Friday, 4 November 2011

A nod to the lads of the Staff Meal Truck, Boston

A trip to Boston and environs earlier in the year threw up some lobster, clams, a great pizza and, from memory, quite an average burger. The one thing that stuck in the mind was a sandwich from what I think is the most inventive food truck I've stumbled upon. I'd actually wound up in a car park looking for the legendary Boston Speed Dog truck, but they weren't there so I was left to choose from the 4 or 5 that were there.

I had from the Staff Meal Truck a "pressed meatloaf sandwich". Turns out that the two guys behind the truck were both fed up with working in haute cuisine restaurants and instead put their spin on "fast" food. Heck - check out three of the items on their menu for 4th November:

- Foie Gras Bakalava (Foie Gras, Pepitas and Lavender)
- Cassoulet Sub (Garlic Sausage, White Bean Stew with Duck Confit and Bacon, Bread Crumbs)
- Pig's Head Mac n' Cheese

My sandwich back in May was meatloaf, with pastrami, home-made pickled cucumbers and a barbecue mayo. It was tremendous. And in their honour, I decided to make it myself and christen the naff Russell Hobbs Panini Press I'd bought about a year prior:

Pressed meatloaf, pastrami, pickle and BBQ Mayo sandwich

The meatloaf I use was thanks to Daniel Young of Burger Monday (and the rest of the week) fame and it is superb: - the recipe calls for a surprising amount of mustard - but that is the winning note. Massively savoury.

Pastrami was embarrassingly from Sainsbury's, and the excellent pickles from Topolski at Maltby Street. I decided to use a sturdy burger bun from St John Bakery a few arches down from Topolski. The result was lovely, even if I say so myself. I hope I've at least vaguely done the Staff Meal boys proud.

Hand pulled noodles at Greenwich Market

You can spend £150 on a massive nosh-up in a Michelin-starred restaurant but it doesn't offer the unique joy of finding a hidden gem. An extremely cheap hidden gem. One of many food stalls down at Greenwich Market, this one caught my attention following the demise of a favourite hand-pulled noodle restaurant, Oodle Noodle (or is it Noodle Oodle) at the arse end of Oxford Street amongst the shit leather shops.

The actual stall itself offers chicken, pork and duck either in soup or with rice as well as dim sum that maybe I'll try next time. The soups vary from spicier offerings to more savoury broth-based ones for nonces like me.

I had the char siu soup and the noodle man quickly got to work, cutting off a section of quite wet dough, lobbing some flour around and rolling it into a tube and proceeded to work his magic. I nearly wrote "wok his magic" there but it would have been particularly twattish.

Hand-pulled noodles

These noodles were dumped into hot water along with some pak choi, some char siu rapidly cut up and a darkish stock thrown over the top. £4.50 please. I have great pleasure in saying, in my limited noodle opinion, that the whole thing was wonderful. I am still amazed that you can get noodles from a blob of dough in about 3 minutes. They were very good - firm but definitely not mushy. The char siu portion was overly-generous, the pak choi retained a crunch and this all sat in a really intensely savoury - maybe even too savoury! - broth.

Hand-pulled noodles with char siu, Greenwich Market

I am really struggling to think of anything better in London in terms of value of money and a satisfyingly full belly. It's just a shame they don't operate at weekends. I ate at 12.30 and by the time I'd got to the bottom of the bowl the queue was about 10 deep. Deservedly so. I'm sure if I do a saddo Nick Hornby-style "Top 5" at the end of the year that this will be in it. 9.

As an addendum, I also had some very nice chicken karaage from a nearby stall. Re-fried seemingly to order, it was crisp, hot and still really tender and moist in the middle. Two triumphs in one day.