I remember a time when you had to stand out on a street, being hammered by rain as thick as stair rods, whilst you waited for your street food in Leeds.
Now that has all changed. The great and always missed Fish& beach hut that was parked up outside Clarks on Commercial Street, feels like a forgotten epicentre of what was to become – as street food in the city has moved on; moved inside – moved to the car park of North Brewing Co or even grander locations like an architectural delight in Halifax (that isn’t Eureka for a change).
Maybe we should raise a monument to the hut, to show where the fire started and now keeps on burning through the work of others?
it’s surely for the best. For one thing you no longer end up with soggy masala fish as you dash before the heavens open. Or there’s the fact that you always know where Manjit’s Kitchen will be from one day to the next – no longer FOMOing your way through their events calendar. Even better still, as with yesterday’s visit to Chow Down, where you get to chuck a coin in the air and pick from half a dozen stalls you might want to eat from – and why stop at one?
It’s always great to see the efforts of Simon Fogal of Chow Down, Leeds Indie Food and Chapter 81 at first hand – even it this was the last event of the summer; which follows hot on the heels of the last Eat North until the sun returns – or at least the rain is slightly warmer.
The setting, the rather glorious The Piece Hall with its expansive courtyard, is ideal for such a festival of sizzling and fizzing delights. Held over three days, across four separate weekends in 2018, you can only but imagine the amount of food and alcohol consumed in this instagram-friendly location during the heat of this rarest of summers.
Even as the temperatures dropped today, there was still a buzz of enthusiasm and expectation as we walked around the site. There was even a chance for our kids to throw themselves perilously over water features, as we weaved our way around the stalls to see what was good to eat. LLK and HMKing, as is their want, plumped for hot dogs form The Sausage Box; A. had the Korean chicken wings from Manzoku and I had the Philly Cheese Steak from Fat Annie’s. The only complaint was the popularity of each of the stalls we wanted our food from – but that would be picky; even for me.
There were churros (Love is Churros) and waffles (Sugar Spun Sisters) for afters, and only a slight yearning for the kids to be at home, along with the car. As edv3ctor played The Associates – Club Country and the small half of Pilsner I had was disappearing far quicker than was acceptable, I concluded that family days out are sometimes better when it is just the two of you.
Until next summer; or Simon finds a way of keeping the rain out and the heat in that most welcoming of courtyards.