On 3 October 2015 foodPark’s fourth instalment of its popular NIGHT MARKET took place, once again, at Gravel Hill Farm at the North West Cambridge Development. I attended every one of them so far (February, May, July and October) and I can safely say I have experienced fantastic street food and drink in all seasons. I enjoyed them all and raved about the winter and spring NIGHT MARKETS here and here.
With foodPark founder Heidi White at the helm, this NIGHT MARKET was the biggest and best yet. The main difference was the addition of more bars. Apart from the foodPark BAR, which sold wine, fizz, soft drinks and water, there was a bar run by Jolly Good Beer dedicated solely to craft beer and a Pinkster gin den that was a bit of a hidden gem around the back.
Food and drink were the main attraction and Heidi and her team of volunteers kept the evening flowing smoothly. The event was well organised with rubbish being gathered in a timely manner. I noticed there was first aid cover provided by a private company.
Sponsors Cambridge Consultants provided some useful items such as table covers, coasters, hand wipes and blankets.
There were people of all ages enjoying the relaxed communal vibe, enhanced by live music from Will Robert and Dickie DeVere & the Dorchester Mavericks. Resident DJ Two Deck Charlie was back, spinning his electro swing tunes. I even saw people dancing this time!
Being October, we had less hours of daylight so it really felt like a night time market. The barn that housed all of the food traders was all lit up and there were lots of tables and chairs and additional seating areas throughout the site. The 1,000 people in attendance were all well fed and watered!
The volunteers running the foodPark BAR did a great job. There was Prosecco available by the glass or bottle and all of the expertly sourced wines were from France. White wine choices were Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley and Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc region. Red wine included Cabernet Franc/Merlot from the Pays d’Oc and Merlot/Tannat from the Côtes de Gascogne region.
Jolly Good Beer created a beerwall featuring craft beers such as Beavertown Gama Ray (IPA), Fourpure Oktoberfest, Siren Half Mast (quarter IPA), Renaissance Voyager (kiwi IPA) and Renaissance Elemental Porter. The beer bar proved to be quite popular but I’m not a beer drinker so I skipped the long queue and went for the fizz and gin.
I loved the set up of the Pinkster gin den, complete with bar, tables and chairs and its own lively soundtrack. Pinkster’s Lyndsey Spellman and two excellent bartenders kept the G&Ts and cocktails flowing. Pinkster’s gin and tonics are quite special, served with raspberry and mint to bring out the flavours.
Cocktails included Pinkster’s own creation… the Paloma, named after Paloma Faith who performed at The Big Feastival, Pinkster’s very first music festival attendance. Its ingredients are grapefruit juice, Chambord and I forget what else (hic!) but it was nice and refreshing.
I also had a Pinktini, a martini with raspberries…. shaken, not stirred. The white vermouth was by Regal Rogue of Australia.
Needless to say, I spent a lot of time at the gin den as I’m a big Pinkster fan. If you want to know more about this amazing gin, you can read all about my visit to Pinkster HQ here.
At this point you may be wondering if I actually had any food. Of course I did! foodPark features some of my favourite street food traders. Paulo and I shared our dishes so we could visit as many of the traders as possible.
We started with new trader Rösti Strasse who are doing marvellous things with rösti, a potato based dish from Switzerland. We chose the Huhn, featuring rösti, chicken, chestnut mushroom and molten Gruyère served with salad. All of the ingredients were fresh and I could tell they were high quality.
Rösti Strasse‘s other mouth-watering menu options included Lachs (rösti, smoked salmon, rocket, crème fraiche, dill and lemon drizzle), Spinat + Pinienkerne (rösti, baby spinach, toasted pine nuts and molten Gruyère), Schwein (rösti, air-dried mountain ham, chestnut mushrooms molten Gruyère) and dessert in the form of a dark and white Toblerone layered mousse named Schweizer Gebirge Mousse (Swiss mountain mousse).
I went for Guerrilla Kitchen’s bao… the “Beefy” with Mexican beef, avocado, sour cream and jalapeño in two soft, pillowy steamed buns. Spectacular looking and tasting! In fact, someone made a comment about how amazing the steamed buns looked when I got my order. The same thing happened at the previous NIGHT MARKET too!
We shared Guerrilla Kitchen’s pad thai fries. These three words together may sound strange but it works! Skinny fries topped with peanuts, chilli peppers and coriander in a tasty, sticky sauce… a brilliant combination.
Guerrilla Kitchen’s steamed buns menu also featured the Classic (pork belly, hoisin, mint), Le Souk (halloumi, aubergine, rocket, harissa) and Fat Hen (grilled chicken, gochujang mayo, pickles).
Paulo headed to Tin Kitchen for one of their grilled artisan ciabattas. He chose the chipotle beef brisket with slaw and jalapeños. I had a bite and the brisket was amazingly tender with a nice smoky flavour.
Tin Kitchen’s other sandwiches included grilled halloumi, aubergine, tomato, rocket & pesto mayo and slow cooked lemon & oregano lamb shoulder, feta, tzatziki & rocket… all in a fresh ciabatta bun.
