Pizza Pilgrims

I took a right from Oxford Street, heading down to Berwick Street, to the market beyond where Pizza Pilgrims resides. Not that I haven’t tried a few on my way back, but it felt uneasy to unwillingly avoid all other gastro-traps along the short walk to the rearmost of the market where the dark green van was enthroned, apart from others. Somehow, or after reading all that stuff about them, I was well aware that I was about to taste something special.

On my way there, abruptly, I found myself in a fragrant aura of rich tomato sauce steam nourished by the fumes seeping out of the stone oven constructed in the van ahaed of me. At that very moment, I charged to the van and rapidly browsed the menu board to pick my feed. I would have picked Margherita of which I believe a ‘pizzaiolo’ can only be rightously evaluated with. But there was ‘Nduja, which is actually margherita topped with ‘nduja itself – a spreadable italian sausage similar to chorizo, but a little spicier. So I went for ‘Nduja this time.

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Bhangra Burger

A burger with Indian flavours? Sounds very promising. Bhangra burger is one of the famous traders in London Street Food scene and it was on my list for some time, until me and my brother Engin went to Street Feast London.

Alec Owen travelled in India after university, moved to Brixton from Birmingham, left his career in Architecture and created Bhangra Burger. In his green truck, he combines handmade patties with chutneys, pickles, salads, and herbs, then serves in flatbread.

Here is the menu:

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Tongue ‘n Cheek

As a person who is most interested in unusual and uncommon food, I was very intrigued by Tongue ‘n Cheek since I heard about it. I believe offal food is mostly underrated and the restaurants who manage to cook them properly, just like St. John, become quite famous and valued. From time to time back in Turkey, I used to enjoy and eat dishes like lamb intestines, tripe soup, lamb feet and brain soup, lamb brain salad, and so forth. I know you are are probably turned off now but it is the exact point I am trying to make, these are really delicious when cooked with a bit of skill.

The best place to find good offal dishes in Europe is without a doubt; Rome. Apparently centuries ago, muscular cuts of animals were spared for the rich and noble, and offal cuts were given to the poor. Over time, this situation enabled Romans to come up with distinctive offal dishes and cooking techniques, all under the name “cucina povera” (poor cuisine), and it has a huge importance in modern Rome cuisine.

Cristiano Meneghin left a career in marketing and moved to UK last year to take a part in renaissance of the UK street food culture. He prepares ox tongue (with salsa verde or horseradish & apple), ox cheek (with polenta and vegetables) and polenta (with vegetables). He buys the meat from Woodwards Farm, Cambridgeshire, and the bread from Wild Caper in Brixton. He cooks the meat for 21 hours in a mix of Meantime stout, extra virgin olive oil, thyme, bay leaves, tarragon, rosemary, sea salt, black pepper, and stout beer. In the end all the fat melts, meat becomes extremely tender and gets all the flavours in the mix. Everything sounds perfect so far: We have an Italian person who left everything and moved to the UK, found local quality offal food, cooking it very well and aspiring to transform people’s view towards offal. Knowing these, I made my way to Real Food Market in Southbank Centre.

When I arrived at the Tongue ‘n Cheek stand, they were out of coleslaw and preparing some new. I asked for ox cheek, and enjoyed watching the guy (not sure if he was Cristiano) slicing the carrots slowly and carefully, one by one, and then mixing with lettuce. It was like somebody preparing me some food at their home.

Here is the ox cheek. The only cheek I ever ate was fish cheek (it’s amazing, if you haven’t tried it yet) so the wait was quite exciting.

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Pom Pom Takoyaki

I first came across Pom Pom Takoyaki at Lonely Planet’s Street Food Festival, which happened in Shoreditch late March. My second try was in The StockMKT. Although there were some good flavours and textures, this snack was missing something very fundamental.

Apparently Takoyaki is a street food invited in 1935 in Osaka, Japan. The idea is placing a piece of octopus in a savoury pancake, cooking it and serving it with mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce. Pom Pom ladies were also preparing it with chicken and potatoes.

Clearly cooking these balls need some skills.

I went for the classic one and got three balls of octopus Takoyaki.

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Kebab Kitchen

As a Turkish person, I feel Kebab Kitchen is a good place to start!

Kebab Kitchen made its debut in The StockMKT. It is formed by two chefs: James Ramsden and Oliver Thring. Apparently the duo decided to make the best doner kebabs in London. Personally, I’d like to thank them for this, as Doner is basically a drunk person’s food (including me) in this city. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, knowing that I’ll have a Doner on my way back home has started to be my main one of my major motivations to go out and get hammered have a few drinks with friends. But surely, when compared to ones in their homeland, doners in the UK are so low on quality, and deserve to be prepared better. Anyways, after they decided to make the best, they made their way to Turkey, and ate lots of kebabs. In Turkey, many cities has their own cuisines, and Antep is (almost) a religion for many foodies, so it was exciting to see they have made their way down there. The results of Turkey trip was apparent when I read that they have decided to include ingredients such as smoked yoghurt, pomegranate, sumac and parsley.

I like to do research about food that I encounter often, so before continuing James and Oli’s version, here is doner in a nutshell: It was invented in 1850s in Bursa, Turkey (the very same restaurant still operates! ), when a guy called İskender Efendi put boneless pieces of meat on top of each other, and cooked them by rotating in front of a charcoal stack, hence the name döner (Turkish for “Rotates / Turns”). Originally doner used to be made with lamb. In years it has changed: now almost all doners in Turkey are made from minced veal meat. There are very few places that aspire to make authentic doner by cooking pieces of meat with charcoal, but they include at most 30% lamb meat. Londoners are lucky in this manner, as it is always made with lamb here. Also, as I have once pictured in one of my doner posts of my old blog, it is almost always served with just tomatoes, onion, sumac and pepper – nothing else. A presentation that I always prefer, provided that the meat is of high quality.

So, right after a pint at the office on a Friday afternoon, I made my way to Borough.

Some notable street food vendors where there: Pizza Pilgrims, Big Apple Hot Dogs and Egg Boss. The newbie Pom Pom Takoyaki too, which I had the chance to taste in Lonely Plane Street Food Festival.

I made my way directly to Kebab Kitchen.

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