Sing it, “it’s the most wonderful tiiiiime of the year”! Eat Cambridge, a festival of local food and drink, made a welcome return after skipping 2017. Organised by Heidi White, the Main Event took place at The Guildhall on 19 May 2018 and kicked off two weeks of fantastic fringe events.
There were 40+ stallholders over two halls and 9 talks took place throughout the day in the Council Chamber. It was a full day of foodie fun and there was an excellent turnout despite sharing the date with the royal wedding.
I spent the day helping out so I was only able to briefly visit some of the stalls but I sent Paulo around with a shopping list! The photo below shows some of the products from our impressive haul. Yes, that is a 3-litre box of Pinkster gin!
Paulo also picked up a few things here and there for me to nibble on for lunch. I may have eaten all of the empanadas from La Latina Bustaurante – they were so good!
I offered to help out Alison Lusis of Ali’s Baltic Bakes who made her big comeback at Eat Cambridge, after having to take a break from making her delicious Pīrāgi, Latvian little yeast dough pies.
I’ve been raving about Steak & Honour for years and have been stalking tracking their burger van since it first hit the streets of Cambridge a few years ago. It was so popular, a second Citroen H van was added to keep up with the demand for their delicious gourmet burgers. In January 2017, Steak & Honour launched the long awaited restaurant on Wheeler Street, next door to the Corn Exchange.
Cambridge is burger heaven with Steak & Honour’s two vans trading at various locations as well as the bricks and mortar site. There is even a handy Steak & Honour app to keep track of their daily schedules and receive restaurant offers and rewards.
The restaurant reflects the street food experience with its open kitchen so you can see the chefs in action while you are queueing or waiting for your meal. There are about 40 seats spread out over three floors, mostly on the first and second floors up the colourful stairs.
Cambridge’s local food and drink scene was celebrated with another successful Eat Cambridge festival, organised by Heidi White with the help of her team of volunteers. The Main Event kicked off at the Corn Exchange on 7 May 2016, leading the way to a series of fantastic fringe events over a two-week period. Eat Cambridge is a foodie’s dream and I tried to attend as many events as I could.
I started off by volunteering at The Main Event. Heidi put a lot of work into organising Eat Cambridge and I thought the best way I could show my support was to volunteer and help out that day. There were about 40 stallholders, all local independents, showcasing their fabulous food and drink products.
UPDATE: Novi are no longer hosting regular pop ups. They have their own chef and menu.
There have been some exciting new developments at Novi on Regent Street in Cambridge. Since their rebrand last year, Novi have taken the innovative approach of hosting pop ups in their kitchen. They have moved away from serving small dishes to inviting local independent traders to showcase their menus.
Described as an espresso bar, cocktail bar and kitchen, Novi certainly tick all of the boxes. They acquired a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II T3 espresso machine making speciality coffee supplied by Frank and Earnest. Tick!
But that’s not all… they have a selection of teas by Kandula and recipes for some of the best smoothies I’ve tasted. I’ve tried Novi’s yummy smoothie with mixed berries, banana and apple juice. Another great one is made with frozen banana, nut butter, cacao powder, blueberries and toasted almonds.
Novi also specialise in botanical cocktails that can be ordered in the restaurant or enjoyed in the gorgeous bar upstairs. Tick! A few of my favourite cocktails are Seventy Seven, Detox While You Retox and Sloe Down. Be sure to ponder the menu and choose what tickles your fancy. The cocktails are great on their own but even better with the delicious food served by the pop ups.
Burwash Manor in Barton, Cambridge was the place for lovers of food and drink over Valentine’s weekend, 13 and 14 February 2016. Love Food, the annual fabulous festival of food, was hosted by Burwash Food Hall, which includes The Larder and Leech & Sons Master Butchers. It was a great way to showcase local independent producers, some of which were already firm favourites, but I also discovered new ones too. It was good to meet the people behind the products they are so dedicated to making. These independent producers really put their heart and soul into their food or drink products and it shows. The proof is in the taste!
I celebrated all weekend and enjoyed tastings and demonstrations by The Larder’s suppliers. They were held in The Secret Garden marquee, a lovely space with lots of room to explore the various stalls.
UPDATE: Steak & Honour opened their own restaurant in January 2017. It’s on Wheeler Street, next door to the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Read my post on the new restaurant here.
