Tag Archives: street food

OnRoundhay festival by Lucy Reynolds 

Last weekend, I was dancing around, beer in hand, to the strains of Primal Scream and James…in fact, I was so close to the stage, that I could count the spots on Bobby Gillespie’s pink shirt. This weekend, I’m sat in a conservatory, listening to the Archers, wishing I was back in Roundhay park. Thus is life. In fact, last weekend will take some beating, as it was the first OnRoundhay festival, in sponsorship with John Lewis. I am hoping with every fibre of my body that it will be the first of many as it was exactly the sort of thing that sets Leeds out as the jewel in the North (obviously, I’m biased, but I don’t care…LEEDSLEEDSLEEDS!). As we entered the grounds of the park, it was clear to see that this was a family affair, with hundreds of families queuing up to get in. As you entered, a glittery ON sign greeted you, with different pathways for every type of reveller: the Main Stage for the music fans, the Chef’s Stage and John Lewis Food Village for the foodies and the Puffin Magical Storytelling Stage for those with little people (who are probably desperate for a distraction). We chose the fourth pathway…the one to the bar! 



We went inside the guests’ area (I know right….fancy!) and plumped for prosecco, beating the queues at the other venues. There were plenty of bars set up around the site though, serving real ale, gin and even champagne – we found that magical moment of when a band had just hit the stage, meaning there were minimal queues. Festival skills 101! 

After getting our fill of fizz, we went for a wander around, checking out what to gorge on. The festival started at 12pm and we got there for 3pm. The park was already full of hungry mouths, and we saw the Ox Club stand, with spits of whole lamb busily roasting away.

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Next door were perennial Leeds favourites Patty Smith’s, serving up their dirty burgers which are already legendary at their normal home, the Belgrave. Rola Wala and Piggie Smalls were also busy serving their tasty wares, opposite the John Lewis Chef’s Stage. Seeing the queues for food, we decided to go and take a seat for the next talk, which was Stephano Corvucci, who runs CIBO (The Culinary Institute of Bologna). Taking our seat on the front row, it was easy to forget that we were at a festival, as we watched him being interviewed as he cooked a ricotta and spinach stuffed cannelloni, after expertly making the pasta from scratch. What I loved about Stephano’s talk was how honest he was about his food. When the presenter asked him how long it would take him to teach someone on his course to make fresh pasta, he said ‘a few hours’. If I had a cookery school, I’d drag it out enough to make as much money as I could…but then I’m an unscrupulous bastard. He seemed really relaxed, open and enthusiastic about his cookery and it really made me want to fly to Bologna to try it out myself…cookery, that is, not starting my own culinary school (see previous unscrupulous bastard comment). 

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After whetting our appetites with Stephano’s cookery, we went to decide what we wanted to eat. By now the queues were immense, so my friend and I took a split attack approach and queued up separately for Patty Smith’s and Yakumama. 

Impressed by the vibrant offerings from Yakumama, a food seller I’d not encountered before, we decided to go for the Tiger fries and an avocado brownie for afters. That was the starter and dessert sorted – and a Patty Smith’s dirty burger for our main. 


Now this was when things fell apart for us – rookie mistakes all over the place. We were hungry…nay, ravenous after the Chef’s Stage talk and didn’t realise what the waiting time for food would be like. As my friend queued for Yakumama for 40 minutes, I was still in line for Patty Smith’s, with no sign of getting anywhere near the front. After about 50 minutes, I got to the front to see that there were 12 tickets on order, meaning my order would be another 35-40 minutes. Hats off to the Patty Smith’s crew though, who were working their backsides off and being really apologetic to customers for the wait. I think just due to the size of the event, the food stalls were really pushed to the limit. My friend found me in the queue and had already eaten part of the tiger fries in an attempt to not eat her own arm off in hunger. I too tucked in the the beauteous pile of sweet potato fries, spring onion, fried chorizo, lime mayo and sriracha until there was none left and thought, later on, ‘fxxk…I didn’t take a photo of it.’ In fact, so incensed by our greedy actions, I got in touch with Yakumama, asking for any images of the fries, but I haven’t yet been able to find any of that particular dish. Maybe I dreamt it, in a hunger fuelled haze…we will never know. All I do know is that is was incredibly tasty and filled the hunger hole we had whilst waiting for our burgers. The avocado brownie was eaten during the James gig, and was absolutely delicious. It was moist with a rich chocolate taste that gave you a smug feeling that you were eating, in part, good fats due to the avocado. Chocolate and healthy = winner!


After our wait, we finally got our paws on the Patty Smith’s burgers and practically inhaled them, enjoying their trademark dirty sauce and slightly sweet brioche bun. 


