June 7th, 2014
The Soho Food Feast was set up in 2011 by Margot Henderson, to support Soho Parish Primary School. The school is in the heart of Soho and often has a funding gap of about £40, 000. The Food Feast is a weekend event, held in St. Anne’s Churchyard and supported by local restaurants. This year it cost just under £20 per ticket and rations of food from some of the best chefs in London could be had for a £2 food ticket (bought in advance, inside the event). I was quite taken aback, while purchasing £10 worth of tickets, when one of the school teachers thanked me personally for helping to provide the school with a new playground!
Everyone was a little anxious this week, as the weathermen had forecast rain for Saturday. Extra preparations were made, including a second marquee, but as luck would have it, the rain stopped at 11.30 and we had a lovely sunny day. As you can see above, The Wright Brothers had to protect their Jersey Oysters from the sun rather than the rain.
The first thing to grab my attention was Brasserie Zédel, who occupy the space vacated by the Atlantic on Sherwood Street. They are known for being a proper brasserie in London with a prix fix menu.
I spotted their home baked bread and light fluffy brandade de morue – salt cod mixed with mashed potato, garlic, cream and olive oil – definitely one of my foodie high points of the day.
The French theme continued with Blanchette’s novel croque monsiere.
Maltby and Greek, import Greek food wine and oil, specialising in bottarga (cured fish roe).
They were offering little Greek “tapas” to suit whatever you were drinking.
Quo Vadis had a table full of little beef and chutney buns (all made in house) and some French bean and rockets salads.
Blacks came with tray loads of Scotch eggs,
made with black pudding, of course!
Natoora is a shop specialising in good quality natural ingredients.
Their sliced ham was excellent
and their beautiful red tomatoes grabbed my attention inside the marquee, where most colours were slightly muted.
I Camisa and Son is one of the few remaining Italian delicatessen left in Soho. Their table was loaded with focaccia sandiches
and tiny little mozzarella balls with olives.
Chipotle, who are a chain, still manage to step up and support the local community – look at that enthusiasm.
The tacos are pretty good and their killer Margaritas were quite a liquid high spot at the feast, this year and last!
Jacob Kenedy’s award winning Bocca di Lupo, kindly gave us
a delicious spicy arrabbiata pasta with chillis, tomatoes and tart parmesan cheese.
The Dean Street Townhouse provided one of the most talked about dishes
– the twice-baked smoked haddock soufflé. Oli said he’d been to the restaurant especially for one of these during the previous week and it cost quite a bit more than the £2 ticket. The soufflé was absolutely delicious.
Andina and Ceviche had adjoining stalls, which is not surprising since they are both Peruvian restaurants founded by Martin Morales.
Andina had a quinoa burger
and Ceviche had their special Don Ceviche – seabass ceviche in amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, limo chilli, sweet potato and red onions. They also had a Ceviche drinks stall with a fantastic Pisco Sour.
Brindisa were serving a traditional Catalan dish of butifarra with a white bean stew and allioli.
They also had a separate stall opposite, with chacuterie
and manchego cheese made from raw milk.
The St. John were cooking their
famous ox heart on the barbecue, served in little buns from the St. John Bakery.
The School of Wok, providers of “Asian Cookery lessons for people who want to know their pak choi from their choi sum”
had me convinced of their skills with these succulent sticky ribs.
The Fresh Olive Company and Belazu (run by the same people) had a big queue,
which is not surprising when you taste their beautiful olives.
Bateman 21 specialise in
souvlaki – literally skewers of fresh meats, vegetables and cheese, wrapped up in Greek flat bread, warmed on the grill.
Copita, who specialise in tapas, were cooking pulpo gallego – a Galician dish of boiled octopus with potato and sprinkled with pimentón – here they’d mixed the pimentón with mayonnaise.
They also had some beautiful fresh crayfish cooked on the griddle.
In the UK Signal Crayfish (from America) threaten our indigenous White-claw Crayfish and therefore can be trapped and eaten (with permission) as a conservation measure!
Steak specialists Flat Iron slow cooked Irish beef sous vide (under a vacuum) for 48 hours and finished it off on the barbecue.
Served here with hand pounded horseradish.
I half expected the beef to fall apart, but in spite of the long cooking, it was very tender and retained some chew, which is what I like. I was exceptionally jealous of Flat Iron’s beautiful 3 foot chopping board, but I just couldn’t convince them to let me have it for two food tokens.
Foxlow (an offshoot of Hawksmoor) cooked pork belly in thick bacon slices
and slow smoked beef,
then built a large sandwich with the two, along with some salad.
As you can see, they had to roll it tight in paper to keep it all together.
It was quite something with all that smokey barbecue flavour.
Hix had the usual salmon and seasonal vegetables, not to mention a very deep foodie debate.
Lina Stores (a traditional Italian delicatessen in Soho since 1944), had
the most exquisite pasta at the feast.
They warmed each portion separately in olive oil before sprinkling a little parmesan on top. It was absolutely delicious!
Koya were cooking up a storm.
The precision involved in making the omelette with chopsticks in a square frying pan is amazing. Thin layers are poured into the pan and the chef skilfully flicks it upwards to roll a rectangular cake.
The dashimaki tamago (omelette left) was sliced and served with kayaku onigiri (rice cooked with chicken and vegetables in a seaweed wrapper).
Terroirs had a huge dish of cooked green peppers, stuffed with soft white cheese.
These were served simply with an anchovy.
