Tag: street food

Street Food? So 2009. The Hot New Trend In Food Is Now Sailing Your Way…

Street food is big these days.  San Francisco has its Street Food Festival. New York has its street food Vendy Awards and its vendor turf wars. LA has taco and Korean BBQ trucks  so famous they’re getting profiled over here in London.

But I’ve just discovered the most exciting new movement in mobile food, coming to you straight from the South Harbor of Helsinki, Finland: BOAT FOOD.

this is sea food. boat vendors!

The smiling Finnish lady on the boat may not promote her whereabouts on Twitter, but she does a brisk business selling an array of smoked and fried fish off her quaint little craft. Despite a bit of a language barrier, she managed to convey her selection with broken English, pointing, and a bit of guesswork on my part: whole smoked whitefish, perch, and trout; burnished fillets of salmon;  and palm-sized morsels of fried herring.  I purchased a small piece of the herring with a very thin layer of crunchiness and a generous sprinkling of dill sprigs for the solid price of 1 euro.  It was the perfect street food snack: delicious, slightly greasy, very local, and ridiculously cheap.

fried herring from the boat vendor

Oops. Did I say street food snack? I’m still wrestling with the correct terminology for food sold from watercraft.  If we’re going for parallels, I suppose I should refer to the area about which these mobile food vendors hawk their snacks-on-the-go.  Food trucks move around the street. Food boats move around the water. But Water Food just doesn’t sound right. Sea Food? Ocean Food? Harbor or canal or river food? Bodies-of-water food? Although the exact nomenclature may leave something to be desired, I can’t get over the brilliance of this mobile fish snack vendor. Yes, I realize I have a somewhat overzealous love for boats.

But I’m certainly not the only one who likes boats  (T-Pain does too!). Boats make people happy and so does mobile food and more people should put the two together.  And there would be plenty of opportunities to sell…come to think of it, all of my favorite markets are located by bodies of water. The Ferry Building Farmer’s Market in San Francisco is on the Bay. Pike Place in Seattle is on Puget Sound. Here in London, Borough Market is on the Thames and Broadway Market is on Regent’s Canal.  Clearly, it’s time for all these markets to get with the program and adopt the newest market and mobile food innovation of the future.

Anyone else know of any boat food vendors? Or want to donate me a boat to kickstart this new movement?  I am accepting all generous offers and in return you can come snack on my boat.

Bodies-Of-Water-Food, your time in the spotlight has come.

the go game street food adventure takes competitive eating to a new level of creativity

the go game is running a street food adventure to celebrate the first san francisco street food festival! talk about an amazing event – it’s the best of san francisco street food, a benefit for the amazing non-profit incubator kitchen la cocina, and a chance for eating-obsessed SFers to show off their foodie knowledge, their devotion to track down the best bites of the SF urban jungle, and most importantly, their crazily culinary creativity.

it’s an online game where people play in teams to solve foodie puzzles online and on the mean streets. teams (with awesome names like soup sluts, trans-fatso’s, and deep fried twinkie) win points for correct answers and also for submitting creative missions which people watch online and score. i ‘ve just barely skimmed the surface of photos and videos submitted by the 277 teams(!) but the current personal favorite of the UK office is this rap about the creme brulee cart by team fatty boombatty. seriously, this video is a delicious work of  genius.


creme brulee on the street corner combined with a coolio parody video? that’s some sweet stuff right there. check out the best submissions from the game here and read what an nbc reporter/go game player has to say about the street food obsession here.

we’re so inspired and excited by the overwhelming commitment, competition, and creativity from the SF street food devotees that we’re considering running a london game! what do you think, londoners? are you up for it? we’d have you sampling spinach & agushi and violet cupcakes at broadway market, scarfing down scotch eggs at the upmarket, and of course, diving into a hot cheese avalanche. and you’d solve puzzles, take wacky photos, film short movies, vote online, and have a total blast while filling your belly along the way. no mid- 90’s rap music knowledge required, we’ll find an appropriate equivalent for iconic music videos starring michelle pfeiffer on this side of the pond.

to reverse paraphrase kevin costner: ‘if you will come, we will build it.’ seriously london, if you’d be interested in playing, let me know! i have a serious street food obsession and i think london’s got an absolutely incredible street food and market culture. let’s play with our food!


street food in boston: chickpea fritters and incredible bread from the clover food truck

chickpea fritter sandwich

my mother has been working at the same building at MIT medical my entire life. that’s 27 years (as of last week…yeeesh) that i have been visiting or picking her up on the same exact street in cambridge upon which there have never before been big white street food trucks serving freshly made locally sourced meals. and all of a sudden, i pop into boston for three days and here you are, delightful clover food truck.  so happy to make your acquaintance.

