This weekend, Basingstoke’s shopping centre, Festival Place, turned into a celebration of international flavours thanks to EatStreet, an event dedicated to showcasing cuisines from around the world, and offering free samples from the restaurants from the centre. Free samples, demos… yes please!
The star of the show was Levi Roots – restauranteur, inventor, inspirational speaker, and musician, who is a passionate spokesman for Caribbean cuisine. Bringing his charm and cool to the stage, he demonstrated a variety of recipes including home style jerk chicken wings, hot and fruity Caribbean fruit slaw and Martinique coconut chicken curry, all the while regaling the crowd with stories and insights into the rich culinary heritage of the islands.
At the start of his demo, he entertained the crowd with a few songs before getting stuck into his recipes, which were also available on cards handed out. During his demo for Jamaican jerk chicken, he gave out some great tips, including making sure that you use whole all spice berries, and grind them yourself, rather than using the ready-ground powder.
It was also great to hear some anecdotes about his life, and learn more about his charity work mentoring for the Prince’s Trust, which you can read about here. It was really inspiring to see how passionately he felt about the mentorship programme, and helping young people to start their own businesses. Find Levi’s website here, which has info about his products, work, restaurants, recipes and more. (I’m looking forward to trying one of his new meal kits from Tesco!)
There was a fantastic range of samples on offer at EatStreet too – so much so that I didn’t even need to have lunch! One of my favourites was the Festival Street Kitchen, which was offering delicious bowls of jerk or BBQ chicken with rice and peas and a Caribbean slaw.
Nando’s had a great stall where you could spin a roulette wheel to select which sauce from the PERI-ometer you would have on your chicken wings. I got PERI-tamer, which I didn’t even know existed – it’s a BBQ sauce from the children’s menu and it’s delicious!
Apparently, if you do like a bit of heat, you can just ask for it to be mixed with a bit of spicy sauce, or add some spicier dipping sauce on the side. I’m definitely getting this next time at Nando’s – I’m going to pretend it’s part of the secret menu, although obviously if you have kids… you probably already know all about it! I also got a chance to try the new Nando’s sauce, Peri-Peri Vusa, and it’s really spicy and full of piquant flavour. They were making some fresh, which I got to take home, and I can’t wait to crack it open! It’s the hottest sauce in their range (even hotter than the extra extra hot one… really!), and contains African Bird’s Eye Chili – which at EatStreet they were grinding with fresh chili, lemon, garlic, red wine vinegar and some salt to make the fresh dip which you could eat with pitta bread – along with all of their other dressings and sauces. (I also discovered their pomegranate one – amazing!)
Elsewhere, we also helped ourselves to other free samples including passion fruit and mango smoothie or vanilla cold brew (have you tried this? So creamy and sweet!) from Starbucks; dough balls and pizza from Pizza Express; chicken fajitas from Las Iguanas; a variety of choccies from Thorntons; bubble tea from Yuba; and yaki soba and juice from Wagamama. The latter was another favourite of mine – savoury chicken and veggies with crunchy hot pickled ginger and crispy onions on the top. Take me back to Tokyo!
Eat Street is running Saturday and Sunday this weekend, 3-4 June from 11am – 3pm at Festival Place in Basingstoke. Check out more here: http://eatstreet.festivalplace.co.uk/
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