Street Food Vans Are Becoming The New Gourmet Restaurants

 

For many years street food in the UK has meant little more than a dodgy burger served with very little finesse perhaps at the end of an evening spent on the tiles. Compare that with the street food of Mexico or Thailand, where you really get a flavour of the national cuisine and where street food is often widely praised. Even closer to home, in France for instance, street food has enjoyed a better reputation than in Britain for decades. It is hard to imagine a mid-week French market without a van selling anything from gourmet sausages straight from the griddle to crepes, or pancakes. Head to Italy and you see the same thing in many towns – van owners selling barista style coffee or that Italian obsession, gelato or ice cream.

Street food vans in the UK are not what they once were, however. Some put the rise of gourmet style van catering down to the influence of our continental cousins, but that is not the whole story.

gastrobus

The gastrobus at Bantham is more beach than street.

Many mobile caterers have grown their businesses by following the summer music festival season from location to location. The likes of Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading and V festival are all massive and very well known, but there are now a plethora of smaller and more bijou festivals too, often catering for niches. Many of these festivals market themselves on being upmarket or family orientated. As such, they will only make carting pitches available to people who are selling food that is a cut above the usual. Even at your average summer festival you can look forward to a wide range of cuisine. Expect anything from Chinese to Jamaican to South American or South Asian foods. Gourmet vegetarian options are plentiful as are vans that cater for people with common allergies, like gluten-free food. There are even street food vans that will be able to serve kosher meals or are suited to those who observe a halal diet.

Many of these operators also now sell their food throughout the full course of the year – not just during the summer festival season when they upscale their operation usually by hiring a support vehicle from the likes of National van rental. As such, you will see many more gourmet style street food vans than ever before in the autumn and winter around Britain’s towns and cities. If you have not yet tried one, then do so. Truly, they beat the old hotdog salesman or burger van hands down. These days, mobile catering is trendy thing to do among gourmet chefs and you might even find that this ever-improving street food beats what you might find in a proper restaurant or a gastro-pub. Even if you find a chef is running a gourmet restaurant, there is no reason to think that a mobile catering business will not be run alongside it. For some of the up-and-coming chefs, it really is the in vogue way of getting their names out there into the wider domain.

What to Expect from Typical Cruise Ship Cuisine

 

There are many good reasons to go on a cruise holiday: superb scenery, stylish surroundings, the opportunity to visit many destinations in one single trip, and a great social scene. But what about the food? If you are going to be spending a few days onboard a ship, you will want to make sure that the culinary offer meets your expectations. And since we are talking about expectations, what should you really expect from typical cruise ship cuisine? Read on to find out.

All-inclusive cruise holidays

All-inclusive cruise holidays are a great option for those who need to stick to a budget. However, the food on offer has something of a bad press, as many believe mainstream cruise cuisine is dull and uninspiring. Is there any truth in this rumour? Actually, you may be pleasantly surprised by the food options served in all-inclusive cruises. For example, chances are that your breakfast will include some freshly baked goods, since nowadays the norm is to bake them onboard from frozen dough. Fruit juices and fresh fruit are also served in most all-inclusive cruises. As for the rest of the meals, expect the same range of quality and variety that you would expect from a casual dining venue back home.

Cruise-Dining-Room

Buffet dining is also offered by many mainstream cruise lines. In the majority of cruise ships, buffet cuisine features classic pasta dishes, a variety of salads, a pizza station, sandwiches, breakfast pastries, fruit, assorted vegetables and appetisers, and a range of meat and fish dishes. You can sometimes find a dedicated burger and hot dog station near the buffet.

Specialty dining

Specialty dining is available on every premium cruise ship, usually at a fixed cover charge. If you choose to go on one of these cruises, you should definitely expect more in terms of quality, variety, and freshness, mostly because a large amount of the food that is being served is cooked from scratch. Many items in the menu will be cooked to order, whether they are soups, salads, or lobster dishes. As for the variety, cruising companies like Royal Caribbean cruises offer a fantastic range of eating options, including sushi buffets, bistro-style food, and all-time favourites like pizza or steak.

Themed cruises

If you are a foodie, you will be pleased to know that you now have a range of themed cruises that focus on providing an outstanding culinary experience, such as food and wine or gourmet cruises. Because eating well is a priority for many cruise passengers, renowned chefs like Nobu or Jacques Pepin have partnered with cruise lines that now offer high-end dining. While the content of the menu varies from ship to ship, expect things like wine-pairing restaurants, custom-made seafood dishes, a range of regional delicacies, and innovative menu options. In fact, you should expect nothing less than you would when dining at an upscale or Michelin-starred restaurant.

English Whisky Is On The Rise

 

The popularity of Scotch whisky has increased dramatically in recent years, so much so that it is now one of the UKs top ten exports and is fast becoming the drink of choice to the emerging middle classes in France, India, the Far East and Brazil. However whilst sales of the spirit are soaring abroad, it would seem that at home distillers of single malt Scotch are facing fierce competition by their English rivals.

Sales figures for Marks and Spencer showed that over the Christmas period that almost twice the number of its ‘Fine Single Malt English Whisky’ were sold in comparison to its new Scottish single malt despite both bottles being on sale for the same price. M&S whiskey is distilled by the English Whisky Company at their St George distillery in Norfolk who since their launch in 2006 have moved from strength to strength and is reflected in the consistency of their customer’s buying behavior – people are not just buying it as a one off but are repeatedly purchasing bottles of it showing that it does have a loyal fan base.

english whisky

Indeed The English Whisky Company has proved quite the success story and now it seems is inspiring others to follow suit. Last week it was announced that a team of 5 entrepreneurs have got the go ahead to build a new £4m distillery in the Lake District with an aim to distilling their first spirit this June. Although it will still be another 3 years of casking before the spirit produced can legally be called ‘whisky’ they are confident that the international thirst for it will not yet have been quenched.

Although concerns for distillers were voiced by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry over the impact that the rate of excise duty will have on both fledgling and established distilleries in the long term. In an open letter published ahead of the chancellor’s March budget the SCDI stated that due to the alcohol duty escalator, duty on whiskey is now up to a whopping 44% by comparison to 2008 resulting in the UK having the 4th highest taxed spirits in Europe and a drop of 12% in domestic sales last year.

Simply put it seems that in time Scots and English alike may be unable to afford the whisk(e)y they produce. It seems ever more ludicrous when one considers the recession busting quality of whisky; in a recession stricken economy where whisky proves to be one of the UKs few lamps still left burning instead of encouraging growth in the industry by scrapping the escalator – as was done with beer in 2013 – the government seem bent on smothering it with greater taxation.

One may ponder that with greater taxation whether we will be seeing an increase in illicit stills setting up shop in the countryside of Northern England and the Highlands? After all history does have a habit of repeating itself. Here is to hoping that the whiskey bubble doesn’t burst before we can sample the Cumbrian take on the ‘water of life’.

The author is an enthusiastic blogger and lover of all things whisky. for more news and whisky related articles follow me on twitter.