars. These doughtnuts are not fried; they’re baked. Apparently, this means only 6 grams in a jam doughnut compared to an average of 17g of fat in their American counterparts.
That’s quite impressive – but what do they taste like? The dough is like a soft roll – almost like the texture you’d expect from an ice-bun. As a person who usually finds doughnuts unpleasantly heavy and chewy, this was perfect.
We also sampled their zebra cronut, which was far lighter than I expected – the chocolate cream was the perfect balance to the pastry. I’m still not what sure I make of cronuts but this was definitely one of the favourites I’ve tried.
Can you think of the problem of healthy doughnuts? Well, they’re in Shoreditch and when doughnuts are hip, they come at a price…
Yes, ladies and gentleman, London has finally got its act together so good quality street food is no longer found at the fringes of one’s dreams but has become an easily accessible actuality. Following this trend is the Urban Food Festival just off Shoreditch High Street. (You’ll have to be quick to catch it though – the last one of these gastronomic gauntlets is TONIGHT- Saturday October 12th.)
In the crowded space that is Euro Car Parks, street food trucks and stalls present a vast array of global cuisines from Korean to Mexican, from Argentinian to Indian, with a bar, some music and dash of street art thrown in for good measure. What’s brilliant about these kind of events is that they shift the rather heavy emphasis on alcohol in British culture to a more well-rounded evening where alcohol is somewhat secondary to the shift on food. Social points are earned by how many different dishes you manage to cram in, or whether you’re brave enough to sample the ‘gator balls’ from Geaux Cajun (not testicles as we’ve been assured). All in all, Urban Food Fest makes for a fun, foodie evening.
As for the food, one must expect THE trendiest dishes in town, given that the market is in Shoreditch. It was with little surprise, then, that we encountered croughnuts (croissant-doughnut hybrids) and ramen burgers that have recently spread across the pond from New York.
Here’s just a few of the amazing traders my (very hungry) dining partner and I got to try!
Ramen, the popular Japanese noodle dish, is very trendy in the West. Burgers are also a big food fad of the moment. So what should we do? COMBINE THEM.
The Galbi Brothers – who met whilst producing Gangnam Style parody, London Style – serve up ramen burgers (£6) with Korean BBQ maintated beef and, of course, kimchi. However, they’ve gone one step further and created a rice burger. Both are worth trying, as they offer very different textures and allow different flavours of the ingredients to come through. Personally, I felt the rice burger went best with the beef, but I think the ramen burger would go really well with a pork burger as food writer MiMi cooked up here.
Everyone likes pizza, but Streetzza takes it to a whole new level of total awesomeness. How about pizza fresh from a wood fire oven in the back of a converted horse box… covered in street art? Yes, that’s right! The Streetzza van is actually a green and pink monster truck featuring art from SweetToof and Ronzo. A feat of engineering, it took owner Hubertus a couple of months to build. Temperatures reach 500°C inside but the outside remains completely cool.
Hubertus has been making pizza for 10 years, inspired by his Corsican family. This means very thin, crispy pizza crust and a lot of deliciousness. After he finishes making pizza, he often throws a joint of pork into the oven and slow cooks it for an extra – and very tender – topping. There are plans for some amazing Christmas dinners at the end of this year, so keep your eyes peeled.
Inspired by helping Petra, founder of street market Kerb, with a chocolate van, Simon Luard saved up £10K to open his very own Mexican street van. Things didn’t quite go as expected on his first day of trading – he’d installed a chargrill that led to smoke so thick that people tried to call the fire brigade! Fortunately, he didn’t ruin the van or his lungs as, six years on, Luardos is a bit of a Mexican street food legend on the London scene. Expect dangerously lush burritos. Muy rico indeed.
I’m having a love affair with their brownies. The salted caramel brownies are so gooey and rich that I practically drank them out of the paper bag and I am shuddering with pleasure just from the memory. For something really unusual, try their Lemon Meringue Blondies.
The sweet treats from The Crumbery will also change your life. Vincent Josse is a French trained pastry chef and thrives on the creativity that The Crumbery provides. There macaroons are otherworldly. How exciting can macaroons be, you might ask. The answer is very, very exciting. How about Lychee, Raspberry and Rose? Or Peanut Butter and Jelly? Or Cream Cheese and Rosewater? I hear a Wasabi and Grapefruit is in the pipeline too! The flavours are beautifully executed as is the presentation; they are truly works of art.
