hay latin america
Not saying I was obsessed with The Cheese Truck or anything, but this month’s retailers of Trinity Kitchen had a whole lot to live up to.

Thank goodness my first dip in June’s street food pool took place at Hay Latin America.

Hay (pronounced AYE! – with as much Mexican emphasis as you can muster) is the brainchild of Fred Parkes – a man who decided the lovely town of Huddersfield needed a little South American flavour after falling in love with the cuisine during his personal travels.

With fellow foodies in tow, we rocked up to the van (named Valdes) last week to sample some of Fred’s favourite dishes. Kicking things off with a glass of Torrontés (the most drinkable white Argentinian vino in the land), we were quickly welcomed with a few small plates of ‘pollo a la brasa’ and sweet potato empanadas while Fred talked us through Hay’s history. The empanadas – heavily packed with spiced shredded chicken and herbs – were as good as any I’ve had in the Midwest.

(It doesn’t sound like it makes sense, I’m aware, but the Midwest is where all my South American friends live.)

According to Fred, even those of the Yorkshire-based South American community have been known to rave over his international version.

Next up? The best quinoa salad I’ve had in quite some time. Though I tend to opt for quinoa over rice, I do it strictly for the superfood benefits. Quinoa is not exciting. That is, unless you’re eating it in a bowl from Hay Latin America.

Topping his organic quinoa with Peruvian-style marinated chicken, mint, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and guasacaca (which can be swapped out completely for chicken if you’re a vegetarian), this ‘main’ was a flavourful, healthful delight.

Finally, the alfajores. Though they have a range of desserts (including sweet empanadas), I had heard buzz of Hay’s moreish alfajores for days in advance so decided to focus my sweet efforts completely on the light ‘shortbreads’.

Doing a big one for The North by mixing a custard and Yorkshire rhubarb alfajore up, I expected it to be my favourite until I took a bite of the salted ‘dulce de leche’-filled chocolate shortbread. Both versions melted in the mouth (and could easily be credited as a reward after such a healthy lunch).

10 out of 10, Hay.

hay latin america trinity kitchen
hay latin america trinity kitchen
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twisted burger company
Recently, Aire Bar welcomed Twisted Burger Company into something of a pop-up space on The Calls and the city of Leeds has been abuzz with lust (and competitive eating tales) ever since.

And though the illuminated sign has haunted me on my way in and out of the office, I figured I couldn’t properly judge Aire Bar’s pop-up until I had visited their original set-up in Sheffield’s The Harley.

The Manfriend and I starved ourselves for a few hours, buckled up, and drove South in hopes of a dirty, dirty feast.

The no-frills pub was heavily filled with tipsy uni groups, awkward dates, and was exactly what you expect of a classic burger joint, with a few twisted but delightful extras (Henderson’s Relish, anyone?).

With eyes adjusted to their monstrosity of a menu (it’s well branded, but well fugly), we mmmed and ahhed over the UK’s first bacon burger until deciding that two patties made entirely out of bacon might feel like torture during the drive home.

Little did we know the casual orders we would end up making would be far worse.

First? The Great. The Manfriend’s Smokin Joe Frazier (two double chicken patties with smoked streaky bacon, monterey jack, ranch dressing, lettuce and harley house relish in a brioche bun) was a gargantuan delight. My Big Pimpin Fries? Epic. Pulled pork, smoked cheese sauce, Kraken BBQ sauce, and the crispiest sweet potato fries I have ever laid teeth on. It ended up being my main meal.

Why, you ask? Because, second, comes The Scary. The This Is Hardcore – to be frank, I was too stupid to take a hint from the name – blew my mouth to smithereens. What starts off as an innocent double beef burger with American cheese turns into a fiery pit of hell with the addition of ‘Nduja sausage, deep fried jalapenos (which they’ve typoed jalepenos?), and harley hot hot hot sauce. I tried to disect each layer until I reached a ‘safe’ level of spice, but it simply never came.

Then, playing masochist, I took a bite of one of The Manfriend’s Hellfire Fries.

I could have cried.

Though the menu clearly explains that the fries are dusted with ghost chilli spice, I didn’t quite ‘register’ ghost chilli until I bit into the Hellfire. Flashback: “Oh yeah! Lela! That’s the world’s hottest chilli that you tried in that killer food pop-up!

I downed my Diet Coke, inhaled the Big Pimpin Fries, and didn’t dare open my mouth (for fear of air making the spice sting worse) until dessert arrived.

Back to All-American brownies and ice cream with a perfectly shareable pot of white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake (flavour of the day). Ahh, a safe place.

It may have been the most disastrous order I have made in over twenty years, but I thoroughly enjoyed (half of) the food and (all of) the atmosphere.

Just, next time, I’m swapping ghost chilli for bacon patties.

twisted burger company
twisted burger company
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the cheese truck
Confession: Over the past few years, I have become a bit of a cheese snob.

Though I try (and fail) my very best to not be a food wanker, something about moving back to the UK after an American teenagehood of cheese – apologies, cheez – crackers, sprays, and slices gave me the green flag to become more particular about the yellow stuff.

Rediscovering Brie alone was a pretty emotional time for me.

Proving I still get jazzed over a good block of dairy, when The Cheese Truck invited me over to Trinity Leeds for a chat and gorge last week, my heart went pitter patter.

I’m a freak, I know; but…GOURMET GRILLED CHEESE, YOU GUYS.

On the arranged evening, myself and a few fellow bloggers sat down with Matthew (half of ‘Team The Cheese Truck’) and loved on cheese – verbally – for a good hour or so between tasters from the truck’s varied ingredient stash.

