What To Do In London This Weekend: Campo Viejo Streets Of Spain Food & Wine Festival, Southbank
A bonus post today, because if I share with you what I got up to this afternoon, the rest of you won’t miss out on it over what is due to be a beautifully sunny three day Bank Holiday Weekend. Do you remember last month I partnered up with Campo Viejo to bring you my recipe for Classic Sangria and to give away a case of their Rioja? From 12am to 10pm today, through to Monday they are holding the second annual Streets Of Spain food and wine festival on Southbank bringing together some amazing vendors from across London and Spain. Obviously I spent the afternoon sampling taking a wine blending class and stuffing my face with all types of goodness. Let us start with a few savoury nibbles, move onto wine, then go for dessert, shall we?
While the day supposedly had a Spanish theme, everything just looked so good and as it is basically Cinco de Mayo (that is the Spanish language at least, and I count anything avocado as good Cinco de Mayo fayre!) I started with one of each of the Sopaiplla’s from Rica Rica. I’m basically game for anything topped with avocado and salsa. While the chicken was lovely, I really want to give a shout out to the pork, made special by the cider jelly. A great starter.
For my main I went for what has to be one of the best cebiche/ ceviche’s (second only to the scallops at Lima) I’ve ever had. The sweet potato wedge had warm spices. The seabass was sweet and tender. The red onions added a little bite, and the liquid it had been ‘cooked’ in was like nectar. The sauce over the top was oh so spicy, but not too much to handle, and the little flecks of coriander added little bursts of flavour. The cooked corn pieces added a nice crunch, and all together it was all perfectly balanced and totally amazing. One of the best things I’ve had in ages, and something you simply have to try. You can find it at the stall that is also selling barbecue meats!
Heading inside and through the indoor bar (there are plenty dotted about with a selection of drinks, sangria and Campo Viejo) I attended one of the wine blending classes which you can book into, that was simply fascinating. Most of the wine we drink is a blend of several grapes stored in separate barrels. All dolled up in lab coats we first tasted the base wines, worked on making some suggested blends so we could see how they complimented each other, and then mixed up our own to our own personal preference to take home with us. I can’t wait to crack open my bottle, and I also can’t believe that I drink so much blended wine without knowing how exactly they balance the flavours.
Also going on at Streets Of Spain this weekend is the biggest wine/ colour/ sensory experiment ever done which is being run by Oxford Professor of Experimental Psychology Charles Spence. What he is looking at is how sounds and colour effect the taste of wine (like how environment makes the wine you were enjoying in Provence not taste as great once you’re home). You step into the Colour Lab (which is free to take part in) and you’re handed your glass of wine. After a fun experiment to test how sensitive your tastebuds are, you drink along with the colour changes, and the change in flavour is truly astounding.
After I’d taken part in the experiment I got the chance to sit down with Professor Spence to chat about his experiment and how his research got started. My biggest takeaway from our fascinating discussion was how much we don’t really think about factors other than ingredients and cooking in how we taste. How your food looks, the sounds in the restaurant you’re eating in, the decor, environment, plates, cutlery, service, all alter your mood and perspective, and therefore how your food tastes. Just think about that for a moment.
I was very excited to see that Gelupo had a stand at the event, I’ve never seen them at anything street food related before, but I’ve been meaning to pop into their shop for their famous gelato in Soho for what seems like forever. It took me a while to ponder the flavours (salted caramel was so rich and creamy, pistachio had the most pure and refined flavour of any pistachio ice cream I’d ever had before, and the bitter chocolate sorbet was so rich and clean), but I finally went for the unusual Blood Orange. Rich, oh so creamy and bright.
I have absolutly no idea what these were at the sweet and cake stall, but that is what you call skill!
Ever since Street Feast Europe last Summer I’ve had a massive thing for ice cream trucks, so as well as getting excited over the offerings from Gelupo, I had to check out what Sorbitium Ices had on offer too. Katie, my contact from Campo Viejo had excitedly showed me her cone of Sorbitum’s special Campo Viejo Berry Sorbet they’d blended for the festival, so I had to try a scoop before heading home. Light, sweet and refreshing, at first it tastes like any other berry sorbet but then you get the more complex flavours of the wine. A must to either finish your day off, or to cleanse your palette after something very spicy; the cebiche perhaps?
Make sure you head down to Southbank sometime this weekend to check it all out, I promise you you won’t regret it! To keep up with all the deliciousness, and to scope out some more exciting things to eat and drink that I have not included here (there was so much deliciousness!) be sure to check out the #streetsofspain hashtag on Instagram.