Time for a Samba Box

I really do enjoy visiting street food markets. It’s something I have missed during the pandemic and lockdown. I have been virtually working from home every day since lockdown in March 2020 and therefore haven’t needed to go out and grab some lunch. I’ve gone out, just not for lunch.

I have visited our offices in Bristol now and then, but have only had a couple of meals from the street food markets, some great paella and a delicious bento box.

With some in-person meetings and really an opportunity for a change in scenery and routine I spent part of the week up in London, the first time I had been working in London since March 2020.

It was a nice if a little grey day, so I headed out for a lunchtime walk and see what there was around.

In the part of London where our office was, it felt quiet and empty, again compared to Bristol which is much busier and more crowded. The streets were deserted and there was very little traffic. I was not surprised to see many of my coffee haunts and places I would go for lunch were either shut or had closed down. However there were still some places operating, but a lot less busy than eighteen months ago.

As I walked around I did wonder if the Leather Lane street food market was up and running and I was pleased to see it was. There wasn’t as many stalls as there has been on previous visits. It also didn’t help that I was having a late lunch, so many of the stalls were either shutting up or had run out of food.

After browsing the stalls I took the decision to have a Brazilian Samba Box. I had to queue, and then it started raining, but I stuck with it and stayed in the queue.

I chose the chargrilled chicken thighs which were served with Rio rice, black beans, coleslaw and lettuce.

It looked great and was very tasty.

The chicken was still tender and moist, I thought it might be a bit dry (as it was a last minute thing) but it wasn’t full of flavour. I liked the salad and the rice was nice as well.

I had mine served with chimichurri which was a nice accompaniment.

I really enjoyed the whole box and it was so nice to have something different, fresh and tasty.

Gluten Free Crunchy Breaded Chicken Wings

Gluten Free Crunchy Breaded Chicken Wings

It was time to prepare dinner and I was thinking about what to cook and how to cook it. I had decided to cook some chicken wings, and my usual recipe is to either make a sauce or use a ready made cooking sauce and bake them in the oven. I decided I would do the chicken wings two ways. One would be coated in miso sauce and for the others I would do as crunchy wings.

I usually cut off the nib of the wing and then cut them into two pieces, to make them easier to eat.

The wings were then coated in seasoned flour. I used gluten free self-raising flour (as we were short on plain four), some chicken seasoning, paprika and chilli.

I then set up a bowl of beaten egg and one of gluten free seasoned breadcrumbs.

Keeping one had wet and the other dry, the floured chicken is coated in the egg and then coated in the breadcrumbs.

These are placed on a lined baking tray (I use baking parchment for these). The chicken wings are done one by one and are then baked in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the coating is browned and the chicken is cooked. Mine took a little longer than planned as I had more in the oven.

They were lovely and crunchy on the outside and the chicken was moist and tender on the inside. Lots of flavour in the coating as well.

Time for that delicious bento box

On Thursday this week I went to the office in Bristol, which was quiet, but the change of scenery and routine was very welcome. It was a nice warm day, but rather overcast. At lunchtime I thought I would venture over to the Temple Quay market and see what was there. I was thinking I might be in the mood for some chicken wings from Gurt Wings, but decided I would have a look around first. I got there quite early and was slightly saddened to see that fewer stalls than there was pre-covid, but pleased however to see the street food market still running. There was quite a range.

Niang’s Thai Snacks:  Authentic Thai street food using organic, free range and locally sourced ingredients.  Dishes include vegan yellow curry, penang pork, crispy marinated chicken and fried spicy noodles.

Alp Mac: Mac & cheese with an array of exciting ingredients such as truffled mushrooms, red wine and blue cheese salami, slow roasted tomatoes and confit chicken. Served with their signature 4 cheese blend sauce and trimmings.

She Sells Sushi: Serving up a new menu that has been going down a treat – outstanding Japanese dishes including chicken Katsu curry, beef Donburi, pumpkin Korokke and smoked tofu curry. Plus kimchi fries, Teriyaki and sushi.

Gurt Wings:  Buttermilk soaked chicken wings and strips, coated in herbs and spices and served with potter tots on the side and dips and sauces including Oh Gurty Carolina, garlic & lime mayo, sweet BBQ and fruit burst habanero.

Gopal’s Curry Shack: Vibrant and creative Indian street food, with contemporary twists on classic dishes made with seasonal local produce.  

Los Hermanos Combinados:  Inventive street food with big Spanish flavours including sugar cured pork belly, slow cooked chicken and chargrilled aubergine.

Woodchop Pizza:  Traditional Neapolitan style pizza made with quality Italian and local ingredients and a sourdough base, cooked in a wood fired oven. 

The Kitchen Chef:  Delicious handmade patisserie and cakes, with chocolate brownies, seasonal fruit tarts, legendary key lime pie, macarons… and so much more!

Such a choice and many of my favourites. I did like the Alp Mac van and their menu looked interesting.

I did think about Gurt Wings but after looking around I realised that the last time I had eaten She Sells Sushi was probably November 2019. I had been missing their bento boxes, so in many ways it was a no brainer, so I went with my favourite bento box with Beef Donburi and an Hirata Bao Bun. The menu had changed, and the choice for the Bao were Pumpkin Korokke or Chicken Katsu.

