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Events, London, Market, Restaurants

Fairground Launches in Haggerston

East London’s thriving street food scene shows no signs of slowing down with the arrival of new venture Fairground, kicking off tomorrow for ten weeks.

The pop-up project is headed up by Dominic Cools-Lartigue, founder of the enormously popular Street Feast, and is set to have a unique festival vibe with arts, culture, food and music.

Fairground occupies a disused office block in Haggerston and is set over three floors. Level One is Fairground Live –  an event space with live music and installations with music takeovers from London brands such as WAH Nails, Run Dem Crew and Field Day.  The launch weekend starts with a pre-Glastonbury party from jewellery and lifestyle brand Love Bullets, best known for their parties at the Shangri-La field.

Level Two is the Grandaad Lounge – a relaxed space for hang outs and creative thinking with weekend events such as inspirational guest speakers, workshops, masterclasses, talks and interviews.  The first weekend features events and classes by guests such as English Disco Lovers, Kwame Kwaten, design studio Form and the team behind the Move Your Money campaign.

Level Three is of course the Fairground Diner – a top floor restaurant space with a constantly changing line-up of London’s favourite restaurants and chefs, including the likes of Yum Bun and Baba G. from Street Feast.  The bar is curated by Strange Hill, the team behind the bar at the London Edition, the Booking Office Bar at Renaissance St Pancras and Mark Hix’s venues, so expect some thrilling libations.

Busaba Eathai hosts the first takeover, showcasing new recipes for the first time in line with SongKran (Thai New Year).  Additionally, Andy Oliver of The Begging Bowl presents his new venture Som Saa, offering authentic Thai dishes using quality British ingredients, and Yum Jungle makes an appearance too.

Other Thai-themed activities include 25-minute Thai cookery classes, Pandan cupcake decorating, an exotic Thai fruit tasting stand, and a Thai massage hut.

Fairground is set to be the place to hang out in east London for weekends to come, offering an experience that goes beyond simply tempting food and cocktails – make it a part of your schedule now.

Fairground runs from 12th April for 10 weeks.  For more information, visit: www.fairgroundlondon.com

Open: Saturday from 10am to 3am and Sunday from 10am to midnight.
Price: Free before 7pm, £5 from 7pm to 9pm, £7 after 9pm.
Address: 260-264 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4DG

 

London, Market

Night Tales Food Market, Dalston

This weekend saw the launch of Night Tales, the hotly-anticipated food, cocktail and music event set in a Dalston car park and underground bunker.

Hosted by Background Bars, Night Tales brings together London’s best street food vendors, cocktail bars and DJs under one big canopy and twinkling lights.

On arrival, we warmed up from the chill with a Hot Spiced Negroni (£8) from the fabulous Negroni Station while checking out the food stalls.

The potent Hot Spiced Negroni tasted similar to mulled wine but with the usual bitter aftertaste of a Negroni – a winning combination.  The bar offers around eight different kinds of Negronis, so it would be tempting to work through the menu.

Meantime Brewing Company serves craft beers on tap, hot apple cider and Hot Toddies while QuiQuiRiQui brings a lethal Mezcal Bar and the Mezcal Confessional, to be absolved of your sins.

I was most looking forward to having Patty & Bun on my doorstep, as I still haven’t made it over to the central London restaurant.  We split a delicious Ari Gold burger – aged beef patty with ketchup, lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickled onions, P&B mayo and brioche bun (£7.50).

Served medium-rare, the burger was nicely charred on the outside with a tender centre and meaty juice oozing into the bun.  The burger’s USP (because every gourmet London burger has one) was the tangy, vinegary pickled onions and a fluffy, slightly sweet brioche bun.

It was so, so tasty and satisfying – proper burger heaven.  For an extra hot kick, try the Jazzy Jeffery with maple cured bacon, smoked cheese, jalapenos and piquillo peppers (£8).

The aromas from nearby BAO brought back memories of travelling in Asia, so I couldn’t resist trying some of their Soya Milk Fried Chicken (£3.50).  It is without a doubt the best fried chicken I’ve tasted in London and really addictive.

