Oh my goodness it is Christmas already. Where the summer and autumn went I have only a vague idea; it feels at once an eternity and a moment since we first nervously opened the hatch of our big old van on Leather Lane back in June.
The last few weeks have been delightfully busy here in London. Our main focus leading up to December was Feast, which took place on the first weekend of the month - a huge, decadent and delicious banquet in a magnificent disused post sorting office in Islington. Nestling among us street hawkers, the big boys came to play pop-up, with Moro, Ceviche, Randall and Aubin, Mishkins and more setting up stall alongside the rainbo van and our street food friends including Pizza Pilgrims, Yum Bun and Anna Mae's. Spread over four feast-filled days, the event was unquestionably one of the most exciting we have done so far, with the old crumbling building rammed full of discerning foodies, steaming pans, eclectic old vans and clustered Moroccan cushions where feasters could recline roman-style and pause between indulgences. To go into the food itself would take pages if not reams but suffice to say we ate like kings and boy did we need it, griddling some six thousand gyoza for eager customers over the weekend. They literally flew from griddle to chopstick to mouth in a beautiful dance - and at a speed we never knew possible.
The event coincided with a two-week filming project we are collaborating on with mobile phone company HTC, who are supporting our charity in Nepal - which we are due to visit in January (yippee) - and making a short film of life from the rainbo van with us, using their uber new One X+ phones. Initially nervous of our Truman Show task, we cautiously took to some rather shaky and oddly-angled filming, but it is now our second week of video-diary life and we are getting pretty snap happy. With the aim of exposing the hidden sides of London life to which our noble old van takes us, the film will be shown online in 2013 so watch this space for updates. It has been a wonderful opportunity to really examine the growing number of ways in which street food gives shape, form and purpose to secret, hidden areas of the city, and we hope the film itself will showcase the movement's transformative powers.
And no greater transformation could we wish for than selling lunch at the foot of the Gherkin this week as part of a KERB market that recently started there. When we worked in the chocolate van the summer before last, we would never have conceived in our wildest dreams of traders being able to hawk their goods en masse in the very heart of the city - it is amazing to see how London is opening up to street food and here, as KERB founder Petra puts it, this is literally bringing one of the most iconic and mighty landmarks in London down to the very ground and streets it belongs to. We are poised for hungry lunchers, and have jazzed up our salad with fresh pomegranate in festive anticipation.
We have also been having great fun at the Street Feast Christmas grotto, just off Old Street, which is a dark and cosy den of grown up festive fun. Put on by live US graphic print crew Hit and Run and Dom Cools-Lartigue, who runs the main weekly Street Feast night market, the event comprises live graphic t shirt printing, a cosy enclave-cum-bar, some amazing street-style art, great music and an ever changing array of street food. Nothing overtly Christmassy or tinsel-y, this is seasonal fun, grown up style, and we will finish a great year trading there on Friday night.
Then we head to Nepal in January to visit our rainbo kitchen garden project. We cannot wait. So far we have raised over £1000 through donations per meal and we are champing at the bit with excitement to see what we have achieved so far and what we could build and grow next year and beyond. We will then pop to India for some southern sunshine, and hope to return in February invigorated and inspired. Oh, and we plan to master the art of Nepalese momo dumplings and eat as many as we can get our hands on so keep an eye out for some new variations on our new year menu. I love cheese more than almost anything else and last time I went the momos were bursting with it - if I can get it in a dumpling in any way, shape or form, I will be truly happy.
Follow Xochi Balfour on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rainbofood