Welcome to the fourth instalment of my Saturday Supplements covering the 2014 London Coffee Festival, which took place last month at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. So far there’s been a general round-up, and reports on Cups and Kit. Today it’s the turn of the food.
You’re actually well catered for in terms of food at the London Coffee Festival, with the Street Food Market. This year things got even better with the addition of the St Ali pop-up café in the Milk and Sugar zone downstairs. Since I was there for three of the four days, I spent a lot of time in the Street Food Market and, judging by how busy it was, I get the feeling lots of other people did too.
However, if you were there for just one session, you might not have wanted to spend too much of your precious time eating, which is where the St Ali pop-up came into its own. Milk and Sugar was open to all attendees once each session had closed, allowing you to pop down for something to eat, as well as another coffee (as if you needed one) before you hit the road.
You can see exactly what I got up to after the gallery.
I managed to sample pretty much all of the food options that were of interest me (I don’t eat meat, so that ruled out quite a lot). The only one I really missed out on was the Arancini Brothers: I literally got there moments after the last risotto ball had been sold! I didn’t feel too bad though since I had visited (and written about) them last year. Instead I managed to catch three other excellent food vendors (one per day) as well as extensively (exhaustively? exhaustedly?) sampling what St Ali had on offer.
We’ll start at the beginning with Friday lunchtime which I spent at Dorshi, who serve lovely dumplings. I had the amusingly-named Vegetative State, four fried dumplings filled with field mushrooms, spring onions and blue vinny cheese. These came on a bed of pearl-barley with a rainbow salad. It was all very tasty and pretty healthy too. Meat-eaters had the option of pork dumplings (steamed, not fried).
On Friday evening, I repeated a trick I learnt last year, popping by the Rola Walla stall just before closing time to see if there were any naan breads left over. The thing is, I love naan bread and am very happy to eat it just as it comes. Since the unused breads are usually thrown away at the end of the day, the staff are happy to do you a deal; in my case, I got one free on the promise of coming back for lunch the following day. However, don’t rely on this: the other two times I tried this, even the naan breads were gone!
On Saturday, I kept my promise and headed back to Rola Wala for my vegetarian naan bread wrap. Rola Wala were really busy; it was like a production line there, a continuous line of naan breads being filled with lots of yummy ingredients. Since it was so busy I didn’t hang around, taking photos and getting in the way. I do remember really liking my wrap though (you can see why I’ll never make the grade as a foodie!).
The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club is something of a London institute, with various branches around the city. I’ve been wanting to pay it a visit for some time now, but whenever I’ve passed one, there have been massive queues, so I’ve always given it a miss. So, when The Breakfast Club was good enough to come to me at the London Coffee Festival, I could hardly say no.
It was Lee Hall, the Matthew Algie rep for London, who alerted me to The Breakfast Club’s presence by sitting himself down next to me on Saturday with a plate of Chorizo, Egg, Avocado and Peppers on a muffin, all smothered in Hollandaise sauce. It looked lovely, but, of course, not very vegetarian-friendly.
However, I vowed to make The Breakfast Club my stop for Sunday Brunch and so popped back the next day to order the same dish, sans chorizo. To my surprise, the lovely staff replaced the chorizo with grilled halloumi. It was delicious, easily the food highlight of my Coffee Festival this year. Of course, regular readers will know that I have this thing for Eggs Florentine, so I was predisposed to like it. Even so, it was truly excellent.
I thought I would leave you with my various visits to St Ali, which proved to be both a haven from the organised chaos of the festival and a life-saver in terms of emergency food supplies. I first popped down on Friday night to sample the coffee (there’ll be a specific Saturday Supplement post on the coffee I had at the Festival) , but while I was there, I also tried the food.
Although the menu was rather meat-based, there were a couple of interesting options. I went with My Mexican Cousin (did you know I had a Mexican cousin? No? Me neither) which is actually corn-fritters (technically corn, coriander and chilli) with halloumi and spicy tomato relish. The end result was very tasty though.
I was back on Saturday, when I had the other vegetarian option on the menu, the Melbournian, which turns out to be avocado and feta mash on toast. With optional Vegemite. Optional? There’s no optional about it. Since Vegemite was described to me as like Marmite, only more so, there was no way that was going near my plate! Without being sullied with Vegemite, the Melbournian turned out to be a very pleasant late-afternoon snack.
On my final day, Sunday, I staggered down to St Ali, hungry, over-caffeinated, dehydrated and with a pounding headache. In desperate need of something to eat, I found that all that the only thing left was chips! However, the saving grace is that these were awesome chips; thick cut, golden fried and, when you are in the state I was in, manna from heaven! It helped that they were being served with some lovely homemade brown sauce. The chips were so good that I had two portions and, thus revived, was able to make my way safely home.
As well as all this savoury food, St Ali also had some lovely cakes on offer, with St John’s doughnuts, lemon drizzle cake and lamingtons made especially for St Ali. The lamingtons proved surprisingly (to me) popular: I only ever saw them there once, the rest of the time they’d all gone. However, the St John’s doughnuts were equally surprisingly hard to shift, so much so that there were loads left when I popped down on Friday night. Under such circumstances it would have been rude not to have one, wouldn’t it?
If you want to learn more about the London Coffee Festival, you can read what some of my fellow-bloggers made of it:
- there’s Gulia’s report on mondomulia
- new blogger, Freshly Brewed Cup, presents Part 1 and Part 2 of a review
- while old friend liquidjolt has a written a piece on Make Decent Coffee
- Cups of Coffee London has a picture gallery
- and there’s even coverage from Holland and The Coffee Vine (who also covered the Amsterdam Coffee Festival which I wasn’t able to go to)!
|15 HANBURY STREET • THE OLD TRUMAN BREWERY • LONDON • E1 6QR|
|Thursday||10:00 – 17:00 (Industry only)|
|Friday||10:00 – 17:00 (Industry only)|
|17:00 – 20:00 (Evening Session)|
|20:00 – 22:00 (Launch Party)|
|Saturday||10:00 – 13:00 (Brunch Session)|
|13:00 – 16:00 (Lunch Session)|
|16:00 – 19:00 (Teatime Session)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 13:00 (Brunch Session)|
|13:00 – 16:00 (Lunch Session)|
|16:00 – 19:00 (Teatime Session)|
If you liked this post, please let me know by clicking the “Like” button. If you have a WordPress account and you don’t mind everyone knowing that you liked this post, you can use the “Like this” button right at the bottom instead.
Don’t forget that you can share this post with your friends using the buttons below.