May 02

The Chowzter Awards in London



First I tell you that I’m quitting my day job so I can spend more time on the blog, and then I go and disappear without blogging for a whole week! Well I won’t apologise as that sounds rather self-important (“How did you cope without me?”), but I will say that I’ve been busy!

Yesterday I got back to Rio after a week in London for the Chowzter Tastiest Fast Feast Awards. Chowzter have recruited some of the best food bloggers from cities around the world in their quest to track down the best Fast Feasts on the planet. A ‘Fast Feast’ could be anything from street food to a generations-old family recipe served up in a modest neighbourhood restaurant – the emphasis is on independent, non-pretentious, freshly prepared and delicious dishes!

As well as the awards ceremony, the weekend was filled with a variety of food related events (sometimes I wonder what I’ve done to deserve this good fortune!). And before that started, I even had a chance to catch up with friends and family around London. Now this, is what a proper pub looks like:


The Montpelier in Peckham – I miss pubs like this when I’m in Rio (but the sunshine, beaches, street food and cheery cariocas help soften the blow).


Of course not everything is different back in England – they might not call it torresmo, but these delicious pork scratchings served with warm apple sauce would have kept even the fussiest Brazilian beer drinker happy.


“You say torresmo, I say pork scratchings, etc…”. You can find these little beauties at The Woolpack in Bermondsey.


Having caught up with old friends, I made my way to the east of London for the Chowzter events. I lived in this part of London for almost 10 years, but I couldn’t help noticing that some things had changed.

The Shard

The Shard, Europe’s tallest building.


Us ‘Chief Chowzters’ (yes, you must call me that from now on) spent Friday night mingling and discussing the events of the weekend. The wine flowed, we chatted some more, some nibbles came and went and before long it was time for bed. I headed up to my swanky hotel room when I realised I had hardly eaten all night. It was time for a 2am food mission and I knew just the place.


Beigel Bake is an East London institution and I used to live right around the corner.


Everyone talks about the bagels (or should that be beigels?), but for me the real highlight here is the fat salt beef sandwich, served up with tangy pickles and an English mustard so powerful that it could give wasabi a run for its money. Don’t leave London without trying them.

The next day we all hopped on a London bus and headed to a food lovers paradise, Borough Market (slideshow):


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Before I stop this food torture from the market, I have to show you one more thing – there is a stall that serves up Raclette – the Swiss dish of grilled, melted cheese served over boiled potatoes.


Raclette – a cheesy feast that left a smile on my face.


Take a look at the full process:


I left the market full, happy and weighed down with plenty of goodies to take home. Another event during the weekend was the Steak Symposium at Flat Iron, a blind tasting of 6 beautiful steaks that had been brought from as far afield as New Zealand, the US and Japan (slideshow).


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And so, at long last, to the awards themselves. In the run-up to the event, I was told by more than one journalist “Oh, I hate those award things” – well let me tell you, I love ‘em! Delicious food, free booze, an assortment of intelligent, interesting or just downright fun people to chat with – what’s not to like?



You can see the full list of winners here on the Chowzter site. Sadly Rio didn’t  bring home any bacon this time around, but I’m determined that next year the world will be wowed by a tasty Carioca treat. I’m not sure what it will be yet, but I’m going to have fun hunting it down!

All that remains is for me to thank Chowzter for making the whole trip possible. I’ll leave you with a video of the awards, courtesy of the multi-talented Simon Leong from Simon Food Favourites.


Massive thanks to the talented and hardworking Simon Leong from Simon Food Favourites for allowing me to use his awesome footage.


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  1. carlos janeiro

    How were your flights across the Atlantic? I have been phobic about making that journey since the Air France disaster.
    I certainly agree with you that free booze, conversation with interesting people, and eating award winning food sounds like a lot of fun. Especially the free booze part. Makes me wish I could have a wee dram of some very peaty tasting single malt scots whisky right this moment. Lagavulin is the brand I am thinking of. Maybe a bit more than a wee dram……..

    1. tomlemes

      Hey Carlos – the flights were fine thanks. When I was younger I used to get very freaked out about flying – I’d sit there and obsess about all the things that could go wrong. Nowadays, whenever I get a bit freaked out, I remind myself that you’re much more likely to win the lottery than be involved in even a minor incident on a plane. Makes me feel a lot better :)

      Funny you should say that – Laguvulin is one of my favourites! I always try to bring a couple of nice bottles back with me from Duty Free. This time I went with Glenfarclas and Highland Park. Lagavulin and/or Laphroaig will be my next Duty Free purchases I think.

      1. carlos janeiro

        In other words, confront the irrational anxiety with logic and reason. That’s my approach also. My first 10 years of flying, I never thought a thing about it. It was like riding in a bus or subway to me. Then I was on a flight where we had a major turbulence event, flying through a thunderstorm. The trauma of that has never totally left me, even though it was 30+ years ago now. But, thankfully for many years now Airlines try to do their best to avoid the turbulent air, as opposed to just flying right through it, which is what they used to do, until a few crashes happened as a result of it, and they became aware of weather phenomena like Wind shear and downbursts.
        So you like the peaty tasting single malts as well. They unfortunately became incredibly expensive in the USA, and I never even see them for sale here in Brazil.

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