05 | May | 15

Richard Johnson

Feel The Heat!

What a weekend. And what a tribute to the grit of the street food traders — after some filthy British weather, they still managed to come out smiling! Why wouldn’t they? The music was amazing. The Shires brought a bit of Nashville to the occasion — and the first song with a street food video. Kimberly Anne brought the sunshine. From Crystal Palace. Kiko Bun gave reggae a good kick around, and Jermain Jackman’s And I Am Telling You will love on long after the taste of that delicious beer-braised Yorkshire beef cheek taco. Perfect with a pint of Cornish Pilsner from Sharps, a food quiz and bit of a newspaper review with the editor of the Independent On Sunday. Oxford certainly seemed to feel the love.

I got to taste The Roadery’s cured ox heart in a tasting for BBC Radio Oxford. Not keen. But when Dan paired it with an English goat’s cheese, and some foraged herbs, well GET OUT OF TOWN. Like the Sub Cult sandwich everyone was talking about — with perfectly caramelised scallops. And TJ’s poutine at Cheeky Italian. And the secret bar experience, which EVERYONE loved. If they could find it, of course. James Fedden was the most popular man on site with his family-run tea and cake operation. The Cake Doctor was, most definitely IN all weekend. My daughter’s favourite was the peanut butter smoothie from Juice Dub. And the amazing brisket from Bloom Kitchen. My son’s favourite? The fresh white curds of fish that he landed at The Fish Hut.

James from Dog Town trusted Ted — his four-year-old son — with the family business on Saturday. Big mistake. Ted is four. Dog Town and Son sold puppy dogs — little hot dogs — from a stall that Ted had knocked up with his grandfather. Mark from NCASS gave it a strict health and safety once over and insisted on tasting what the kitchen had to offer. It was the sweetest thing to see, as Ted attempted to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust — a charity that’s very close to the family’s heart. On his breaks (he’s a card-carrying union member), Ted had a few games of the street food crazy golf. Which probably explains the 20 balls that went missing over the course of the weekend.

I can never get enough of Crabbieshack (I last saw them trading their socks off in a field in Portugal) or The Crumble Shack — a wonderful, bright concept in the most imaginative gazebo I’ve ever seen. Made out of an old shed. The ladles of free range egg and Madagascan vanilla custard – no packets or powders in sight — were served up separately from the crumble to maintain the optimum crunch. That’s my kind of science. The Ribman and his legendary baby ribs rolls were only on the menu for the Friday night — so he was never in with much of a shout at the public vote. Same as the Fish Hut, who only left Suffolk after the fish were landed on the Saturday morning. Toro Poco had to retire hurt on the Sunday after their hatch was threatening to blow off in the wind. But them’s the breaks. Street food isn’t ALL glamour.

When the public’s votes were counted, at the end of trading on the Monday, this is how it went down:

1. Happy Maki (and it was Anna’s birthday too!)

2. Sub Cult and The Roadery

3. Hanks (their crawfish balls were the talk of the town)

4. Crumble Shack and Crabbieshack.

Happy Maki now go forward to the finals of the British Street Food Awards in London on September 25-27. But there will definitely be wild cards from the Central and East heat joining her — watch this space!