The Crumbery began with making artisan chocolates before expanding. Currently based in Kent, they’re hoping to open a store in London very soon. They’re super-hip too as they have their version of cronuts – Crumbnuts. The pastry/dough is, as would be expected, amazingly light.
Tom likes disco and burgers, so you’re guaranteed two things when you visit Burger Bear Tom: music and some really good burgers. What’s more, he has concocted a sweet, morerish bacon jam that is really worth ordering and that you can also take home for £5 a jar. Not only are the burgers juicy and the condiments well-balanced, but ordering can be a lot of fun. Ask for Grizzly Bear. Or an Angry Bear. Or ask for a Greedy Bear (double patty) and make it Angry with the Ribman’s famous Holy Fuck sauce.
Although London Fashion Week might have been gobbling up media attention, London Design Festival has had some spectacular installations and displays throughout the city. Designers of everything from furniture to shoes have been showcasing their wares. Of course, I’m particularly interested in a very specific kind of design – the kind that involves food or drink.
US-based design firm Teroforma have created whisky stones – stylish soapstone blocks – used to keep your drink cool without the diluting effects of ice. This is a genius idea, which should not just be used for whisky but for all drinks that are served chilled. There is nothing worse than watery dregs.
To promote their innovation, Teroforma were holding a week-long festival ‘Colonial Common’ in Old Shoreditch Station with a different restaurant catering each day. I went along on the Tuesday to find two immensely over-crowded rooms, a live band and a lot of whisky. It’s just a shame that none of the drinks being served that evening were demonstrating the whisky stone, but I guess they would have been stolen fairly quickly.
I sampled Jura Origin whisky, aged 10 years. The assistant advised us to keep it in our mouth one second for every year it has aged, which led to 10 seconds of unpleasantness and a numb mouth. However, the Origin was much smoother than the Supserstition, a mix of a 13-year old and a 21-year old whisky, with 13% peated malt. Keeping this in my mouth was impossible and I choked in the face of the assistant, who looked at me with concern. Undeterred, I decided to ‘misread’ the ankh symbol on the bottle as one for ‘female’. “Why does it have the female sign on it? Does it help you get lucky with women?” I asked. He wasn’t entirely sure how to respond to that.
The real stars of the evening were Beard to Tail. They’re on my list of places I’ve yet to review but to summarise briefly, my friends, family and I are all having a love affair with their pulled pork sliders. They are so rich, so intense and oh so good. This is thanks to the Head Chef, the awesome Dan Thrippleton, who has concocted an amazing sauce that includes sriracha, orange juice and caraway seeds. These absolutely *must* be tried. If you’re ever in Shoreditch at lunchtime, you can get two sliders and a side of fries for £6.50. Don’t miss out.
As well as the fantastic food, Beard to Tail’s Pete Lewis was mixing up whisky cocktails. Now, as above, you’ve probably guess I’m not a massive whisky fan, but I can tell you that the ‘Stoned Immaculate’ had me immaculately stoned…or something. It was phenomenal! Check out the ingredients below. I have been giggling over ‘Noilly Prat‘ for quite some time – apparently it’s a brand of Vermouth from France.
As my friend and I strolled through the room, we heard heaps of praise for both the sliders and the stoned immaculate cocktail. Indeed, the cocktails were so popular that Pete ran out and I really regretted not getting a second one sooner. However, on finding the photo below, I’m really grateful I just had the one.
I’ll definitely be heading back to Beard to Tail for pulled pork and the Stoned Immaculate cocktail. You should head there too.
I’m a little slow off the mark, but I finally got round to visiting the amazing street food vendors, Yum Bun, in their new home – a take-out shop off Old Street roundabout.
Yum Bun are regulars at street food markets like Kerb, so you might already be familiar with their unbelievably delicious ‘pillow-soft’ steamed buns filled with Chinese and Japanese-inspired flavours. The team are taking break from the market scene in order to vastly improve lunch prospects in the Old Street area by setting up a take-out shop. As well as selling buns individually (£3.50 each or 2 for £6), they also offer a £7.50 bento box containing two buns, two veggie gyoza dumplings and salad, served with a cup of miso soup.
I got the classic belly pork with hoi sin sauce, cucumber and spring onions – and its tender sweetness was pure bliss.
Yum Bun have branched out and now offer mushroom, chicken, beef and salmon. I tried the braised ox cheek with coriander and peanuts, which was also tasty, but didn’t quite reach the ecstasy levels of the pork classic.
The veggie gyoza were great and the salad was fresh and crisp. One small point – the miso soup definitely needed to be stronger.