Four large pieces of succulent chicken breast and thigh were coated in light, crunchy and perfectly seasoned breadcrumbs, drizzled with a serious hot chili sauce.  They are fantastic value at just £3.50 and ideal for sharing (although next time, I’d be greedy and order a whole bag to myself).

Since the fried chicken was so good, we went back for some authentic Taiwanese Gua Bao - Steamed Pork Buns.  The steamed milk buns were filled with slow-braised pork belly, home pickles, peanut powder and coriander.

The buns were moist, fluffy and ever so slightly sweet while the tender, well-marinated meat was a mixture of shredded and thickly sliced pork.  The peanut powder and fresh coriander added extra flavour and went perfectly with the meat (I’m also personally happy that they don’t fill them with cucumber, my biggest food hate).

Of course, I couldn’t leave without a bite from Le Petit Paris – remember their awesome Croque Monsieur?  This time it was all about the French Toast (£3.50), which came with a choice of two fillings.  I went for the French Toast with banana, bacon and speculoos spread, but without the bacon (I couldn’t handle any more meat by that point).

The French Toast was served piping hot from the grill and had a scrumptious burnt sugar coating.  Inside was a gooey mixture of smooth, rich speculoos spread and sweet sliced banana, plus a little cream – so delicious.  Look out for owner Nathalie Benezet’s new cookery book, Le Petit Paris: French Finger Food.

Night Tales is the Dalston night out that has everything – great food (also look out for Smokey Tails and Rainbo), strong drinks, awesome music (courtesy of House of Disco and Leisureware) and fire pits to keep warm.  It’s currently running alongside Street Feast over at Hawker House in Hackney, but as they’re not far away from each other, go to both and make a big night of it!

Night Tales runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 14th December at Abbott Street Car Park, Dalston, E8 3DL.  Entry is £3 per person.  For more information, visit: www.nighttales.co.uk

Chérie City received complimentary entry and two tokens towards food and drink.

All photos by Chérie City

Market, Newcastle

Urban Night Feast Returns To Newcastle

Urban Night Feast returns for another year to my hometown of Newcastle for three evenings of delicious street food, music and a bit of a party.

Founded by food writer and private chef Maunika Gowardhan, Urban Night Feast brings the UK’s most exciting vendors to the North East, alongside local food heroes.

The foodie event is taking place at The Boiler Shop, a Grade II listed warehouse space just behind Newcastle Central Station that regularly runs cool cultural and food events.

Confirmed visiting vendors include the brilliant Big Apple Hot Dogs, Indian street food experts Horn Ok Please, The Travelling Gin Co., Fundi Pizza, Luardos burritos, Mother Clucker fried chicken and biscuits, haggis toasty merchants Deeney’s, Passione Vino, Mark Hix’s FishDog and my favourite The Rib Man (his Holy F*ck hot sauce will go down a treat in the Toon).

Here’s what some of the London vendors have to say about Urban Night Feast:

“Mark Hix can’t wait to get up to Newcastle and finally get his fishdogs onto the streets of Newcastle,” says FishDog’s Kevin Gratton. “We’ll be singing ‘dog on the Tyne is all mine all mine’ all the way up there!”

“I can’t freakin’ wait to bring our special type of BAHD-ness to the Toon!” says Big Apple’s Abiye Cole.

Representing the North East are vendor such as Riley’s Fish Shack, Pla’s Asian Kitchen, Jesmond-based cafe Fat Hippo, Wylam Brewery, Real Nice Ice, Ouseburn Coffee Company and renowned Quayside gastropub Broad Chare, who will be serving up scotch eggs and black pudding.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough already, London-based mixologists Purl are hosting a pop-up cocktail pod, in their signature prohibition-era speakeasy style.  Learn how to mix like the experts at a ticketed cockail masterclass, or just enjoy their innovative concoctions.

Urban Night Feast is sure to be the best night out in Newcastle this week and if last year is anything to go by, it’s worth getting there early to avoid the queues.