Fired Up’s pizzas are some of the best around so I never miss an opportunity to indulge and make my Italian ancestors happy. I was delighted to be able to chat with Fired Up’s Nancy and Rory who told me that they went to Naples to do some pizza research and have now slightly changed their dough so it is lighter, yet still crisp and tender. The dough is made with 00 flour and olive oil. The pizzas are topped with the freshest ingredients then baked to perfection in their portable brick oven.
Paulo and I shared the Margherita pizza with basil and virgin olive oil, which was deliciously authentic. Fired Up’s menu also featured the following pizzas: Duck with spring onion & hoisin sauce, Pepperoni with spicy roquito peppers, Spicy sausage with roasted red peppers, fresh herbs & chilli flakes, Salami with artichoke & olives and ‘Nduja (spicy spreadable Calabrian sausage) & basil. Fired Up offer a gluten free option too.
Churros Bar’s husband and wife team, Charlotte and Robert, churned out their tasty churros and dips to the seemingly never-ending sweet-toothed crowd. Paulo and I shared a serving of three churros and we tried a new dip, white chocolate with rum. Whoa… they were generous with the rum! It was so decadent, it seemed a shame to waste the leftover dip so Paulo drank the rest of it in one shot. It was like a creamy rum cocktail!
Other delicious dips included chocolate & Bailey’s, salted caramel (a firm favourite), strawberry jam, chocolate & coconut as well as Nutella.
This was a foodPark NIGHT MARKET first for Sweet Ally Scoops vintage ice cream van. The gelato was created and supplied by Jack van Praag of Jack’s Gelato with quite the variety of intriguing flavours: vanilla marsala, pecan brittle, tiramisu, mint chocolate, stracciatella, chocolate, burnt sugar & salt, mango sorbet, gooseberry sorbet, cookies & cream, elderflower sorbet, strawberries & cream and blackberry & black pepper. There was a choice of waffle cone or tub… but tubs allowed for a generous drizzle of one of Jack’s specially prepared hot sauces, chocolate or caramel. I had a scoop of burnt sugar & salt gelato and it tasted like the top of a crème brûlée. Jack is a culinary genius with his gelato creations!
Also available and quite popular with the kids were lovely ice lollies in the following flavours: bubble gum, orange, rocket, cider, cherry brandy and lager & lime.
Jalan Jalan’s succulent South East Asian menu featured tofu banh mi (fried ginger tofu with pea pâté, sesame mayo, thai basil in a bread roll with cucumber, coriander and pickled carrots), sarawak laksa (spicy Malaysian soup with shredded chicken, omelette, rice noodles, fresh lime, coriander in coconut milk broth) and beef rendang (spicy Malaysian beef curry with rice cooked in a banana leaf, tomato, sambal and toasted coconut).
The Wandering Yak was a vegetarian’s delight with its popular Middle Eastern Mezze Box, a glorious box of flavours with a choice of two extras: crunchy Egyptian falafel, roast butternut squash with coriander pesto, limed halloumi or baked feta with z’atar & chilli. Each box contained beetroot muhamarra, smoky aubergine dip, bulgar & herb salad, sweet potatoes fries with ginger & lime and handmade flatbread. Also on The Wandering Yak’s menu was dal soup with coconut & tamarind, served with flatbread.
Steak & Honour proved to be massively popular, as usual. Leo, David and team worked steadily to get their made-to-order burgers out as quickly as possible (they are so worth the wait!). The burgers featured Riverside beef patties nestled in soft brioche buns with lettuce, onion, gherkin, French’s mustard and ketchup. There were also options to add American cheese and to double up (adding an extra patty).
Non-meat eaters could enjoy the Shroom burger, made with a flat mushroom featuring the same garnishes in a brioche bun. It was good to see One For Ella as Steak & Honour’s special for foodPark NIGHT MARKET with 180g patty, smoked bacon, American cheese and their famous burger sauce.
Warming Your Cockles Coffee Co’s Emily and CJ did a great job doing what they do best… warming everyone’s cockles with their fabulous coffee and gourmet hot chocolates, such as red velvet, caramello, choccie malt, praline and chocolate orange.
The Juice Box were on hand serving their healthy juices and smoothies made with a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. A great way to get extra vitamins and minerals!
Unfortunately due to the van’s mechanical failure, Buffalo Joe’s were unable to serve their chicken wings and amazing buttermilk chicken burgers at the NIGHT MARKET. This was announced prior to the event but the last minute cancellation meant that foodPark were one trader short. Still, I know all of the traders worked hard and fast to get their food and drink out to the hungry and thirsty masses.
I loved everything about foodPark NIGHT MARKET … the food, gin, fizz, music, sparkly lights and chilled out ambience, perfect for catching up with friends or meeting new people. I always enjoy foodPark’s lunchtime pitches and other events but NIGHT MARKET has a unique vibe that makes me want to return time and again. Cambridge is fortunate to have foodPark… it’s a real celebration of the street food movement right here at our doorstep.
foodPark NIGHT MARKET were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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