The first day of proper sunshine we’ve had in almost a month, and Cardiff pulls out the big guns with a double whammy of foodie fun. Go on, my son.
Pop Up Cardiff
Over on Womanby Street, the bi-monthly Pop Up Cardiff was in full swing, boasting a variety of street-food stalls ranging from Fwrnes wood-fired pizzas, Mission Burrito‘s Mexican tacos, Katiwok‘s Asian wraps, and KL Canalog‘s Malay Briyanis. Newcomers Meat & Greek were also there dishing out some juicy-looking souvlaki and halloumi pittas despite only having signed up for the event a few days ago! They were all being serenaded by the soulful voice of Kirk Morgan, a guitarist, harmonica player and vocalist who can seriously sing the blues.
Street Feast Cardiff
Meanwhile on High Street, the Cardiff Street Food Collective had roped in the guys from veggie favourites Milgi, the super tasty Haute Dogs, and the controversially-branded guys from Dirty Bird Fried Chicken. Also in attendance were the award winning Bar 44 Tapas, the impressively posh Jols Food (rabbit and gnocchi with parmesan, anyone?) and the ladies from Wild Fig Organic Ice Cream.
My top find of the day goes to Haute Dogs. We ordered a ‘Portland Dog’ and it came covered in coca-cola fried onions, french mustard, and a sprinkling of dried onions mixed with popping candy. Sounds wrong, tastes incredibly right. What’s more, their dogs are made using free-range pork franks from the lovely Trealy Farm in Monmouthshire. At £5 a pop, these don’t come cheap, and nor should they. Good, honest, well-made food costs money.
So the only question is, people of Cardiff, where were you?
Maybe it was because of the Nato summit madness that’s taken over the city (giant fences coupled with a major police presence in the form of vans, horses, and helicopters), or maybe everyone’s run off to the beach to celebrate the last day of August. Whatever it was, this street-food-fandango didn’t seem as busy as it should have been – especially Womanby Street. Apparently, when the Hangfire girls were booked in, the place was heaving, but come on guys – there are plenty of other food heroes to celebrate in our fair city, as you can see from the above.
I’m sure you can imagine my dismay when I spotted a mum and her young son munching on a McDonald’s as they made their way through the stalls, and another bloke walked past muttering “£5 for a hot dog? No chance mate.” Really?
We need our local, independent food businesses to thrive and prosper. Essentially, if we want more variety in our city centre, this is the kind of thing we need to celebrate and shout about (not the opening of a new Tesco carvery). To avoid having a carbon copy restaurant scene that looks and tastes the same as every other chain-dominated city centre in the UK; we need to be supporting the rough-round-the-edges, pop-up events like these and really being proud of our ‘little guys’.
UPDATE: I have just had a tweet from @StreetFoodCDF to say their traders actually sold out today, which is great news – I stand corrected! They were definitely the busiest of the two locations, and I think also benefitted from the fact that Dirty Bird have had a lot of media attention lately for that logo. Having said that, I still think there’s a job to be done building an atmosphere and a buzz among the people of the ‘diff, jjudging by the feedback of some of the people there.
Here’s to the next date being even bigger and better!