09 | Nov | 16

Richard Johnson

Look To The Future Now

The Winter Gathering, at the iconic London Road fire station in Manchester, is a true spectacle. A modern celebration of the season that isn’t all fake nostalgia and warm German wine – a taste of Christmasses yet to come. If we’re lucky. So, until January 8, we’re decking the halls in a gorgeous listed building, with ice skating, DJs, beer and an independent arts and crafts market. Oh, and a rotating street food line-up that will make you ding dong merrily on high. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Probably. But a whole lot more. Manchester’s finest — plus a few hand-picked outsiders from the British Street Food stable. A real tribute for this great city. Maybe set to host another heat — or the final — of the British Street Food Awards in 2017? Check out this little lot:

A sophisticated charcuterie and pickles offer — with beef dripping chips on the side. The new concept comes from the Manchester team that gave us Bangers and Bacon. Not just any bangers and bacon you understand. “We make all our own sausages” says Richard Brown, “and cure all the bacon ourselves. That way we know where it came from, and what’s in it, and we can create a bespoke flavour for a particular dish.” And then there’s the touches that turn the dish into an art form. Take the porchetta — rolled middle of pork stuffed with herbs and garlic, slow roasted and set on a flatbread with salsa verde and dressed leaves. Genius. Most unusual question? “Do you have anything suitable for Jews?” Most quick-witted answer? “The bread”.

Second City Coffee
Second City Coffee is a Manchester-based coffee company operated by Dex and Luigi, his 2010 Piaggio Ape espresso bar. Dex only roasts in small batches, for freshness, and his signature coffee comes from a women-only foundation in Peru – the Cafe Femininio Project. Definitely one of the good guys, Dex is now looking to open a coffee house in the city and hire disadvantaged/unemployed people needing a break.

Eat Dutch
Brussels waffles, Belgian waffles, American waffles, Pandan waffles, Flemish waffles, potato waffles, Stroopwafels. One thing’s for sure – the world has a lot of waffles, and Belgium alone accounts for twelve of them. So who’s king? For all the hate mail we’re about to receive, it’s difficult to look much further than the Liège waffle, and with its sugar-crystal crust and sweet, pollowy insides, it’s not hard to see why. The dough is a sweeter take on brioche. And you’ve got chunks of sugar that caramelise on the waffle’s surface when baked. And there’s toffee. And probably unhealthy amounts of Nutella. Sold yet? Thought so. Come and check them all out at Eat Dutch, Manchester locals who are offering up a special Christmas menu – including warm cherry compote and cream, and caramelised apples in brown sugar topped with cream and cinnamon sugar.

Wing It
Some of the best chicken wings we’ve ever had, dammit. Sweet, sharp, tender and juicy. Wrapped in a pretty little bundle of greaseproof paper, that rubs the rich, greasy flavours back into the meat. Just don’t listen when the guys offer to “spice things up” for you. They have a hot sauce that Ben created using not only the hottest chilli in the world — the Californian Reaper – and some Dragon’s Blood sauce which is made from Naga Ghost chillies. LEAVE THE SAUCE IN THE BOTTLE, PEOPLE.

Steel Smoking
Men like to barbecue – something about the appeal of cooking when danger is involved. And two of the freshest in the business call themselves Steel Smoking. Their pulled pork with red cabbage and apple sauce brioche burger shows how the subtle seasoning of smouldering charcoal and the searing effect of hot iron bars produce an irresistible combination of caramelised meat sugars and mild smokiness, the appreciation of which, perhaps because of its primordial origins, is almost universal. Unless you’re a vegetarian of course. But then can I introduce you to their aubergine, portobello mushroom and halloumi burger….

Nanny Bill’s
Nanny Bill’s first opened the hatch to their 1970’s Citroen HY truck in May 2015. Their signature croquettes — crisp little mouthfuls of joy, hailing from the mountains of Spain – caused quite a stir. Especially the slow-cooked beef and ale, and the pea mint and feta. But this team are nothing if not reactive, and they’ll be sure to showcase their world famous slow roasted jerk chicken before their Manchester residency is over.

As from the beginning of December, we’ll be bringing in trucks for special one-week residencies. Take it from the people who run the British Street Food Awards — these are some of the greatest food trucks in the country.

Sela Food Truck
Sela started their obsession with cheese 13 years ago when they opened a pizza joint in Leeds. But ‘sharing the love’ meant getting mobile. They bought a Mercedes Bus in 2014 and haven’t stopped since! Starchy – a big red 1979 Bedford Camper (resplendent with a white Starchy & Hutch stripe down the side) is the latest addition to the family, and will be serving up a deliciously seasonal menu. Christmas is, after all, about the Baby Cheeses.

Streatza refuse to do what other mobile pizza people do — buy frozen dough from the wholesaler. They won’t use a dough roller because it squeezes out all of the lovely air pockets. So they roll by hand and are a little bit slower. They trade from a beautiful classic 1969 Citroen H van, with a 700 kilo wood fired oven in the back. And the best Italian tomatoes, mozzarella, and locally sourced vegetables and free range meat in the fridge. But the end result is a mobile wood-fired pizzeria serving 12” of fresh, seasonal heaven in a takeaway box. And a clever name. Okay, it’s not Jason Doner Van, but getting there….

The Wondertruck from Almost Famous
This truck might be too big to get in, but we’re trying. It’s the stuff of legend. Oversized and American, it comesfully locked and loaded to deliver the Almost Famous burger experience. At 7.2m, it dwarfs everything else we’ve got at The Winter Gathering. But trust us. It will be the wonderonions, the double beef patties and the gooey cheese that you’ll be talking about on the bus home…

Once the hatch opens, team KerbEdge flip the best burgers this side of the Atlantic. Their handmade burgers (using chuck steak mince from locally-reared Limousin cattle supplied by Riverside Butchers of Stamford Bridge) aren’t afraid of anything that Johnny Foreigner can throw at them. But how will these Yorkshire boys fare in God’s own county?

Eat New York Street Diner
Eat NYSD is a bagel slinging food truck with a New York swagger, specialising in salt beef, cheeseburgers, fries, shakes and sodas. Everything comes with way too much sauce — and a side of SLOPPY as standard. The bagels are butter-dunked then grilled til golden… every damn one of them.