if you don’t obsessively follow the san francisco food scene from halfway around the world like i do, you may not know that street food is big these days. it used to be just the taco trucks and the tamale lady when you were drunk at zeitgeist. now everything from soup to salami and curry to creme brulee is being sold from carts and bikes and trucks and hovercraft all over the city. okay, maybe not the last part, but that would be pretty sweet. anyway, the SF street food scene has seriously blown up recently, as have the NYC and LA scenes, many of whom release their locations in real-time via twitter. even from london, i know exactly when a delicious fatty cured pig part sandwich goes on sale at a random intersection in san francisco and i can only mourn that i’m about 6,000 miles too far away to get in line. it’s gotten so big that it’s even spawned a backlash of anti-street-food-fad-sentiment. yes, you know things have gotten big when the haters come out to play. but ignore them and revel in the excitement that is street food. beyond all the tastiness, what’s particularly exciting is that the amazing people at la cocina are organizing a street food festival and the go game is running a street food themed scavenger hunt!  if you’re anywhere near san francisco, go sign up to play because it’s going to be AMAZING.

anyway. talking about street food gets me so excited that i’ve lost track of the original topic of this post, which was intended to be the excellent clover food truck. hooray boston for not letting sf, nyc, and la grab all the attention and making an impressive showing of your own.

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groundnut stew and the namesake dish from spinach & agushi on broadway market

peanut chicken, spinach and carrot salad from spinach and agushi

one of the best presents i’ve gotten recently is my trusty little eat.shop.london guide, which i’ve been addicted to since hopping over the pond. the author lives somewhere in the east end and has introduced me to some of my favorite local spots within minutes of our hackney home. i’ve eaten my way through nearly every east london location in the book. through pounding the pavement in search of each amazing spot, i’ve also stumbled across some lovely little gems that deserve a place in the next edition. i highly recommend the books – they’ve got editions for a number of major cities.  i love the visuals of the book and the amusing content and one of my goals in life is to write and photograph the second london guide.  cabazon books, i’m here for you. or rather, you’ll be hearing from me.

anyway, one of the food spots mentioned in the book, spinach & agushi,  is so local that it can only be found once a week at broadway market on saturdays. i can also be found weekly at broadway market, but i’ve been so busy eating roast hog sandwiches, violet cupcakes,  and wild mushroom risotto that i’ve only passed their ghanaian food stall with a longing glance and vowed to return posthaste.

return i did with michelle, one of my many conspicuous consumption partners in crime. after a wild mushroom sandwich from sporeboys, we worked up our appetites again wandering the market chatting with producers and sampling more food until we finally felt ready to take on spinach & agushi. our menu options were as follows:

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a brief interlude of cupcake glorification: violet cupcakes at broadway market are lovely bites of heaven

cupcake closeups

this  post is all about the best cupcakes i’ve had so far in london. i took kellin to visit the adorable and wonderful broadway market during her last hour in london before returning to italy. stuffed from our borough market visit, we brokenheartedly turned down wild mushroom risotto, ghanaian food, and roast hog with crackling sandwiches. but we decided to treat ourselves to ONE mini cupcake because they were so ridiculously cute, and obviously brownie mountains and fresh strawberries with jersey cream were not quite enough dessert for the morning.

so we stopped at the happy stall of violet cakes and bought the enticing rhubarb and rosewater mini cupcake, a pale  pink and perfectly formed little turkish dome of dessert.  it was, quite honestly, ethereally delicious. so light and smooth yet so intensely flavored, like having the essence of rose petals in your mouth. such a tiny bite yet such a concentrated burst of taste! we promptly returned and bought another.

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in which kell and i discover paella, gingerbread men, and an impressive pair of sausages.

besides creating breadroom bondage scenes, kell and i have been eating our way around london over the past few days and i’ve got lots of photos coming. here she enjoys her first sausage and egg bap. apparently size does matter at the breakfast club in hoxton.

kell and the sausages

we also had an incredible paella bought off the street corner on our way to see a fantastic and hilarious production of As You Like It at the Globe, an open-air theatre on the Thames recreated as it was in Shakespearean times. you even get to stand in the yard like the peasants did back in the day.


no trip to london is complete without some serious market visiting, so i’ve got borough and broadway market posts coming up. until then, my favorite food photo of the week: the emotionally distressed gingerbread man.

unhappy gingerbreadman

is he in danger of being bitten by the vampire-esque gingerbread man behind him? maybe he’s just afraid of losing his head. in my mouth. mmm….

random food porn: salmon hand rolls, fried pig's ears, a belly full of tayyabs, and extreme scotch egg eating.

are you hungry? i am (shocker).  i’m currently roasting the potatoes, onions, and carrots from my organic veg box scheme in the oven with rosemary and sage from the garden (and by garden i mean five potted plants, two facing imminent death).  while those cook, i’m visually  stimulating my appetite, and hopefully yours, with photos of some recent things i’ve eaten.

