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Chimu Adventures, LATAM and Comida Fest took a lucky winner to Rio! Curious to know what happened there?

Travelling is undoubtedly the best way to discover new cultures and its gastronomy.  But when it comes to Latin America and its 20 countries and 6 independent territories, it might be hard to experience it all in one go. Comida Fest can facilitate this journey by bringing the best selection of Latin American food in London to the River Thames, so you don’t need to break the bank with an intercontinental flight.  And there is more, if you are as lucky as  James Moore, you might also win a lifetime trip for two to experience Latin American food and culture in its home soil.

Last year, Comida Fest, Chimu Adventures and LATAM offered a trip for two people to Rio de Janeiro, celebrating the last host city of the Olympic Games. The competition was promoted through online channels as well as during the events in Southbank last year in April, May and June and the winner was announced at the end of the last Comida Fest edition.

Then in February 2017,  James Moore packed his bags to enjoy Rio de Janeiro in full carnival mode! How did it go? Read from James’ own sensations (and smiley faces) from the marvellous city.

Rio de Janeiro, by James Moore

james trip2

I was very fortunate to win a week’s trip for two to Rio as a result of a competition I entered at Comida Fest. Many thanks to Chimu Adventures for arranging the trip and we flew with LATAM. After entering hundreds of competitions over my lifetime I was thrilled that a trip to Brazil was my first win. The holiday was upgraded to include my sister as well as my father. It was the first holiday abroad with myself, my father and my sister for over a decade. It was also very welcome coming a year after my mother passed away from cancer. 

We arrived at Rio in the week before the carnival and so it was particularly lively although we still appreciated the laid back feel. We often saw people dressed up in bright colours going to some pre-carnival gathering. We attended one of the carnival rehearsals at the Sambódromo and fully immersed in carnival atmosphere and the sound of samba.  We had some great food from salads, vegetables, meat and fish which was often accompanied with beer and sometimes black beans.

Rio is very beautiful with the backdrop of the Sugar Loaf mountain and long, beautiful beaches. I loved the colonial buildings and beautiful church facades. I also enjoyed visiting some of its numerous museums like the futuristic Museum of Tomorrow which is shaped like a ship. Many of the museums are free all the time or on certain days. We stayed five nights in Rio although there was plenty to do which could justify spending twice the time.

Apart from the occasional downpour we had good weather. It was hot but not humid. It was therefore quite a contrast returning to a dull February in London.

Lucky you, James and family! This year Comida Fest will take another lucky winner to a different Latin American destination, keep tuned so you don’t miss out on your chance of a lifetime!

A wee dram with Smokoloko founder: chef Cleo Vizioli

After a nice stroll at Spitalfields Market, we stopped by Smokoloko locomotive stand and had a chat with chef Cleo Vizioli, the mastermind behind this smoked barbecue business.  Between a few sips of Glenfiddich (Vizioli´s favourite drink) he shared with us some interesting thoughts on how he entered the street food market business and his background as chef.

Cleo Vizioli with his wife, Abia and team member

Cleo Vizioli with his wife, Abia and team member

By Comida Fest Team

Comida Fest:How did you come up with the concept? What was your inspiration?

Cleo Vizioli:I grew up in Rio Grande do Sul, south of Brazil & we´ve always had barbecueswith smoked meats which is very popular in the region.  Then it was just a case of joining memento from my upbringing with an interest in street food, and then the Smokoloko idea became a reality.  As per the vintage locomotives, the inspiration came from an old steam train still in operation in Brazil and called Maria Fumaça (Portuguese for smoke). Fumaça, smoke, smoked then Smokoloko was born in the shape of an old steam locomotive.

CF:What are your plans for the future? Where do you envisage this going?

CV:Improve the smoking technique and open franchises all over the country spreading our ethos: quality and tasty street food.

CF:How do you differentiate your service in this highly competitive foodie world of London?

CV:The locomotive itself makes us stand in the crowd.  There is also the smoking wood, the high quality meat outsourced from Argentina and Uruguay and our fresh ingredients – from the bread to the herbs and meat, everything is fresh and simple, but extremely tasty.

Smokoloko's vintage locomotive at Old Spitalfields Market

Smokoloko’s vintage locomotive at Old Spitalfields Market

CF:How did you hear about Comida Fest?  What was the best thing about working with us?

CV:I heard about it through a friend of mine when I was about to leave a restaurant I was working at.  Comida Fest came as very useful platform as I needed a stage to release my street food project and also test the concept.  The experience in Southbank was extremely positive, from the public acceptance to the organizational skills of the producers.

CF:What is a day in your life like? Give us an insight into your world.

