Taste of London

June seemed to fly by, and it’s been a pretty exciting month – with even more rooftop bars and outdoor foodie pop-ups flooding my Insta feed than ever before. But there was only one thing on my mind: Taste of London.

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Taste of London is one of the world’s greatest restaurant festivals and it’s hosted in Regents Park for just 5 days (and by the time I’ve gotten around to writing this blog, Taste of London has passed and you’re going to have to wait until November to visit!). It’s an eclectic collection of the best restaurants in the capital alongside exhibitors showcasing their products and creations.

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After an intense browse of the restaurant list, we locked onto our first target: The Ember Yard. I opted for the courgette and mint arancini served with whipped ricotta, fennel and toasted pumpkin seeds. It’s crunchy, golden brown coating gave way to a creamy filling inside, I just hope the Ember Yard will make these a permanent staple on their menu…

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Our next stop was to the Folkington‘s truck to grab ourselves a G&T. We tried all their juices first before settling on a classic, Lemon & Mint, to add to our Bathtub Gins. A refreshing (and much needed) treat.

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Roka was next, where we sampled the Gindara to nai no gyoza – black cod, crab and crayfish dumplings. If there are dumplings on a menu, I’m ordering them. I adore Roka and I’ll find any excuse to visit.

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Desert? We tried samples from Pots & Co and I loved their passion fruit and orange compete which is set on top of a cheesecake like cream. We were also given a taster each of their little chocolate pot which is made with 70% Belgian chocolate which has the consistency of a mousse. I loved it so much I went to Waitrose and bought a pack of four, it’s so creamy and indulgent.

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I so wished we can return the next day to discover all the rest of the delicious dishes – there were just so much on offer!

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Lunching at Breddos Tacos

The street food movement has really changed the way Londoners eat out and we can really thank the genius’ behind places like Street Feast and Kerb for that. Street food market stalls often easily match the culinary standards of some restaurants, plus high quality cheap eats are always welcome in a city that’s expensive to live in.

These days street food vendors are increasingly making the transition to permanent premises and are becoming proper restaurants, and Breddos Tacos are one of the few who are selling their van and trading it in for proper plates and indoor toilets. Breddos Tacos first started out as a makeshift taco joint in a car park in Hackney, then for a while you could catch them at Street Feast, but these days they have permanent digs in Clerkenwell – just a block away from the office.

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It’s a beautiful spot. There’s a long shared table in the middle of the room and a bar at the back which overlooks the kitchen. There’s potted plants everywhere, moodily dim lighting and hipster-ish decor. I went one Friday lunch time with some colleagues and it was mad busy, we were lucky to get our seats.

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Now, Breddos Tacos isn’t traditional Mexican food and it doesn’t really even serve the kind of ingredients that you’d expect to find in a taco joint – let’s call them Brit-Mex? It’s fusion where flavour and spice is a huge focus, where the subtlest thing you’ll find to eat is the Baja fish taco served with pico de gallo and cabbage (which was my favourite dish on the menu). This place is not for spice wimps.

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You can get yourself a taco filled with battered sweetbreads, and the crispy batter really managed to hold the offal well – but boy, it was spicy.

I loved the pillowy softness of the taco shells as they were moderately thick as well as fluffy and sturdy under the groaning weight of the generously proportioned fillings – albeit they are prone to alot of spillage.

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We actually have to wait quite a while for our food, but they were fiercely apologetic and brought over a Queso Fundido. Which is basically a pot of melted cheese with chorizo at the bottom and can be scooped up with handmade crisps.

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Breddos Tacos, 82 Goswell Rd, London EC1V 7DB

 

 

Malty Street Market

Rarely a month that passes where I haven’t gone to a farmers market or sampled some street food and I refused to let the winter weather get in the way of this. Scott and I decided on an inpromptu adventure to Maltby Street Market in Beromendsey.

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We jumped off the tube at Aldgate where we got caught in the throng of people heading across Tower Bridge Maltby Street Market is a foodie heaven which has swelled under the Victorian railway arches in Bermondesey.

It reminded of what Borough Market could have been like, long before it became a tourist hotspot (and it actually started as a alterntative to Borough Market). Maltby Street Market finds itself in a tight, crowded tunnel with street food vendors lined up and down the road, with cafes and bars poping up under the arches.

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Wine, bread, cheese, pastries, salt beef, Greek specialities – it’s all here. Scott and I grabbed  a coffee from Coffee, mate? and wondered down the Ropewalk trying to decide with stall to purchase lunch from.