Urban Night Feast runs from 6pm to midnight on 3-5 October at The Boiler Shop. Entry is free of charge and the Purl Speakeasy Cocktail Masterclass is priced at £12.50 per person for each 45 minute masterclass (including a complimentary cocktail).  For more information, visit: www.urbannightfeast.co.uk

Photos by Urban Night Feast, Purl and Chérie City

London, Market

Burgers & Pulled Pork at Street Feast Dalston

Last Friday, the only thing I could think about to start the weekend with was a big, fat juicy burger. Luckily I didn’t have to travel far for my grilled meat fix, as Street Feast night market is open in nearby Dalston every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer.

I went to The Long Table night market last year in the bitter cold and loved it, but Street Feast is a much slicker affair.  Based in Dalston Yard, opposite Dalston Junction Station, Street Feast is the most fun night out in East London.  Not only can you enjoy Negronis and Meantime Craft Beer under twinkling lights in the open air with DJ sets, but each night brings a new line-up of London’s best street food vendors.

We visited just after 6pm and luckily there were no queues to get in – just a quick bag search and we were in.  When we arrived, the yard already had a buzzing, relaxed atmosphere and there were a few spots left at the large wooden communal tables and the leather sofas in the bar area.

While Dalston nightlife isn’t always for everyone, the crowd at Street Feast is a fun mix of locals, families, the after-work crowd and foodies – even dogs are allowed in.

We had planned to pick up some burgers, but after doing a few laps of the yard we saw that the most popular dish was the enormous Pulled Pork Roll from The Rib Man.  We immediately joined the queue for a Pull Pork Roll (£6) drizzled with BBQ sauce (#HolyFuck sauce is another option) to share.

The pulled pork was juicy, tender and marinated in subtle herbs and spices.  It was piled high atop a large, crusty white roll with the insides hollowed out to make more room for the scrumptious pulled pork.  The roll is very substantial, so if you’re with someone who doesn’t mind a bit of messiness, grab one to share.  There is also a super-size portion available at £10 – it’s a real beast.

Street Feast usually hosts a different burger trader each weekend and on this particular Friday is was Mother Flipper (others have already included Honest Burgers and Bleecker St Burgers).

Mother Flipper’s USP is its candy bacon (coated and grilled in maple syrup), so we ordered a Candy Bacon Flipper (£7).  The lean, well-seasoned patty was cooked medium (just how I like it) and was nicely charred while oozing meat juice.  It was sandwiched inside a glossy sesame-covered brioche bun and garnished with the most addictive candied bacon, gooey American cheese, lettuce, sliced raw onion, pickles, mustard and ketchup.

The burger tasted incredibly good and I would happily follow them around London’s food markets to order it again and again.  The guys were also very friendly, kindly offering to cut my burger in two when I asked for a knife.  If you love Lucky Chip, you will definitely love Mother Flipper.

We weren’t planning on getting dessert, but the selection of cakes, cheesecake and cupcakes at Sweet Tooth Factory are too hard to resist.

The Peanut Butter Jelly Cheesecake (£3.50) was baked with a subtle hint of peanut butter on a fine biscuit base and the strawberry jelly topping was luscious and fruity, rather than being overly sugary.

The generously sized Chocolate Guinness Cake (£3) was even tastier and very indulgent.  The Guinness chocolate cake was moist, rich and dense, topped with a smooth cream cheese frosting and milk chocolate shavings.  Sweet Tooth Factory’s cakes are worth leaving a little room for and could easily be paired with a craft beer (or taken home and enjoyed with a pot of tea, like us).

Street Feast is a fun place to start the weekend and make the most of the summer’s warm weather with some tasty bites.  Keep an eye on the schedule for new traders and events.

For more information and weekly line-ups, visit: www.streetfeastlondon.com

All photos by Cherie City

Bars, Market, Paris, Shopping

Joyeux Noël Market At Wanderlust, Paris

Whenever I visit Paris at Christmas, I’m always drawn to the traditional Christmas Markets, with cute Christmas toys, mulled wine, gingerbread and treats from Alsace,   stretching from the Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées to the Place de la Concorde.

However, for something a bit more unique, head to Wanderlust at Les Docks on the Quai d’Austerlitz for their two-day Joyeux Noël Market.  In the spirit of all things last-minute at Christmas (me, not them), the market at Wanderlust started today, so if you’re in Paris right now, you’re in luck!