The Beef Donburi is succulent short rib slow cooked in a teriyaki style marinade of soy, fresh ginger and garlic. It was served on a bed of rice  with beni shoga, mayu and spring onion.

It was as I remembered, delicious and full of flavour. The beef was meltingly tender and the garnishes added to the dish. I’ve always loved the care and attention that Lisa pays to each and every dish. This isn’t just thrown together to order, this is food artistry made with love and passion. The result is amazing cooking and excellent food. I really enjoyed eating the dish and did think about going back for seconds.

I’ve always enjoyed the Hirata Bao Buns from She Sells Sushi, and was interested to see what the Chicken Katsu version was going to be like compared to the Finzel Flapper and pork belly versions I have had in the past. I did wonder if the chicken was going to be covered in panko breadcrumbs, but it was done in a tempura batter. The steamed bun is made with activated charcoal. It was served with some shredded cabbage.

Though very tasty and really enjoyable I did think the batter on the chicken was slightly soft and lacked the crispness of the Finzel Flappers I have had in the past. I did like it though.

The bento box from She Sells Sushi is one of my favourite street food dishes and I have really missed not just street food in general  over lockdown but this dish in particular.

Time for some Portuguese Tastes

Over the last year I have missed going to street food markets, so have been reflecting on nice meals I have had in the past. Whilst going through photographs of my food I realised I had never mentioned Portuguese Taste in all my blog posts on food from St Nicholas Market.

This was quite interesting as I realised that I had eaten there many times over the years I have been working in Bristol. It is one of my favourite stalls in the market. They have a real mix of dishes and every day there are different choices.

I had a delicious Portuguese Chicken meal back in December 2017 which consisted of chicken in a cream sauce served with rice, potatoes and salad.

It is a weird thing I find to have rice and potatoes, but that’s how they serve a fair few of their dishes. The menu has some quite inspiring choices and fish makes a regular appearance as does lamb and pork.

One dish I have had a few times is Portuguese Pork Steaks with Egg.

This was the plate I had in April 2016.

Whilst here is the same dish from a visit in July 2017.

The pork can be a little chewy, but the slow cooked onions and egg really add to the dish.

In May 2016 I had this dish.

I think this was also pork and egg dish, but came with a spicy tomato sauce and no salad!

Though the stall is somewhat small, they do have tables and chairs and I would usually eat my lunch inside the stall. Mainly as it was hot, and it came on a proper plate, but was a nice change from eating in the office out of a cardboard box!

Reminiscing on the bento boxes

Finzel Reach Market

Now as we leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some street food I had over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal. 

Back in May 2019 I had visited the Finzle Reach Street Food market in Bristol. At the market there are various stalls however I was drawn once more to She Sells Sushi. As usual I was tempted by the ramen or the sushi, however I went with my favourite which was the bento box with the Beef Donburi and Hirata Bun.

So I had the delicious Beef Donburi. This is succulent short rib slow cooked in a teriyaki style marinade of soy, fresh ginger and garlic. It was served on a bed of rice  with beni shoga, mayu and spring onion.

Beef Donburi

As usual it was delicious and full of flavour. The beef was meltingly tender and the garnishes added to the dish. 

I had the tempura chicken hirata bun. The steamed bun is made with activated charcoal and inside I had the tempura chicken, known as the Finzel Flapper, complete with spring onions and Japanese mayo.

Finzel Flapper

I do like the combination of flavours and textures in the bun. She also does a pork belly hirata bun, which is just as tasty, but I like the textures you get with the tempura chicken.

Lisa from the stall always takes real care to cook and create great tasting and wonderful looking dishes.

I am looking forward to getting back to working in Bristol so I can once more eat some delicious street food.

That Wahaca Time in Clifton

Now as we start to leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some meals I had out over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal. 

I had forgotten that I had eaten at Wahaca in Bristol in 2017. I had got a money off voucher from a meal kit that I had bought in a supermarket, so though I wouldn’t normally spend the kind of money that this lunch would cost, with the money off voucher  it made it a lot cheaper and value for money.

This was my first (and to date) only visit to the Wahaca branch in Clifton, Bristol. I have eaten at a fair few branches in London over the years, but  I have only visited the branch in Clifton just this once.

I had a warm and friendly welcome and was shown to a table. It was later in the day for lunch so the place was quite empty.

I went with three dishes. The first of these was the Grilled Steak Tacos.

These are three flash-grilled skirt steak filled toasted soft corn tortilla tacos with chipotle & tomatillo salsas. You could have had it with grilled cheese, but I chose to go without. When I last visited Wahaca in London last year the cheese wasn’t optional, I don’t think it needs the cheese. The tacos were delicious, the steak was cooked well and the different salsas added heat and spice.

The second of my dishes as the Ancho Chicken Baja Tacos.

Two corn and flour tortillas inspired by the beaches of baja filled with grilled chicken thighs marinated with sweet & smoky ancho chilli, topped with  and jalapeño-pickled carrots. I really enjoyed these the salad adding freshness to the dish, with the warm tasty grilled chicken.