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Scott decided only a German sausage would do, whereas I headed to WaffleOn and grabbed a buttermilk waffle topped with fried chicken, seriously delicious. You’ll be hard to find something you don’t like at Maltby Street.

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Oh, and make sure to head to Dhan Waffle, which are an Taiwanese dessert and a combination of cake, doghnut and waffle. They’re cooked right before your eyes and can be topped with choices like vanialla custard, nutella, salted caramel and matcha which are served in an egg carton.

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I know I’m always saying this, but if you’re in London, then you must go here – but I really do mean it! But it’s worth getting out of bed early for, as on a sunny day it will be rampacked.

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Maltby Street Market, Ropewalk, London SE1 3PA

Bao – To queue or not to queue?

A couple weeks back Scott and I risked heading to Bao one day for lunch. If you’ve ever read anything about Bao, then you’ll know all about the crazy queue and how people are prepared to wait for about an hour to get a seat in the Taiwanese street food joint. I guessed you could say I tricked Scott into going… but we won’t go that far.

There’s no reservations and we queued for almost half an hour, which was spent by Scott flicking through his phone trying to deter me from my mission: ‘how about Nopi?’ ‘Or Palomar?’ – I had my eyes set on one thing only, and that was Bao.

About a year ago, the Taiwanese milk bun sensation moved from a street food stall to opening their first restaurant on Lexington Street. It’s tiny inside, only has around 32 cover and is decked out like a Muji showroom with minimalist wooden panelling and backless stool for seats which discourage lingering.

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If you’ve spent a decent portion of time queuing to get into Bao, then you might as well drive right in and order the whole menu.

We started with the pickles, which I wasn’t a fan of. I’m afraid I found them really bitter, nor do they look particularly appetising – maybe they would have tasted better as an accompaniment to a dish instead of on their own.

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Next came the pig blood cake, which I’ve been drooling over on my Instagram feed for ages now. It’s a chunky piece of black pudding which has crispy edges and topped with a egg yolk. Make sure you mash the egg into the pudding before you eat it, it’s simply delicious.

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The trotter nuggets are basically fancy chicken nuggets – but  they’re so moist and come in a light, crisp, oil-free batter.

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The chef’s at Bao avoid all the usual traps when delivering the sweet potato chips as they had the right crunch and they’re served with a plum pickle ketchup.

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Next up came the fried chicken pieces – they’re fiery and sour but delicious. For my taste buds I would have preferred the chefs to turn the heat down as I found them really hot.

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Now for the bao buns themselves… (wipes are available, so dig in with your hands).

 

First off, the Classic Bao. It’s a heavenly combination of a pillowy soft, steamed bun which is stuffed with braised pork, then and flavoured with peanut powder and coriander.

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Then came the confit pork bao – these were so good I went back and ordered seconds. It’s a slice of pork belly topped with crisp shallots and a fruity hot sauce.

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We also ordered the lamb shoulder bao – which I only got a nibble off as Scott wolfed it down! It was served with a coriander sauce, garlic mayo and chilli.

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There’s only one dessert option so I couldn’t resist ordering it. It’s a fried bao which has been sweetened and a scoop of Horlicks ice cream is sandwiched between the bao. It’s incredibly hard to eat and neither of us were sold of the flavour and texture – there’s a good basis for a dessert here, but it needs more finesse to really soar.

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So, to queue or not to queue? The food is great but not as fantastic as over reviews have made it out to be. But you’ll be hard pressed to find someone else like it with well-crafted, reasonably priced dishes, just make sure you go on your day off when it’s quiet.

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Bao, 53 Lexington St, SoHo, London W1F 9AS

 

 

Broadway Market

If you haven’t made any plans for the weekend yet, then Broadway Market is where you want to be on a Saturday. A couple of weekends ago, Scott took me for our anniversary. It still amazes me that I can still discover new parts of London that I haven’t explored before – even through I’ve spent my whole life here. It’s located in the heart of Hackney nestled between Regent’s Canal and London Fields. You’ll find independent shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants dotted along the street, and of course you’ll find stalls offering amazing fresh produce, authentic street food, vintage clothing, and arts and crafts.

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Broadway Market is a real foodie haven, and without trying to sound cliche, there really is something for everyone.

We started with these black pudding scotch eggs which we were cooked to perfection as the egg yolk was runny but still managed to hold its shape. I adore scotch eggs, I love the fact they’re basically a miniaturised fry-up made up of sausage, eggs and bread. They’re just a complete little parcel of goodness.

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There’s something about garlic stuffed olives – they’re fantastic. Forget the garlic breath and grab yourself a pot of these.

