Another year, another gut busting edible adventure courtesy of The Stop's Night Market. There was a new venue and a fresh crop of participating restaurants. There were boosted ticket prices and an increase in capacity – all of which amounted to a whopping $200,000+ raised in support of The Stop's food access and community-building initiatives.
Night number two might as well have been dubbed "The Stop's Fried Chicken Festival". I never thought I'd utter these words in my life, but there was too much fried chicken. If you're fan of statistics, out of the 34 vendors, 20.58% of the vendors served some sort of fried chicken. Despite the overload of hot-oil bathed bird, it was pretty much all delicious. And keeping with the theme of delicious, let's indulge in a hit list from one of my favourite food fests of the year...
Nasi Jinggo by Babi & Co. was one of the prettiest and most balanced dishes of the evening. I loved being able to see the individual components – fragrant rice, chilli chicken, egg, cucumber, sambal, shredded coconut, fried tempe, roasted peanuts and anchovy – before mixing them together.
Unsurprisingly, Rose & Sons wowed with their wild take on a Coney Island dog with beef and cow heart chili and wild leek relish.
My favourite of the fried chicken offerings, Hopgood's Foodliner presented their take on a hot chicken sandwich which was hard to eat but easy to please.
The stuffed grape leaves by Woodlot weren't as impactful as the message they displayed. The camaraderie at The NM is always palatable.
Carmen made me anxious for my impending trip to Spain later this summer with their pretty little grilled octopus skewers with fingerling potato, olive and jamon.
Not my best photo ever, but definitely one of my favourite dishes – lake trout ceviche with tartar sauce and potato chips – by the talented hands of Charlotte Langley and Trish Gill, repping Small Town Food Co., but unfortunately not for long. Chef Charlotte is going on to work with farm-to-fork marketplace Provender and focus on her awesome buiz Scout Canning and T.O is losing Chef Trish to Windsor next week.
La Carnita's chicken escabeche taco made an impact with crema, tamarind sauce, mango salsa and dehydrated serrano chilis.
Many people's dyslexia kicked in, excepting popcorn okra, instead of o-k-a-r-a – a soy pulp that forms in the making of soy milk or tofu – paired up with miso cucumber and baked kale chips by Abokichi.
Vegetarian dishes aren't always thrilling in my personal opinion, but this smoked eggplant flatbread by Midfield.
Fresh and fabulous albacore tuna conserva with olive chili and onion by Enoteca Sociale.
Hands down my favourite dish of the night. Citizen Catering made my mouth water with their grilled tongue on toast. I'm remised to say that I'm not sure what the toppings are. I think I blacked out twice while eating them. Kudos, Chef Chris Brown.
The homies at FARMHOUSE Tavern busted out some banging smoked beets with goats milk cheese and toasted watermelon seeds(?).
Another fried chicken fav was the simple hot chicken slider with hot sauce and pickle.
The sweetest finish possible (only one of two desserts in the house) by one of the sweetest chefs in the game. Miriam Streiman of The Mad Maple Country Inn wowed with her strawberry rhubarb rugelache with graham cracker crumble.
With the summer solstice looming, the Night Market seems to always be blessed with beautiful sunsets. A fitting accompaniment to a tremendous event and a worthy cause.
See you next year food lovers, philanthropists and sweethearts...