Pick up some special gifts from Paris favourites such as Shakespeare & Company, Millimètres, Juliette Beaupin, Marion Graux Poterie, Tombées du Camion, Atelier Amelot, and Jicqy les Mirettes.

Warm up with food and drink stalls by Kusmi Tea, Carrie’s Bio Dogs, Le Bal Cafe, Pressing, Casse-Noisette and Maison du Nougat.

As it that wasn’t enough there’s the Wander-lab offering workshops for children, a Mattel treasure hunt, pop up hair salon, photo booth, Christmas Super Bingo by web magazine Brain, music by experimental brass band Gratkipoils and DJ sets.

Don’t forget to check out the ‘Team Christmas Tree’ exhibition featuring the works of fifteen artists, supported by Truffaut.

Entrance: 5€ adults/3€ students/free for under-12s.
Saturday 15th December, 2-11pm and Sunday 16th December, 11am-7pm.

For more information, visit: www.wanderlustparis.com

Market, Philadelphia, USA

Reading Terminal Market, Downtown Philadelphia

Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia is absolute heaven for foodies.  It should be top of the itinerary when visiting, as you may find yourself gravitating back there each day for a sneaky cannoli or Philly Cheesesteak.  Anyone staying at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, like I did, is in luck because it’s directly opposite on North Street.

Housed under the arches of Reading Terminal’s former train shed, the historic farmer’s market first began trading in 1892.  It houses over 80 vendors selling fresh local produce, hot dishes, baked goods, ice cream, preserves, books and homeware.

Pennsylvania Dutch merchants come to sell at Reading Terminal Market (usually excluding Sunday to Tuesday), so this is the place to try authentic Amish specialties.

Some Reading Terminal Market favourites include fried chicken at Down Home Diner, gumbo at Beck’s Cajun Cafe, buritos at 12th Street Cantina, Bassett’s ice cream, cupcakes and cannolis at Termini Bros and chocolate-covered pretzels at The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company.

There are a number of places claiming to make the best Philly Cheesesteak, but for first-timers, it’s got to be Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies & Cheesesteaks at Reading Terminal Market.  But it’s not only the sandwiches that are famous - President Obama stopped by for a Carmen’s cheesesteak, Bassett’s mint choc chip ice cream and some apples during a trip to Philadelphia in 2010.

Carmen’s makes hot sandwiches fresh to order and understandably with the Obama connection, it had the biggest queue.  I stood in line diligently for 40 minutes to get my cheesesteak and hoovered it down in a fraction of the time.

There are a few variations on the cheesesteak, but if in doubt, just go ‘Philly style’ with Cheese Whiz (or Provolone if you don’t do processed cheese).

My cheesesteak came in an Italian-style roll and included thinly sliced grilled steak, sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms and gooey Cheese Whiz.  It was real comfort food – satisfying, rich, meaty and messy.  I’d definitely order a cheesesteak again, but probably with Provolone or American Cheese.

For more cheesesteaks and food markets in Philadelphia, visit: www.philadelphiausa.travel

Reading Terminal Market on Urbanspoon Carmen's Famous Italian Hoagies on Urbanspoon

Market, Philadelphia, Tours

Things To Do In Philadelphia

Philadelphia is one of East Coast America’s most vibrant cities, with a remarkably thriving art scene.  Steeped in monumental American history, Pennsylvania’s largest city is full of colonial charm.

Whether it’s tax-free shopping on chic Walnut and Chestnut Street, exploring the cultural institutions on ‘Museum Mile’ or strolling around the quirky, leafy downtown neighbourhoods, Philadelphia has something for all.

There is something honest and unpretentious about Philadelphia and the city has its own strong sense of identity.  With a thrilling dining scene, Pennsylvania Dutch influences and a forward-thinking approach to community art, Philadelphia really is the city of the moment.

Here are a few ‘must sees’ to add to your Philadelphia itinerary…

LOVE Park

LOVE Park (officially named John F. Kennedy Plaza) is the perfect place to chill out in the aptly named ‘City of Brotherly Love’.  At the foot of Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the park is home to pop artist Robert Indiana’s iconic Love sculpture, which was first placed there in 1976.  It can be tempting to jump right into the clear blue fountain on a hot summer’s day.

