We were gutted to miss the Grillstock festival, but a hol in Tenerife compensated well! So we sent along our guest foodie writer Raz Ahasan who describes himself as ‘friend of the foodies & native east Londoner, enjoying what’s to be seen in E17’. Here’s his review…
Picture this: a field of tipsy and raucous revellers, the waft of beer and cooked meat hanging in the air, people in pricey wellies and the Fun Lovin Criminals’ bringing their own brand of laconic Brooklyn cool to a large stage. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was Glastonbury, Latitude or some such. But no, this was a well-manicured bit of grass behind Waltham Forest College – the home of the inaugural London edition of Grillstock BBQ and Music Festival.
Grillstock started out as a festival and smokehouse in Bristol in 2010. Jon Finch, founder/ MD said it’s about cooking meat with fire and smoke, chowing down together on a big table with family and friends, kicking back to great music. And with 6 smokehouses and 3 festivals around the country, including in our very own Walthamstow, he’s definitely onto something.
Over 35,000 people flocked to E17 over the first weekend in September and yours truly was sent out into the field by the Walthamstowfoodies to report back. I met Tom and Gareth, the BBQ Barons and their ProQ Excel Bullet Smoker – the Rolls Royce of smoking. These chaps were serious, being one of 26 teams slicing and roasting it out for the King of the Grill title. You can check out the BBQ Barons on Twitter @BBQ_Barons.
I came across Simon, the Chilli Jam Man from Yorkshire. He’s been making jams for six years using tomatoes, cane sugar, organic balsamic vinegar, ginger, and of course lots of chillies. Everything from the mild & sweet for cheese and biscuits, through to Scotch Bonnet or ghost pepper infused sauces for those seeking a challenge on the upper reaches of the Scoville Scale. He’s won Britain’s Best Chilli Sauce twice at Firefoods, the national chilli awards. I sampled the Garlic and Ginger Chilli Jam, the original chilli jam that started it all – just the right mix of heat and sweetness from the garlic. Simon says it’s a sauce or a marinade.
Faced with so many options for a meaty feast, I decided upon the Prairie Fire BBQ. Setup by Michael Gratz who, missing the authentic, slow-smoked Kansas City style BBQ from his home town, started making his own sauces for friends and family. They all said it was so good they could drink it and, luckily for us, he decided to bottle the stuff and sell it. I tried the brisket with the Prairie Fire Original BBQ sauce, a zingy, sweet and smoky number that Michael spent six months perfecting. It paid off, with the sauce winning a Great Taste Award, the only BBQ sauce in the UK to have done so. You can find the Prairie Fire BBQ at various markets around London and online.
If you missed Grillstock, but want a piece of the slow-cooked, smoky-sweet BBQ action, head to its Walthamstow Grillstock Smokehouse restaurant at 198 Hoe Street, London, E17 4BF, Tel: 020 8520 9108.