Monty’s Deli

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Maltby Street food market is another super cool food destination to put on our growing list of super cool food destinations. Just over the river in some random railway arches in Bermondsey (how do these things start?), is a collection of fabulously curated food stalls. Perfect for a Saturday morning mooch we hopped on the bus and did just that. And came away half a stone heavier.

We’d actually come to try a legendary Reuben special sandwich at Monty’s Deli after seeing them on a re-run of a Tom Kerridge feature on Saturday Kitchen. Our mouths were watering just watching the sandwiches on TV, so we absolutely had to try the real thing and we weren’t disappointed.

The reuben is skyscraper sandwich is packed with melt in your mouth salt beef and smoked pastrami, home-made sauerkraut, sauce, sharp mustard, Leerdammer cheese and topped with super light toasted bread. Then it’s crammed into a sandwich toaster for what seems like an age when you’re hungry. The place was as rammed as the contents of the sandwiches too but the staff were coping well though, keeping the queue moving and the fast turnaround of tables meant there were seats on the communal benches.

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When the Reuben specials arrived I was actually a bit scared. It was huge but the toasting had compressed the sandwich so it didn’t look too overbearing. But it was still more than enough and it looked sooo good. Tender pink meat crammed tightly, oozing molten cheese, crisp sharp pickles and a can of time travelling cream soda (well it took me back). To die for. Literally.

There’s no airs and graces here. It’s basic, comforting food of the highest quality. Jewish soul food in fact. Monty’s speaks of passion and late nights, of trying new things, getting it right and wrong, burning the candle at both ends and an unswerving belief in what they are doing. You can even wash your hands in their sink if you want.

Post sandwich we waddled around the market feeling comfortingly full, nursing our salt beef babies. It’s a good job too as the rest of the food on offer looked just as good: tartiflette, fresh bread from St John, smoked Oysters, home cured salmon, delightful French pastries, tapas, local gin…the list goes on.

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Smoak

One of the anomalies of the Glasgow licensing laws means makes street food very difficult to happen. Basically the Scottish laws are quite strict about street food being sold within 300 yards of a school, and Glasgow in particular has a lot of schools.

This may well be North of the border bunkum, aimed at befuddled Sassenachs but it’s what my local food experts in Glasgow told me as we walked towards one of the more innovative solutions to this pedantic bylaw.

We were on our way to a ‘pop up’ food thing, situated in a bar on Glasgow’s notorious Sauchiehall Street. I say ‘thing’ as it’s a dine in, sit down and have a beer with food affair or a takeaway – either way, it’s interesting and currently the best sandwich in Glasgow right now and that got me on the hook.

Smoak is the indoors street food ‘concept’ situated in one of Glasgow’s most old school bars, The Variety. This place is as authentic as they come and we piled in on a surprisingly quiet Friday lunchtime. The menu is super simple with meat, cooked long and slow and smoked of course, served with home-made slaw and pickles. The chef is set snugly next to the bar with all his kit, like he’s been there twenty years.

It’s a genius idea.

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It really worked: the old school credibility of one of the city’s coolest, dodgiest bars and the bang on trend filthy food served with a lot of verve and attitude. I loved the look of it all, but clearly ordering the entire menu would not have worked so I went for the mixed slider combo – smoked brisket, pulled pork and Asian pork with all manner of pickles, gravy and loveliness and a brioche bun to boot.

Washed down with a pint of Guinness it was the lunch my personal trainer should never know about – and I’m relying on you to keep schtum about it.

Smoak are doing something that is both lovingly done and well considered and it would be great to see them in Leeds. Perhaps we could get our thinking caps on…hang on a minute, it would work a treat in somewhere like the Brudenell…

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The Ribman cometh

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I went to meet Mark Gevaux AKA The Ribman to write a post for The Culture Vulture, leading up to street food, art and music festival Amazing Graze on the 5/6th April at Left Bank in Leeds.

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.