CV:At 6am I start preparing the meats and loading the van.  Then we take the locomotives to the markets, prepare the fire, wood, and prep everything else to open the stall. At 11am we have it all ready to start selling… then it is time to pray for good weather and wait for the queues to form.  We stop selling at 3pm, then I shut the stall and run after the suppliers for the next day produce.  I go after the meat, veggies, bread and prep all for next day sales. Then at around 8pm I will run some errands, admin, emails. Then it is dinner and bed at around 10pm.

CF:What was your greatest career (business) moment?

CV:I wouldn´t say that our business had one single great moment.  This venture is made of day-by-day moments.  I take satisfaction in seeing a long queue, in getting compliments from people that come back after work to say “this is the best steak I´ve ever had”.  These moments are priceless and very rewarding.

CF:What and who inspires you?

CV:My work with my wife.  It is a life project we are building together and we are aware of the competition in this market. As per the simplicity of my cooking, it comes from the various restaurants I´ve worked in the past – specially the restaurants I worked in Italy. It was there that I´ve learnt to respect the ingredient and work with techniques that unlock and enhance flavours within the produce, without adding or destroying the beauty simplicity of purity.  Simple, genuine and tasty food is what inspires me.

Succulent, smoked meat by Smokoloko

Succulent, smoked meat by Smokoloko

CF:What do you enjoy the most and the least about your work?

CV:Prepping the meats, the wood and fire.  What I really dislike is the admin work…

CF:If you weren’t working on Smokoloko, what would you be doing instead?

CV:Probably working hard at a different business, trying to make money but having a very boring workday.  What I do right now is really hard working but I have freedom to create with no pressure from other parts.  It is my concept to test with trial and errors.

CF: If a day had 25 hours, what would you choose to do in your extra hour?

CV:Test and smoke new produce, ingredients. My day goes so fast that I barely find time to expand my menu!

Taste Rio … And Let The Games Begin

CF-viewBy Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)

Brazil has a full bucket of reasons to celebrate big this summer. Rio de Janeiro is the first South American capital to host the Olympic Games. An exciting world class celebration that unites extraordinary and passionate athletes and cultures in one spot. And guess what? Comida Fest grand finale this coming weekend will be announcing the lucky winner of two tix to Brazil’s vibrant capital Rio, ‘The Wonderful City’. Click here to try your luck if you haven’t done so yet. This coming weekend will be all about Brazil and here is a little taste of what is waiting for you at South Bank. [And be ready to find a Brazilian restaurant right after this read].

Brasileiros are passionate about their food. Comida is a celebration, a burst of flavors and the binding element for a good time with family and friends. You will not find a Brazilian party without some kind of authentic local bites to seal the fiesta spirit.

CF APRIL 16-107 fino tasteThe culinary diversity in Brazil is just mind-blowing. For meat lovers, the Brazilian barbecue or churrascaria is a staple. Beef, pork, filet mignon, lamb, chicken, duck, ham (sometimes with pineapple), sausage, fish – any or all of these are roasted with charcoal for a deep smoky flavor. In the south of Brazil however (as well as other neighboring regions like Uruguay and Argentina), embers of wood are used to bring out the best juiciness and exquisite sabores of these meats. Picanha is a common cut of beef top sirloin cap or cap of the rump, very popular because its taste is simply irresistible. Comida Fest will be featuring Smokey Locomotive, who is bringing a massive locomotive that smokes the meat and serves it in form of tasty Picanha sandwiches. Not buying this? Well, go and see for yourself.

CF APRIL 16-116 Fino tasteWe are celebrating Brazil, can you tell? And there is much much more: Fino Taste, a genuine partnership between Junior Menezes and Flavio Amaral, will feature the traditional Feijoada, a hearty stew of black beans, beef and pork. It comes with sides to add too, like white rice, slices of oranges, and very finely sliced spring greens fried in olive oil with on ion and garlic.

ComidaLFE-27Sweet highlights on Comida Fest Menu are tapioca and pastel by Guarida Cafe. Tapioca is a starchy ingredient extracted from the root of the cassava plant and is used in puddings, baked goods and fillings. Our friends from Agua na Boca will make your mouth water with their authentic crunchy churros (fried dough pastry filled with a smooth dulce de leche or warm chocolate) and other Brazilian snacks that are just to die for.

CF APRIL 16-84 agua na bocaOh my, ever tasted a warm Pao De Queijo? These soft and cheesy bread rolls come originally from Minas Gerais and have a distinctive airy texture due to the tapioca flour in them. And don’t miss out on the Coxinha, a popular bite sized nosh that looks like miniature chicken drumsticks but is made of dough and shredded chicken meat. Hello health conscious, we did not forget about you. The best of acai berries, quite popular on the world stage for their super healthy benefits, will also be at Comida Fest and with a special masterclass!

