Hackney Homemade

I’d been wanting to check out Hackney Homemade for weeks but just hadn’t been able to get there. I’d heard about it over Twitter and it sounded like two of my favourite things combined (markets and food). Finally on Saturday I managed to find the time to check it out.

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I purposefully restrained myself at the post-run brunch to ensure that I had plenty of room to sample the different offerings available. This meant that by the time I arrived I was famished. Fortunately I’d done some research beforehand so had a vague meal-plan in mind. The market was smaller and there were fewer people attending than I’d anticipated. Of course this had the benefit that I was able to get to the food straight away, so I wasn’t complaining.

My first port of call was Alley Katsu. I do like a good katsu curry, and I was really pleased with the sample I was given before I made my purchase. I opted for a children’s sized portion, reasoning that although I was hungry, there would likely be plenty of other wares that I would want to try. Even then, the serving was sufficient to be a full meal. The flavour of the chicken was really lovely. I was particularly impressed with the quality and strength of the breadcrumb. Usually I find breadcrumb is about texture, but this clearly brought and added dimension of flavour to the dish. The curry was nice, although I prefer mine with a little more kick. I was able to achieve this with the addition of the sweet chilli sauce made available. However this extra flavour distracted from the taste of the curry. The rice was well cooked and I liked the sweet sharpness of the pickled cucumber slices. This would have been better without the addition of the chilli sauce because this meant the whole dish was pushed towards sweetness, thereby limiting the contrast of flavours.

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I took quite some time wandering around the different options available. Nothing was really calling out to me begging me to try it. Eventually I settled upon El Mosset, which offered a range of croquettes. Rather than deciding for myself I asked for recommendations. As a result I tried one ham and manchego and one mushroom and onion croquette. The croquettes were pre-cooked and reheated in a pan. Unfortunately this method was inadequate and left most of my croquettes still cold. Still I liked that that there were chunks of ingredients like ham and mushrooms, rather than everything having been blended into a homogenous mush. The strength of the flavour of the mushrooms was also particularly pleasing. I also tried a spinach and tomato brioche. It was nice, but to be honest I wasn’t overwhelmed.

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I probably should have stopped eating at this point. However as I was munching my samples from El Mosset I was able to watch a quesadilla being made at Vadasz Deli. I was utterly intrigued and had to give it a try. There were three fillings available:
• pulled pork
• beef brisket
• black beans

I stayed traditionally Mexican(ish) and went for pulled pork with black beans and cheese. The chef, Nick makes his own tortilla as they are needed, and cooks the quesadilla there and then so they’re wonderfully fresh. It was Mexico in a mouthful! Really, really good! Each quesadilla (or bagel, but why would you?) was served with what was effectively a tour around the world of pickles. From sauerkraut to sour cucumbers to jalapeños to pickled cabbage and more, all homemade. There were also some really yummy crisp breads which I think had been seasoned with paprika. While they were really interesting to try in and of themselves I’m not sure they complimented the quesadilla. Still,
although I was incredibly full by the end of the meal I was really glad that I tried this.

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Street Feast London, 11 May 2012

I read about Street Feast London on Twitter and was instantly intrigued. I’m fascinated by the street food culture that has evolved in London and this seemed a fantastic opportunity to explore it further! Situated in an East London car park, I felt a little out of place turning up straight from work all suited and booted, literally. When I arrived a bit before 7pm there was already a good crowd, but the queues for the different vendors were still small. This soon changed.

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Circulating the car park the first option that caught my eye was Homeslice Pizza. I had never before encountered a bone marrow and spring onion pizza topped with fresh watercress. It was either amazing or insane and I had to find out which. I was intrigued to see that all the pizzas are cooked in a portable woodfire. I didn’t even know that such things exist, yet I am now incredibly grateful for their availability. The pizza slice was huge, and great value at £3. I actually asked for mine to be cut and saved half for later, partly because I wanted to save room for other options, partly because I wanted to see how it tasted the next day. This almost wasn’t necessary. After the first bite, I was in love! The base was perfect. Thin, a little bit crispy, not in the least bit oily and absolutely full of flavour. The tomato base was incredibly powerful. A wonderful rich, sweet, fresh tomato taste, and the mozerella was equally strongly flavoured and delicious. The spring onion and bone marrow combination was absolutely inspired! The bone marrow was perfectly melted and had that wonderful punchy meatiness. Absolutely amazing. I’ve just eaten the second half for breakfast (I’m going for a run soon so I figure I’m allowed) and it tasted even better. You have to try this!

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I took a lot of time to select my next course. Eventually I decided upon the seafood ceviche served on a tostada at Buen Provecho. The seafood was a mixture of shrimp and fish which had been cooked in lime and chilli. Finely diced raw onion and tomato had also been mixed through. The tostada was spread with crème fraiche before being topped with the seafood mix. To this, guacamole and salsa were added. It was a little messy to eat with the lime sauce dripping all over the place. However the flavours were fantastic! Initially I was a little concerned that the seafood wouldn’t be able to hold it’s own against the strength of the chilli, lime, avocado, etc. However I was pleasantly surprised to be able to detect every element of the dish. Really good, strong, classic Mexican flavours. I was so excited I almost forgot to take a photo, so excuse the bite marks.

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I still had room for one more course. It was a tough call, but it was Big Apple Hot Dogs that eventually secured my custom. I’d seen them previously at The StockMKT, but hadn’t registered that they make their own hot dogs. I opted for the Big Dog, which is a hot dog made with pork, beef, marjoram, garlic, and black pepper. Now in my experience most places try to fill customers up with a big bun to save on meat. Not here. The hot dog was huge and served in a medium sized bun with optional (but why wouldn’t you?) caramelised onions. Condiments galore were made available but I stuck with my usual ketchup and mustard. I have to say that this hot dog was unlike anything I’ve ever had before. All hot dogs should aspire to be this good. Even though the flesh had been very finely ground it still had grain and texture and I actually felt like I was eating meat. The depth of flavour was astonishing and juices trickled out of the sausage with every bite. I feel like I should be more critical given that I’m writing a review but when food is this good it’s just not possible!

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There were so many vendors I didn’t get to try and with Street Feast London available every Friday 5pm til midnight until the 20th of July, I’m certain I’ll be back for another helping.