Gorgeous, as ever. After a few more drinks, we settled in to watch the legendary Primal Scream play, and they were wonderful. Seriously, when Loaded started to play, I was so overjoyed, I felt like I had an almost religious epiphany…and Bobby Gillespie was God. At 54, boy can he move! Saying, that, he ain’t got the moves of James’s Tim Booth, who at 56, makes you feel like you could never have as much fun as he does on stage. He has some serious moves and the dude even crowd surfed whilst singing. With Wolf Alice playing beforehand, and Primal Scream and James topping the bill, it was an embarrassment of riches and a real coup for the first On Roundhay festival.

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In between bands, we walked around, looking at the other foodie offerings, though the queue sizes stayed impressively large. I chatted to someone who had just bought a broccoli laden Mac and cheese from the Mac Shac and seemed very pleased with his little tray full of pasta heaven. We also spied, but unfortunately didn’t have enough room for, a Yorkshire wrap from The Allotment, which was the ingenious idea of a Yorkshire pudding wrap with a myriad of meaty delights inside. Makes you proud to be in Yorkshire, doesn’t it?

All in all, OnRoundhay, to my mind, was a massive success. Even though the queues were huge, the food on offer was fantastic and if it encourages more indie food sellers to set up stall next year, then all for the better. The music was amazing and the whole atmosphere was brilliant – there’s not many festivals where families, foodies and hardcore festival goers can enjoy themselves in harmony. Here’s to next year! 

Thanks to Simon Fogal at Leeds Indie Food, John Lewis, Yakumama for the brownie photo and Ben Bentley for additional photos.

The Cat’s Pyjamas, Leeds 

Hmmmm….Indian street food….small plates in Leeds….definitely rings a bell?! Leeds has its fair share of outstanding establishments – Bundobust and Manjit’s Kitchen automatically spring to mind, then there’s Prashad further afield in Drighlington who’ve flown the flag of great Indian food for years! So when The Cat’s Pyjamas opened in Headingley, I wondered how it would compare to these already well-loved spots, also how it would fit into the area itself. Back in the day, Headingley and Woodhouse Lane were the perfect places for a messy curry, I remember many a memorable night spent at Tariqs, Akmals or even Nafees (a late-nighter, think it’s now the Balti King?), so along with Khana Bombay Cafe is there a new breed of curry houses populating this part of Leeds?

I’d missed their launch event, but a few positive reviews and tempting food snaps on Instagram was enough to get us turning up on spec a few weeks ago. Already quite busy at 6pm, we managed to nick a table in-between bookings. One early plus was the varied gluten free menu, which kept my husband happy! Pity we were still a tad full from lunch at Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana, so instead of ordering a table full we sensibly chose a pickle tray/poppadoms, a couple of starters and a curry with rice. Of the two starters my favourite was the Keralan beef fry, an unexpected dish as the cow is considered a sacred animal in many parts of India, Kerala being an exception. Here the meat was beautifully tender and highly spiced. The Tandoori mixed grill didn’t really blow me away – the tikka prawns were juicy and gilafi seekh kebab (lamb) well flavoured, but I found the malai tikka (chicken) lacklustre, even though a mint chutney helped bring it to life I found it a bit wanting. 

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Tandoori mixed grill,  Keralan beef fry

The Kheema Matar was generously portioned up and as it was packed with minced lamb it was filling and I doubt I could’ve eaten the whole thing on my own. This highly flavoured dish came with a warming smack of heat and the addition of peas provided some sweetness to the dish.

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Kheema matar and pilau rice

Overall I liked the food, there were a lot of positives, but still a work in progress. Also considering it’s in Headingley, the place isn’t particularly cheap and I feel you get better value and tastier food elsewhere. 

The Cat’s Pyjamas

53 Otley Rd

Leeds

LS6 3AB

http://www.thecatspjs.co.uk

Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana, Leeds

Social media is still my first port of call when it comes to finding out what’s new and worth trying out, so a quick twitter request threw up a couple of suggestions prior to my Leeds visit. There’s so many new places opening up it can be tricky filtering out the good from the bad. One that instantly appealed was Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana on Cardigan Road, thanks to blogger bigspoonlittlespoon.com for the recommendation! The place doesn’t have a website, but it’s Facebook page had lots of glowing reports and so my decision was made pretty swiftly.

Located on the lower part of Cardigan Road, for those in the know it’s just passed the Spar petrol station on the left, opposite the Harold’s (as I call them) and from the street looks like a roadside cafe that’s been pimped up with vivid yellow walls and Mexican skull wall art – I loved it straight away!


The place was definitely deceptive in terms of size, from the street it looked small, but its open kitchen and bar sat nicely alongside the dining space leaving enough room for plenty of tables. A comprehensive menu, very clearly laid out was on show with guacamole, salads, ceviche, street food, seafood sides, meat dishes, tacos and enchiladas – lots being gluten free, great for when the other half comes back for a visit too; if it was any good that is! Drinks-wise they offer beer, cocktails and soft drinks, including some traditional Mexican offerings, we went for the Agua de Jamaica; intrigued by a concoction of hibiscus flower, sugar and water. Sweet without being sickly, it was perfectly refreshing.

