The London Diaries: Market Wanderings, Nitrogen Ice-Cream & A Duck Confit Burger

One of the things I love most about London is it’s markets. Be it foodie heaven (ahem, Borough), street food munching, vintage hunting, or even just the farmer’s market across the road from my flat, there’s always something going on.

 photo 2014-10-11160243_zps52409faf.jpgPortobello Market is somewhere I need to visit properly before I leave London next month. I walked through a few weeks back, on the way to unsuccessfully queuing for a Dave Gorman recording (the queue was cut right in front of us – more than annoying as the couple in front had been space-saving for others!). It may have been cold and rainy that day, I may have been rather ill, but it was an area of London I instantly fell in love with. The amount of dresses I could have bought on the spot was insane, so maybe it’s best if I don’t pop back…

 photo cba40020-601a-418f-81a5-39ecce17bfe3_zps0d519448.jpg photo 9503e468-b958-4156-800a-7d70491997bf_zpsa81b1024.jpg photo 9832aaa7-8f08-4458-a291-8667736625c4_zps03f73642.jpgBorough Market is my idea of heaven. Amazingly fresh produce to buy and cook at home (I’m desperate to spy the ‘grow your own mushroom’ pots they did a few years back), street food, baked goods and a buzzy atmosphere, I adore it. I could spend hours here.

 photo Camden Market13_zpsjx7wlg8y.jpg photo Camden Market12_zpsoofwqjk8.jpgNow, Camden. This is a bit of a controversial one, and it often surprises people that know me well – but I LOVE it. Growing up I was one of the more ’emo’ types (I HATE those kind of groupings), I may have shopped in Punky Fish, and me and my friend used to beg her parents to bring us to Camden each school holiday. We danced around Cyberdog being filmed by a Spanish TV company, ate far too much free fried chicken, bought outrageously studded belts. Camden was the first place where I bought my own clothes (a surprisingly feminine beaded dress I actually still own and wear seven years on). Recently I’ve introduced my sister to Camden, she loved it to so I’m hoping to drag her down over my Christmas holidays for another day out.

 photo Camden Market1_zpskh8n5bl0.jpg photo Camden Market11_zpssod5vz1h.jpgWithin Camden there also happens to be one of the best ice-cream shops I’ve ever been to. I thought it would be a bit naff to be honest, all show and no flavour, but I was wrong. I’ve blogged about Chin Chin before a while ago – I’ve been back several times since. This time I went for the standard Chocolate ice-cream topped with Cinnamon Toast. My sis went for Vanilla topped with Heather Honeycomb, and my mum had Melon with Almond Crumb, the dairy free option.

 photo Camden Market4_zpspun4t75y.jpg photo Camden Market8_zpsmbanoizh.jpg photo Camden Market10_zpsad6covaj.jpgAll were delicious. The chocolate flavour is not for the faint-hearted as it is shockingly rich (I struggled to finish it), intensely chocolatey and quite bitter. The vanilla is perfectly flavoured. The dairy-free is a revelation. I’ve had their dairy-free options before and can voucher for how smooth they are – and my dairy-intolerant mum says it’s the best ice-cream she’s had in a while. Whilst all our toppings were yummy, I have to say I have a massive soft spot for the grilled white chocolate. It’s a must-try!

From sweet to savoury (and only two days later…), me and W came out of the Decision Exhibition starving and ready to eat. We had mixed feelings about the exhibition, there’s probably not quite enough there to warrant the ticket price but the concept is brilliant – and the queues were so long we spent over an hour longer than expected. Our plans for a cheap sandwich grab gone, we headed over to the Southbank Street Food Market. A quick wander round and allergy check, there was one clear winner – Duck Confit Burgers from Frenchies. I’ve seen these doing the rounds on blogs so was definitely eager to try! The burger is essentially a decent portion of duck confit, some duck crackling, melted cheese, onion relish, mustard and rocket, all served in a brioche bun. Our cheese of choice was the Smoked Cheddar, and W chose to hold the mustard (weirdo).

