After the sad failure-to-launch of Leicester’s Market Corner, it’s good to learn there is another attempt at fostering a street food scene in Leicester.

The new Market Hall has a small street food unit facing out towards the market stalls and from this Friday and Saturday (10 and 11 October) onwards there will be high quality street food traders every weekend. Initially there be three businesses there on a rotating basis, starting off with gourmet hot dogs from Harborough-based Big Daddies, and subsequently US-style barbecue from Coalville’s Miss Piggy’s (just back with a hatful of trophies from the European BBQ championships) and high-quality burgers and more from Pick’s organic farm.

"This could get messy..."  - a Big Daddy hotdog.

“This could get messy…” – a Big Daddy hotdog.

I spoke briefly to Jeff Wilson of Big Daddies who was pleased to be adding Leicester to their list of regular venues along with Birmingham’s Digbeth Dining Club and Coventry’s new arts hub Fargo. “What we do is probably best encapsulated as restaurant quality food at street vendor prices,” he claimed. “All our food is sourced in the Harborough area and is home-made  to high standards  – there’s no sweepings, no nasties. We’ll be doing our hot-dogs and a few specials such as Philly cheese steaks and we’ll be doing a currywurst to mark Oktoberfest.”

It’ll be good to have these new lunch options in the city centre and hopefully this will in due course provide a low-cost entry for more businesses offering innovation and quality to offer their wares in Leicester.

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Rutland Food Festival

September 16, 2012

I made a late decision yesterday to drive over to Empingham for the Rutland Food Festival. A very good decision as it turned out.

For once in this rain-sodden summer it was a lovely warm sunny day. The festival had a sumptuous setting by Rutland Water, where over a hundred little sailboats were having some sort of race thing (come on, you all saw the Olympics – who had a clue what was going on?)

It was, in Rutland style, a small but classy event. Cooking presentations from leading local chefs including Brian Baker, Sean Hope and Dameon Clarke and around maybe 30 food stalls including familiar stalwarts such as Pick’s organic meats and Hambleton Bakery, newer businesses such as baked goods from Les Rosbifs restsaurant (left)  and Johannah’s Patisserie. I picked up a end of festival box from the later which included some of the best bakewell tart I’ve ever encountered. They are opening a shop next month in Oakham so look out if you’re over there. 

Other goodies I came away with included venison from Fen Farm, pain Levain from Les Rosbifs, spicy plum chutney from Rutland Preserves, spicy N’awleans  rub from Gourmet Spice Company, and a bit of punt, a bottle of Rutland table wine – a Bacchus from Abbey vineyards. A little tasting suggested an off-dry wine with a surprising amount off fruit showing through. Whether it will hold-up away from the feel-good environment of a sunny food festival I’m not sure but at £6.50 it felt like a deal. 

I ended up staying most of the day helping sign-up people for the Great Food Club, along with fellow Great Food magazine contributor Hazel Paterson and partner Glen.  Hazel’s a really creative cook and photographer, if you’re not already following her work in the magazine or  through her blog and tweets, I recommend you investigate.

More on Market Corner

May 17, 2011

Well the Market Corner launch all seemed to go off with bags of good will.  The presence of the new mayor at his first public function helped and there seemed to be a feel good factor all round.

Look, I know you probably want pictures of creamy cakes or spicy curries but what you've got is Cllr Westley, Mayor Soulsby and Cllr Alfonso and you'll just have to live with it for now.

There was particular satisfaction from Cllr Paul Westley, who’s family has been on the market for over 100 years, and who had had to really battle against some who wanted to resist the change. Chatting with Westley and newly-elected Councillor Dawn Alfonso, a leading figure with the Market Trader’s Federation, there was a clear sense both of their passion for the 2,000 year old market and their relief at reaching this key stage in the regeneration of the area and of a refocussing of the market towards quality. They know, as is obvious, the process doesn’t stop here but must involve other areas of the market along too. There will be different solutions for different aspects  but the market will have to shed any lingering reputation for knocking out cheap poor quality, end of life goods and the meat, game and fish market  must somewhow be revived and reintegrated.

As for Market Corner itself,  there was a buzz on opening day and if the area can be kept clean and tidy I think trade will continue to find its way there. It’s great that businesses like Bobby’s, Pick’s Farm, Woodhouse Farm and Deliflavour now have a regular city centre presence – their coffee is defintely worth a try. There were also  few new people to me  – the cakes at Dessert Island were lovely, and I was even won over by the cupcakes at Viva la Cupcake .  Food stalls will be there Fridays and Saturdays.

The launch comes handily before the latest Summer Food festival  – always an enjoyable event – which takes place on Sunday 29 May and will feature live presentations from people such as Bobby’s, Entropy and the Rutland and Derby deli-pub.

Sadly I’ll be off enjoying choucroute in Alsace, but I do hope to be around for the small  but equally enjoyable  Belgrave Hall Food Fair  which takes place 17 and 18 September  – put in your diaries.

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