As the days get longer and warmer back home in NZ, I have been reminiscing about the great Kiwi summer. My Facebook newsfeed is already fast filling up with updates on the increasing temperature, photos of early alfresco dining, and of course, talk of the first summer barbie. There is something comforting in the hiss of meat patties hitting the grill or covering charred sausages in Watties tomato sauce, all with a beer in hand. Ahh, those were the days…
With daydreams like these, coupled with the fact the London summer has definitely left the building, it was no surprise that my heart did little somersaults when I head about Meatopia UK. Think of it as a carnivore’s heaven; London’s largest barbeque under one roof – my kind of place. So off we went on a surprisingly sunny Sunday afternoon for Tobacco Dock in Wapping to discover this meat lover’s utopia… We were hardly through the door before being smacked in the face by a fistful of smoke and that tantalising aroma of meat. Mmm- I really did feel like I had died and gone to heaven then and there. We wasted no time, grabbed a drink from Sailor Jerry then set off to check out the goods.
Running for its second year, Meatopia had over 20 chefs and restaurants from around the world participating, each creating dishes for either the Saturday or Sunday, or both and all costing a well-earned meat buck (£5). Like all good barbeques, Meatopia was not short on the other essentials: drinks and music. With four bars scattered across the site, you never had to be without a drink in hand, but for those with a taste for something craftier, the Tasting Room showcased a wide range of beers from craft breweries such a Beavertown, Sambrook, and Crate. Then when you needed a moment to digest your meat fest, there was plenty of music to help you pass the time. Our personal highlight was the Brass Funkies who got us smiling and toe-tapping with their energetic set.
Our first meaty mouthful was Flesh and Bun’s pit-smoked lamb steamed bun. The combination of rich, spicy lamb and sharp pickled carrots was not only an absolutely winner for me, but also got my appetite going. We were eager to wolf down more… and the more we did, the more impressed we were. Other highlights included Ember Yard’s hot-smoked Gloucester Old Spot pork belly, Jugged Hare’s slow-cooked Yorkshire hare leg with collard greens, and House of Ho’s smoked goose Bánh mì. But of course, no self-respecting barbeque is complete without a burger. Our top pick? The Granary’s grilled Texas patty melt with ‘cue butter – a devilishly pink patty covered with cheese, onions and sauce. These Texans sure know what they are doing.
With each dish supposedly being starter-sized, we ambitiously thought we could manage all 20 between the two of us; clearly these meat masters have a different idea of “starter size”. But hey, no complaints here. We ended up sinking our teeth into a total of nine dishes, washed it down with several great beers, and finally cleansed the palate with Black Vanilla ice cream before heading home smelling like a fireplace, and battling the meat sweats. It was all worth it though: excellent food and drinks in a knock-out atmosphere. If you missed out this time, I have no doubt there will be a Meatopia 2015, but in the meantime you can head to one of the participating restaurants for your insatiable meat-fix.
Connie attended as a guest of Meatopia UK (6-7 September 2014) but mostly overindulged all on her own.
For more information, please go to www.meatopia.co.uk