|Not a bad view of the Thames|
Paul and I have been talking for ages about going into London on a weekend when we have time to stroll about and look at stuff, instead of our more pressured daily commute, so this seemed like a good opportunity. Plus the weather forecast was for 28C, and being outdoors was desireable.
It turned out to be quite a long walk and actually a bit too hot for that sort of thing and we ended up collapsing onto a bus in Vauxhall for the final push to the festival.
Eventually though, we ended up at Battersea Park. Battersea Park is lovely! I had no idea. We need to go back and poke around a bit more, and take some pictures. By this stage, we were totally focussed on drinks and then food and couldn't really enjoy the massive trees and pretty ducks and whatnot.
We started with cider. This was possibly not the brilliant idea it could have been, as they were artisanal ciders (which in this case means still, not chilled and fairly alcoholic). However, I thoroughly enjoyed my half pint of Fiery Fox, which was just sweet enough and quite refreshing (although I really would have preferred it colder, even if that does dull the flavour).
Because the festival website is pretty poorly constructed (I felt it was more directed at getting suppliers to book booths, rather than at people planning to attend) I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to be seeing, so we did a sweep around while we drank our cider, to see what was there.
Clustered around the entrance was a series of food vans, doing a roaring trade. Sausage-inna-bun from many nations, hog roast, lamb roast, paella, tagine, the Mussel Men, cocktails, mocktails and wine. It was pretty obvious that a lot of people were coming through the gate and not getting past this inner ring of barbecue-scented heaven.
Beyond that, were rows of stalls. Some from restaurants doing little tasting plates (these weren't attracting nearly the attention that the vans were). Most selling food and food-adjacent stuff (I love the guy who sells the knives - he's at all these things). At this point I came across one of the downsides to being married to Paul - he hates accepting tasters. There were dozens of people offering us bites of bacon, mouthfuls of wine and whiskey (fortunately not in the same glass), cubes of feta, wodges of baklava and chunks of bread dunked in sauces and he just wanted to whisk by all of them. I did get to try a bit of a really delicious paratha, and a taste of a couple of really unusual sauces, but that was it.
Then it was back to the food trucks for lunch. We decided to get a few different things and share them, to maximise the variety of tastes.
Clearly, with a barbecue set up doing whole rib-eyes over a bed of charcoal, we had to have a sandwich from El Gaucho.
A simple, fresh white bread roll, stuffed with delicious meat and slathered with a chimichurri sauce. Even though those pieces of meat look like they have been cooked to buggery, the meat was still slightly pink in the middle and very tender. A very good way to begin our lunch. It was a bit difficult to get the second half out of Paul's paw so that I could try it, though.
For our second course, we had an Argentinian chorizo in a bun (I didn't get a good picture). It was, I think, the best chorizo I have ever had. Spicy, slightly smokey, very garlicky and delicious. It came with some rocket, grilled red pepper and some more chimichurri. Another excellent sandwich!
I asked where they get their chorizos from, and the guy behind the counter said they have a specialist butcher but wouldn't tell me who...
At this point another drink was in order, and because it really was a very warm day, we shared a pint of Pimms. Just perfect. It gave us the energy for our third course.
|Banh Mi 11|
Banh Mi 11 had one of the less-straightforward systems I have seen. You had to queue next to the boy doing the grilling, then order and pay one woman, who controlled the traffic, only letting you go up to the van window in twos and threes while your food was assembled. People who missed the memo and tried to queue directly at the window were sent away. The two girls who were actually putting the orders together were not the quickest or most efficient, so there was a bit of a wait.
It was worth it though. This was a truly delicious banh mi. It was their Imperial BBQ - thinly sliced pork belly, marinated in lemongrass, caramel and fish sauce. As much as I love the pate and mayonnaise you usually get in banh mi, this lighter version just stuffed with fresh pickled carrot and daikon, slices of cucumber and coriander really let the salty sweet meat come through.
At this point another drink was in order, so we shared a Sipsmith G&T. A double, of course.
None of the cooking demonstrations in the tent were floating my boat (Ed Baines, Clare Smyth - I hadn't noticed that there was a Middle Eastern food one on as well, I would have gone to that!) so we decided to do a final blitz on the stalls we knew we wanted to buy from and head home.
What did we buy? Seven German sausages (can't remember the name of the stall, but they were all Landjaeger/ salami sort of cured sausages with a lovely lactic tang), 3 packs of Great British Sausages, 2 Posh Pork Pies, and a bottle of King's Ginger. Not a bad haul for a day out. The wafting aroma of sausages from Paul's bag on the trip home was pretty funny though.