I’m going to need a street food score card soon. Or maybe an I-Spy book. Five points for a rustic BBQ ‘n’ bourbon truck. Ten for a taco shack, and an extra two if it’s really good. A certificate from the tubby tyre man if you get three pop-up stands within a month.
There’s such a proliferation of mobile munchies in the capital now that an umbrella organisation has been established to bring many of them together. Eat Street are a group of such traders who wobble at the seams with enthusiasm for what they do, declaring their line of work “a wonderful life that has no time for abstraction or office politics”. Think too hard about that and the next time some chump sends you a red-flagged email at 17.56 you might just throw in the towel and pick up the tongs.
The group have set up camp on London’s newest road, running a micro market on Kings Boulevard, a wide open space between the side of St Pancras and Goods Way. Google Maps hasn’t caught up yet but you just follow the smells and the sounds of jackhammer drills. It’s still a building site, with not nearly enough seats, and hardly a relaxing spot (even on a balmy October lunch hour), but it’s jam-packed with street food joy.
Operating on Thursdays and Fridays from 10am – 4pm and switching spots daily, its mission seems to be to offer as many different options to the lucky denizens of Kings Cross as possible. On our visit we ticked off Kimchi Cult, Choc Star, The Ribman, and Anna Mae’s, sampling the latter two.
The Ribman stand keeps it simple. Ribs. From a man. Rib meat in baps, or in flour tortillas. The rib man stands by a metal tray shredding meat by hand as if its a world record attempt. I ask how long he’s being doing that and get a slightly pained grunt in return, which I think is fed up for ‘f’ing ages’. “Want a chair, love” he’s asked as we pick between a simple festival bun or a wrap.
It was pretty damn good, the odd tooth-snapping crunchie bit aside: a thick slab of flawless flesh that almost didn’t need the choice of BBQ, hot, or ‘holy fuck hot sauce’. How Not To Do A Food Blog and Food Stories were also particularly impressed on their visits.
A quick jog up and down le boulevard and it was time to stuff down some serious macaroni cheese. I’m not sure how I feel about the bastardisation of mac cheese. Generally, I prefer it plain, when you can pick out the gruyere or the mature cheddar with each face-widening bite, when it’s one thick, gooey puddle of soft pasta trailing slightly burnished cheese strands. When it looks like this.
Anna Mae’s play all kinds of merry havoc with the recipe but get away with it. Jalapeños and sour cream ought to be kept further apart from mac cheese than Sarah Palin and a public platform, but somehow they add a new dimension even if they do divert attention off the all-important dairy blend – a piquant and potent mix.
And it should hardly come as a surprise that something as exalted as bacon makes an appearance in their range of “pimped out” mac cheeses. A carton of sloppy carbs loaded with basil and pesto worked a treat but the addition of small crunchy bacon sprinkles seemed superfluous. Maybe it’s just me. I’m sure this guy would disagree.
I’ve never quite got the fetishisation of sliced pig butt but it seems to be getting worse – only last week someone launched a new bacon alphabet, taking typography to somewhere it never knew it wanted to go.
Eat Street is welcoming Tongue ‘N’ Cheek, Big Apple Hot Dogs, Anna Mae’s, Banhmi11, Kimchi Cult, Luardos and Yum Bun this week, and will be serving up street food on Thursdays and Fridays for the forseeable. Details here.
Get more macaroni cheese porn over on the Guardian’s Word Of Mouth blog.