Gurmetti

When choosing food, knowing where it comes from / where it was produced is a big bonus for me. Knowing that the ham I eat at lunch break comes from a small farm near Parma, produced from wild black pigs in traditional (and ethical) ways, transported to London without being frozen, prepared by an Italian whose family is involved in the industry for several generations, and sold in a family-owned customised three-wheel Piaggio van, is a massive bonus too. This is why Gurmetti is one of my favourite food trucks in London, as I strongly feel Italian authenticity, and use of quality fresh products in simple combinations.

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I like small, simple and authentic stuff. Why would I prefer a huge truck selling greasy bread chunks with pizza flavourings to this three wheeler, which looks like it just parked here after a short journey on narrow dusty  Italian village roads under hot sun?

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Pasta e Basta

I came across Pasta e Basta (Fabrizio and Raminta), three months ago in Red Market. I love Italian cuisine, architecture, the people, climate, well almost everything Italian. Surely this made my decision easy when I arrived the market.

I had a quick research on the history of pasta: Apparently, although fried dough dishes were consumed since first century, the first reference to the dried pasta we know is dated 1154, describing it being produced and sold in Sicily. It was eaten dry with the fingers, until tomato sauce was introduced in 1790! Probably no one paid much attention to this pasta revolution, which happened just one year after the French Revolution. Bad timing.

Pasta e Basta (meaning “just pasta“) make their own pasta in small quantities in Hackney, with quality flour and free-range eggs. This is great to know, as I think quality ingredients and freshness are two prerequisites for a good dish, everything else is secondary. On the day of my visit, they were serving Tagliatelle, Papardelle or Gnocchi with either prawn and squid,  or pancetta, or basil and mozarella, all in tomato sauce. They say thin sauces go with thin pasta as sauce slide easily on smooth pasta surface.  Hollow or twisty shapes, on the other hand, are supposed to be better with chunkier sauces, as the saucy bits can nest inside or get caught in the ridges. Based on this, I think Pasta e Basta’s pasta and sauce combinations should work!

In addition to these dishes, there was a guest too: basil ravioli filled with Devonshire crab, served in light prawn and tomato sauce. Local crab and prawns.. I’m definitely in for that.

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Fresella

I was lucky to be born in a country with a very rich and diverse cuisine. Having settlements dating to 10.000 BC, experiencing four seasons to their full, surrounded by sea,  being on many ancient trade routes, habited by countless number of civilizations, and being situated in the intersection of east and west, Turkey has an abundance of amazing food of its own and plus many different cuisines nearby.  Dominant inner-cuisines differ from region to region, even from city to city and they are quite different from each other. Still – all these years, both in Turkey and anywhere I went in the World, my favourite cuisine has always been Mediterranean cuisine. Lightly cooked ripe vegetables, fresh local seafood, drizzles of dense quality olive oil, with a glass of vine.. Feels so elegant and quality, which is why I started walking fast towards Fresella when I first saw them in Red Market at a lunch break.

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Luardo’s

It is a ritual in my company: almost every Friday we do a burrito run, which is how I met Luardo’s. They make huge and tasty burritos, perfect for feeling a bit heavy in the afternoon and getting ready for drinking in the evening.

As with other dishes I eat often, I did a quick research on burritos. One of the first similar examples were seen in pre-Columbian Aztec peoples of Mexico, who were wrapping tomatoes, mushrooms, avocados etc in tortillas. According to the modern Mexican folk history though, around 1910s, a guy called Juan Mendez was wrapping food inside tortillas and selling them with his donkey. In time, “food of the little donkey” changed into “little donkey”, which is the meaning of the word burrito in Spanish. Also, as you can probably guess, burritos in Mexico are often made with only refried beans and/or meat, and the burrito that we know (with guacamole, sour cream, rice, cheese, ..) is actually American style.