Brazilian street food is an art of its own. So much to discover and to try out. If you are the lucky winner and get to stroll through Rio’s streets in the late afternoon, you might easily be taken in by local rhythms, samba dancing folks, others enjoying the end of the day with a refreshing ice cold beer and small portions of snacks. The vibe you feel, Bohemian. Just like Rio. Enjoy Brazil and enjoy Rio at Comida Fest.

¡Salud!

By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)

Reading this will definitely make you thirsty. But it’s ok, the weekend of the 18th & 19th of June is not too far off. It will be Comida Fest’s last shine for this Spring Season at South Bank, you cannot miss it. This Latin American Street Festival has not just spiced up London’s spring-summer season, it also has captivated local and international visitors with its unique way of sharing what Latin American culture has to offer to the world.

CF APRIL 16-143 cafe pacificoBut let’s talk about real drinks, shall we? Cocktails made with authentic ingredients as well as chilled beers are a true staple of Latin America. So here is what you can get your hands (and lips) on at Comida Fest:

When it comes to margaritas, no question, Mexico is the founding father of this iconic blended or on the rocks drink. Cafe Pacifico does have a full stacked bar with high end Tequila, Mezcal and Rum… which makes it not hard to believe why Cafe Pacifico is known for making the most amazing margaritas. Tequila and Rum are quite popular all over the place, however do you know what Mezcal is? It is a distilled liquor made from any kind of agave plant. In its home country Mexico, people enjoy it straight.

CF APRIL 16-138But there is more. South American party spirit Cocalero is bringing the Andean vibes to Comida Fest, with some of their signature cocktails: Cocalero Passion fruit cooler, Cocalero Sour and Cocalero Spritz. Cocalero is an handcrafted South American herbal spirit. Intrigued? Stop by Comida Fest and get the full scoop about this mysterious tropical drink.

Macchu Pisco bar will have you fully covered serving two Latin American delicacies: Caipirinha, oh my, that is a true gold medal from Brazil. It is Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar and lime. 12530784_1736693989879581_1957410080_nCachaça is Brazil’s most common distilled alcoholic beverage made out of sugar cane. The other gem Macchu Pisco bar will be serving is Pisco Sour, the iconic grape [brandy-like] liquor infused with fresh lemon juice and other key fixings. This ‘aperitivo’ originated in Peru, and has massively expanded to many other regions in South America. If you like your drink sweet ‘n sour you will fall in love with this Peruvian icon.

Now wait, if cocktails aren’t your thing and your rather go for a nice cold brew, we got you fully covered. Brazilian beer will be on draft at Comida Fest. Even more, Comida Fest has a Beer Bar serving Brazilian lager plus the craft Amazon Beer. And how could it not? Latinos love their ‘cerveza’, but it must be cold. No room temperature non-sense. Nicely chilled, high quality brew will be waiting for you.

Thirsty? I bet you are. Let us know what you enjoyed at Comida Fest!

Here is a little extra if you cannot wait and want to warm up your taste buds until the next Comida Fest ‘On the Way to Rio’:

freshmadecaipirinha-1Make your own CAIPIRINHA at home!

You will need: 1 lime, 1 tablespoon [superfine] sugar, 2 ounces (60 ml) of cachaça and crushed ice.

Cut up a lime into 8 wedges. Grind and crush the wedges in a rocks glass with sugar. Add Cachaça and top with ice. Stir and enjoy. 

¡Salud! & Cheers!

Tropical Mix weekend!!!

By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)

Tropical Mix Weekend, Comida Fest’s 2nd Latin American Street Festival, definitely lived up to its promise. It was hot amigos, and I don’t mean London’s weather. That rarely can be described as tropical but we have to admit, it did cooperate. I am referring to the sizzling vibes, contagious rhythms, spicy flavors and fun activities that took over London’s South Bank on 21 & 22 May. Tropical themed music, dance, food and culture. All packed in in such a smooth yet vibrant way.

The pictures speak for themselves. So quickly mark your calendars because Comida Fest will happen one more time this summer, watch this space!

I wanted to get first hand insights from Comida Fest’s masterminds, Simone Ruotolo and Alicia Bastos, and find out what made this Tropical Mix weekend so unique. Find the scoop below…

Hi Simone, hi Alicia. You have been working non stop together with Gizane Campos, who is currently on her well deserved maternity leave with her sweet baby girl, but came back to work in one tasty project, we will be talking about it later . Comida Fest’s 2nd festival is done. How was it? What was in your view the biggest hit in the entire program?

