Wednesday, 16 April 2014

London (& Leeds) Street Food: Rola Wala

Now that the sun is out in London street food collective KERB has started popping up around London (you can find them at Canary Wharf, UCL, the Gherkin, the Southbank Centre and King's Cross), and my favourite is the King's Cross residency in Granary Square as all I have to do to get there from my London base is to grab a good book and hop on the Hammersmith & City line (or, if I'm coming from Canterbury just walk straight off the train). I've been visiting a fair bit with my camera, and while I did originally plan to do one big feature showcasing several vendors (that still may happen) today I wanted to tell you about a fantastic Indian wrap I had from Rola Wala, because this month they are popping up at Trinity Kitchen's indoor street food collective in Leeds, so non-Londoners have a chance to get a slice of the action for a change, too! 
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Regular readers will know that my love for Indian food is very new, and in the kitchen I'm still pretty shaky. I have not yet produced a curry that I am actually happy with. However, out of the house I'm diving head first into new flavours, culminating last month with a massive lunchtime spread at Dishoom and this rather awesome street food naan wrap. Think incredible curried meats (they serve Coriander Chicken Tikka, Venison Vindaloo, BBQ Lamb Rogan Josh, Chilli Paneer, South Indian Omelette and my filling of choice, Goan Pulled Pork) topped off with fresh and crispy garnishes and mouthwatering chutneys. This is all wrapped up in a warm and toasty naan. It is all fresh to order, and, as is obvious from these pictures a joy to watch them make, too!
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So my verdict? Apart from the fact it was so juicy I had to take care not to drip all over my clothing (I'd learnt during a previous week to take tissues in my bag to KERB) it was spicy (but too much) had some lovely crunch, and a great balance of flavours. It also made for a really filling lunch too, sitting out there on the square in the sun, watching the fountains and reading the omelette chapter of Mastering The Art of French Cookery.

So, which street food vendors around London this coming Summer street food season can I recommend? Well, I've always been a massive fan of Big Apple Hot Dogs, and last year at Street Feast Europe I fell hard for Bao London's steamed buns. I'm also putting together a feature when I have time to shoot some more photos on Kimchinary, the incredible Korean Barbecue Burrito concept that has me feeling so many amazing fusion foodie things. As far as what I'd like to try this Summer, I've been eyeing up Yum Bun, What The Dickens, Crabbieshack, Ice Kitchen, Fundi Pizza, and I still can't believe that I've never had a Bleeker St. Burger

Monday, 14 April 2014

Recipe: Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado Chopped Salad with Homemade Skinny Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Something I discovered talking to people when I was living over there, the way us Brits make our salads baffle a lot of Americans. What it really comes down to is tearing versus chopping. English salads, on the whole tend to consist of leaves that have been artfully torn but are still quite large, and Americans chop their leaves, which has the wonderful by-product of everything in your bowl being the same size so you get good balanced bites of everything. Even bagged lettuce leaves have this subtle difference, between the bags I buy here and I used to buy at Trader Joe's. Needless to say, I feel the American way ought to be adopted by all. 
Now, I know BLT salad bowls are something that is rather done on the internet a lot, but I felt that I just had to share my version with you all because I have found it has been a really filling lunch recently. I add cubes of ripe avocado (avocado and bacon are a match made in heaven), I cook my bacon the crispy American way, and I've formulated my own version of the classic American Buttermilk Ranch Dressing to be lighter but still totally delicious. Another thing that is awesome about the buttermilk dressing? Leftover buttermilk. A hazard of listening to almost nothing but Country music all day is I never pass up the excuse to bake Southern Biscuits. 
I find using a gem lettuce per person works well. I know it seems really obvious, but to create the optimum chopped salad I find the best way is to split it down the middle lengthways then cut each half into centimetre slices. Don't cut all the way to the bottom as it is just white.
All the measurements here are to serve one person, but the ranch dressing recipe makes extra, so you have enough to either use over the next few days, use the same measurements to make a whole load of salads, or to dip crudities into for a mid afternoon snack.