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is Philadelphia’s most treasured piece of history – an iconic symbol of American independence, dating back to 1752.  The Liberty Bell was cast in London’s East End at Whitechapel Foundary and was then shipped over to America and placed in the former Pennsylvania State House.

The bell cracked on its first ring and had to be recast twice by local artisans.  Since 2003, the bell has been housed in The Liberty Bell Center.  A part of the leafy Independence National Park, the Liberty Bell is surrounded by historical monuments including Independence Hall, Carpenters’ Hall, National Constitution Center, First Bank of the United States.

Try to avoid peak times when visiting Independence National Park, as there are often queues to view the Liberty Bell.

Reading Terminal Market

Foodies will be in heaven at Reading Terminal Market – it really is that good.  The huge indoor market in the Convention Center district offers fresh local produce and mouth-watering street food, including the iconic Philly Cheesesteak and hoagies.  Try Obama’s cheesesteak of choice at Carmen’s (if you can handle the queue) followed by an ice cream from Bassetts, where the President picked up dessert.

It’s also the best place to sample authentic Pennsylvania Dutch food, as Amish vendors sell their delectable baked goods, gourmet deli sandwiches, farm-fresh juices and dairy products and preserves.

Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square is Philadelphia’s ‘posh park’, lined with high end restaurants, boutiques and the five star Rittenhouse Hotel.  Luckily, I was in town at the right time to visit the annual Rittenhouse Row Festival, sprawling over six blocks of Walnut Street.  Philadelphia’s best restaurants pitch up around Rittenhouse Square and offer small plates of their signature dishes and street food snacks, such as Kobe beef hotdogs, steak sliders and pulled pork tacos.  I followed the smoke from the grill and ordered the most incredibly delicious burger from Marathon for just $6.

There’s a great, chilled out party atmosphere with live music, DJs and outdoor bars and activities for families inside the park.  It’s a great way to try dishes from Philadelphia’s coolest dining spots with a more modest price tag and no reservations needed.

Italian Market

On the same baking hot Saturday, Philadelphia’s Italian community was hosting its own block party, the annual South 9th Street Italian Market Festival.  There were stalls offering all of the authentic Italian street food you could think of – meatball platters, cannolis, pizza, Philadelphia’s famous Tomato Pie and thankfully…gelato!  I cooled down with a refreshing Limoncello Sorbet.

A visit to the Italian Market is a must for foodies in Philadelphia.  Look out for the original family-run Di Bruno Bros, Isgro’s pasticceria and Claudio Speciality Foods.

Antique shopping on Pine Street

Pine Street is one of those picture perfect, tree-lined streets that make you fall in love with East Coast America.  Known as Antique Row, Pine Street is home to a number of dealers selling fine art, antiques, oriental carpets, rare and new books, furniture and vintage clothing.  It’s the place to pick up a collectible piece or just enjoy a stroll along one of Phildelphia’s prettiest streets.

See The Phillies

Baseball is a big deal in Philadelphia, so why not go and see The Phillies play at Citizens Bank Park.  Grab a hot dog and a beer and watch Philadelphia’s team play, or take a look behind the scenes with a tour of the ballpark.

Philadelphia Big Bus Tour

There’s no better start to a city break than taking a bus tour.  They’re a quick and comfortable way to get your bearings and become acquainted with the main sights, while finding out the history behind the city by local experts.  The Philadelphia Big Bus Tour all the way from the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art to Penn’s Landing with lots of monuments and neighbourhoods in between.  Best of all, the buses are hop on hop off and open-top, so you can enjoy the warm weather.

For more exciting things to do in Philadelphia, visit: www.philadelphiausa.travel

British Airways offer three nights at the 4* Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia from £749 per person based on September 2012 departures.  Includes return British Airways flights from Heathrow and accommodation only.  For reservations visit ba.com/philadelphia or call 0844 493 0758

Cafes, Market, New York, Shopping, USA

Chelsea Market, New York

Chelsea Market was one of my favourite foodie finds in New York.  Located in the stylish Meatpacking District, Chelsea Market occupies the former New York Biscuit Company factory (dating back to 1890), where Oreos and Saltines were made.

