Saturday, 7 May 2016
London Falafel Festival
Need I say more?
It is precisely for epic things like this that I LOVE living in London.
As soon as I heard about the first ever London Falafel Festival, I knew I was going to be there. And apparently I wasn't alone, as last Sunday's event sold-out.
It was a sunny afternoon that my dear old friend Lucy and I made our way over to Borough Market with the intention of stuffing ourselves silly with falafel.
And that, lovely readers, is exactly what we did.
Oh sweet Lord, I've never eaten so much falafel in one sitting in my life! And I have eaten a lot of falafel before.
But this wasn't just falafs (get it? for laughs? oh never mind), this was serious business. The festival was, shall we say, a falafel-off. A battle between four of London's finest falafel-makers. Only one would be crowned the falafel champion on London, and the hungry public would decide.
At £20 a ticket, said hungry public could expect a fair amount of falafel, wouldn't you say? Luckily, we got a lotta 'lafel.
I found it interesting to observe that there was no one type of people amongst the munchers - young and old, families and friends, all different races. I liked that.
Zooba (from Egypt), Pilpel (London Israeli), Hoxton Beach (Lebanese), and Origins Of (London Palestinian). Despite considering myself something of a falafel fiend, I'd never eaten any of them so was super keen.
Upon arrival at the festival, each person was given a card which was then stamped by each falafel-maker to ensure no one could keep going back again and again - goodness only knows how anyone would have had room for that anyway!
But if you'll know me, you'll know that I highly dislike mint (it's just behind coriander), and - bless him - the Hoxton Beach man started trying to pick the mint out of the herb mix for me. I told him I'd be fine sans herbs but appreciated the gesture. They obligingly granted my request for extra aubergine too. Man, I love that aubergine.
Interestingly, there is no houmous involved as Hoxton Beach believe it can blur the other versions of chickpea and sesame. Now, I'm someone who has always believed falafel without houmous is like Ant without Dec. But. But but but... I can actually see their point. It is chickpea on chickpea really.
And how did it all taste?
And on to competitor number two: Pilpel.
I'm talking pitta bread stuffed with houmous, falafel, cabbage, gherkins, cucumber, tomato, tahini and chilli sauce.
Lucy loved it.
After a digestive pause, we made our way over to falafel number three: Zooba. And, pleasingly, the queues had diminished by this point.
You are currently feasting your eyes on fava bean falafel drizzled with the prettiest beetroot-hibiscus tahini, alongside tomatoes, peppers and flatbread.
And although we were way past full at this point, we felt it was our duty to try falafel number four too: Origins Of.
Called a "tri-lafel", Origins Of make theirs by blending chickpeas, blackeye beans and red split lentils. Not only was the falafel a bit too crunchy for my liking, but I didn't love the texture created by the lentils in there, nor the spicing or the dips. But hey, you can't like everything, can you?
So, we cast our votes. It was very tense. I couldn't decide who to vote for as I'd loved the first three all so much. Ican't even remember who I voted for - I made an impulse (OMG, impulse! I am on fire today) decision as time was running out.
And the winner was...
Egyptian Falafel master, Moustafa Elrafaey of Zooba Cairo! (The one with the pink drizzle.) What fun.
The festival was put on to celebrate International Year of Pulses (what? had that passed you by?) but I hope it happens EVERY YEAR! More falafel pls.
It was such a fun afternoon, everything was utterly scrumptious and just another reminder of how inferior supermarket falafel is to the freshly-made legit stuff.
OK now I'm really craving falafel. Anyone else?
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