Street food is straying further and further from its original setting but it’s hard to complain when local ale and idyllic scenery are involved. This Sunday, Flying Teapot Events are bringing three Midlands greats to Sarehole Mill for a Village Fair of which Tolkien would surely be proud. And if lunch isn’t enough, the Shire’s got another edible delight up its sleeve…
There’s something so embarrassingly British about reducing a country or region’s entire culinary make-up to a couple of dishes, however delicious. ‘I love Indian, yeah, have chicken tikka masala every Sunday night’. The temptation is there for the street food trader, who has to fixate on creating the perfect USP: memorable, digestible, easily written on a whiteboard or into a tweet. But 63 Islands thrillingly defies this with a quest to bring to light what the Caribbean eats beyond Jerk Chicken and Goat Curry. Perhaps it’s just about snobbery in the consumer – “but have you tasted real Caribbean food?” – but it’s so glorious to delight in complex possibility, to champion many underdogs. Sunday will see 63 Islands serving roasted Bajan chicken (Barbados), Haitian buttermilk fried fish and Cuban black beans, each bundled into a tortilla for convenient consumption.
Maybe it’s hiding, but there’s just not enough bao in Birmingham. Bao is brilliant: slightly sweet, doughy, playful clouds so dizzyingly enticing that they’re almost in the same too-good-to-be-true food group as butterbeer and tubbytoast. After success across multiple Asian cuisines, Canoodle are adding Taiwanese gua bao to their repertoire and promise some seriously hefty fillings (the stand-out is glazed belly pork, another food so delightful that it’s giggle-inducing). On Sunday they’ll be serving these alongside a couple of their long-standing signature dishes: Malaysian beef rendang with soured mango and vegan Thai green curry.
By the way, BuzzFeed recently declared Canoodle’s Vietnamese Mahi Mahi Banh Mi one of the seventeen best sandwiches in the UK. No big deal.
Warning: eating a Flying Cows burgers will ruin your enjoyment of even a high-end pub burger. When that metal steaming hat clamps down over the sizzling burger – bun top, fillings and all – it’s no longer a stack of food but transforms into a unified, texturally perfect and utterly satisfying meal: tender meat, oozing cheese and a soft, infused bun.
… and forage yourself some dinner
There’s little more satisfying than free food, especially when it involves a fantasised return to times before pre-prepared fruit pots and individually packaged broccoli. Wild garlic is accessible even to the most nature-fearing amongst us: throughout April and May great swathes of it can be found in just about any shady waterside spot, The Shire Country Park and Cannon Hill Park being reliable providers.
Astringent yet fresh, wild garlic pairs happily with eggs, potatoes, lamb, chicken and other spring veg. Think of it as spinach’s cooler, cheekier and more elusive younger brother
When foraging, be careful not to mistake it for Lily of the Valley, which looks the same but is poisonous. You’ll know by the smell (rub the leaves between your fingers if it doesn’t hit you immediately). Break at the base of the stalks rather than uprooting.
Store it in the fridge – it keeps for two-three days – and wash it just before you use it.
Photo by Paul Lane
Shoulder of lamb stuffed with garlic and pistachio
This recipe comes from Southampton butchery treasure Uptons of Bassett. It’s not only simple but incredibly forgiving, producing juicy meat even if you don’t quite judge your oven right. Go as garlicky as you dare…
1kg boneless shoulder of lamb
30g (or more) wild garlic leaves
50g shelled pistachios, lightly crushed to give a mix of whole nuts, crumbs and pieces
Zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 200C or 190C fan. Lay out the lamb inside-up. Season generously, then place two thirds of the wild garlic leaves across the shoulder. Finely chop the rest of the wild garlic, mix with the nuts, lemon zest and juice, and spread it out on top of the whole leaves.
Roll the lamb up and tie it loosely with string.
For pink lamb, roast for 20 minutes plus 20 minutes per 450g, turning it down to 180 (170 fan) after the first 20 minutes. For well-done lamb, add another 20-30 minutes. A skewer or knife inserted into the meat for ten seconds should feel warm or hot to the touch. Cover with foil and rest for 10 minutes.
Potato and wild garlic soup
This simple soup from vegetable heroes Riverford Organic Farms is a fantastic store-cupboard meal and a great base for extras. Make some quick sourdough croutons ; do some extra potatoes then remove them after boiling and fry in butter with shreds of wild garlic; or drizzle with chilli oil or pesto.
1 onion, chopped
600g potatoes, peeled (no need if they’re new potatoes) and diced
1.2l veg or chicken stock
50g wild garlic leaves, shredded
Using a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry the onion on a low heat for eight minutes. Add the potatoes and stock, bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Add the wild garlic leaves, then blend until smooth. Return to the pan to heat, season and serve.
Fry it in butter and scramble in some eggs. Delicious.
STREET FOOD + ALE + A BIT OF FOLK MUSIC takes place from 10.30am-4pm on Sunday 19th April at Sarehole Mill, B13 0BD. Find out more here.