Nearly 20.000 people joined Comida Fest in Greenwich for a weekend of yummy food, lip smacking cocktails, hip shaking Salsa dancing, Frida Kahlo and Argentine independence celebration and much more.
Words cannot describe the truly Latin American summer atmosphere we experienced over the weekend of 8th and 9th July, hence why we are giving you photos – lots of it!
Event the weather collaborated with our event and it felt like summer in Latin American. What do we do in a nice hot day? We drink refreshing cocktails, thats it. We offered a great variety of excellent Latin American inspired dishes and drinks to choose from.
Our food and drink traders dished away tons of delicious food, from grilled meat sandwiches to vegetarian tapioca wraps. All made quickly, efficiently and presented beautifully too.
Food, glorious food!
Oh, and the fiesta! People were dancing away by the sounds of Salsa, Tango, Reggaeton, Brazilian Funk, Samba – you name it. It was a party for the entire family – kids and adults had lots of fun watching and joining our performances. Check the gallery below:
Are you suffering of FOMO now for missing out on all this fun? Don’t fret! There is more to come: we are now heading to Tower Bridge, at Potters Fields Park on 12th & 13th August and it will be our biggest event of the season. New food and drink traders, different performances – but same vibe! See you there! #eatdrinkfiesta
Start the day eating tacos in Mexico City, a bandeja paisa in Bogotá and an açaí bowl in Rio de Janeiro: all without leaving London. After a very successful launch in 2016, Comida Fest is back again offering visitors a journey through Latin American cuisine in three prime locations by the river Thames: Greenwich’s Cutty Sark Gardens (8th & 9th July), Tower Bridge’s Potter Fields (12th & 13th August) and Putney Bridge’s Bishop Park (16th & 17th September). Comida Fest emulates the hustle and bustle of a Latin American street market, with its exciting vibe and a full cultural programme with music, and fun activities for adults and children.
Inspired by last year’s successful travel competition to Rio de Janeiro, this year Comida Fest teamed up with Avianca – Colombia’s national flag carrier and the second oldest airline in the world to offer a lucky winner 2 tickets to the capital city of Bogotá. Find out more about our travel competition, starting on 8th July at our website www.comidafest.com/competition.
Our team of curators have sourced out the best of Latin American street traders in London, presenting the newbies: Tico’s – specialist in the Brazilian style hot dog, Portena – Borough Market’s famous Argentine empanadas stall and Tayrona Colombian Street Food to name a few. Last year’s popular traders such as Guasacaca and their delectable Venezuelan Arepas, Smokoloko with it is famous smoked meat sandwiches and London’s longest running Mexican restaurant – Café Pacifico are returning this season.
July’s event celebrates the 110th birthday of Mexico’s most iconic artist, Frida Kahlo on 8th July and the Argentine Independence Day on 9th. The painter, known as much for her enigmaticself portraits as for her incredible personal life will be remembered with Mexican music performances, cocktails and dishes designed to pay an homage to her unique vision of the world. Argentina’s independence will be celebrate in true ‘porteño’ style – guests are invited to dance away with our tango show and Argentine music. Our motto is eat, drink, fiesta!
FOR FULL EVENTS AND TIMETABLE, GO TO comidafest.com/events.
COMIDA FEST in Greenwich: Cutty Sark Gardens – London SE10 9HT
8th and 9th July / Saturday: 11h-20h / Sunday: 11h-18h
Contact: email@example.com – 07968563689
Travel Partner: AVIANCA airlines
EAT: People attending Comida Fest can expect typical and innovative dishes by our street food traders specialists in Latin American Cuisine: Guasacaca * Smokoloko * Tico’s* Porteña* Pinchitos and More *Café Pacifico * Tierra Peru* Tayrona Colombian Street Food* Nature’s Heart * Brazil Flavour * Ceviche Creativo * Sambazon* *Brazilian Churros* BBQ Party London and much more!
DRINK: Match our delicious food with strong Latin American coffee, delectable cocktails, wines and fruit juices inspired by the vast array of exotic fruit from the region. This year we present the drink traders, El Cafecito * Elephant Juices * Shockas Coconut Hub
FIESTA: The most amazing Latin Food fiesta would not be complete without an arts & culture programme specially designed to entertain adults & kids. On Saturday at 11.30, you are invited to dress your kids as Frida & Diego to enjoy family activities ran including bingo, the typical Mexican loteria telling the stories about food and the lives of these two iconic artists. Have a dance with the crew and choose the best Frida & Diego costumes! On Sunday, the sing-a-long group Pajara La Pinta will dedicate its storytelling and music sessions to celebrate the life of Frida. Full programme and schedule on www.comidafest.com
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
By 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.
The 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.
We 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.
Sweet 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.
Oh 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.
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.
But 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.
But 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. Cachaça 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’:
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.
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?
Simone: “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?
Alicia: “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?
Gizane: 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). ”
Check it our our social media to read all reviews. See you all very soon and don’t forget to enter the competition to rio!
By Sabine Klensch (Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi)
Do you fancy picante? Then this is for you.
To make it, stack up on :
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).
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.
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.
All 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.
Latin 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.
Latinos 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/
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.
Anyone 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.
Ever 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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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 😉
And don’t forget to sign up for our competition
to win a trip to Rio for two lucky people!
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.
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !!!
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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!)