CFMAY16-44Simone: “It was great! The weather has contributed a lot, of course. During all week the forecast was showing rain at the weekend but it has changed so it was a good surprise. We had a nice and vibrant crowd and happy traders. The atmosphere were very lively. The cultural programme had a good crowd during all day. Probably the biggest hit was Raí, a Brazilian footballer legend who was at the event on Saturday filming a documentary for the Brazilian Olympics which Comida Fest will feature. People were crazy about him, you could hear all the time. “Wow!! Have you seen who is here?” “He is a legend!” “I want to take a photography with him.”

You put on this impressive blend of activities, from fun and engaging family games by Cal for Fun, masterclasses in signature Latin American brands (Malbec wine, Mezcal tequila, Macchu Pisco and Cocalero), dance workshops (first festival showcased passionate Tango, now this last one offered Reggaeton & Rumba and Zumba featured by Mundo Latino UK). Plus let’s not forget the amazing Djs and bands that got people dancing into the late evening. DJ Pablo Cruz (Oye Latino), Band Bachata City, Dj Karl from Tropical Beats, Family Atlantica to name just a few. Is the program layout working well? How did people respond to the dance classes for instance?

CFMAY16-7Alicia: “The dance workshops were really fun, loads of people joined, the teachers were brilliant, they had a good time, it’s on the video. Comida Fest is getting born to stir the Latin American community offering a great diversity of typical food and drinks paired with a cultural programme for all ages. For us is important to create an ambience inclusive and friendly, so people can enjoy the food and have fun. It’s a day out for a date, meeting friends, listening to some great live acts, learn about and taste drinks, play with your kids and learn a new dance style. Loads of giggles, traders were selling out. We want to keep going and getting better and better.”

You had quite a strong interest from the media. I understand around six bloggers where at the festival. Can you tell me more about that and what they were mostly interested in?

CFMAY16-190Gizane: It was a natural reaction from London’s media outlet who are constantly on the look out for innovative, new and exciting foodie events. With a great concept, delicious food and an awesome location (South Bank), we were doomed to be a hit. The bloggers were blown away by Comida Fest’s efforts in be a true representation of all Latin American food flavours. They loved all the meat bonanza, sweets and pastries (sweet or savoury). ”

 

competition3Check it our our social media to read all reviews. See you all very soon and don’t forget to enter the competition to rio!

 

 

Hot & Saucy a la Mexicana!

By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)

Do you fancy picante? Then this is for you.

I am revealing a hot secret about our upcoming Tropical-Mix themed Comida Fest. When you visit London’s Latin American Food Festival on the 21st and 22nd of May, you have to stop by Cafe Pacifico booth. This genuine Mexican restaurant has a specialty that will fire up your taste buds. It’s their signature chili sauce – we don’t think hot sauce can get better than that.
Cafe-Pacifico-1-TacosHot sauce is to Mexican food, what whipped cream is to a cup of hot cocoa: a match made in heaven.
Latin America has many interesting hot sauce variations and recipes.
They all contain the same basic ingredients: chili peppers and red tomato. Some regions have sweeter mixtures, others are milder, thicker or thinner textures. However, Mexico’s hot sauce is the real deal. It does not just focus on an intense heat – which can awfully overpower whatever you are trying to enjoy numbing your senses – but carries a nice amount of smoky flavour too. By the way, do you know where the mad spiciness comes from? White peppers, diluted into oil. Those are the perpetrators, but without them hot sauce, which is used as dipping sauce, cooking glaze and marinade, would not be the same thing.  
What else makes Mexican hot sauce so good? Chipotles, or smoked-dried jalapeños. There is a wide variety of dried chiles also known as chiles, ají or hot peppers. If you want to dive into the land of dried chiles, have a look at this site which will give you a full rundown of what is out there including their levels of spiciness.
Now what about salsa verde or green sauce? That is my personal favourite. It is a green coloured gem perfect toseason up tacos, tostadas or dip in homemade corn tortilla chips. Tomatillos, also known as the Mexican husk tomato, are a staple in Latin American kitchens and a key ingredient in salsa verde.
SALSA VERDE001

To make it, stack up on :

10 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
8 serrano chile peppers, sliced

1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons salt

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and add water just to cover. Add salt and bring to boil. Stir and let simmer for another 20-30 minutes. The tomatillos should get soft and have turned slightly brownish. Once thisis done, pour the mixture in a blender and blend until you get the desired consistency. Optional: To add a bit more tang to it, add in freshly chopped cilantro (2 tablespoons), cumin ( ½ teaspoon) and oregano (1 tablespoon).

CF APRIL 16-89 mex grocerIf you want to feel the heat,but don’t have time to cook come to Comida Fest and buy your delicious ready-made sauces and corn tortillas directly from Mexico at Mex Grocer’s stall.

We will be waiting for you at the Comida Fest next weekend, with a nice cold watermelon margarita, a bowl of crunchy corn tortillas and dips by Café Pacifico.

Latin American culture travels!