Inspired by Petra Barran‘s (founder of eat.st) Choc Star van, disappointed with festival food, and having ten grand at bank but not knowing what to do, Simon – or John? 🙂 – decided to buy a van and sell Mexican street food. What’s impressive about Luardo’s is their attention to freshness and quality. Every day between 7am and 11:15am, they prepare fresh tomato salsa, habanero hot sauce, their own guacamole and tender slow cooked meats, plus all the other burrito ingredients. You may well manage to prepare a bad dish out of quality ingredients, but you can not prepare a good dish with low-quality ingredients. Luardo’s surely has a good base in this sense.

They have two vans, a lime green one called Jesus, and a pink one called Mary. Jesus resides in Whitecross street whilst Mary pop out in eat.st Kingscross. On a Thursday, me and Engin -the two food pilgrims- headed towards to see Jesus and have some holy bread.

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Kimchi Cult

Kimchi Cult is one of the most prominent participants of Eat.St and lately Street Feast. The duo behind, Danny and Sarah lived in Korea for a few years, came back to London and decided to become traders of the Korean tastes they are since then addicted to. Basically, they serve a variety of burgers with kimchi.

I did a brief research on kimchi before I decided to head to the Cult. I assumed it was a red version of Sauerkraut with more vegs, apparently I was partially right. The second issue of Lucky Peach spared a few pages on kimchi, written by his majesty David Chang. Luckily I had the time to read all that before my visit. There are lots of variations of kimchi, could be either red or white, but the most common is paechu kimchi, the one that you will find in Kimchi Cult. Broadly, it is napa cabbage, garlic, ginger, scallions and carrots all fermented in soy sauce and fish sauce for two weeks. Bold!

I was almost sure it would not do any harm to have a kimchi burger for my breakfast. I mean anything savory can be a breakfast, who needs eggs and tea anyway?

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Pitt Cue Co.

Along with MeatWagon and Lucky Chip, Pitt Cue Co is one of the most successful food trucks in London. They first appeared in Southbank last summer, became quite famous, partnered with Richard Turner from Hawksmoor and his business partner Simon Anderson, moved to Soho to open up a new restaurant, became more famous and now they have re-opened their trailer in Southbank, which was probably the best news I ever read in Twitter.

I first visited Pitt Cue Co right after they were opened in mid-January. We went there with my mom who was visiting me at that time, and faced a very, very long queue. Long queues motivate me a lot: I feel there is a treasure inside. We waited and got our rewards. I can not forget the time I started eating pulled pork, it was one of the best dishes I ever ate. A couple of weeks ago my brother came to London to visit me, and obviously we went to Pitt Cue Co. During our 110 minute wait for a table, when he called my mom and told that we were at Pitt Cue Co, she almost screamed out of joy.

I simply love everything smoked and love the smell of burning charcoal, I think it is one of the best smells in the world. Barbecues have a huge importance in Turkish cooking, I have countless memories of barbecuing with friends and family since my childhood. Even now too; we do barbecue literally every day in our summer house, any routine can change except that. I think is the best way to cook anything, even for coffee! While the fire is fading away from charcoals we usually cook some Turkish coffee and it always tastes better, probably because of slow boiling process. Two years ago I read an interview with Jamie Oliver, just before he opened Barbecoa. He said that; for thousands of years we cooked over wood and charcoal, it’s been 80 years or so since it has changed, but we miss those smoky flavours. I can not agree more.

Pitt Cue Co scheduled their re-opening for yesterday (Saturday) and I was planning to visit them at noon. Just before I was leaving work on Friday, on Twitter they said they will have a test go that evening and everyone is welcome. Instantly, my Friday evening plans changed and I made my way directly to Southbank.

It’s a large, shiny trailer and there is also some seating aside. They were not on Foursquare yet so I created a venue for them and checked myself in 🙂

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Cupp Tea Bar

I didn’t know there was a drink called Bubble Tea at all, until I came across Cupp Tea Bar in World Street Food Festival. I was already quite full and desperately in need of a refreshment. First I decided to try Daisy Green‘s frozen yoghurts but when I read that they contain zero fat, I changed my mind, as zero fat milk means skimmed milk, and skimmed milk is not really milk as that process kills every beneficial bacteria and does not leave much at all.