I cannot wait to stop by again. The new flavours are a challenge – gotta try ‘em all! Anyone sampled the others? Would love to hear your opinions.
Anyway, get yourself to Yum Bun ASAP. Apparently you can take your bento box next door into the long-term pop-up Rotary Bar and Diner (which I reviewed here)…. or you can end up eating it in a graveyard like I did.
Website: http://www.yumbun.co.uk/ (I think it’s a super-cute website – seriously have a look) Where: 31 Featherstone Street, EC1Y 2BJ When: Lunch Monday to Friday 11.30am – 2.30pm; Thursday to Saturday, 5pm – 10pm
Pop-ups are all the rage at the moment and are definitely expanding their definition. Forget a temporary shop for two-weeks – Rotary Bar & Diner are open for a full 10 months. And when I found out that they would be offering meaty things with 25% off for their soft opening, I couldn’t resist a trip.
Capitalising on the notion of “pop-up” and the general dilapidated-cum-trendy feel of Shoreditch, Rotary Bar & Diner is contains a variety of styles and patterns, high and low diner-style tables and pots of mismatched cutlery.
Our waitress was incredibly friendly and relaxed, and was evidently learning on the job as she explained the menu to us.
The menu offers buns and barbecued meat, as well as a range of choices form the grill. We both took ribeyes (£20 for 300g) with the ‘house sauce’ – a green peppercorn sauce. The food arrived incredibly promptly and, although it served on an ugly plate and in a manner that made me think of dodgy school canteens, the giant ribeye steak boldly sitting in the middle dispelled this notion. After all, no canteen serves steak.
My main concern when presented with this was not “How am I going to eat it all?” but “How am I going to eat tonight when I’m going to a potluck party tonight and it’s already past 3pm?!” Steak always comes first, however.
I have very high steak expectations but I was very pleased with the beast before me. First of all – and always a good sign – my steak was cooked medium-rare, just as I asked. It was also fairly tender – probably 7 on a scale from 1 (not tender) to 10 (very tender) – and it tasted properly steaky and flavourful, like a good quality piece of meat should. The sauce was slightly sweet and really quite delicious. A minor point – I think the steak could have done with some more seasoning because when I had a mouthful without sauce, I wanted to add some salt and pepper.
However, my tastebuds might have been biased – or rather, obliterated – by the dripping cooked chips, which were so over-salted that my companion and I ended up trying to scrape the salt off them!
The chips themselves were tasty and crispy but our mouths were burning by the end of the meal. However, our waitress was wonderfully receptive to my comments, explaining that they were keen for lots of feedback. I hope they’ve fixed this problem by now.
We couldn’t say no to salted milk chocolate ‘pudding cup’ (£5) – a kind of rich and dense chocolate mousse. I had the salted caramel peanuts for a topping, which again overdid the salt! I’m also more of a dark chocolate fan.
My friend got crushed Oreos which provided a bit of relief from the salt. Yum.
Rotary Bar & Diner 4/5 – A few creases to iron out, but go for real comfort food – delicious, good quality meat.
Food 4/5 – Stop with the salt! But otherwise, very good.
Service 5/5 – Had a laugh with our waitress. She was very attentive.
Value 4/5 – For the size and quality, I have no complaints.
Atmosphere 3/5 – Um, dining at 3.30pm on a Thursday during a soft opening wasn’t the best time to determine this. But it felt very chilled out.
I was sitting on a picnic bench in a grotty yard in Shoreditch, surrounded by the smells, sights and sounds of street food, shovelling lunch into my mouth… when there was an announcement over a PA system.
“Thanks for coming today! In case you’ve missed it, we’re here to celebrate the launch of a new app, HitMeUp!”
I paused and wiped my fingers. Yes, I had missed that. I ran backwards through my memories and took in my surroundings. No, it wasn’t for want of publicity on their part; I was just far too food-obsessed. I was there for EatMeUp and had totally neglected its promotional purpose.
HitMeUp is a great concept – it allows users to find local businesses and events happening near them, right now. It was launched in Shoreditch (where else?) in November, and has now gone London-wide, undoubtedly with ambitions to conquer the world.
I would espouse all its virtues, except for the fact that I still live in the dark ages where a Nokia brick delivers me messages. And this is a food blog, so I’ll move on to that… 🙂
A variety of street food traders had squeezed their way into this yard to serve up all kinds of greasy and sticky delights. An informal burger competition was taking place so at least 5 different burgers were on offer.
