STREETS OF SPAIN, SOUTH BANK

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This post is just a passing nod to the Streets of Spain market that was hosted on South Bank for the duration of the bank holiday weekend. I say a passing nod because I our eyes were too busy roaming around devouring all the scrumptious sights and our mouths too eager to scoff everything we bought to allow for anything more than very superficial commentary.

I’m lagging behind with my write ups I’m afraid. I’m toppling around trying to keep balls in the air and not always managing but this little market was worth the time and I promise there’s more in the pipeline once I get my act together…

Ever an atmospheric evening spot along the river, South Bank was transformed into as vibrant and Mediterranean a venue as the dim and overcast London weather would allow. There’s no mistaking the bright red and yellow awnings on the approach. The energy in the air and the unaffected enthusiasm of the vendors was infectious. My friend and I, both having spent time living in Spain, were transported back to months spent bobbing around tapas bars languishing in the laid back tempo of Spanish life. What could be a better way to draw a line under a weary workweek and ease into a long weekend?

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I’m a firm believer in try before you buy and that’s often one of the best bits about food markets, it’s actively encouraged. The foodie credentials of some of the hottest tapas joints in the capital render enticing tasters superfluous, you’re going to want to buy anyway! Such was the case with Morito, our first port of call. My friend, who is something of a human encyclopaedia for London restaurants and even their signature dishes (she races around them all somehow), vouched in earnest for the pork belly. It didn’t disappoint. Shared between two on the steps of the South Bank centre and washed down with a little red wine, it was delicious if not, perhaps, the most photogenic. The attention to detail in the seasoning and the dressing made all the difference.

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Amongst other tasty bites, the confit duck slider with Basque cider sauce and apple from Donastia Social Club was a winner. What’s more their street food van made a nice little place to pause and soak up the atmosphere in the section dubbed ‘Plaza Mayor’ nestled under the arches of the bridge and the venue for the live music.

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A quick word of warning next – do not fall foul of the chocolate stall’s extortionate pricing. As enticing as it looks, they charge by weight and frankly it’s daylight robbery. We picked one chocolate each (admittedly they were both more like boulders than chocolates) but walked away £9 worse off and, to put it politely, decidedly peeved.

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After a seafood arancini not really worthy either of comment or photo, the evening was well and truly salvaged by one of the best curries I’ve eaten in a long time. Almost half a decade with my boyfriend who seems convinced that spice is the new test of manhood, I’ve become something of a chilli fiend myself and the Cajun chicken curry still left me steaming. £6 buys you a portion plus rice, plus whatever toppings tickle your fancy from an array including red onion, coriander and an even hotter hot sauce. To be blunt, it will knock your socks off but it’s supremely tasty to boot so, if you’re brave enough, definitely give it a try.

This leads me nicely on to my grand conclusion. As fun as the fiesta feel was, the South Bank Centre market stole the show. The variety and value for money trumped the queues and inflated prices of the main event and I’m eager to make a foray that way again soon.

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