After living in Taiwan for three years, Lee and Amy wanted to bring back something Taiwanese and decided on bubble tea. They have a very cute Citroen H Van. I had the perfect timing when taking this photo:

As you might have guessed, bubble tea was invented in Taiwan in 1980s. It’s basically a mixture of tea, fruit syrup and/or milk. They also contain chewy tapoica (a kind of starch) balls – commonly called as pearls. Cupp Tea Bar prepares bubble teas and fruit teas with either black or green tea. Lots of flavours are available: Mango, strawberry, lychee, mint, coconut, grapefruit etc.. For 50p they also add tapoica or popping pearls. As the name suggests, popping pearls are fruit juice balls that pop in your mouth.

Amy prepares drinks with adding lots of ingredients and mixing all of them with a shaker.

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Anna Mae’s

Anna Mae cooks southern states street food, mainly either pulled pork sandwiches or mac ‘n cheese with various toppings. I was very intrigued by their smoked pork dishes along with their own BBQ sauce, but yesterday at World Street Food Festival it was mac ‘n cheese time and I had the chance to try it.

Mac ‘n Cheese actually has Italian roots (no surprise there). After American president Thomas Jefferson encountered the dish in Paris – in the times when it was fashionable-, he imported macaroni and Parmesan cheese to USA and later served a macaroni pie at a state dinner. Since that time, this dish has been associated with America and specifically southern American cuisine.

Anna Mae prepares four kinds of Mac ‘n Cheese, which are below:

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Speck Mobile

I first saw Speck Mobile last week at Street Feast, and yesterday I had the chance to try at World Street Food Festival in Southbank. Two Austrians cook their traditional dishes and one by one explain what dishes are with their German accent, I can not really refuse any food and presentation this local. This is one of the things I like most about London Street Food, you always find various kinds of authentic and great food so easily.

It’s really great that they put an example of every dish on their counter. I think this is extremely important for every street food trader, especially if they are cooking something unusual and their pans are above eye level. In food markets I am usually too excited to read ingredients and imagine the dish, seeing it is better in every way.

So here is the menu. The names are all in German and I don’t understand anything, I love it!

From left to right; Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein (Rare breed pork schnitzel Viennese style with potato cucumber salad), Speckknödel mit Sauerkraut (Tyrolean speck dumplings with sauerkraut), Kaspressknödel (Grilled herbed Alpine cheese dumplings with sour cream and chive sauce) and Apfelstrudel (Flaky thin apple strudel).

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French & Grace

French & Grace is actually a restaurant in Brixton. They do Mediterranean dishes, mostly salads and wraps. They also appear at Eat.st, and I visited them last week at Street Feast.

The two girls behind award winning food blog Salad Club were busy preparing wraps.

They were offering hot chorizo, grilled halloumi, and a wrap they call “über” which is a combination of chroizo and halloumi wraps. Needless to say, I went for the über.

It’s basically a mixture of hummus, red cabbage, chorizo, halloumi and a sauce which I reckon has mayo and/or yoghurt and tomatoes/chillies. Cabbage mix has quite a sweet taste, chorizo and hallomi are well balancing it. When you have both chorizo and hallomi it becomes over-salty but not really disturbing.

It was a fun eat, different and well matched tastes in a wrap. Still.. I can not really name it, but.. There was nothing striking me. Noting that I can say amazing. When I finished my wrap, I was happy but just because I had a wrap with lots of veggies and different combinations. It was not something that I’d go and say “Oh it’s very good you should try it”.

Rating: 7 / 10

Price: £5.5 – £6.5

Location: They have a restaurant in Brixton. For finding them on streets, check their twitter.