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The art of UK food vans

by Ross Bruniges on December 20th, 2010

At the start of the month I was interested to see that The Florence or if I’m being territorial, my ‘local’ (at least during the times when I’m staying in Herne Hill) was having a Twitter based gathering for Christmas. I never need an excuse to head down to The Florence but as it also boasted three of London’s top food trucks, a form of food vendoring that on all accounts seems to be having a bit of a renaissance and hopefully soon will be able to shake off the current shackles of the burger vans that lure you to a foodie death after a night out at the local nightclub with undercooked burgers, meat of questionable quality (or origin) and kebabs swimming in the amount of grease that could keep The Fonz in quiffs for a month.

Thankfully there was no such muck on display with top burgers being served up by The Meatwagon (minus their wagon which has been nicked), Indian street food from Kolkata street food and a vast selection of hot chocolates and other sweet treats from Choc Star. In addition to the vans there were also the lovely ales made fresh at The Florence by it’s manager which are a good enough reason to go on their own (I do like a good bit of Beaver or Weasel every now and then) and a visit from the Meantime Brewery group promoting their new London Larger; which I fully recommend.

Burger from The Meatwagon

Determined to try as much as possible I got straight into the queue for The Meatwagon, ordered a couple of chili burgers and was told there was an hour wait; I knew I’d be there for long over an hour so was happy to wait. In the mean time I wandered over to the Kolkata van (which also doubles up as a mini eating area) to have some warming dhal – which was a great shout as the day was very very freezing. The dhal was bubbling away in a pot and quickly served but the garnish on top was individually prepared with a real skill with fresh cucumber and tomato providing freshness, coconut providing a bit of crunch and spice mixes providing the expected heat. When my hour was up the burger hit all required spots with chili heat, meaty juices/texture and a slice of American cheese providing a little bit more protean.

All vans showed a really artistry to their food preparation. There was no rushing either of them (even at the end The Meatwagon were quoting an hour per order) and the quality shone through. Washing it back with a hot, rich and flavourful hot chocolate was the perfect way to finish the evening though by that time I was very full indeed so couldn’t force a brownie down, though I was very tempted.

Being held in a van means all travel around the UK and their schedules can be found online. If they’re coming near to you I would recommend a visit.

From → Random thoughts