By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)

Absolutely true, we are talking a lot about deliciousness. I am just wild about the diversity of Latin American foods. But there is much more to explore in terms of cultural diversity and richness. Especially when we talk rhythms and beats. Music travels through Latin America, it is an essential ingredient in the region. Salsa, rumba, merengue, tango, samba, son and bossa nova.

imagesAll these genres are different, yet irradiate passion and heat paired with contagious beats. Let’s think salsa. Salsa is Cuban, right? Did it originate in Cuba? This will surprise you, it is a child of Cuba but it ac tually started in New York City, in the mid 1970s. It is a merger of the Cuban son montuno, guaracha, chachachá, mambo, with a tiny bit of bolero in it as well and the Puerto Rican bomba and plena. The first salsa bands were founded by Puerto Ricans that were living in the Big Apple. They were nicknamed “Nuyorican“. Salsa then spread to other countries like Colombia and on the international stage it has b ecome quite a popular genre.

Comida Fest’s superb April debut featured salsa and tango workshops. During our upcoming May Comida Fest we have Reggaeton & Rumba and Zumba. These events are ticketed so we highly recommend to secure your spot in advance. Just hop over to May’s program to get your ticket and read about these fun-packed dance styles that will get you moving. Plus many other activities coming up at the Tropical Mix Weekend.

CF APRIL 16-131Latin America has a captivating cultural diversity. Different countries live and share themes and passions. The same applies to children’s games and sing along. In May, the artistic group Cal for Fun will make sure you and your little ones get a fun-packed taste of popular games played in all of Latin America. I wish I could but I am not allowed to reveal more then that.

 

Mark your calendars, get your family and dance partners geared up – there is plenty to explore and enjoy at the upcoming Comida Fest on Sat/Sun May 21 and 22.

If you are looking to stay in touch with this vibrant community during and past Comida Fest, you can. London is home to so many Latin cultural movements: Carnival Latino, Carnaval del Pueblo, Viva La Revolución, Arriba la Cumbia, Latin Krazy, just to name a few. Plus a vide array of Latin club nights.

12227030_966525243394687_3130259216519247690_nLatinos in London, an online magazine that promotes everything around Latin American events in and around London, will become – if it is not already – your go to source. Carlitos Niño is the co-founder and a key driver in the music scene for Latinos in London. Movimientos, managed by Callum Jader, is a successful event company that’s been focussing for over 10 years on Latin music parties. Movimientos is also a record label and artist agency. You ca n read more about them on their site. Quite a fascinating story behind this beating company.

And if you want to know more about what else Latin American is happening in London:

Sound & Colours – http://soundsandcolours.com/ (website and print publication dedicated to Latin American music and culture)

Latino Life – www.latinolife.co.uk

Brasil Observer – http://brasilobserver.co.uk/

Magazine Bossa Brazil – http://www.bbmag.co.uk/

Mi dulce corazón

By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)

You might feel pretty confident that you are a dessert pro. But have you really tried it all? Let’s test that right here, right now. Because Comida Fest features some indulgent flavours that will blow your mind.

CF APRIL 16-177Anyone said ice cream? Not any kind of ice cream. We are talking artisan ice cream from Ice Cream Union. Their ‘gelados’ are the serious thing. Made by hand and with only the finest ingredients, this great team comes up with exquisite creations for every mood. And Comida Fest got its own line of flavours: Alfajor, mango sorbet, dulce de leche and other enchanting flavours.

CF APRIL 16-92Ever had a piece of lucuma cheesecake? Lucuma is a sweet tropical-fruit native to Peru with a caramel reminiscent flavor. This Peruvian gem is becoming so popular all over the world for its natural sweetness ideal for baking and ice creams, and superb nutritional benefits. However, Lucuma is still darn hard to find in stores. So make sure you get a piece of this deliciousness which will be waiting for you at May’s Comida Fest. Where? Find Emmanuel Peruvian Catering!

CF APRIL 16-118

 

Just fancy a delicate sweet bite to crown off a good Latin American meal or longing for a indulging accompaniment with your cup of tea or coffee? Alfajores, a buttery cookie like pastry with a sweet dulce de leche filling will become your best friend. I am seriously drooling while writing this. And CAU, Carne Argentina Unica, will make sure you can get your hands on one of these typical Argentine gems.

 

CF APRIL 16-112

But there is so much more. Can you take it or is your sweet craving taking overhand? Don’t panic, May is around the corner. And here is some more…

Tierra Peru presents Picarones: pumpkin and sweet potatoes fritters, served with dark palm sugar syrup, not too sweet, this is perfect for the ones that like a substantial desert!

