Winning this month’s prize for most enticing smell, Caribbean Café were cramming fillings into their wraps till they were fit to burst. BBQ chicken, jerk chicken and lobster were among the wrap choices and all were tastily infused with that unmistakable rich and smoky Caribbean flavour. Owner and Caribbean culture enthusiast, Dean has a well established reputation for some of the best soul food in Leeds, with his café and grill in Kirkgate market being known not only for its great food but legendary reggae nights too. For those after an authentic taste of the Caribbean, these deliciously irresistible wraps will seduce both your nose and mouth to the very last mouthful. Don’t fret if you missed them at Belgrave this time: Dean and the Caribbean café team will be back there on the 7th of August presenting their Caribbean Reggae night with live music from The Selah Band, plenty of rum soaked cocktails and more exotic culinary offerings. Plus later in August their team will be supplying the culinary goods at Wray & Nephew's Jamaica Rum Tings: Carnival Warm-up party (also at Belgrave) so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved!
Hannah and Chris of Filfil falafel were providing the healthier option at Belgrave this weekend with their stall bountiful with vibrant salads and toppings for their wholesome falafels. Their Middle Eastern chickpea oriented offerings comprised of the falafel ‘mezze’ and ‘pita’ which were stuffed with extra goodness such as hummus, zatar roasted squash, tabbouleh and charred aubergine. Not to be missed was their Belgrave Feast one off special of spiced halloumi nuggets, irresistibly nibbly and a fitting accompaniment for their dishes. There was something particularly wholesome about Filfil falafel, who make every element of their cooking by hand from their own Dukkah which tops their hummus to the sourdough pitas and trade mark golden falafels. A hit with the veggies, Filfil are vegan friendly using none or minimal animal products in their dishes. In addition to this they strive to ensure that all the produce they use is organically sourced making their ethical Middle Eastern edibles deliciously guilt free.
Despite only starting up six months ago, couple Marcelo and Hannah’s Latin American street food concept has quickly gained a name for itself in the North. Having already checked out their stuff online I had been patiently waiting for Yakumama to arrive on a Belgrave Feast line up and I was quick to check out their menu on arrival. Although a small selection with only three main options, these were carefully curated and thought out – inspired in part by Marcelo’s Chilean background. Hungrily tucking into their wild mushroom quinoa croquetas served with homemade aioli and a salad drenched in wild garlic dressing I was treated to a creamy, garlicy filling encapsulated in a satisfying crunch - perfectly complemented by the other components. Also on the menu were Cuban beef empanadas using rare breed beef and spicy chimichurri, and the ‘Choripan’ an Argentinian style sandwich abundant with chorizo sausage, guacamole and sweet pickled onions.
Sticking to a few things and doing them well proved to be a winning technique for Yakumama with each option proving to be as flavour full as the last. One friend was so impressed after finishing his ‘Choripan’, he sneaked off returning with an empanada and proclaiming his new found love for Latin American cuisine. Yakumama can currently be found in The Kitchens in Manchester after being selected from hundreds of other vendors to compete against several other food traders for a list of impressive prizes. To keep up to date with Yakumama’s Latin American inspired street food creations, as well as their upcoming locations, follow them on Twitter @yakumamamcr.
Bringing a touch of South East Asia to the Feast this month, Manchester based Nasi Lemak had an array of authentic Malay street food available. Their recipes are inspired by managing director Jim Khor’s home town of Penang and his travels in Asia and incorporate an assortment of Sambal orientated dishes. Sambal is a traditional Malaysian sauce and marinade involving a chilli base and other Asian flavourings to create a bold, piquant flavour. Nasi Lemak uses Sambal in their prawn, squid and chicken dishes which are all served with a choice of glass noodles or coconut rice. Curries are also a prevalent part of their menu with their exotic sounding selection including the Nyonya Chicken, Beef Rendang and Kapitan Vegetables. Most of the dishes I sampled created a taste bud tantalising progressive spice undercut with a garlic, lime and herbs - awakening the senses with a hot and tasty bang.
Residents Dough Boys pizza have become an integral part of the Belgrave experience with most of their punters unable to leave without indulging in a slice or two. Gratifying every pizza need with a super thin base and doughy yet crispy crust, the only thing that accentuates this pizza meets mouth encounter is their genius topping combos. With creative names to match their experimental flavours, ‘Ricotta get through this’ (wild mushroom, ricotta, soy and pickled ginger), ‘Salami of Darkness’ (summed up as sausage and spice) and ‘Baa no more’ (Middle Eastern spiced ground lamb, pomegranate and red chard) are just a few of the innovative slices available. I was pleased to see the ‘Paul and Linda’ pizza was back on the Specials board which combines artichoke, pimento, caper berries, smoked mozzarella and a splattering of salsa verde with mouth-watering results. These self-confessed ‘pizza pilgrims’ know what they are doing and are undoubtedly mixing things up on the Northern pizza scene and if you haven’t already I’d recommend getting a slice next time you visit.
Mixing the cheesy with the meaty, Holmfirth based Mac Shac had mac and cheese by the bucket load ready to top with bacon, chilli con carne, chorizo and various other ‘pimped up toppings’. For those ready for the ultimate Mac Shac experience the Daddy Mac was on hand. Slopping on every topping available, the Daddy Mac is not messing about and isn’t for the weak hearted. Owner Luke, believes his cheesy, carby goodness will provide festival punters with the perfect party fuel: ‘When you’re at a festival you need some good stodgy comfort food to keep going and that’s what the Mac Shac is about’. With a few big festival names already ticked off the list, Mac Shac has big plans with Creamfields, No Tomorrow and Rewind festivals all up next on the Mac Shac’s summer of music and cheese.
With street food being very much the trendy way to eat at the moment, more and more companies are popping up hoping to catch a whiff of the success. But with this, inevitably, come traders with sub-standard food more focused on the profit than their nosh. Luckily for Leeds, Belgrave Feast sifts these out when selecting their line-up, leaving only vendors who really know and care about their product. The results of this are obvious. Good, wholesome food is tasty and where there is tasty food you’re sure to attract crowds. Just look at the pictures of Belgrave’s roof terrace this weekend and you’ll get the picture.