Rock goddess/poet Patti Smith doesn’t look like she spends much time worrying about her next meal. I imagine she eats for fuel and doesn’t make a fuss. She’s all rangy and sinewy, giving off an air of wiry strength as though she regularly chops logs with an axe. However, when she opened the Green Man festival last week with a belter of a set, she surprised us all, making a special mention of how much she loved the food on offer: “The rotisserie chicken and potatoes from that stall are really really great, and they come with nice potatoes,” she said, in between songs and rapturous applause. We held our breath. Wow. The great lady of rock EATS and EATS WELL. And her son was playing a harp beside her onstage. I think at that point everyone wanted Patti to be their mum.
This is the Roaming Rotisserie stall from which the great lady ate her chicken, before rocking out (bear in mind that she didn’t wander around the festival itself to choose her dinner, as she would have been mobbed, but pointed to the chicken and potatoes option on a list presented to her in her trailer by a festival minion, who presumably curtseyed):
I always embark on a serious eating mission when I go to Green Man because the food stall are a cut above and there is great choice of global cooking, from curries and gourmet pies to churros con chocolate. Here are my top three eats of the festival:
3: The Goan Seafood Company: spiced mackerel fillet served with basmati rice and dhal. This is the dish to make you feel human again after a day subsisting on chips, ice cream and ales. It’s light and aromatic, and the fish is super fresh – no mean feat to be serving this up in the middle of a field in the Brecon Beacons. The lentil dhal is creamy and full of lovely mellow spices, and the homemade green spicy chilli sauce gives everything a lovely kick.
2. Jamon Jamon: Paella Valenciana – chicken paella with green and butter beans and saffron. I know the photo doesn’t do it justice, as I just tipped it out onto a plate, but the Jamon Jamon boys really know how to cook a paella with attitude. The rice is chewy and savoury, with lovely crunchy bits from the bottom of the paella pan mixed in. The chicken is a generous meaty hunk of thigh, and the green and butter beans provide a welcome bit of texture. Everything on the plate is so savoury and moreish, you can tell they use a really good chicken stock. It’s the ideal dish to scoff when you’re feeling a bit festivalled-out and ragged. Argh, I want some now. Do they do mail order?
1. French and Grace: chorizo and halloumi ‘uber’ wrap: this was my absolute FAVOURITE thing to eat at the festival. Doesn’t it look enticing? A warm Lebanese flatbread wrapped round juicy chorizo sausage and halloumi cheese wedges, with shredded carrot and cabbage salad, pickled chilli, mint and tahini sauce. Simply awesome. I could eat one of these every day. And the girls who run the stall, Rosie and Ellie, are super nice and I am slightly in awe of them. Their story goes as follows: they ran a supperclub (Salad Club) from their flat in Brixton, which led them to opening a wee restaurant in Brixton Village, then they published a cookbook and are now opening a second restaurant in Camden. Awesome ladypower!
Not exactly a ‘top three’, but I can’t fail to mention the stall I always stumble to in the early hours of the morning, to have a second dinner. La Grande Bouffe serve the most dirty (I mean that in a good way) pancakes full of butter and cheese, and even though the mushrooms and spinach come out of tins and the ham is really scary and cheap looking, I don’t care because it tastes filthy good. The French owner is charmingly rotund and jolly. You’d have to be, to sell food like that all day long. She also makes artery-clogging tartiflette (potatoes with lardons, cream and cheese) and Toulouse sausage stews in giant pans. I wonder if she has a defibrillator tucked away next to the butter and Nutella stash. I salute these festival stalwarts – they have been at almost all the festivals I’ve attended since I was a teenager, and their dirty crepes have staved off many a lethal hangover.
And look at these guys serving coffee from their cute sidecar – I never tried the coffee because I always arrived at the wrong moment and the coffee machine would still be heating up, but the stall looks fab don’tcha think?
Anyone out there got any festival food memories they’d like to share? Eaten anything delicious or downright dirty?