The place itself had only opened a few weeks earlier, after lots of eager diners kept asking when it was opening. A relaxed, warm welcome made us feel at home quickly and our food came out at a steady pace, we were in no rush and were happy to graze. From the four items we picked, there was lots to enjoy and commend – homemade thin, crisp tortilla chips served with salsas that tasted homemade too – the tomato one didn’t resemble a standard chunky salsa I’m more accustomed too, was full of freshness and heat where required. From the street food section the flautas was a highlight – a crispy rolled tortilla filled with mildly spiced chicken and topped with earthy black beans, a tomato salsa, sour cream and mild queso fresco which all worked so well together. The sopes rancheros was another tasty mouthful – the shredded beef in an adobe sauce had a delicate piquancy, more hearty black beans, all balanced out with avocado and queso fresco.

Agua de Jamaica
Tortillas w/ salsa
Flautas
Sopes rancheros
Queso Fundido

It’s probably obvious I really liked Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana, it’s open for lunch and dinner so get yourself down there!!! It’s an informal and relaxed affair, the food is so so good, there’s plenty for meat lovers, veggies, also lots of gluten free dishes and it’s all kind on the pocket!!

Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana 

204 Cardigan Road

Leeds

https://www.facebook.com/lupescantinamexicana/?rf=203829306636135

On The Bab, Covent Garden

On The Bab, Korean street food purveyors are found in Covent Garden Opera Tavern. Their food I’d seen on Instagram and basically just wanted to get my hands on their fried chicken, take a look for yourselves and you’ll see what I mean. Our lunch stint at the Opera Tavern had filled me satisfactorily, but when seeing this place on the way out I couldn’t help going in, I’m hoping you’ll forgive the lack of willpower?!

On entering, tables fill a fairly narrow space and work their way around the counter where all the action in the kitchen and bar happens. With just a few spare bar seats unoccupied, we took up the remaining counter spots after a little struggle to get there. The place is a little short on space and diners may find themselves squeezed within close proximity of neighbouring diners on three out of four sides. However, that brings along with it a lively atmosphere.  

For such a busy time of day, they seemed a tad short staffed out front and the waiter seemed completely rushed off his feet, bezzing around as best as he could. Now who was I kidding when I said I only wanted to try the fried chicken, if only I had the willpower to resist ordering more. Even though I’d only just finished lunch!! Their buns on the menu sounded great, so my resistance wained without much effort and alongside the fried chicken were a couple of buns, one filled with spicy pork, the other with crispy chicken. 

The best bit – the fried chicken which were crispy, coated in a sauce that did as advertised (sweet and spicy) and topped with crushed peanuts to add texture. The chicken itself was like popcorn chicken, wolfed down within a minute and could’ve done with being chunkier pieces resulting in juicier meat. The buns could’ve been hotter, one wasn’t very hot at all, verging on the side of just warm. The better of the two fillings was the pork – sweet, spicy, sticky and sloppy. Whilst the crispy chicken was a tad anaemic and could’ve done with a bit longer in the fryer to crispen it up more. The other half’s spicy pork on rice didn’t do his gluten intolerance any favours, but was a tasty filling bowl. 

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Sojito and Sojito breeze
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Yangyum chicken

 

Crispy chicken bun

 

Spicy pork bun
Spicy pork on rice 

On reflection I’d say On the Bab does decent grub overall – it’s definitely not perfect, but turns out tasty food and is reasonably priced for the location. Don’t be going there for a leisurely long lunch or intimate dinner, it’s not kind of place at all I think, to me it’s more of a quick pit stop. They need to brush up on their service, more people out front would help no end. 

On the Bab

36 Wellington Street

Covent Garden

London

WC2E 7BD

http://onthebab.co.uk/coventgarden/index.html#4thPage

Where To Eat Pizza

Everyone knows that pizza is one of the most popular things to eat, now you can find out where the best pizza slingers can be found virtually anywhere in the world.

How?

Well, publishing group Phaidon have released a new book, aptly named Where To Eat Pizza, by author Daniel Young, the man responsible for the London Pizza Festival. Last year, I was kindly asked to contribute to the book with my recommendations for Leeds; I reckon it must’ve been my constant banging on about the great and good of the city that did the trick.

The book compiles the favourites of a whole host of food lovers from chefs, critics to bloggers like me. The result – a staggering 1700+ entries world-wide are listed, so pizza lovers out there will be hard-pressed to not find a decent slice or two!  For each city included there’s a map pinpointing each entry and a description of why it’s part of the list. 

  

To find out about my recommendations, or for the best places around the globe Where To Eat Pizza is available to buy now, both online and from all good book shops!!