 

CF APRIL 16-88ComidaLFE-27

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get enchanted by this Brazilian hot spot, Agua na Boca. The meaning of ‘Agua na Boca’ couldn’t be more fitting, because mouthwatering are their desserts indeed. Their specialties are gourmet brigadeiros, chocolate truffles, and churros, which are comparable to crunchy long shaped doughnuts filled with chocolate or salted caramel. More than popular they sell out, so hurry up to you dessert.12919911_359283754195456_8857715252600512313_n

Why not take something home for you and your sweetheart? The chocolate bomboms at Produtos Brasileiros, ‘Alegrias’, the popcorn & coconut pralines or ‘Oblea’ – Colombian Wafers with homemade jam, toffee & cheese by Colombia master at Marlon’s Kitchen are perfect for gifting or for enjoying at home dreaming about your next voyage to Latin America.

Now you have one more course to your next Comida Fest tour!

Comida Fest says '¡Hola!' to London

By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)

London celebrated the authentic Latin American Food Festival along the Thames in South Bank. It was an outstanding debut brimming with fun activities and endless deliciousness. And most importantly, both days were filled with people from everywhere, Latins in London and lovers of the culture. It was wonderful to see people trying new dishes and listen to the comments about the food. Thank you for coming out to celebrate with us a piece of Latin American culture!

CF APRIL 16-198

About 10,000 visitors visited Comida Fest’s vibrant setting and ambiance. And by ambiance I mean the full Latin-UK package. Opening day Saturday started out a bit damp as our good old friend, London’s rain, couldn’t miss out on the festivities. That didn’t scare the kids that listened to the tropical tales by Sonia Caller and the magic colours of the face painter Sandra Grajales, who will be back next month. 
16 april b

Carlos & Clare Paz gave a salsa workshop in partnership with Mundo Latino UK. Salsa, the fusion of Cuban rhythms. Our dance workshops will be back in May when Comida Fest hosts its second festival this Spring, so stay tuned and check out the upcoming program. Carlos Londono, enchanted with a good dose of tequila and charism, telling the secrets of this incredible drink at the busy Cafe Pacífico Agave Bar.  Our food stalls were quite busy, even ran out of some signature dishes, like the typical Chilean Hot Dogs at Pachamama’s Cuisine. And oh my did we enjoy the arepas, cuban sandwiches, ceviche. How can that not make your day? Thanks to the ‘calor’ of our Latin American beats, the sunshine came to end the day on a warmer note with two vibrant bands Son Melao and Lokandes who got the crowd dancing. DJ Carlitos Niño from Latinos in London welcomed the evening at the river with a wide range of musical styles fused with global and Latin American rhythms and a spontaneous dance performance by Havana Londres. 

Oh sunny Sunday… Kids began the day playing some typical games such as ‘amarelinha’, ‘elástico’ and a few other fun activities with Cal For Fun! We had the perfect weather to celebrate Argentina’s iconic wine at Comida Fest: World Malbec Day. Alex McNeil from CAU Wine Bar not only showed but brought closer to his audience what makes Malbec so unique in the world. At the restaurant, CAU, Carne Argentina Unica had a dedicated menu filled with southern smells and flavours. We even tasted a Malbec sorbet from Ice Cream Union!17 april b

Mundo Latino UK awakened some passions and glamour with the Tango workshop. Did you know Tango originated in the lower-class districts of Buenos Aires and Montevideo and has proven to make people feel more sexier?  Guillermo Rozenthuler showed it all featuring a fantastic mix of tango classic and Argentine folk. Cal Jader is the man behind London’s vibrant Latin music scene with his parties, Movimientos’ contemporary cutting-edge and urban beats with a London twist gave Comida Fest an outstanding (first) finale.

And on the weekend of 21 & 22 May there is MORE !  Stay tuned for the programme of our Tropical Mix Weekend. 

It’s a date on South Bank 😉
¡Hasta pronto!
competition

 

And don’t forget to sign up for our competition

to win a trip to Rio for two lucky people!

Argentina On Stage At Comida Fest: Happy Malbec Day!

By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)

Having one of those hectic weeks? Hang in there. It is almost weekend. And I got the perfect cover to celebrate: Malbec World Day turns 6! Get ready for a fun weekend with Comida Fest on the Riverside Walkway at the Thames, South Bank. 

malbec day

We will be celebrating Malbec Day with a glass or two of this enchanting Argentine wine and mouthwatering bites from London’s hip restaurant CAU (Carne Argentina Unica).  

I will get to CAU’s menu in a second but first let me tell you what Malbec World Day is about. In a nutshell: It is the annual celebration of Argentina’s most distinguished and globally recognised wine, the Malbec.

Malbec is a grape originally from Bordeaux, France, and now-a-days mainly produced in Argentina. The Malbec wine has a distinct flavour and Argentina has become its main producer. But these two Malbecs are nothing alike. As a true wine expert explains: “A Malbec from Argentina tends to be plummy and fruit-forward, with a velvety soft texture. In France, Malbec tends to have more structure, firmer tannins, and an inky dark, brooding quality.”

