Monday, 1 November 2010

Here and There

My life is now a curious mix of deeply rigorous academic study and a never-ending popping up at different London spots in the choc van. The two could seem far removed from each other but what I love is how well they feed into one another.

Studying cities is what my Msc is all about - how we all negotiate and interpret our urban space, despite of/because of our apparent differences and how we claim ownership of those spaces and through doing so help contribute to the health and well-being of the city.

I love that Choc Star takes me here:

Choc Star + friends were invited to trade in the Jubilee Gardens as part of the Thames Festival in September. It was a great opportunity to show off's wares in one spot - a whole strip of high-energy, high-quality, flavour and personality driven food stalls/vans lined up, shimmering.

And here:

The '80s style Fashion Fete at Covent Garden found us back on familiar territory - except with a doggy catwalk show. And an Anna Wintour coconut shy opportunity.

Oh, and with us serving Elvis Sundaes (choc ice cream, vanilla ice cream, brownie bites, banana, hot fudge sauce, salted peanuts and gold dust). Here's one happy partaker:

Then there was the Warwick Wingding. This is an interesting one. Over in Peckham there's a whole scene going on. People tend to think of Peckham as crawling with miscreants where every step is a run of the gauntlet through gnarled chicken bones and eyeballing pitballs. But what about the quaint village life that exists alongside it?

A whole community of arty folk keep the area around Warwick Gardens ticking along with a real homespun, homemade, DIY kind of lilt. Every year they hold the Wingding for the people of the area to come and sell their creations, listen to local musicians, eat well, dance, drink and so on. I was lucky enough to be invited, despite the SW9 postcode. Everyone was extremely friendly, interesting and interested. I just felt a bit sad for the small number of quite-clearly-not-part-of-the-scene kids who strayed over for an ice cream, £1 coins clasped in their mitts, and looking nervous and like real fish out of water amidst all the folksy reverie.

There was nothing stopping these two though - all the way from Canada they came (they said) to visit us!

Back on the Southbank for the Real Food Festival market. I love seeing our vehicles nestled in amongst all those clean lines and imposing edifices.

Down at the Deptford Project for a food night with The Meatwagon. This bloke turned up and started asking me lots of questions...

We bonded over the fact that one of my old friends had her first ever snog with him in a bus stop in Essex.

Then the Towpath event took on a further lease of life as we staged a two day event down by the river there - all in aid of War Child and brimming with East Londoners all looking for a bit of edge to their outdoor dining that weekend.

More of these to come as the Waterways people are excited by the possibilities that putting on events like these - self-organised, grass-roots, fabulous food, nice music, better vibes - can create. And what a wonderful opportunity to re-animate the dead zones of the canal in this way - the place was heaving! (Not in this pic - this was early).

I loved this Mad Max themed party we catered for in an old warehouse in Battersea the other day. The costumes were outrageous - but this guy trumped them all for all round squishability (little smorgasbord of choc treats for his table):

And this dude did stunts that were eye-popping:

And then there was Brent Cross. Britain's first stand-alone shopping mall - a 1970s powerhouse of hardcore consumerism. Despite seeming a little dated and past its best now, its postcode guarantees a huge number of avid, high-spending shoppers every week.

The Centre decided that the recent interest in curbside eating should be realised in their carpark every month in the form of a mini-food festival.

I actually loved being there and think it looked great. Not only our strip - which included stalwarts Churros Brothers, Brewed Boy, Healthy Yummies, The Meatwagon, Bhangra Burger and Ca Phe VN - but the contrast of that bleak, almost Brutalist facade as a backdrop to the informal, quirky arrangement of food traders who couldn't be further from your typical Nandos-fest usually associated with the mall experience.

This could have potential for real growth but it's going to require a bit of a re-think on many matters - not least of which being, how do you divert indoor mall mentality to outdoor ad-hoc style street food eating?

The good news is that pondering exactly these kinds of questions is all good for my course. Now I just have to remember how to write an essay...