MFDF: Street Food / Festival Hub

28 Sep

Street food is a glorious concept, but not one we do particularly well in Britain. Whilst I’m sure the majority would lap up the idea of beef and gravy in Yorkshire pudding on the way home from the pub, our traditional cuisine doesn’t really lend itself to easy scoffing on the street, and resultantly have had to borrow from other countries to get anywhere near delivering the cheap, tasty, roadside experience you can find in India or Vietnam.

Sure, we have the ice cream man, fish and chip stand and the ubiquitous burger van, but these saturated fatty delights are all concepts borrowed from other countries, and apart from fish and chips, have been made considerably worse since landing here. (I’m eyeballing YOU Mr. Whippy). It made for a glad heart and expectant gut when the concept went gourmet. So far, only London has done the most recent food trend with any aplomb, with gems like as Meat Wagon kick-starting the burger fad that labours on to this day, and Kimchi Cult, dishing up Korean fast-food that hasn’t yet hit the conciousness of the North.

In Manchester, we have a few contenders in Ginger’s Comfort Emporium and The Hungry Gecko, and joyfully, these have all been herded up and penned in at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival (MFDF) hub on Albert Square, with a moving feast of proprietors throughout the run of the festival. A fine line has been crossed with the invitation of restaurants like 63 Degrees and Chilli Banana, moving the designated ‘street food’ area into pop up territory, but as long as the food is inexpensive, easy to eat and delicious, it works for me.

MFDF Street Food: Zouk

MFDF Street Food: Churros Susanna

Despite the current run of cack weather, the festival hub was still pretty busy on a chilly Thursday evening, no doubt helped by the sheltered beer tent and the warmly-lit Liars Club pop up bar, which had drawn quite the crowd. A mix of after work drinkers and beardy flat-capped types, my mate Alison and I spent the evening stalking the street food stands, finally settling on a not-so-dirty seekh kebab from Zouk and a fat-ass pot of churros from Churros Susanna, all washed down with a pint of Old Tom* from Robinson’s Pub on the Hub. All in all, my multi-cultural combination came in at the tidy sum of £7.80. Joy!

Zouk Kebabs

Churros and Chocolate Sauce

Robinson’s Old Tom

Wood-fired pizza from Fire and Slice Pizza and game burgers (with the most disgustingly decadent sounding red onion and cheddar coleslaw to slap on your bun) from Ank Marvin all sounded pretty special too. With a cider tent (which I’m saving myself for after Tuesday’s glut with The Moss Cider Project) and portable wine van from Harvey Nichols, there’s also booze for all, easy to wander around with people watching or enjoying the sounds from the live music stage, and though reggae music might not be the most fitting choice for a grim Manchester night, it was still a pretty good do.

* One of the best Manchester brews around. Rich chocolate in colour with an initial hit of roasted coffee, it comes over all dandelion and burdock towards the end of each swill. Northern heaven in a pint glass.

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