I like ribs. Which meat eater doesn’t? There isn’t a better meaty pleasure than tender meat, falling of the bone and for the more resistant morsels, gnawed off the bone. Leeds has kind of fallen in love with ribs all over again.
In the eighties and nineties, there were more tex-mex Americana joints in Leeds flogging poor quality ribs than you could shake a saucy stick at. And then they all vanished as we kind of fell out of love with them. Some of us rib fans waited patiently for the tide to turn, and guess what? It has.
Recently we’ve seen a resurgence in ribby pleasure in the city of Loiners. Rib Shakk, Cattle Grid and the newcomer Red’s are all delivering great quality rib action and that’s just to name a few. We might have a surfeit of rib activity, but the good will out and I’m all for a bit of competition.
But can ribs work as street food? And why would you even bother?
London based Mark Gevaux AKA The Ribman (‘Best Ribs in London’ is his gauntlet throwing strapline) has been causing a street food sensation with his off the bone pork baby back ribs at London street food festivals across the capital. His USP is that he lovingly takes the deliciously tenderised, smokey meat off the bone and serves the meat – after cooking it *overnight* by the way – in an enormous bun with his trademark ‘Holy Fuck’ sauce. Oh yes!!
Of course this kind of dirty deliciousness is all the rage in London right now and who are we to complain? I caught up with Mark at street food market Kerb at Kings Cross last week – I was of course taking my journalistic assignment very seriously…only to discover that Mark takes ribs very seriously indeed. In between being interviewed by a Danish TV film crew, he told me his pork is from free range animals, he makes all his own sauces and he even personally picks up his bespoke bread buns from a baker in South London every morning.
Mark is an interesting character: a trained butcher who has come to street food by a circuitous route via Spain and London. He has a loyal customer base and usually sells out by 2pm every day, so his advice to me was get there early. Of course I did and before I chatted to Mark I had to try the merchandise. I can vouch for the Holy Fuck sauce and he’s not kidding about tender, juicy rib meat that is the very essence of the pig. All served in a fresh, chewy bun on a freezing cold afternoon in Kings Cross. Perfect.
Mark is really looking forward to seeing what the good people of Leeds will make of his ribs and so am I. If you are partial to moist rib loveliness combined with kick ass sauces, then to be quite frank you need to be first in the queue when he rocks up in April.