It was only a matter of time before little old Lewes got in on the street food ‘revolution’. I mean, if Brighton is London-on-Sea, Lewes is arguably Hampstead-on-LSD. Last weekend the town played host to the Gentlemen of the Road festival, with Mumford & Sons, Mystery Jets, The Vaccines etc. strumming out on a field previously only used for cricket and illicit cigarettes during school hours. And this Sunday saw the launch of StrEAT, Lewes’s very own street food market.
I went down with my friends from East Dulwich, who on the way told me that last week’s KERB event in Peckham ‘wasn’t very big’. As we approached StrEAT through the car park at the bottom of North Street I was able to show to them what a little street food market actually looks like. BUT! As the cliché goes, good things come in small packages, and we were all surprised and delighted by the cracking atmosphere that StrEAT creates.
The woman behind it all is Elisa Furci, Events and Marketing manager for the London Restaurant Festival, who launched StrEAT as a labour of love. Elisa, working busily behind A Street Bar Named Desire, a pop-up cocktail bar backed up with good-mood music from Fruitful Soundsystem, says she hopes to host another ‘one or two’ before the end of the season.
A highlight for me was the chance to meet Stanley Wood of Stan’s Snow Cones. Stan is only thirteen, and launched his business venture selling crushed ice drinks entirely off his own back, building his own stall, designing his own logo and even making his own ice. Stan told me he makes some of his own fruit syrups too, but due to the outrageous popularity of Stan’s Snow Cones he also uses Monin to keep up with demand.
Stan’s Snow Cones can be found regularly at Pells Pool, and at times at Gentleman of the Road he could only just be seen behind a long queue. I chatted to Stan’s folks who are really proud, they say his friends ‘really get what he’s doing,’ and Stan gets a real kick out of the whole thing. And so he should. Go Stan!
Another highlight for me was sampling a PLEB pizza, a new venture from Joe Lutrario and friends who specialise in ultra thin, Roman-style pizza made in a portable wood-fired oven. I was lucky to get the very last Napoli salami and jalapeno pizza – these things are selling like hot pizzas – and it went down a treat. You can now catch PLEB in Lewes Precinct on most Saturdays this summer.
It was also a delight to meet Chloe who manages the kitchen at Wickle. As of mid-June, the super-popular store on School Hill has an ingredients and cookware outlet in their basement called Kitchen & Larder.
Chloe says that one of the main things she misses about London is the easy availability of specialist foreign ingredients and spicy take-aways, a gap that she hopes to fill with Kitchen & Larder and her new range of dukkahs. Beautifully packaged under the name Seven Sisters Spices, Chloe’s North African-inspired dukkahs made with toasted nuts, herbs and spices are especially good sprinkled on salads or used as a dry rub for meat or vegetables.
And last but not least, I managed to find room for an onion bhaji, hot mango chutney and lentil daal from Ruth at Vegelove. Ruth is already a familiar face on the Lewes food scene with a regular stall at the Friday Market. Her vegan South Indian take-away is always worth making room for but at two lunches I called it quits and wobbled off, happily anticipating the next StrEAT.
Panoramic shots courtesy Stephen Laws
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