  • 2 tbsp Light Mayonnaise 
  • 1 tbsp Total 0% Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Very Small Garlic Clove, crushed
  • Large Pinch Sea Salt
  • 2 tsp Finely Chopped Chives
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Low Fat Buttermilk 
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Gem Lettuce, chopped 
  • 1 Small, Ripe Avocado, cubed
  • 2 Rashers Streaky Bacon
  • Large Handful Cherry Tomatoes, quartered  

Grill the bacon on high and until it is American crispy. I like to cook it suspended on a suspended grill so the fat can drip away into a dish below, and I also like the daub the bacon slices with kitchen towel when they come out of the oven to remove more excess fat. Let the rashers go cold. 

To make the Buttermilk Ranch, beat together the mayonnaise, yogurt, crushed garlic, a large pinch of sea salt and chives in a small bowl. Beat in the buttermilk a spoonful at a time (you may like your ranch thicker than I like mine, and the buttermilk thins it), and add a good few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Check the seasoning and refrigerate while you prepare the salad.

Toss together the lettuce, tomatoes and avocado pieces in a salad bowl, top with drizzles of ranch and crispy bacon pieces. I make my life easier by just cutting the cold cooked bacon with scissors. Enjoy!

What did you all eat this weekend, and what recipe projects do you all have planned for the coming week? I'm planning on getting a few recipes for Great British Chefs and Borough Market developed and photographed this week, I'm going into the kitchen in London with the guys at Total Yogurt later this week, and at the end of the week Mummy and I are cooking a special birthday meal for my father. Also, don't forget that my giveaway in collaboration with Campo Viejo to win a case of their Spanish red wine finishes at 5pm today

Friday, 11 April 2014

Places To Eat In Canterbury: Pork & Co.

While in any given week in London there is a new and exciting food concept or restaurant for me to get excited about (okay, so it has been open for a month or so now, but my current excitement is stemming from my planned trip to Polpetto next week to see what Florence Knight is getting up to in her new home), it takes an awful lot for me to get excited enough about something food related in my beautiful hometown of Canterbury to actually get in the car with the only purpose of going out for lunch. It is funny that I have just mentioned Polpetto, actually, because my latest foodie discovery in Canterbury came my way via Polpetto's owner Russell Norman on Twitter: Pork & Co, the pulled pork hog roast concept on Palace Street by Sam Deeson, the guy behind one of my favourite and most visited Canterbury eateries a few doors down: Deeson's.  
As well as trying the food, I wanted to get to know a bit more about this exciting new concept, unusual for a food scene such as Canterbury's, so I sat down with Sam to find out where exactly the idea came about. It was inspired by hog roasts at food festivals, but with all the trimmings; hand crafted buns for example, rather than the usual supermarket baps. All the equipment for the shop was custom made to, so it could be perfect just for purpose without a detail missed. It is honestly a passion project built alongside the original restaurant (which was originally meant to be portable, but Sam liked the structure of having a shop front), but keeping the same ethos of everything being British, rather than 'local', which is at this point a word I associate more with tired PR press releases than somewhere I actually want to eat at.
All of the pigs used at Pork & Co are rare breed, and most of them come from The Bunker, Deeson's & Pork & Co.'s smallholding. The rest are all still British (local) pigs, and the shop gets through an entire roast one every day! Just look at that pork. I've had a few errands to run in Canterbury over the past few days, and every time I've walked past I've seen people peering in at it through the window! I mean, who wouldn't?
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I chose to have my pulled pork stuffed, dipped bun also loaded with apple sauce, black pudding and a nice and crisp shard of pork crackling. At this point after eating so much pulled pork I find it really hard to describe the exact flavours in the pork, so I'll just have to settle for juicy and delicious instead. The black pudding was not too metallic, which I sometimes find is an issue, and it balanced out the pork really well in terms of flavour and texture, with the sweet bursts of apple sauce coming through every few bites.
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Have you found any new exciting concepts in your hometowns recently (I'm excluding Londoners in this, as we usually have all the fun in the capitol!)? I was reading on Amy's blog yesterday about some of the new street food vendors who have arrived this month indoors at Trinity Leeds, and I must say that I am jealous of the line up. Also, if you're in Leeds I can really recommend in there Rola Wala, the Indian naan wrap vendor. I actually have a feature on them coming up from when I tried them at their rotation at street food collective extraordinaire KERB King's Cross