Dancing in the Street(food)

downloadPicture this: a dusty, windswept wasteland. Bizarre custom built vehicles. Feral children roaming wild. Strong female characters. No, it’s not Fury Road, it’s Cardiff Street Food Circus.

Or rather it was, because unfortunately it ended on Sunday. Yes, that does make this blog post utterly useless on a practical level, but I couldn’t go along to the last one and not write something about it.

Traditionally Britain doesn’t really do street food, unless you count chip vans and 18th century cockney urchins hawking cockles in Dickens novels.

Which is probably why Street Food Circus’ line-up was as international as that World music stage at Glastonbury that nobody really likes; Hokkei took us far East with its buns (the pork bao were a thing of beauty); we stopped by the Pacific Northwest with Chuck’s Portland hotdog (complete with popping candy and coca-cola onions). We headed South of the border to Argentina with Patagonia Steak Shack’s melt in the mouth sarnies and hung out in the bayou and beyond with Hangfire Smokehouse, Cardiff’s undisputed champion of meat.

And yes, the whole concept of street food does carry a waft of the Shoreditch-dickhead-with a-man-bun, but my god is some of it good – and SFC was a great way to sample some of the best in Wales.

Some of the food on offer was admittedly about as ‘street’ as Boris Johnson; The only place you’d find a corner posh enough for Jol’s scallops or braised rabbit gnocchi is on the purple side of the Monopoly board, but then the whole trend is a bit of a foodie construct, so you can’t be too precious about it.

The Final Chowdown

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Supervillainesque raised eyebrows are a side effect of excessive pulled pork consumption.

I have to admit I wasn’t on top form for my final visit – mildly hungover, I could only manage two meals in an hour, instead of the usual four (the shame).

We had to start with Hangfire, because a) they do some of the best food Cardiff has to offer, street or otherwise, and b) they’re so popular they normally run out in the first 30 seconds (you’d be forgiven for thinking they were called ‘Hangfire Smokehouse Sorry Sold Out’).

Cracking ‘cue as always from Shauna and Sam – good old-fashioned pulled pork, smoked for about a zillion hours with the kind of love people normally reserve for kittens or exceptionally cute toddlers. Served with ‘slaw and a bit of a twist in the form of a pretzel bun (chewy, but in a good way).

Next up, one of Purple Poppadom‘s Frankie Rolls. Flatbread, dipped in egg (whoa, whoa – bear with me it gets better) with the filling of your choice (I gave the paneer a bash) and finished with tangy red onion and pickled cucumber chutney and a curry sauce. If you’re not drooling after that description you’re either dead or very full.

On to Mr Churro’s for dessert, and it turns out we’ve been doing donuts completely wrong. They’re meant to be long and thin, covered in sugar and cinnamon and dipped in thick hot chocolate. Well played, Spain (or possibly Portugal).

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Spain, kicking everyone’s ass at donuts.
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If you take your contact lenses out and squint it could almost be Mumbai rather than a car park in Cardiff.

We rounded it all off with a couple of pints of Pipes‘ Kölsch (perfect sunny day beer), and all in all it was a good way to say farewell to one of Cardiff’s most interesting food destinations.

That’s not to say that SFC was perfect – at the risk of sounding like my Dad, I’d rather eat my mildly pretentious sandwich/hotdog/kebab without having my fillings rattled out by the PA system (seriously guys, it’s Sunday afternoon, we can turn the pumping electronica down a bit, yeah?!).

Then there was the ever-present danger of being ankle tapped by one of the hordes of yummy mummies hurtling across uneven terrain at full tilt with their prams and ending up face down in your paella.

But for all it’s little flaws it was an awesome way to spend a few hours eating yourself sick. Farewell SFC, can’t wait to see what you do next.

Cheers to Ms Duke for taking photos of me stuffing my face, documenting something which she unfortunately has to endure on a daily basis.

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My mate Frankie.
hangfire
Where dreams come true… as long as you turn up early.

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