 photo Frenchies Duck Confit Burger - 5_zps2huhzszp.jpg photo Frenchies Duck Confit Burger - 2_zpsw9qmlem4.jpg photo Frenchies Duck Confit Burger - 1_zpsrotodxht.jpg photo Frenchies Duck Confit Burger - 3_zpsuhvipopx.jpg photo Frenchies Duck Confit Burger - 4_zpsj0kadoyk.jpgThey were delicious. Hands down the best street food I’ve tried so far (I’m taking recommendations for other places to try!). Rich, salty, tangy from the cheese and mustard, a sweetness from the chutney, crunch from the crackling and a soft bun. And obviously meltingly tender and flavourful duck. Just wonderful. I can’t recommend this enough.

You might be able to tell, I’m absolutely loving London life. I’ve been able to make loads of blogging events and meet up with some lovely ladies. I’ve eaten far too much food, done a little too much shopping and generally just had fun. I don’t want to leave in a few weeks!

What’s your favourite part of London? Any street food recommendations for me?

Lifestyle: Mother Clucker Fried Chicken

I have a little secret: KFC is my guilty pleasure. I don’t have it often, and even when I do there’s not much of it (a Boneless Banquet for One at most, but generally a Lunchbox – crispy strips are the best!) but I do love it. I could quite happily go without fries, there’s something about the heavily seasoned, juicy, slightly-greasy-but-still-crunchy chicken that really does it for me. Homemade is great (see my recipe) but admittedly doesn’t have the naughty factor that I start craving every few months.

 photo IMG_0650_zpse1df98cd.jpgBUT, dare I say, I think I’ve found something better. After heading to the Art of the Brick (a pretty fabulous art exhibition made of LEGO – seriously go if you find yourself with time between now and January) myself and boyfriend were rather hungry, a little chilly, and getting damp from the lovely November weather. But hey! Street food 100 yards away from the exhibition can’t be turned down. Despite the half-mile walk past warm places to a cash machine and back again… After a debate between a filthy (in a good way) looking cheeseburger and some kind of Venezuelan goodies, we saw this little van. The converted US Army ambulance houses Mother Clucker Fried Chicken. Mac’n’Cheese drew us in, but we added some crispy strips to share. And we are glad we did!

 photo 8872e244-8ec3-4586-bd14-edb2ef17a5d7_zps97de56be.jpgThe Mac was damn good to be honest. Creamy, but weirdly light (though I still left a good amount – it was huge!). Not exactly crispy on top, but there was a contrast between soft pasta, gooey sauce, and more cheese. Decent seasoning, and a great kick from the chillies scattered in the sauce (which were still fresh and juicy too). I need to experiment with adding fresh chilli to a mac’n’cheese, it adds a great freshness. I’m sure you can expect a recipe soon!

 photo IMG_0651_zpsc9c9c5bf.jpgThe chicken, the main event, was just as good. A really decent kick from what tasted like far more than 11 herbs and spices, I reckon KFC would taste bland after these. In fact, there was a huge need for a nearby drink, these combined with the Mac’n’Cheese provided a pretty hefty kick to the back of the throat. Not a hint of sogginess, some parts were even too crunchy – though these served well as a mac-scoop (I’m a classy lady!). The meat was insanely juicy, ridiculously tender. I never wanted it to end. Apart from when I got full, and even then I debated saving it to eat cold a few hours later (I didn’t, I wanted to go to Liberty’s and decided they wouldn’t appreciate fried chicken being carried in).

For the amount of food, the price wasn’t tooooo bad. Street food isn’t cheap anymore, it’s too trendy for that. Spare change isn’t going to cut it, this lunch of a mac each, a portion of crispy chicken and a drink cost a potentially eye-watering £17. But it was damn good, filling, warming, and I’d happily pay it again. KFC, however, now feels overpriced. Currently found at The Truman Brewery, I highly recommend you sniff this van out!

Now I’ve spilled my secret, what’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to food? Any street food vans you recommend?

What’s Occurring Wednesday: Modern Street Food and a Traditional Village Show

It’s no secret that both me and my boyfriend are massive foodies, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some part of our weekends always revolves around food. Whether it’s a trip to a farmer’s market or cooking a nice meal together, food is a big part of relaxing together. These past two weekends have been no different, though we’ve done completely different things!

 photo 2014-09-13093105_zps8795a740.jpg photo 2014-09-13150354_zpsb756f772.jpgThis past weekend was his village’s first “annual” show, and my it was very traditional. Lots of classes to enter (I was unfortunately unable to enter due to not living in the parish), an old-fashioned tombola, and lots of lovely cups of tea being handed around. I was quite taken with the vegetable classes, until I noticed the table with all the dahlias on. These are my absolute favourite flower, so I got a bit snap-happy. Definitely prettier than the ‘funny shaped vegetable’ class!

 photo 2014-09-13150222_zpscf8356a1.jpg photo 2014-09-13150145_zps6a3c57b6.jpg photo 2014-09-13150111_zps368cabb0.jpg photo 2014-09-13150039_zps437ef433.jpg photo 2014-09-13150001_zpsace7f21f.jpg photo 2014-09-13145910_zps54dc8b87.jpgOf course we also spent plenty of time near the Cakes and Bakes classes. My boyfriend actually entered two – the Victoria Sponge, and the Decorated Cupcakes. Now I personally think the sponge class was a bit of a con – it was a set recipe, but not one of them worked. Very little rise to the sponges, though I’m sure they tasted delicious. Cupcakes, now they are more my thing. Turns out they’re my boyfriends thing too, as his Caramel Apple Cupcakes won first prize! And don’t they look delicious?

 photo 2014-09-13093140_zps2fc9557c.jpg photo 2014-09-13093226_zps98ea998f.jpg photo 2014-09-13093125_zpse195806e.jpgMaybe if you all ask nicely he’ll share his winning recipe?!

 photo 2014-09-13144744_zps78bc8f5d.jpgOutside we were impressed by the ‘Heaviest Pumpkin’ class – look at the size of that beast! Though take a look at the perfectly round orange one in the corner; we suspect this was a bought-in specimen!

 photo 2014-09-13150654_zps2250ba99.jpgThe weekend before was significantly less traditional. In line with my aim of getting out more during my placement year, when I found out about a Street Food festival in the next town/village from me there was no question about what we’d be doing. Reigate Street Eats it was! Now I didn’t take many photos, for the simple fact that it took place in a tunnel, it was dark (and slightly smoky, thanks to the pub who set up a BBQ and clearly didn’t know quite how to use it). We also didn’t eat much, only (horror!) sampling one vendor. We did have a massive curry planned for that evening after all!

 photo 2014-09-06131702_zps93760273.jpg photo 2014-09-06131832_zpsbdcbefdd.jpgHaving spent much of the summers of my young teenage years in Turkey, I was excited to find out that The Tinderbox were doing Lahmacun. I immediately sent out a tweet pretty much begging for a tomato-free version, and after a bit of a mixup at the van I had my hands on something I’d been craving for over four years.  Spicy mince pressed into excellent dough, served in a wood burner, then scattered with lemon, pine-nuts, herbs, seasoned yoghurt and pine nuts before being folded. What could be better?!

 photo 2014-09-06131754_zpsf6eaf407.jpg photo 2014-09-06131740_zps67dfa056.jpg photo 2014-09-06130328_zps650b30cc.jpgStreet food at its finest – fresh, hot and tasty, easy to eat, quick to make, relatively healthy and extremely tasty. Thanks for making a tomato-allergic girl very happy Tinderbox! And just look at the woodburning van too – we want one! Having experienced one street food festival I’ve got my eyes set on some of the London ones now – where’s best to go?

Have you been a foodie lately? Would you like to see a recipe for Caramel Apple Cupcakes? Trust me, they were delicious!