From the tasters I knew I was in lust with the Ogleshield from Montgomery’s but was blown away when it arrived in a grilled sourdough alongside Keen’s Cheddar and some thinly sliced red onions. Oglesheild is immensely, gloriously stretchy and ‘calms’ the cheddar into a moreish slice of heaven. Veggie food porn, to say the least.

(It is worth nothing that while they are residents of Trinity Kitchen all of their thick-cut sourdough is coming straight from our city’s own Leeds Bread Co-op; a decision to applaud both ethically and tastefully.)

Next up, a grilled cheese filled with chunky chorizo, rocket and ‘Queso Chihuahua’ from Gringa Dairy. As both of the names suggest, this Mexican cheese (made by an Illinois native living in Peckham) is a classically tangy tex mex creation that plays off the chorizo beautifully. It was our table’s favourite.

Unsure of how well the next two sandwich samples would go down, I bit into a blend of Cropwell Bishop Stilton, bacon, and spiced pear chutney with an open mind. Stilton is one of my least favourite cheeses (especially for its overabundant presence in salads), but somehow this savoury pairing just worked. It’s a little naughty. Which makes it very nice.

On the naughty-ometer, the final sandwich probably takes the cake. After combining Capricorn Somerset Goats Cheese with honey and walnuts, The Cheese Truck push the envelope a little bit further and glaze the sourdough in Rosemary butter. I thought it would be sickly. It was just plain SICK. After a year of business, the guys of The Cheese Truck have still been known to eat this baby for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If that’s not endorsement enough, I’m not sure what is.

With just enough room left to sample their dessert, our evening was capped off with a sumptuous plate of dark chocolate and Stilton brownies.

Yes, chocolate and cheese.

Yes, it was (like everything else) awesome.

If you’re not able to get to Leeds before the end of this month’s residency, you can look forward to sampling The Cheese Truck’s goods at Glastonbury and Sonisphere over the summer, as well as a bevy of other locations throughout the year.

Matthew hopes the next stage for The Cheese Truck is an artisan cheese bar a la Mission Cheese. Investors, getcha pesos out.

the cheese truck
the cheese truck
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trinity kitchen may 2014
After last month’s curryfest, I was more than excited to get a few new dudes (and their accompanying food trucks) in at Trinity Kitchen.

I could not be more pleased with the line-up: from left to right, Trinity has set up shop for The Cheese Truck (fully reviewed in the following post), Pemberman’s, Dogtown London, The Marvellous Tea Shed, and Mei Mei.

Though I have heard far too much about Dogtown to head anywhere else for my first dinner (of the month…week, let’s be honest), each trader had an item or two that tempted me to reconsider.

Of course, I couldn’t stray from Dogtown’s so-called ‘pedigree’ hotdogs (they even offer vegan dogs!). It took me a few more minutes to order in comparison the Manfriend as I felt spoilt for choice, but I ended up biting the biggest bullet and ordering the Chilli-Cheese Dog. While Mr. Plain Hotdog poured a good slop of their of home-made chipotle sauce on top of his meat, I watched Dogtown carefully prepare the beef and bone marrow chilli, sour cream, and fresh coriander over my own ‘Dog’.

While mine tasted as good as it looks (aka #FOODPORN), the Manfriend’s tasted infinitely better than its crime-scene appearance. The chipotle sauce seemed slightly smoked, slightly chillied, and ended up being the unassuming power player of Dogtown’s set-up.

Later in the evening some new friends crooned over the Char Siu goodness of Mei Mei’s Jian Bing wraps, but – as you’ll see in my next blog – there was absolutely zero room left for a sneaky taste.

Until next time…

trinity kitchen may 2014
trinity kitchen may 2014
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hello may
May feels kind of like a ‘nothing’ month, doesn’t it? While the UK gears up for festival season, sunshine holidays and weddings galore, May just kind of sits there…looking pretty. With your varied interests in mind, I thought I’d drum up a little list of UK-wide (and slightly special) things to do over the month of May…

1. Eat at City Social
On the 1st, Jason Atherton finally crashed into The City by taking over top of Tower 42 (‘the National Westminster Tower’, to some of us). As well as hosting something of a jazz club on Saturday afternoons, the menu reads better than any Atherton restaurant to date; theCumbrian beef tartare, with sour dough crouton, goat’s curd, truffle dressing, and dried vinegar sounds absolutely unreal.

2. Experience West Side Story in Leeds
The Leeds Grands Theatre is being taken over by the gangs of New York’s Upper West Side from the 20th to 31st of May. While I’m obviously talking about West Side Story, the UK revival of what I only know as a very American musical (based on the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet) is too intriguing to pass up.

3. Rock out with Nine Inch Nails
Following the release of Hesitation Marks, Nine Inch Nails are going to be melting faces at The O2 on May 23rd. Literally recording music longer than I’ve been alive, the band’s 30-million-plus album sales say it all: this concert is going to be larger than life.

4. Visit The House of Peroni
The House of Peroni is back again – this time showcasing four floors, three bars, one temporary restaurant and a laundry list of amazing small workshops in an unassuming Holborn townhouse over the month of May. As well as a mix of street food, music, Peroni (obvs), and more, one of the most sold-out events is a recurring fashion workshop that teaches you to own designer-esque silk scarf. Book in while you can!

5. Do al fresco cinema at Spinningfields
Thursday nights at Manchester’s Spinningfields have gone all Hollywood on us. Each week until August 21st, patrons are welcome to pull up a deckchair (provided) and enjoy a classic cinematic experience on The Lawns. Only costing £3 (and surrounded by plenty of food and drink options), Spinningfields have just become date night perfected.