This article first appeared in House & Leisure Online and is entitled “No Cutlery Required at the Cape Town Street Food Festival”. Here I’ve adapted my original post slightly in order to make it blog-relevant.
This past weekend saw me attending the Cape Town leg of the 2017 Street Food Festival. Held at Woodstock’s Side Street Studios, it was a bacchanalia of bite-sized eats, ice-cold drinks and live music. My second time attending the festival, this time around was a more relaxed affair as last year I was a guest speaker and was terrified by the experience – I’m no good at public address. Attracting food lovers of all ages, the event centred on street dishes from across the globe and included fusion food, local favourites and exotic eats.
The main attraction of the Street Food Festival definitely had to be the bevy of food trucks that set up shop and plied their wares to attendees. Offering up various on-the-go dishes from the obscure to the adored, a stand-out meal included the Buttermilk Fried Chicken on a brioche bun with homemade pickles and chipotle aioli and the Lamb Arancini with smoked Arrabiata sauce and Grana Pandano from the Boulevard 82 truck. Crisp and juicy with a hint of spice, the former was exactly what one wants from street food – portable, delicious and worth a picture or two. Other highlights included the six hour spit-braaied lamb with chimichurri from Argies, Southern-style smoked pork buns by The Southern Smoke, enormous pans of paella and servings of sangria by Mucho Gusto and gooey grilled cheese from Melt Cafe. Poke bowls, dim sum, Greek giros, Balinese Nasi Goreng and all manner of samosas were served up under the cheerful bunting strung up around the graffitied warren of industry that make up Side Street Studios. But according to popular opinion, one of the festival’s tastiest treats came from winners of season 5 of The Ultimate Braai Master and recent food truck owners Salty Flames – their Smoked Brisket and Cheddar Jaffle with apple & celery citrus salad took the concept of the humble campfire favourite to new and delicious heights.
An epicurean adventure in itself, the Convivium Block Party was a big drawcard. Featuring chefs including Chris Erasmus of Foliage, Wesley Randles of The Shortmarket Club, Arno Janse van Rensburg of The Kitchen at Maison and Andy Fenner of Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants, each dish on offer was inspired by South African heritage and was thus a celebration of local flavours. “The lineup will be a bunch of crazy-talented people but they’re cooking things like tripe potjies, offal samoosas and really using cheap and forgotten ingredients” says co-founder Andy Fenner. From Fenner himself came a generous helping of samp, beans and beef finished off with a shake of homemade Aromat – nostalgia with a twist.
A feast for the senses from a design aspect alone, organisers Studio H personified stylised food sketches, resulting in a playfully retro aesthetic – perfectly summed up by the stickers we received upon arrival. Titled “very important polony’, it was both a cheeky nod towards the often exclusive Cape Town food community and a reminder to not take food too seriously. Brightly coloured bunting guided visitors through the stalls while the concept of “sandwich board” was taken literally by life-size tacos, pizza and French fries made from corrugated cardboard, their wearers posing for photographs and adding to the general joviality.
Not to be outdone, the Street Food people themselves set up stalls of their own to get attendees involved; there were the Crate Talks – a series of short introductions from Cape Town’s new foodie set like Nikki Albertyn of Sweet Lionheart and Taiwanese food blogger Ming-Cheau Lin of Butterfingers blog – a hot sauce roulette wheel and a pineapple stand that served up the spiky fruit skewered and spiced with chilli powder. To cool off, local craft gin Hope on Hopkins was at hand with their small batch Cabernet Sauvignon-infused G&T’s while Publik Wines‘ excellent Pino Gris complimented both the weather and sunny disposition of festival-goers.
Reckon I’ll be saving my appetite until the festival reappears next year. Well I’ll try.