Lao Cook in Brick Lane, London.

It is cold here! That´s what you get by living in one of the “Casas Viejas”, or “Old Houses”, which this town is now named after. These typical white houses nestled in villages in southern Spain adorn picturesque postcards, they look so lovely and cosy, which they are, but what these pictures don´t tell is is that during the summer, they are hot as an oven (I am sure I can cook something Sous Vide by leaving it wrapped up and placed in a water bath throughout the night!), and during the winter they are hideously cold. All of my neighbours have chimneys, outside you can smell the wood smoke, sadly my house doesn’t have one, it just has gas powered heater that I sit next to, shivering… brrrrrr….

I take some of my annual holiday in November or December when the hotel is less busy. I tend to return to London, another cold place, to visit family and friends.

Obviously there are many, many places to visit in London. Once you are done with “all that tourist stuff”, Brick Lane is a great place to visit and unwind.

Famous for its Sunday Market, the place is teaming with the trendy set, the arty types and the bargain hunters.

There is a huge amount of street art and installations to be found on every corner. Its one of my favourite places in London, away from the hustle and bustle of the West End and it´s “tourist stuff”.

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Its not only the artwork that draws people here. Over the years the area has become quite trendy. Major labels have opened branches of their stores in the surrounding roads, however the best shopping can be found in the outdoor, street and covered markets. The latter are more vibrant on Sunday´s, the former offer a good reason to visit during the week.

“Back in the day”, the area was known as the “Curry Capital” of the UK. Every outlet that could be converted in to a kitchen and eating area housed a restaurant, it was also home to the famous 24 hours Bagel outlet (there are a few more now), a favourite place to stop off on the way home after a night out in the town.

Nowadays the cuisine is diverse as the residents of the area. In the street market area you can find good food from around the world on stalls and trailers, where the aroma of freshly grilled sausages mingles with the smokiness of the jerk chicken being cooked over coals. You can buy BBQ´ed satays on one stall and from their neighbour buy some freshly squeezed vegetable or fruit juices. You can get yourself a fajita, walk a few steps and get yourself a steaming bowl of noodles.

There is seating available at Ely´s Yard which is surrounded by more food stalls and trailers. In the corner you can find the Laughing Buddha trailer, home to Thai & Lao Cuisine and the kitchen of former Laocook members King & Laurene, my brother and his wife.

What looks like an abandoned trailer is actually home to a small kitchen and work area and deliberately covered in graffiti (arty eh?).

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My brother´s menu is simple and straight forward and prepared  “a la minute”.

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I always warm up my appetite with a small plate of spicy fried noodles with tofu, which is extremely satisfying during the cold weather, especially with the homemade chili oil, before I head out and venture in to the labyrinth of other food stalls and trailers.

The queues can appear quite long during the lunch hour, but they move quite quickly.

Laurene also serves her homemade Pandan Chiffon Cake. There are only 12 slices of the light, airy and fragrant cake available daily. However if I´m in town, there are only 8 slices available during the days until I leave! :biggrin:

Apart from the menu on display, special orders can be made in advance. Fancy some Laotian Rice (aka Sticky Rice), Laotian Grilled Chicken (Ping Gai! also ask for some Lao Tomato Chutney!), Spicy Papaya Salad (Extra Spicy – I dare you!), Fresh Rice Paper Spring Rolls or even my special weird sounding childhood favourite Spaghetti with Chili, Roasted Chili Oil, Coriander, Garlic and Parmesan (yep, Spaghetti!). 😆

It´s a far cry from the setting of a five star hotel or award winning restaurant, but street food has something special about it.

As a trained Chef and Maitre d´, King and Laurene also offer catering for private parties in the comfort of the clients kitchen and home, where they offer customised vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus featuring traditional and modern dishes. Once a Laocook, always a Laocook!

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