A trip down to London Food Month’s Night Market
So close to Kensington Palace that you can actually nab the Royals’ Wi-Fi, the newly opened Night Market is one of the more unique events opening for London Food Month. Set in the west end of Hyde Park, it’s another one of Grace Dent’s personal projects, bringing together a number of interesting stalls for long summer nights of fun and frivolity (weather permitting).
Visitors can treat themselves to any number of great dishes. Fortnum & Mason bring their iconic ice cream out into the fields for the classic touch, mingling side by side with slow-cooked brisket and Thai curries. Serious queues form behind a grill that bellows enough smoke to give a Victorian steam engine a run for its money. Rather than shovelling in coal though, workers are instead throwing in solid pucks of moist beef, ready for a charcoal burger topped with truffled cheese. It’s painfully Instagrammable, but also surprisingly delicious.
On opening night, we caught up with the lady herself, Grace Dent, who gave us her thoughts on just what the event meant to her and to the city as a whole. Promoting a sense of unity and compassion in the wake of last week’s tragic attack at Borough Market, Dent spoke of her desire to see London pull together through shared values.
Italian super-chef Massimo Bottura had a similar message, as he spoke to the crowd about his Refettorio Felix, part of his wider cultural and charitable Food for Soul project. Bottura took questions from the crowd, posed with rapturous fans and stoked plenty of passion with a rousing speech.
Elsewhere, the Cheese Truck is offering some serious cheese toasties. We’re talking the sort of grilled sandwiches that can make any stomach rumble. Top class grilled cheeses are joined by some less conventional efforts. Goat’s cheese, honey and rosemary is an absolute winner of a combination; gooey cheese oozing through a thick, crunchy crust, the faintest hint of honey sweetness working perfectly to offset the rosemary tang.
Native’s much loved pigeon kebab is back on the menu here. Served on pitta with a beetroot hummus, it’s the stuff dreams are made of and has been a much missed part of the Covent Garden food scene since its departure. It’s the perfect food for the event, half earnest street food, half refined foodie dream.
And unlike other food festival events, there are no nightmares lurking in the shadows here. The all too often seen credit system, much maligned and almost certain to cheat you out of money, is entirely absent here. You pay, like any civilised person, with cash. That’s it. No special currency, no vouchers that only come in blocks of £5 (you know who you are, festivals that indulge in this utter nonsense). Sure, the entry fee is a bit of a pain but it’s the only way to keep such a centrally located event from becoming exceptionally heaving.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
Night Market is at Hyde Park from 7th until 18th June 2017, for further information or to book visit here.