And every year since 2011 Wines of Argentina pays tribute to this unique grape that makes Argentine wines stand out on the world stage. Beautiful how a country celebrates and cherishes one of its most precious products in such a natural yet festive way.

So how are you planning to enjoy a nice glass of Malbec at Comida Fest? Nothing pairs better than CAU’s feast-y bites to represent Argentine culinary highlights.

Oh my, have a look at this luscious menu lineup:

EMPANADAS

EMPANADAS – Chorizo & cream cheese Spinach, ricotta & date

STEAK -Picana with green chimichurri & CAU-slaw

CHORIPAN BAGUETTE –  With red onion marmalade & rocket

ALFAJORES –  With dulce de leche

DRINK MALBEC – CAU wine bar

 

So now, just for you, be ready to plan your upcoming weekend:

The Latin American Street Fest starts Saturday, 16th April. Check out the full program here.

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And on Sunday, 17th April, celebrate Malbec Day at Comida Fest. Alex McNeil, Head of Bars at CAU will be giving a masterclass about this oh so loved wine. Join him at the CAU Wine bar. And do not miss out on the Tango workshop in partnership with Mundo Latino UK. Enjoy la tarde (the afternoon) with tunes from the charismatic Buenos Aires-born vocalist and guitarist Guillermo Rozenthuler. One of the leading voices of Argentine Tango and South American song in the UK.

P.S.(Don’t forget to tag your pictures on Instagram with #ComidaFest so we can see them!)

 

Wondering where to find the best Cuban sandwich in the World?

By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)

Get ready everyone! Not just for the imminent start of London’s first Latin American Street Festival but to satisfy your cravings with the most flavourful and juicy sandwich you can possibly imagine, right there, at Comida Fest.

jamawinners

When I say, the best, I really mean it. Jama Cubana just won The World’s Best Cuban Sandwich category at the Annual Cuban Sandwich Festival 2016 in Tampa, Florida. And the competition was fierce, amigos. So we also want to hereby congratulate the team of Jama Cubana, what a fantastic accomplishment! You and your enchanting mojo recipe truly deserve this prize. 


But what’s the fuss about Cuban sandwiches you might wonder if you haven’t savored one yet. An authentic sandwich cubano is a in mojo marinated pork sandwich paired with Ham, Swiss cheese, a nice layer of mustard and a pickle. All tightly hugged into a toasted Cuban bun. This tropical combo will have your mind blown and crave for more.jama omar

The secret of Jama’s Cuban sandwich?The mojo marinated pork shoulder. Mojo is a citrusy sauce or marinade made of orange and lemon juices and zest, oregano, cil antro (or coriander), fresh garlic, cumin, olive oil plus salt and pepper to taste. The pork shoulder first soaks up the spicy seasoning and then gets slowly roasted until tender. The pan cubano or Cuban bun is white flour bread, similar to a French baguette, with a slight distinct flavor, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

jama sand

Fancy a chicken version instead? Jama will also enchant your taste buds with their traditional chicken-plantain sandwich, or Ropa Vieja. This is more like a Cuban sloppy joes. Shredded tender chicken in a tomato sauce seasoned with onions, green peppers and other tasty ingredients, and paired with fried plantains. You will enjoy every bite of its tropical, tangy and slightly sweet taste.

Craving a Cuban pork or a Ropa Vieja sandwich? Yes, me too. Get the best at Comida Fest !!!

One of South America's Best Kept Secret: Ceviche

By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)

Spring has officially arrived and we are counting down until London’s South Bank welcomes Comida Fest at Oxo Tower Wharf. We are so excited and I am sure you are too.

Tierra Peru - Ceviche

Ceviche from Tierra Peru

One of the delicacies you shouldn’t miss is ceviche, cebiche, or seviche. Comida Fest will feature exquisite ceviche brought to you by Tierra Peru. This Peruvian bar & kitchen from Islington features three kinds of cebiche on their menu: tradicional, costa verde, al olivo and a vegetarian and gluten free version, de palmitos y champiñones (palm hearts and mushrooms). 

freefood.chilis

Ají

Ceviche has been hitting the global culinary stage en grande in the past few years. However, this signature dish featuring fresh seafood cured in fresh lime juice was for centuries a hidden South American gem. Ceviche is an old world dish. Many links and hints point to the Inca’s civilisation from Peru and Ecuador as the true founders. Quite a few ways to prepare ceviche have developed over time making this dish a real gem not only in Latin America, but abroad as well.