we’ll start with the salmon, avocado and sesame hand roll from a sushi stall at the sunday upmarket at the old truman brewery.

salmon hand roll

delicious fresh salmon rolled right before your eyes! i’ve noticed there’s a lot more japanese home cooking here than in the states, where japanese restaurants are primarily sushi-focused. i went to an amazing okonomi-yaki (japanese pancake) place this week, which is apparently the only one of its kind in europe. post on that, plus videos, coming when i get my act together.

next up, fried pig’s ears! i have trouble turning down food items  that are: a) weird, b) things i haven’t tried before,  c) an unusual part of an animal, d) a local delicacy or traditional food and e) deep fried. the following item satisfied all categories (although some people might debate the use of the word ‘delicacy’), so obviously it needed to be in my mouth.

fried pigs ears from albion

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around the world in 80 million bites: roast hog, octopus balls and injera at the incredible sunday upmarket

truman brewery on brick lane

continuing my series of posts on london’s amazing markets, i’m now going to deluge you with photos and effusive/obsessive words on the fantastic global bazaar of eats available at the sunday upmarket at the old truman brewery on brick lane. chris and i have hit up brick lane every sunday since we moved to hackney, but didn’t make it all the way down to the upmarket the first weekend as we were distracted by various household and junk items at heavily discounted prices (read: dug out of someone’s attic or stolen off the back of a truck).

luckily, we kept walking south the next sunday and happened upon an adorable stall of japanese food. impressed by the setup and unable to turn down anything involving street food and a deep fryer, we ordered the special donburi of assorted fried items and a slab of salmon on a bed of rice with salad and teriyaki sauce. YUM.

japanese food stall

having happily filled our bellies, we then turned a corner and walked down a narrow alley lined with stores and restaurants  into ely’s yard,  a huge lot filled with picnic tables, food stalls and tons of people. we then realized that a whole new world of food was before us and i mean LITERALLY a whole world – i’ve never seen food from so many different countries and cultures in one place in my whole life.  off the top of my head, i recall peruvian, japanese, thai, sri lankan, turkish, argentinian, russian, ethiopian, moroccan, peruvian, tibetan, chinese, spanish, brazilian and caribbean. oh yeah, and mauritius island food. SERIOUSLY? the two of us wandered around for ages with our mouths open, drool spilling unattractively from the corners, wishing we were cows and had four stomachs to fill with international delicacies.

picnic tables at brick lane upmarket

since we were both stuffed with friedness, we just wandered and ogled and took mental notes of what to eat when we returned the next weekend. which is exactly what we did, eamon in tow and stomachs ready to do some global adventuring.

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eat my pies! i mean andy's pies. and his scotch eggs and pud baps…

hellooo scotch eggs

if you’re seeing this photo back in the States, you’re probably thinking, GOOD LORD mei, what in god’s name are you eating over there? well, my dear friends, welcome to the wonderful world of the scotch egg.  the traditional scotch egg, as shown above, is a hard-boiled egg removed from the shell, surrounded by minced sausage, rolled in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried. if you’re still recoiling in horror from that photo, come over here and try one, because it’s  really seriously delicious.

i should stop here and say that the traditional scotch egg is not always delicious and is quite often pretty nasty. as andy, the maker of this delicious scotch egg told me, they’re usually sold at service stations (gas stations) and overcooked, mushy, and full of scary meat. thank god someone is addressing this important issue and that someone is andy.  as the chef/creator behind eat my pies, andy is bringing back the retro british delicacies with an impressive attention to ingredients, an innovative fusion of food cultures, and an emphasis on the thoughtful preparation of well-loved but often poorly manufactured classics. he also referred to a slow food-like philosophy on making simple food with good ingredients, an idea that he says lost traction during the war when fresh ingredients were scarce and led to the overprocessing of ingredients and glorification of fast food. i’m hoping to chat more about this with him when i’m not staring distractedly at a bountiful array of deep-fried things i can put in my mouth.

andy of eat my pies

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a crowning achievement in sandwiches and a hot cheese avalanche from kappacasein

toasted cheese sandwich from kappa casein

you’re looking at what i feel quite comfortable saying is one of the best sandwiches on the planet. behold the toasted cheese sandwich from kappacasein, a small stall with a big reputation in london’s famous borough market.  regard the oozy, gooey mix of montgomery cheddar, keen’s cheddar, and ogleshield cheeses that i kind of want to rub all over my face, or perhaps bathe in, if that weren’t socially unacceptable. feast your eyes on the impeccably browned poilane sourdough bread and note the subtle purple and green glints, hinting at powerful flavors, of five types of onions. these nine ingredients, assembled in a short stack and quickly toasted in a hot  press, form a warm and crunchy slab of  toasted cheese perfection.  OH MY GOD SO GOOD. truly, this is a crowning achievement in sandwiches.

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