How would you like to win a prize worth up to £400? – I thought that would get your attention, but as with all good announcements, you will have to wait a while to find out how you can have a chance of netting the spoils.

First I need to get to the crux of the matter which is the launch of the new vendors in the street food section of Trinity Kitchen. Before the Supper Club was let loose in the food hall, however, we were introduced to the guys from Beerhawk who kindly supplied us with a libation of our choice to celebrate the launch of their new bar in Boar Lane on 7th December. They have installed a pop-up bar where there is a selection of cans and bottles in the fridge and five taps where you can opt to pull your own pint. I had a Pale Ale from Camden Brewery which was very pleasant indeed. Roll on next Saturday!

I cover a lot of street food events and come across the usual suspects now and again, but I have never seen any of these traders before. That is a good thing in that I had a choice of novelties to go at, but a bad thing in that I could not sample them all. My fellow diners were on hand to give me their considered opinions which I appreciated greatly. 

The first van I came across was Nelly’s Barn Burgers who were selling their range of produce made from 28 day dry aged beef. It is strange how, when it comes to burgers, it is sometimes the main player which seems to be overlooked in favour of the supporting artists such as avocado, chilli or, heaven forfend, pineapple. Here the beef takes centre stage with only the orthodox additions of smoked crispy bacon and cheese. This means that you can have the basic Naked Nelly which is a burger, a bun and salad, or any combination of the above until you get to Whoa Nelly – love that name – which is a double beef burger, Cheddar cheese and crispy bacon. Apart from the naked version all are served with fire roasted red peppers, red onion and lettuce. There are vegetarian and vegan options as well, the latter being cooked in a separate kitchen. Needless to say chips are on hand in a variety of styles. Beer, Lager and Cider can be purchased to lubricate the meal as well as soft drinks and mulled wine.

The second van on the grid was Crockpot Passion serving a selection of slow cooked dishes, namely stuffed butternut squash, root vegetables and cherry tomatoes, a fish casserole containing salmon, smoked haddock, cod and king prawn and that great favourite, slow cooked lamb hot pot served with pickled red cabbage and sourdough bread. There is a range of hot ciabattas and an all day breakfast on offer with fresh juice to drink, they also do mulled cider, mulled wine and Prosecco.

Next up was Let’s Go Dogs whose van was decked up ready for the festive season. Their hot dogs are nine inch monsters and can be bought in either the traditional or cheese stuffed versions. I must admit that I am a sucker for pigs in blankets at Christmas and their Yuletide special was a choice of dog wrapped in bacon, served with cranberry sauce, gravy and sprinkled with stuffing. I think that I will need to get a smaller turkey this year and bigger sausages to even try to compete.

Christmas Dog from Let’s Go Dogs

There is also a German version served with sauerkraut, gherkins, crispy onions and curry ketchup and both this and the Christmas special can be made vegan. The Hot One! Served with chilli con carne, jalapeños, grated cheese, chipotle sauce and crushed nachos and The Pulled served with pulled pork, grated cheese, apple coleslaw and crushed nachos make up the range. Check out their meal deals too.

There was a Thai stall called Bangwok – geddit – who had a fairly comprehensive array of their country’s food. There were red and green curries along with salads and bowls. The other members of the supper club group who tried their wares said that they were delicious and I am very happy to take their word for it. 

Chicken Salad from Bangwok

Finally we get to Kara’s Kitchen who were selling paella and other Spanish food and where I bought my first sample. I am a huge fan of paella and it is a dish which is very rarely, if ever, served in single portions in restaurants so I have to make my own. I have yet to come across a version which can rival the original from Valencia, covered in mussels, huge prawns and chunks of lemon with chicken and chorizo lurking beneath. I suppose that looking out over the sunlit Mediterranean with a bottle of good Rioja helps as well. Having snapped out of my daydream I returned to the reality which is Leeds on a rain-soaked, cold, dark, late November evening. I did have my pint to cheer me up though.

Kara’s cooks the ingredients separately to order which is a good idea as seafood, or meat, can put some people off so they top the rice with a choice of chicken and chorizo or seafood, comprising king prawn tails and squid. I went for the former and it was delicious. I thought that the rice was a bit looser in texture than the authentic drier version having more of a risotto feel to it but that is by no means a criticism, merely an observation. A little while later one of my fellow diners brought a portion of their Patatas Bravas to the table and they were delicious, hot without burning and soft beneath a crisp exterior. They were covered in the spicy sauce and alioli which is a garlic mayonnaise. I must admit that I have only ever known it as aioli, even my spellcheck tried to convert it to that, but after a search on Google I found out that it is an alternative name. You are never too old to learn.

Chicken and Chorizo Paella from Kara’s Kitchen

After we had partaken of the food it occurred to us that a bit of exercise was in order so we took to one of the new shuffleboards which have recently been installed. Modesty prevents me from saying whether I won or not but do you really think that I would have mentioned it if I hadn’t!

With this varied array of street food vendors in residence for the next few weeks, Christmas looks as though it will be pretty good this year.

I will keep you in suspense no longer, dear reader. Should you wish to be in with a chance of winning a fine array of prizes then visit Leeds Trinity Centre between now and Christmas Eve and find one of the five Christmas decorations bearing the legend #PuckerUpLeeds. Snap a selfie – or should that be elfie  – and upload it to social media with the above hashtag. There will be several draws at random intervals over the period and winners will be announced every few days. You can see the prizes at the Kissmas Tree – and I thought that my puns were painful – what is there to loose? 

All photographs by Stan Graham

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