There’s an exciting new development for Steak & Honour’s ever-increasing fan base. Their pair of Citroen H vans, named Red and White, have been popping up on Cambridge’s street food scene since 2012 and their burgers are now legendary. Owned and run by Michelin trained chefs Leo Riethoff and David Underwood, Steak & Honour have built quite a following, and we can now find them in the kitchen at Novi on Regent Street for a winter residency until the end of January 2016, Wednesdays to Saturdays from 5:30pm to 10pm. [UPDATE: Steak & Honour will be continuing their residency through February and March but on Saturday evenings only, serving 5:30pm to 9pm.] This is a wonderful collaboration as Novi boasts a gorgeous space to enjoy beer, wine, spirits or their famous cocktails paired with Steak & Honour’s menu. A match made in heaven.
The dining experience at Novi is casual and relaxed. You find a seat (reservations recommended if you’re a group), place your order at the kitchen and pay in advance, then your name is called for pick up. You can help yourself to napkins, cutlery and plates, if needed.
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.
Those of you familiar with the best of the Cambridge street food scene already know Steak & Honour and Jack’s Gelato. They formed a dining collective and named it Over The Tracks, a nod to the location of their Cambridge HQ tucked away in a winding industrial estate, just past the train tracks.
Leo Riethoff and David Underwood of Steak & Honour and Jack van Praag of Jack’s Gelato don’t just flip burgers and scoop ice cream. They are proper chefs who expertly create their menus and have worked in some of the best professional kitchens. Over The Tracks is their opportunity to expand their culinary offerings, and in Jack’s case, show what he can do away from the churn.
“Over The Tracks is quality, seasonal and local cooking in an informal and communal setting. With OTT, the guys are taking their product off the street and placing it in another context.” (Eat Cambridge Official Website)
This well organised fringe event for Eat Cambridge, held on 20 May 2015, was beautifully set up inside and outside the industrial unit. The bar was housed inside, along with several large communal tables and charming mismatched chairs. The minimalist décor and ambience worked well in the overall context. The chilled out sounds of instrumental hip hop music added to the urban atmosphere.
Cambridge is fortunate to have foodPark, a collective of top quality local street food traders. The brainchild of Heidi White, foodPark has a solid presence in Cambridge for its regular lunchtime markets. Occasionally pop-up events are organised, such as the foodPark NIGHT MARKET, where the best of Cambridge street food and drink is the main attraction. Heidi has embraced the street food movement and works to remain true to its ethos of sourcing traders who provide high quality, artisan food and care about provenance. It’s not about flogging mass-produced food with cheap ingredients.
“foodPark is a collective of street food traders, formed and operated as a not-primarily-for-profit organisation which promotes local, independent street food in Cambridge. We select traders based on strict quality criteria. foodPark was founded and is organised by Heidi White – just one local person with a huge passion for street food and experience in business, events, and marketing”. (Official Website)
Therefore, it’s no wonder foodPark NIGHT MARKET has been increasing in popularity. The last one took place on Valentine’s night at Burwash Manor and proved to be massively popular. (I raved all about it here). The much-anticipated second instalment of this pop-up night market was held on 9 May, 2015 at Gravel Hill Farm at the North West Cambridge Development, as part of Eat Cambridge’s fringe events. The venue was spacious and could accommodate a greater number of people.
The event was very well organised. Based on the popularity of the previous night market, this time it was a ticket-only event to ensure everyone could get in. It sold out very quickly so I was glad I got my ticket nice and early! People arrived in droves by foot, bus, taxi, bicycles and cars (we found parking on nearby streets and those cycling in had lots of space to store their bikes on site). The queue started before the opening time of 5pm. The anticipation was building!
foodPark NIGHT MARKET, a pop-up night market featuring the best of Cambridge street food, was held on 14 February, 2015 at Burwash Manor. It was part of Burwash Food Hall‘s Love Food festival. With so much love in the air, it was only fitting to have foodPark’s very first NIGHT MARKET on Valentine’s night.
The evening’s focus was LOVE… mainly love for street food, all freshly prepared by the carefully-selected traders that form part of the foodPark collective, founded by Heidi White who has been instrumental in promoting street food in Cambridge.
“Street food markets are for wandering around, taking in the sights and smells, for tasting, sharing, anticipating food cooked “just-so”, and experiencing something different from your usual idea of eating out. But please remember the NIGHT MARKET *is* different from a usual restaurant, pop-up dining experience, or supper club. It is a market, it is not somewhere where reservations are taken, and here at foodPark the food and drink is THE main attraction.” (Official Website)