Today, the produce on offer is rather more up-market with local artisan sellers, gourmet food brands and established local restaurants and cafes.

We were lured in by the large Anthropologie store and then walked through the market before snacking on Tacombi chicken mole tacos, choc mint brownies from Fat Witch Bakery.

Other market delights can be found at Amy’s Bread, Sarabeth’s, Chelsea Wine Vault, Gramercy Flower Shop, Morimoto, Fat Witch Bakery, Eleni’s and The Lobster Place.

One of the highlights was the Williamsburg pop up store artists & fleas, showcasing emerging designers, vintage collectors and craftsmen.

I could have easily spent all my dollars at Chelsea Market, but managed to leave with just one necklace and a bag full of Fat Witch Brownies and a Blonde Brownie mix to bake at home.

Chelsea Market is quaint, buzzing and an absolute must for foodies visiting New York.

Chelsea Market – 75 9th Avenue, New York, 10011

London, Market, Restaurants

The Long Table Night Market, Dalston

East London has its fair share of great food markets, but The Long Table brings a new concept to Dalston – a night market with live performance, DJs and a bar with heated seating.

The Long Table is a collaboration between creative enterprise Bootstrap Company (Dalston Rooftop Gardens) and The Loft Project founded by Viajante chef Nuno Mendes and his partner Clarise Faria.

Every Friday, up until Christmas (and hopefully beyond, if they can be pesuaded), The Long Table will occupy a disused space behind Cafe Oto and Arcola Theatre and serves dishes from the best street food vendors and guest restaurants, up until midnight.

Last night, after Steven’s private view at Specs Gallery we paid a late-night trip to the market for some celebratory food.  We hadn’t anticipated standing in a queue in the cold for almost 30 minutes, although this probably isn’t an uncommon sight in Dalston (it is the land of the secret bars/clubs and warehouse parties, after all).

The scene started to get tense as blaggers claimed to know the DJ/chefs/organisers to bypass the queue and two guys were unceremoniously kicked out for attempting to stride past security.  This is just how much everyone wanted to get a place at The Long Table, but don’t even try to charm or strop your way past security, they won’t entertain any diva behaviour!

When the time came, those of us who patiently waited were rewarded with a foodie wonderland that was part carnival, part après-ski party.  You can wander around the food stalls and choose from well-priced dishes to eat under the heated canopy, if you can find a spot.

When we visited, the street food vendors included The Loft Project, St John Bread & Wine, Moro, Big Apple Hotdogs, Lucky Chip, The Bowler, Le Petit Paris, L.A Sueño, House of UmamiYum Bun, Lily Vanilli and many more…

We were most tempted by Big Apple Hotdogs, a local legend that food bloggers have even taken the day off work to visit (now that’s commitment, A Rather Unusual Chinaman)!

Run by Abiye from a cart based at Old Street, Big Apple Hotdogs are handmade in London, using natural casing and only the good cuts of free range pork and beef.

We chose The Big Frank (£5), a huge frankfurter made from pork, topped with fried onions and grilled to perfection.  The thick, crispy skin bursts on the first bite, letting all the delicious meat juices flow.  Unliked manufactured hot dogs, our Big Apple hot dogs were rich, well-seasoned and filled with large individual pieces of meat.

The plan was to follow with some cake or macarons but we were tempted by the Croque Monsieurs (£3) at Le Petit Paris.  Made with lots of bechamel, gooey Gruyère, nutmeg, black pepper and butter-fried thin bread, these croques were the most authentic I’ve ever had in London and possibly in Paris!  They come in four squares with cocktail sticks, making them easy to munch on standing up.

Le Petit Paris appears at food markets across London, although I’m hoping they might consider opening a permanent cafe, so that London Frenchies can get their Croque fix easily.

It may be cold and you might have to queue, but The Long Table is so worth a visit!  Just down a few glasses of mulled wine or Lily Vanilli’s absinthe hot chocolate, make some new friends at the table and get dancing to keep out the chill.  It’s the most fun you could ever have at a food market!

The Long Table is open every Friday until Christmas, from 6pm-12 on Abbot Street, Dalston.

Big Apple Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon