The very first London Food Month Night Market kicked off last night to a smashing start! Long queues trailed from food trucks while roving entertainment weaved in and out the crowds while funky beats from resident DJs played from the speakers and visitors sipped specially designed cocktails under colourful umbrellas, as well as creative eating and drinking areas ranging from brightly coloured telephone booths to little plastic igloos.
Despite the threat of inclement weather, this was no dampener on the mood. Perks Field was well and alive with activity, the festival vibe was strong with festival goers all smiles. This was a true celebration of food and we were impressed by the well thought out curation of activities and food vendors available at the market.
Here’s some of the highlights of the market we managed to get our hands on last night:
To start off, we visited Angela Hartnett’s popup version of her restaurant Murano, and her kitchen offered up two dishes – pork belly, girolles and honey soused tomatoes, and a dessert of pistachio and chocolate cannolis. We tried the pork belly, and absolutely loved how fresh the ingredients were, drizzled with a tasty vinaigrette that was tangy with a good olive oil to acid ratio, and how yummy the cherry tomatoes were, bursting with flavour in our mouths. Hartnett was joined by Thai food specialists KraPow, and over the next few days, will see other vendors joining her such as Naughty Roti and Suujook.
Night Market is one of the rare opportunities where classy restaurants bring their food to the streets, in a meeting with the street food trucks of London, and becomes more accessible for all. We really love this concept, as it can be hard to get a booking at restaurants, and sometimes, you really want some tasty restaurant nosh that’s also casual.
The next stop on our food journey through the Night Market was to Mews of Mayfair, who were offering up a very special, Instagram-worthy item: the charcoal bunned burger topped with black truffled brie. We were instantly drawn to the burger’s black as night colouration, and really liked the idea behind the dish.
Although strong in concept, the burger could have benefited from an extra slice of cheese to really bring out the full truffle flavour, but it was still delicious in its own way. Mews of Mayfair also offered other tasty looking delights, including deep fried halloumi with sriracha sauce.
Being Asian, Rainbo Gyoza Dumplings also caught our attention. This time at the festival, the dumpling specialists offered up an all new dish – Okinawan purple sweet potato fries served with wasabi peas and shichimi sprinkle, ponzu and wasabi mayo. Rainbo was also serving up their chicken, green chili and miso gyozas, pork with chinese chives gyozas, and the vegetarian option of shiitake mushroom and tofu gyozas, all served with Asian slaw and edamame peas.
Night Market also saw us trying out Mama’s Jerk for the first time. Specializing in Jamaican food, the smells from their store wafted up to our noses and drew us right in.
Mama’s Jerk features chicken that has been seasoned for 24 hours in a secret blend of spices, which is probably what makes it smell so darn good. We ordered a plate of jerk chicken and fried plantain, and were not disappointed.
We regretted not asking for the greens on the side, because boy was that jerk chicken spicy. It went very well with the sweet fried plantain though, and made for a perfect way to end off our food journey for the night. But we definitely recommend checking these guys out (they serve really good portions!).
Chef Massimo Bottura, owner of the Three Michelin Star and world number one restaurant 2016 (World’s 50 Best Restaurants) Osteria Francescana, was also present to talk about his involvement with reducing food waste. Bottura is heavily involved in such charities, having conceptualized the ‘Feeding the Planet’ initiative in 2014 in order to help provide food to the poorer parts of the world. Inspired by Enzo Ferrari’s mantra that “If you can dream it you can make it”, and eventually made it a reality with Refetterio, a pop-up concept presented at the 2015 Milan World Expo.
In addition to talking about his restaurant and initiatives, Bottura also gave a young aspiring chef some advice on what it takes to succeed in this world: humility, passion and dreams. Bottura also offered the advice to “open your eyes and ears and soak in what you can, but never forget who you are and where you come from”. This is some firm advice that really reflects his cooking style, as his food is known for reinventing traditional Italian recipes in new and creative ways.
Westfield also launched their exclusive open-air cinema at Night Market. Last night, the film playing was, appropriately, the food-themed film Chef (2014). Other films coming up include the Oscar-award winning La La Land (2016) on 10th June and blockbusters such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) on 16th June.
The Evening Standard’s Night Market looks set to have an amazing run with an incredible lineup of programmes and food vendors. Each night will be alight with life and love in its wonderful central London location, and is certainly an ideal way to spend a summer evening. For its inaugural concept, Night Market is off to a promising start, and we can’t wait to see how they continue developing and nurturing the concept to make it even more robust and refined in the years to come, making the Evening Standard’s Night Market a must-visit every summer.
London Food Month’s Night Market runs at Perks Field, Kensington till 18th June. For tickets and more information, check out their website here