I am not usually one of *those* bloggers. You know, the ones who run to every street food festival/hot new opening/street market to give you their hot take on whatever’s new this week. This is largely for two reasons:
1) Because I blog so infrequently I don’t think I deserve the term; and
2) Who has time for that shit?
This is a hobby of mine, and I profess myself to be no more than your average keen cook with a double chin testifying to my love of snacks.
That said, while not a great insta-lover, I do feel like I really missed out on Meatopia 2016. It wasn’t necessarily the ‘gram feeds buzzing so much as the sound of the dishes. And while a pricey way to get my BBQ fixins, honestly my love of grilled meat is very powerful incentive indeed to head over to Tobacco Dock and get my smoke on. Smoke-in. Smoke- … whatever, my pun ability is low.
So, before I go gaga over the event, I should preface this with a few acknowledgements:
- It’s pricey. You pay around £30 per head to enter before you even get your mouth around the food, and it’s £5.50 per dish. That’s before you pay for drinks and any other treats which catch your eye, so it’s an expensive way to lunch.
- It is Filled. With. Food. Bros. You know, the type who have edgy tats and cool shoes and fedoras and shiny aviators or thick-rimmed NHS spex, who brew their own beer and grind the corn to make their own sourdough and know more than you about everything. I’m kind of okay with this on the basis that frankly I’m just a bit jealous I can’t be more out there with my food love – I’d love to be the kind of dick who pretends they’re BFFs with Richard Turner without feeling ashamed. I’m just not really very good at fingerling IRL I suppose!
- The smoke. My god, the smoke. Tobacco dock is essentially a giant greenhouse in East London which is basically dry-hire. It’s glazed with glass at the top creating a ton of natural light, and is a beautiful space but can be difficult on warm days. I memorably helped host a work event there a few years ago which was so god-damn hot guests nearly collapsed. So fill up a warm space with smoke and it gets quite tricky. Especially since when you go outside you end up battling through the hordes of vapers sucking on their adult pacifiers like enlarged babies.
Another factor to bear in mind is that generally speaking I am crap at knowing who people are. It took me ages to recognise John Torode, I basically walked into Mitch Tonks without realising who it was and couldn’t recognise half the people that customers were asking for selfies. Still, I had the most fun and adored the food – while we didn’t get around the whole list of dishes, we certainly got our fill in!
Uri Navron (Palomar) – MACHNEYUDA – Smoked, Burnt and Grilled short ribs
Oh god I so regret not taking a picture of this, because it was so good – and so generous! A warm flatbread filled with roasted peppers and veg, piled high with shredded short rib and then more fatty chopped short rib on top. It was one of the most generous servings on the day and was an absolute joy. Palomar has been on my must-visit list forever and this has certainly whetted the appetite.
Nathan Green – RHODA – Drunken Chicken
This was a popular stand and one of the most attractive in the venue, and it seems that this chef is a *hot new thing*. The chicken was really tasty, benefitting from not only soaking in sake but being smoked before being cooked through on the BBQ. This made it lovely and succulent but – if I’m 100% honest – I would have enjoyed a touch more crispy skin! I like a well cooked thigh… the yuzu-dressed turnip salad was gorgeous, however.
Andre Lima De Luca – Sugar Pit Bacon Racks
This was a PRETTY dish! Although I rather wish I’d asked for a bone to gnaw on, the tender chunks of bacon were so beautifully smoky and tasty. The accompanying barbecued peach was really tasty against the the tomato and damn it was nice!
Jose Pizarro – PIZARRO – Pluma Iberica
I didn’t get a shot of this because we fell on it like ravenous gannets. But my it was a BEAUTY. Lovely tender slices of rare iberico pork with garlic puree and soft, silky red peppers which were so gorgeous I’d have eaten them all day. This was quite a dainty (read: SMOL) dish but the quality of the ingredients was just spectacular. The husband was happy with this one.
Mitch Tonks – the Seahorse – Chilli Crab with Trotter Slaw
A close runner-up for dish of the day, this was a fennel and onion slaw filled with trotter meat, served with both brown and white thai-spicey crab meat. Oh my good. Ness. It was so tasty. I’ve never had a crab dish which tasted so *substantial*. Already keen to head south to try the Seahorse in Dartmouth, I’m now GAGGING for it.
Ross Clarke – Tandoor Chop House – Shredded Kerala Duck Naan
This was a lovely pile of warm shreddy duck on top of a toasted, tasty naan which was cooked onsite. So good, and set off by gorgeous chutneys. Such a good choice.
Siggi Gunnlaugsonn – Tommis Burger Joint – Blackjack Burger
SO apparently this was made with 21 cuts of meat. It seemed nice, I guess. Eh, it wasn’t my jam. The husband made short work of this baby slider.
Selin Kiazim – Oklava – Kid Goat Cutlet with Cypriot potatoes and whipped feta
OSH KOSH B’GOSH THIS WAS THE SHIT. Oh man, this was a generous, meaty, huge bit of meat which begged to be gnawed right off the bone. It had EVERYTHING: crispy fat, thick juicy rare meat, seared smokey outside and a gorgeous gamey taste. Lovely hot potatoes with (I think) crushed almonds were the perfect perfect combo.
AND TO FINISH…