As for my third dish was a special, the Mushroom Fundido.

Mushrooms roasted in garlic, thyme, chipotle and hibiscus glazed, baked in mozzarella, cheddar and local queso fresco.

When writing this article I checked what the dish was called from my Instagram feed when I posted a photo of it back in March 2017.

I then did a Google Search for more details about the dish and this tweet from Wahaca came up.

As you can see what I got looked very different to how the dish should have looked. Having said that, the dish tasted a lot better than it looked.

Overall three tasty dishes, excellent service.

So on this day two years ago….

On this day two years ago I was in London for various meetings. Over lunch I went for a walk around Covent Garden and enjoyed looking at the Christmas decorations. Since 2015 when  I started working at my current organisation I would go to London quite frequently and in December it is really nice to see the different ways in which they decorate Covent Garden and other places around London.

Covent Garden

Of course since the Covid-19 lockdown I’ve not been to work or meetings in London since March.

However back to 2018, so I headed towards Kimchee on the Strand to get some lunch. Since my previous visit a few months earlier they have changed dramatically how they sell and serve food. Before you would pick things up from the hot and cold units and then either (as I usually did) take it back to the office or there were tables you could eat at. However now there was a big kitchen area, you would place your order, get a buzzer thingy and wait until the food was cooked to order. I quite like getting freshly cooked food, so was happy to wait.

I ordered the Deopbap Chicken Bulgogi and the Pa Jeon. I then had to wait for my order. Deopbap Chicken Bulgogi was Korean BBQ Chicken in a rice bowl.

The grilled chicken marinated in a blend of ginger, dark soy and garlic, was coated in a sauce and served on a bed of rice and salad. It was quite tasty, but not really barbecued chicken. It was just okay and nothing special and at nearly nine pounds I thought it was overpriced and wasn’t value for money.

I really liked the sound of the Seafood Pa Jeon, a Korean savoury pancake. Pajeon is a variety of jeon with scallion as its prominent ingredient, as pa means scallion. It is a Korean dish made from a batter of eggs, wheat flour, rice flour, scallions, and often other ingredients depending on the variety.

However the end result was a greasy stodgy undercooked pancake with no real flavour. I couldn’t actually finish it. I certainly won’t be going again.

On a later visit to London in 2019 I found that the branch of Kimchee had closed down. I wasn’t too surprised as the essence of what they had which worked was lost, as well as the downturn in the quality of the food as well as more expensive dishes. It also took longer to get served and I am sure that had an impact on those wanting to pick something up quickly and head back to their workplace.

Quick lunch in Cardiff

Last November I was attending some meetings in Cardiff, after they were over I was walking back to the car park to get my car and drive home. I realised I was hungry and decided to get something to eat.

Cardiff has quite a bit of choice of places to eat, but I didn’t really have the time to look round find somewhere so in the end I chose Barburrito.

I’ve had Barburrito tacos before at Paddington and Bristol Airport, so it was something I knew I liked.

I had three Barburrito tacos with pork and chicken. You also get a handful of tortilla chips and salsa. I like how you have some choice over which salads and extras you get with your tacos.

Though I always think with Barburrito that the meat is generally overcooked, however I did enjoy my tacos and the salad and toppings tasted very fresh.

Wahaca revisited

Now as we enter a second lockdown I have been reflecting on some meals I had out over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal.

Back in December 2019 I was heading South of the river in London for an event where I was delivering a presentation. With time for lunch I headed off to Wahaca on the Southbank. This was the branch where I had first eaten food from Wahaca back in August 2016. Then I had really enjoyed the fresh delicious food and thought at the time that I would really like to go again. Since then I have been quite a few times, however I hadn’t been to the Southbank restaurant for a fair few years.

The restaurant on the South Bank, is built from eight recycled shipping containers arranged across two overhanging levels. These brightly coloured containers make for an interesting eating environment. The team were friendly and welcoming.

I went with three dishes from the street food menu.

The Ancho Chicken Tacos was two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa.

These were very nice, I enjoyed the spiciness of the accompaniments and the fresh tender chicken..

On previous visits I have gone with the steak tacos, though this time I went with the slow cooked beef brisket tacos.

The beef was beautifully tender and I liked the accompanying pickles on top.

My third dish was the delicious crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli.

I’ve had these before and these were really nice. The florets were larger than other times I’ve had this dish, but this didn’t make a difference, it was a delicious plate of food.

Overall I really enjoyed my meal and thought all the dishes were delicious.

Time for a Buttermilk Chicken Burger

Buttermilk Chicken Burger

Sometimes I cook and sometimes I just buy stuff I can heat from chilled or frozen. Often it’s time, sometimes convenience, othertimes it’s because I like it.

I really quite like the Buttermilk Chicken Thigh Burgers from Aldi. You get two in a box.

Buttermilk Chicken Burger

These are baked the oven. I served mine in a brioche roll with cheese. The chicken is moist and tender and the seasoned breadcrumb is nice crunchy and tasty.

They are quite large so will fill the bun easily. I have noticed that they are a little inconsistent in size when I have bought them, but in some ways that I quite like, it feels a more natural product.