My friend, enticed by the breakfast offerings from Original Fry Up, got an English muffin with burger, bacon and an egg.
Another friend, however, rejected beef and got a vennison burger from the Wild Game Company and wasn’t disappointed. Flavoursome and filling, he highly recommended it (“And he’s normally very crticial, so if he says it’s good, it’s good!” his girlfriend added). It’s a shame that the beef lard chips were a little too crispy to be enjoyable.
For me, the choice was fairly simple. I had seen this juicy lamb on the grill on my way in and hearts had popped out of my eyes.
Then I realised it was served by Bhangra Burger and I had heard very good things about them indeed. The wrap is coated in a yoghurt sauce that is similar to raita, and then a chilli sauce is smeared on top. Salad and fried spiced cabbage is added, and this is topped off with mouthwateringly succulent lamb. My only criticism is that my wrap defnitely needed more lamb. And my only warning is “Beware! This is hot!” – as in, it’s going to burn your mouth off. But I asked nicely for extra yoghurt and the man kindly obliged.
Also on offer was a fish masala wrap. (We did ask what fish it was but there was some kind of misunderstanding for we were told, “Masala fish.”)
For any veggies, Horn OK Please were offering boxes veggie samosas and chickpea curry, garnished with pomegranate and coriander. My friend reported it was very tasty, but sadly it wasn’t properly heated, which was not terribly appealing in the foggy-breath temperatures of Saturday.
To add to our mains, we ordered some rosemary fries for £2.50 from Street Kitchen. These were addictive by virtue of their saltiness yet we were completely unable to detect even the faintest hint of rosemary, despite the visible small, green specks.
I actually spent most of the festival in a dilemma as to whether to visit the Joint, which were advertising 5hr slow roasted, pulled pork (£6) or a BBQ chicken and candied bacon burger (£6). In the end, I had to save myself for the Chocolate Festival at Southbank (post coming soon) but I’ve got my eye on this trader…
Sometimes life throws people together in unexpected ways. Or maybe the world’s just too small. Whatever your perspective, I recently stumbled into the path of someone I hadn’t seen in ten years.
At school, I was a language fanatic, if a poorly-skilled one. I studied French, German, Spanish and Latin in my lunchtimes for good measure (or good geekery). I did a French and German exchange. My French penfriend and I kept in touch. Last year, I went to her wedding.
My German penfriend and I got on very well. But I did a useless job at staying in touch, something which I always regretted but made no move to rectify.
Imagine my surprise when I found a Facebook request from her on a Sunday morning. Scanning her profile, I noticed the same university as mine listed. Then I found her message, which went along the lines of “OMG It’s been years! I found you through our accommodation Facebook page – we’re living in the same building!”
If not for my post on Facebook about wanting to dress up for the James Bond movie, we might have passed the whole year never having met (over 350 live in our accommodation block). As it happened, we met that same day in the stairwell.
Time for a catch-up. Time for cake. Time for hot chocolate.
I am on a quest to find the best hot chocolate in London. First stop…
It opened in 2011 and has built itself a reputation as a trendy place to get coffee. It was certainly packed out on a Saturday afternoon and could really benefit from a larger seating area. The chairs aren’t comfy, but the bustling atmosphere meant we could happily sit there for 4.5 hours of updating each other on 10 years of life.
Organisationally, the café loses a few marks. When we ordered our cakes, we were told, “All the plates are dirty, so would you mind having a take-away box?” Coordinating the washing up is not rocket science and should be second nature if you work in a café! Plus at 2pm on a Saturday there was no sign of the extensive pastry and sandwich menu splashed tastily across their website, but rather there were a few sad-looking beef bagels. And nothing else savoury. As a result, my friend and I had cake for lunch.
Now, I must confess I’m not a big coffee drinker and I was on my hot chocolate mission. But my friend thoroughly enjoyed her cappuccino, which came complete with heart decoration and her mystery berry cake was pretty scrummy too (“It tastes better than it looks!”)
The brownie was not as gooey as I normally like, but it was extremely dense and chocolate-y, so it got a stamp of approval. According to their website, it’s not just any brownie, it’s a Valrhona chocolate brownie. But as I’ve never had Valrhona chocolate, I can’t really validate these claims. (Anyone know anything about Valrhona chocolate?!)
As for the hot chocolate, it was weak, insipid and more milky than chocolatey. It wasn’t too sweet but it wasn’t memorable. And £2.50 for a small cup of poor quality contents?