Mestizo is an authentic Mexican restaurant, not to be confused with Tex Mex cuisine, which is what most people think of as Mexican (Tex Mex could be described as an amalgamation of North Mexican cuisine with Texan farmhouse and cowboy fare).
I particularly noticed the rajas con crema (strips of poblano pepper in a sweet corn and onion cream sauce)
and pollo con mole (shredded chicken in tomato, onion and chipotle chile sauce).
The Union produced another of my absolute favoutites,
a salt cod fritter with allioli. It was like fried brandada – what a great idea! I asked them where they source their bacalao and they said they make it themselves – I was very impressed.
Duck Soup made a wonderful stand out vegetable fritter, which looked like a green pea peanut brittle.
It came with tahini yoghurt and sumac.
Our compere for the day was Phil Dirtbox, who probably is the voice of Soho.
I failed miserably to take pictures of any of the people who provided the drink. I previously mentioned Chipotle and Ceviche, but we also had marvellous service from The French House, The Travelling Gin Company and Kamm and Sons with their hilarious Punch and Judy.
We went for a wine tasting with Trevor at the St. John wine stall, but he insisted on sharing a bottle of white wine with us instead…
The food is great and I think you shot it all. I love the angle of St Anne’s pic, too.
Looks like a wonderful time. Cheers!
I think I nearly did. We had such a good time that it was tempting to go again on the Sunday too!
I should have taken Flat Ruthie, but I think on this occasion she might have burst 😉
Wow, that looks just wonderful. So much to eat and so much to see. What a delight.c
Thanks Cecilia – you could almost say wonderland 🙂
A total win-win situation! What a wonderful afternoon sampling so much non-everyday and helping such a worthwhile cause almost by default! Remember you writing about this before . . . .well, I will be scrolling this up and down awhile and then waiting for next year 🙂 !
Thanks Eha, me too – I’d buy the ticket now if it were on sale 🙂
Wow, what an awesome event, so much wonderful food, looks like a dream come true 🙂
Thanks Marcus – you would have loved it. They had an informal sponsorship by Weber and we were admiring all the different barbecue models they’d been loaned 🙂
Ooo that does sound right up my street, some seriously good cooking going on.
Black pudding scotch eggs! Whoa!
Thanks Rosemary – I’ve seen a few of those lately. The chef at Blacks was even doing a chorizo Scotch egg recently! The one I might have to try making would be with morcilla de Burgos – a very popular Spanish black pudding with a big taste 🙂
I loved the idea of that too!
Oh my goodness, what an amazing food festival – and for a lovely cause too. I would’ve found it difficult to choose between all those tempting offerings and scoffed far too much.
Thanks Andrea – it was very difficult to choose, but its all very informal and most of the stalls will let you try a spoonful of their food for free. I spent an hour or so walking round taking the pictures and talking to the chefs before eating and they were very kind to me 😉
Wow – am seriously regretting that we didn’t go but I had no idea if I’d still be here…silly me 😦 It looks absolutely amazing and for a fantastic cause. Couldn’t believed how many stalls there were. Seeing mention of Camisa and Lina Stores really bought back memories of when I was a child as there were so few Italian delicatessans in London we used to drive up to Soho with my dad (yes, you could still even manage to find parking in Soho on a Saturday afternoon!) and stock up every couple of weeks on supplies. Happy days
I wish you’d come, it’s such a big family like outing – right in the middle of London everyone is so nice to each other for a weekend.
I’m sure it will be on again next year, so if you are around next June you could bring your mum and dad 🙂
They’d love it too – it’s a date!
…and of course there are a few Spanish chefs and a lot of Spanish influenced food for Big Man 🙂
Wow. This is a serious post about some serious eating. Very well documented. That salt cod looked like something I’d love. I really enjoy food festivals where chefs have about a bite to win you over and showcase something wonderful. Duck soup? Black pudding? Yum! These are my faves. I also really like Mexican so the chipotle……yum! Great post!
Thanks Amanda – this one’s a really special one, run and organised by a chef 🙂
All that food looks absolutely fantastic! What caught my eye was those Scotch eggs. One day I hope to try one… Looks amazing!
Thanks Tessa – they seem quite popular at present, lots of people are making them 😉
You know, I kept thinking this would be the last booth.. and kept scrolling along. I am so impressed that so many chefs/restaurants came together at this event and for such a great cause! I don’t know how I would ever stop, I’d want to taste every last one!!
It was fantastic – I think all credit is due to Fergus and Margot Henderson, who are the sort of chefs who attract chefs. I was very lucky – I spent about an hour photographing the food and was given little tasters of most things 🙂
Our food fairs look NOTHING like this, more’s the pity. I’ve already sent the brandade de morue recipe you reference to myself…How did you not explode!?!
Hi Natalia. It’s not really a food fair and it’s fairly unique here. Margot and Fergus send their children to Soho Parish Primary School and as chefs support the schools’ shortfall by getting other chefs to join in. Tickets are sold in advance and it has an almost village like atmosphere in the centre of London.
One day I’m sure I’ll go the way of the gourmands in La Grande Bouffe 🙂
Let me know when you do, so I can grab the leftovers
Reblogged this on Portuguese food and commented:
Hummm…..looks good! A real feast for a good cause…
How about some portuguese coooking next year?!
Thanks! It’s a charity event where local restaurants volunteer, so I’m sure a Portuguese restaurant in Soho would be very welcome 🙂
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