There is something summery, wonderful and wholesome about street food. I'm not sure I'll ever get bored of it - and I am so excited that there seems to be a bit of a street food revolution happening right now in the North. I love that this is food which someone really cares about - these are *really* independent businesses, run out of the back (side?) of a customised van, by someone passionate enough to dedicate their lives to just one kind of food. I haven't had a bad dish from a street food van yet, and in fact, a lot of what I have eaten has been as good, if not better, than food that I've eaten at restaurants.
So as soon as I heard about Amazing Grace, an event in Leeds bringing together street food, musicians, artists and performers for a weekend extravaganza - I bookmarked the calendar and drummed up a band of willing taste-testers ready to give it a go. Held at the award-winning Left Bank Leeds in Burley, a repurposed church and event venue, I can't sing the praises of this event enough.
It helps, of course, that the sun was properly shining, and it is impossible not to have a good time when it's warm and you're eating delicious food and drinking gin and tonics outside. After so much bleak weather, it was truly glorious to sit on the grass without shivering and happily munch on ice cream. Inside, the building was a little chilly, but the appetising aromas that filled the hall were too much to resist. There really was something for everyone - from the vegetarian dishes at Manjit's Kitchen to big juicy burgers from Barn House Bistro.
Between us, I think we managed to sample something from almost every van - and there were rave reviews all round. I always get a bit overwhelmed when I'm at an event like this - there's too much choice, and I don't want to make the wrong decision! I eventually opted for a bowl of seafood paella from Las Paelleras and a parma ham pizza. And what a joy they were - the paella was chock full of juicy prawns, mussels and calamari, all in a vibrant and flavoursome dish, whilst the pizza had that wood-fired taste, and was fresh and delicious. Both come highly recommended if you encounter them on your travels.
My dinner companions sampled the patatas bravas from Las Paelleras, the fish and chips tapas from Fish& (famous around these parts - if you haven't tried it, you better get to it straight away!), a burrito from Margo and Rita, ice cream of various flavours from Ginger's Comfort Emporium, a burger from Barn House Bistro and a hot dog from Diamond Dogs. Phew! No wonder we were all sleepy afterwards! Everything received rave reviews all around, particularly the ice cream and the burrito - there wasn't a dud dish amongst the lot.
There was plenty else to do and see if your eyes weren't solely focused on the food like mine - you could hold an owl, have your face-painted and peruse the wares of the many art-y stalls inside the hall. From jewellery to art prints and zines - something for everyone. Sadly, we missed a lot of the music - just the one lone busker played whilst we were there (although he was very good!). It would have been nice to be there on the Friday night when there were DJs as I imagine it was pretty lively. However, I came for the food - all the other stuff was just a lovely extra.
I'd love to see more of this stuff happening in Leeds - it's a great day out and feeds your soul as well as your belly. I'm hoping to head to the YO1 festival in York to get another street food fix, but keep an eye out on @Amazing_Graze and @NorthernStreats for more foodie news.