We received an email last year about a new market starting up in Middlesbrough called Orange Pip. It sounded really interesting and I was keen to show my support. Unfortunately, as much as we want to cover the whole of the North East with Canny Food, it is difficult to manage logistically with two kids and all the other stuff life throws at you. We do tend to frequent Newcastle and Gateshead events more than others, simply because it’s our local area. That’s not to say we haven’t kept a keen eye on what’s been happening in the Tees area of late, and it seems like there’s a real buzz. With Turtle Bay’s recent opening and Barbarossa producing some seriously good pizza it seems Middlesbrough is trying to give Newcastle a run for its money.
Fast forward a year and Orange Pip Market has placed itself firmly on the foodie map. Attracting more than 40,000 people to the event during its run last year was a huge boost for the local economy and it has become a must-visit for locals. There was a brief hiatus during the winter months but now it is back and has an awesome monthly line-up. Held on the last Saturday of the month, two streets in Middlesbrough’s town centre are closed to traffic to play host to the market. We decided to make the 80 mile round trip for April’s market after discovering there were quite a few traders serving up vegan scran.
We got to Baker Street around 12pm as the stalls were opening. It seemed like quite a few people had gotten there early so as not to miss out on the action. As I’d already found out who was going to be there I didn’t wander aimlessly round the stalls. I headed straight for Canny Food favourites Parmstar. The Teen was keen to try out a proper Parmo, which is a delicacy in these parts. The last time we saw this lovely couple he was vegetarian so had never tried one of the ‘real deals’ before.
He finally decided upon the King of the North after some debate. I was set on sampling their Mushroom Katsu, which was served on a vegan friendly bun. Once he watched mine being assembled he said he regretted not getting the curry sauce, but once he tucked into his own his disappointment soon faded. I really liked the almost meaty texture of the mushroom fritters with the almost tangy sauce, while the pickled slaw gave crunch and bite. Parmstar demolished it was on to the next stall.
I’d heard about The Gravy Train on Twitter while speaking to Parmstar about the vegan options on offer at Orange Pip. When I became vegan I consigned myself to not ever being able to sample Poutine – a Canadian dish comprising of gravy soaked chips topped with goats curd – again. I had tried Kracklin’s version in Newcastle before my transition but felt their gravy wasn’t as thick as I’d imagined.
With a selection of topping to choose from both myself and the Teen decided upon The Montreal. He had the classic beef gravy while I, as the vegan alternative, had mushroom. With lumps of vegan cheese that hadn’t melted I felt a bit disappointed with my version compared to his. Violife’s pizza cheese shreds may have worked better and become creamy with the heat of the gravy. Still, some Poutine is better than no Poutine and I might try and recreate this dish at home.You may wonder how the already perfect pizza could be improved upon. According to Frizza – who weren’t on my radar until Orange Pip – its by frying it. Featured in the experts guide to the best pizza in the world, the Teen positively wolfed down his Margherita. He said it wasn’t as good as Cal’s Own, but not many are to be fair!
You’d think we would be flagging now but you’d be wrong. The Teen had skipped breakfast and was determined to keep going. Next on the list was The Sghetti Monster, where he ordered ‘Maniac & Cheese’. Thank heavens he ordered the smaller version because y this point he was complaining of tummy pains. Yep, the pasta finished him off!There were no vegan alternatives on this particular visit to the Sghetti guys which I was a little disappointed by as I really enjoyed trying out their Sorta at The Bottle Shop last year. They had quite the queue and their Bolognese seemed a popular choice judging by orders as we were loitering.
I was going to make Chucho’s my last stop but I’d run out of cash by this point. The Teen suddenly developed a second wind when he spotted Fish Finger sandwiches on offer at a cute little caravan but I told him to forget it. Four separate street food snacks is good going by anyone’s standards!There were some pretty mammoth queues at some food stalls but what I was impressed by was the sheer variety on offer. At some events you’ll find many vendors selling similar things but not here. It was also good to see arts and crafts areas for children in the streets, which means they weren’t left out or bored. The market definitely has a family feel to it. The day was filled with lots of lovely food and music, and it is great to see Orange Pip so keen to promote local producers going from strength to strength. I’m only sorry it took us so long to visit.
Thanks for reading,
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