Street Food at the Streets of Spain festival in London
I once spent 4 days in the Spanish Capital, Madrid on a stag do. I had Paella on the first day, but never had anything else authentically Spanish for the duration of my trip. Sightseeing and racing quad bikes on the outskirts of the city took priority.
The chance, therefore, to sample Spanish food at the Campo Viejo Streets of Spain food festival was not to be missed. The festival was a celebration of Spanish culture, wine, food and art.
My expectations and imagination did not by any means stretch to stereotypical Spanish culture – bullfighting, flamenco music and dance. However it did stretch to sampling authentic street food inspired by Spanish flavours. The venue, the Southbank Centre was thrilling. The centre is the largest venue for the arts in Europe with an estimated 3 million visitors taking in its attractions – performances of music, dance and literature – each year. Nothing quite beats a stroll along hundreds of street food stalls on a sunny day with boats of all sizes streaming by on the river Thames just a few meters away in the distance.
The atmosphere was bouyant and was infused with the sort of bubbliness that only fine wine could have been responsible for. This was after all a festival sponsored by Campo Viejo, a Spanish wine brand. There was something for everyone. Even the kids were entertained by a plethora of performers whilst their doting parents looked on relieved that for a few moments the burdens of parenthood had been temporarily assigned to others – notably – a dance troupe from very-non-Spanish Ghana, a bubble thrower and others.
Overall this was a street food festival that gets the thumbs up from me. Over the four days that the festival was held, at least four to five hundred thousand people must have attended. The sheer number of people to navigate alongside did get overwhelming and the prices in comparison to other street food hubs in London were on the high side. But then, not many street food places can boast the Thames in the distance or the illustrious heritage of the historic Southbank Centre.
In my bag: After a couple of hours stroll taking in the atmosphere and the performances, my party and I settled on the steak and other combinations food stall. I had a beef and chorizo (dried and cured sausage in casing) wrap. I expected a waiting time of over 10 minutes for my meal as almost all the food stalls had long queues, however, as luck would have it mine moved faster.
This is the second year running that the Streets of Spain festival has been held in London. Would I drag my good self to this food festival next year? Certainly! I fully expect it to become a permanent fixture embedded deeply into the culinary calendar of London.