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And for one of the main reasons for my visit, The Dumpling Shack. They’re squidgy little dumplings handmade in front of you and fried up to order.

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And dessert? Well, we couldn’t decide so we ended up trying a couple of sweet treats. Scott has been ogling these salted caramel brownies all day. Which are unbelievably moreish and between two fudge brownie there’s a layer of liquid salted caramel which oozes as you bite into it.

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We also paid a visit to Crosstown Doughnuts, where I gobbled up a matcha doughnut. If you’re not already sold on matcha, then these will do the trick.

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By this point, I had eaten my entire calorie intake in an hour. But I brought some meringue kisses to bring home for my family. There’s nothing better than a light, fluffy meringue, and The Meringue Girls nail it. They’re the perfect takeaway treat.

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Broadway Market, London, E8 4QJ

Don’t KERB your love of street food

Camden’s West Yard had just had a street food make over and London’s street food craze has no intention of stopping. Kerb are taking London by storm and they have finally committed to a permanent location in Camden and are bringing 35 street food traders with them.

Now, it would be next to impossible to review all 35 stalls in one article, (almost as impossible as trying to get to get Scott to go to Camden on a bank holiday), so I’ll simply point out my highlights…

Oil Baba’s

Deep-fried cheese, yum. Do I need to say more?

These fingers of halloumi are fried until they are crispy on the outside and squidgy in the middle. They’re topped with yoghurt, mint, chilli and pomegranate seeds. They’re perfect for sharing between two.

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Ink

I must admit, I was nervous approaching this stand. Squid can so easily be over cooked and go horribly chewy. These little bits of Squid were deep fried to perfection and they’re served with the choice of three pastel mayos.

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The Mac Factory London

I can’t resist Mac ‘n’ Cheese – nothing can beat pasta covered in cheese sauce. But what makes them so addictive is their sourdough-based parmesan and thyme crumble.

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Blu Top 

Desserts are often an afterthought at street food festivals, but make sure you save room for these ice-cream cookie sandwiches. Creamy ice-cream is sandwiched between two soft-baked cookies, you can either add caramel sauce of chocolate chips.

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Kerb Camden, West Yard, Camden Market, Camden, NW1

 

 

Things to do in London when it’s Sunny

With summer just around the corner and the unpredictability of English weather, you won’t want to waste a second of the sunshine – It’s time to get those sunglasses out, drink Pimms and eat ice cream.

 

Visit a Rooftop Bar

One of the best ways to enjoy London is with a drink in hand, on the top of a tall building. Madison’s boasts one of the best views over St. Paul’s Cathedral, and at Vista bar you have Nelson’s Column on one side, Big Ben on the other. Dalston Roof Park is a slighty kitschy with astroturf, coloured deckchairs and a gaint flamingo – but there’s also an edible garden in which the produce is used in their cocktails.

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Eat Street food 

Who wants to be stuck inside a stuffy restaurant when you can eat al fresco? Borough Market is by far the most famous food market in London and it has the perfect balance between fresh produce and meals you can eat straight away. Whilst working near Holborn I would frequently visit Leather Lane, you can’t go without trying Grill my cheese  – their mac n cheese toasties are to die for. Working in the city means that Kerb at the Gherkin is my new go-to street food market on a Thursday. They also have markets at Kings Cross, Paddington and West India Quary. Now, you can’t talk about Street Food without mentioning  Streetfeast, and Dinerama is a foodies paradise with highlights from Yum Bum and You Doughnut.

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Get on your Bike 

London is a big place, and tackling the city by foot can be daunting. London has some great cycle routes – why don’t you cycle around the East End and stop off at loads of cycling-themed cafes? Make sure you stop off at Look Mum No Hands.

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Visit London’s Little Gardens 

Hyde park is over rated and full of tourists – get yourself to Dalson Eastern Curve Garden, you can relax can have a coffee or craft beer by the cafe, pizza from the woodburner and even join in with a spot of gardening every Saturday from 2pm. On Tuesdays from 7pm there’s also live acoustic music. There are plenty more to discover here.

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Devour Frozen Treats 

It’s the best way to cool off on a hot sunny day and if you find yourself North London, you have to try Chin Chin Laboratories. They use liquid nitrogen to freeze their ice cream and they change their flavours weekly. Sloane Brothers serve up Fat-Free Frozen Yogurt in Shoreditch and you can add a little bit of naughtiness by topping it with peanut butter brownies! It’s not often that lactose intolerant or vegans can enjoy frozen treats, but at Yorica you can. You’re spoilt for choice with tonnes of flavours and toppings.

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