Let’s have a look at the traditional peruvian cebiche. Peru’s cebiche is made with uncooked fresh sole, flounder or fluke cured in lime juice and garnished with Peruvian corn, thinly sliced red onion rings, ají limo or habanero chile, sweet potato, some salt and cilantro. A ceviche chef explains: “The chemical process that occurs when the acid of the citrus comes in contact with the fish is similar to what happens when the fish is cooked, and the flesh becomes opaque and firm.” This process is actually described as cooking the fish. Fascinating, right?

ceviche_ingredients

Ceviche ingredients

Ceviche can be enjoyed as a starter or a main. Its fresh citrusy fish paired with soft pieces of sweet potato, crunchy onion slices, Peru’s signature corn kernels and spicy accent from the ají will create a burst of flavours in your mouth. But wait, do you know what the milky juice is at the bottom of your ceviche bowl or glass? It’s leche de tigre or tiger’s milk. A citrus-based marinade that cures the fish or shellfish.
The mix of the ingredients create this liquid dressing. It is known to work its magic and get rid of hangovers, so don’t leave it behind. You are officially allowed to slurp it out of your ceviche glass.

If you are a ceviche aficionado, please share your favourite recipe with us or post your own ceviche creation on Instagram and add #ComidaFest so we can view it.

Let’s talk AREPAS, shall we?

By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)
 Arepas are one of Colombia’s and Venezuela’s most typical and cherished culinary gems. Crunchy on the outside, soft in the inside, these rounds of joy are made from basic ingredients: pre-cooked cornmeal or corn flour, cheese, salt, water and oil or butter. In essence, arepas are corn pockets that can be filled with pretty much anything. Just like the tortilla in Mexico or the bread in Italy – basic, delicious and so versatile.

The traditional arepa is filled with cheese. The beauty of this Latin American staple is you can fill and top arepas with endless vegetarian and non-vegetarian options such as pulled chicken, avocado or black beans. Arepas by themselves are gluten free. This will make you a total insider: The word arepa comes from the indigenous word ‘erepa’ and means corn bread. A plain arepa, without anything but the dough, is called ‘viuda’ or widow. In Colombia and Venezuela, people enjoy arepas daily, for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack, and the arepa style does actually vary by region.

On the left Guasacaca's veggie option with plantain, beans, cheese and avocato. On the right Colombian Street Kitchen's multigrain arepa
On the left Guasacaca’s veggie option with plantain, beans, cheese and avocato. On the right Colombian Street Kitchen’s multigrain arepa


Fancy a real arepa? Savour the best at Comida Fest this spring. Guasacaca and Colombian Street Kitchen will be there to introduce you to their signature arepa creations. Guasacaca specialises in the traditional arepas made from corn flour, the old way, and their range of fillings include various meats but also vegetarian options like black beans, fresh tomatoes and many more. Colombian Street Kitchen will spoil you with their artisan multigrain arepas, their vegetarian and vegan versions, all gluten free. How does an egg & watercress arepa sound?

Want to give it a go and make your own arepas at home? Here is how:

Ingredients: Makes 4 servings

2 cups or 120 grams of arepa flour which is pre-cooked cornmeal. You can usually find it in Latin markets, also known as masarepa or harina precocida.
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 cups or 600 ml warm water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Fillings: Whatever you fancy (shredded cooked beef, chicken or pork, black beans with cheese and lime, etc).

Preparation:
In a large bowl combine arepa flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and add warm water. Gradually add in dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until no lumps remain. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
Knead dough in a bowl and then divide into 8 pieces. Use your work surface to roll each piece into a ball and gently flatten to just over 1 cm thick.
In a nonstick skillet over medium heat heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Add 4 arepas, cover and cook until golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Flip and continue cooking uncovered until golden brown – again 6-8 minutes.
Transfer arepas to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and oil.
Once they have cooled off a bit, you can slice them open (just like english muffins) and fill with desired ingredients.

guasacacas image1

 

A tip from a Venezuelan chef: when making arepas at home, seal the arepa in a hot pan by searing both sides quickly, then finish the cooking process in the pan or in the oven until the arepa is golden brown and the outside is crunchy.

 

Enjoy & buen apetito!

 

P.S.(Post your own arepa creation on Instagram and tag it #ComidaFest so we can see it!)

And here she comes...

German-born and raised in Latin America, Sabine is a passionate food blogger now based in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Despite the distance Sabine remains closely connected to her second home, London. Before moving to California, Sabine worked for many years in the UK as a business writer and PR consultant for Latin American food & drinks brands. To share her passion for local fresh food and her Latin American upbringings, Sabine started Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi. This blog features recipes and creations from California infused with Latin American flavours. Now, Sabine joined Comida Fest to keep you connected to the food and fiesta happenings around this tasty Latin American Street Food Market.  

SweetLil