Another day, another taco; Del74 hits Clapton with an almighty dose of Mexican goodness…

Right now, there are more taco joints in London than well-dressed socialite wannabes at Pippa Middleton’s wedding and Del74 in Clapton is one of the newest spots at which to get your fill of mezcal, margaritas, Modelos and TBH, pretty great tacos.

Originally a pop up and now a bricks-and-mortar dive in the heart of Hackney, this place is loud, friendly, fast paced and low key and comes from Enrique Vivas (Boho Mexica) and Jorge Felizardo (Taberna Mercado). The menu’s small – bonus points as always for anywhere that doesn’t make me spend longer reading the menu than eating the food – and, in a nice quirk that seemingly pays homage to classic high street champion Argos, comes as a piece of paper for you tick what you want. FYI, in case you’re wondering, that will be pretty much everything.

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Six tacos and 3 quesadillas cover everything from barbecoa to steak to roasted vegetables and ooze off the plate & down your arms in a spectacular show of drippy, delicious flavour.

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Guacamole is as creamy, salty and chunky as nature – or those super clever Aztecs at least – intended it to be and, washed down with frosty beers or sweet and sour watermelon margaritas, it’s the only way to start.

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Make sure you order the tilapia – savoury chunks of fish and a mountain of crunchy, tangy slaw – and the cochinita pibil – absurdly juicy pork topped with avocado and pickled pink onions. There were no napkins left on our table by the time we were done which is frankly as it should be.

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You might not imagine you’ll end up spending the whole night here and it would, in fact, be an excellent place in which to kick off your night…however, 2 rounds of drinks and 3 rounds of tacos down, I’d go so far as to say you probably will end up spending all night here – just make sure to ask for extra napkins.

Steak, curry sauced chips & prawn toast. Japanese food with a twist at the deliciously unpronounceable Shackfuyu…

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Pop-ups. Over recent years they’ve been appearing on the pavements of London as if conjured up by some apron-wearing, whisk-bearing Dumbledore; sprouting on side streets, car parks & market cobblestones, they shower those nearby with all manner of things eye-widening & buzz-generatingly delicious.

One of the more recent ones to emerge, not blinking & sleepy but flinging open its arms & singing a breezy greeting to the bright spring sunlight of Soho, is Shackfuyu. Descendant of the Bone Daddies family (whose soft, cloud like, sticky duck filled buns I’m already well acquainted with), this is a pop-up that, in their words, offers Japanese flavours, global culinary styles, cold beer, strong cocktails & rock’n’roll.

In love yet?

I was, the minute I started hearing about some of the dishes on the small but flawless menu that were inducing gentle hysteria across the napkins, forks & mouths of London’s food obsessed. This absolute need to try a new take on the food of Japan sent J and I down to Old Compton Street one pretty Saturday lunchtime in search of steak, prawns & a green tea dessert whose description alone had me dangerously close to popping with anticipation.

I thank the heavens for J every given day but especially those on which we go out to eat. I casually ask what he thinks looks good on the menu, all the time understanding – as I’m pretty sure he does too – that I know exactly what I want us to try. It’s not that he doesn’t get a say – far from it because I love knowing what sort of food gets other people excited – it’s more that whatever he’d like to try is probably going to end up on top of what I’d like to try. Our tables get crowded, our tummies get full, I can’t deny that I love it and hey, isn’t that what afternoon naps were made for…? Read More

And the gold medal for London’s best buttermilk fried chicken is awarded to…

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One of the loveliest things about living in London – along with Southbank sunsets, summery picnics in Greenwich and red-velvet-seated screenings at the Prince Charles – is that there are always so many gorgeous, wintry, festive events to enjoy with friends & family in a warm, cosy, Christmassy blur of mulled wine and Slade.

For the past few years during the run up to Christmas, the skyline of Hyde Park has been dominated by Winter Wonderland’s fairground rides and swiss-style chalets and although there’s no doubt it’s a fun novelty to experience, its growing popularity has resulted in it being exceptionally busy so if you’re after something a little less commercial, your best bet now is to head east to Victoria Park, and the slightly hipper and less mainstream Winterville.

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Along with a legion of & crafts stalls, the absolutely-compulsory-come-December ice rink and an entertaining if slightly deafening wall of death, there were more places to feast your face in than you could shake a glass of eggnog at.

From a hot cider tent and craft beer arena – the mingled scents of incense and alcohol creating estive, hippy buzz in the air – to legendary-in-London street food traders and artisan producers, Winterville offered a refreshing change to the same tired old dishes that get trotted out at similar events and it was here, among rosy-cheeked and bobble-hatted families, couples and groups of friends, that J and I found something completely outstanding…ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Butchies fried buttermilk chicken.

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This, the Clancy Wiggum, was without a doubt one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten in a very long time and quite possibly the most amazing chicken I’ve eaten ever.

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Sandwiched in between two halves of a beautifully golden & softly sweet brioche bun and nestled as comfortably atop chopped lettuce and tomato as your granny on the sofa in front of the Coronation Street omnibus, was a little piece of poultry sent from heaven via E8.

Deep fried in buttermilk batter, this chicken was so light and crispy without a single slick of superfluous grease that you’d be forgiven for doubting whether or not it was actually fried but the bubbly, brown crunch surrounding each succulent bite of chicken reassured you that it was. The avocado was plentiful, creamy & chunky without being mushy, the bacon was salty & crisp and the chipotle mayo added a slight tang and heat to each mouthful. Seriously not sure I can remember LBC – Life Before Chipotle – and whenever I do, it seems a bit sad & tame.

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When I say I could have easily eaten this again immediately, I’m not exaggerating even a little bit. Sharing it with the love of my life was a delightful memory to now have together; it was also exceptionally hard once the first bite was taken. If burgers have besieged London in all their their juicy, meaty, drippy glory over the past year, I’m gonna place a bet that fried chicken will be doing the same in the very near future. I would say it’s a gamble but if it’s Butchies that you’re eating, fear not, it’s less of a gamble and more of a dead cert that you’ll end up every bit as addicted as I now am.

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