Romford Market is dying, it’s a fraction of its old size and it’s been my firm
belief conspiracy theory that it’s being intentionally killed so it
can be replaced with something less troublesome and more trendy, a theory that
seems to be being born out with the announcement that they’re planning to
develop a third or so of it into a small shopping centre-y thing, trading in a
unique selling point and long standing tradition to be like everyone else – how
very Romford. So it’s a bit of a surprise to see a new stall and more of a
surprise to see someone trying out a new venture, well surprise! This is Charley
and this is his Chocolate Kebab Company:
Roald Dahl seriously missed a trick when by not writing Charlie and the Chocolate Kebab Company. According to the man himself (Charley, not Roald Dahl) the concept comes from Italy which is where he got that awesome Choco Kebab machine, which replaces a lump of indeterminate meat with a huge block of hazelnut chocolate. What is a Chocolate Kebab? Yeah I didn’t know that either, basically it’s a crepe burrito: it consists of a pancake (the pitta), filled with whipped cream and shavings of hazelnut chocolate (the meat) and chocolate/strawberry/caramel sauce (the chilli sauce), for 50p extra you can have an additional filling which on Charlie’s stall range from the current ‘in’ sweets like Reece’s and Biscoff to old favourites like bananas and Nutella. Here is what one looks like untouched:
I didn’t have any sauce on mine because I don’t like sauce on cold food, but then I don’t have chilli sauce on my kebabs either so at least I’m consistent. While I’m impressed with the folding (I’m always impressed if people effortlessly fold food, I find making the bed bafflingly complex) I am a little disappointed the presentation isn’t straight-up kebab, with the pancake just bent around a load of filling stuffed into it, maybe this is how Kebabs look like in Italy? Or maybe it’s just to aid eating (it does) or actually, y’know, just make it look appetising (which it does). “But what’s it like to eat, dwitefry?” you’d say if you were real; ‘exceptionally pleasant’ is my reply. As quirky hybrid food goes it wasn’t quite as wonderful to eat as the Sushi Burger but it was pretty close, it’s a little messy, mostly because the spoon I was given really wasn’t up to the task but also because if you fill something warm with whipped cream messy is always going to be the end result. The fillings actually works really well though; I had a Kinder bar as an extra topping because I will eat Kinder Egg chocolate with anything if it’s offered (or even if it’s not) but even without that added solid it wasn’t disgustingly gooey, the whipped cream warms up and melts but acts as a kind of buffer for the shavings, allowing them to stay fairly firm and crisp for most of the eating process, giving us a nice range of texture and making me happy because I’m not really a gooey food person (I like lumps in my pies, lumps!) - obviously the Kinder chocolate helps the overall taste thought because it helps the overall taste of EVERYTHING. The pancake meanwhile is strong enough to hold everything in without dissolving - described to me as being somewhere between an American pancake and a crepe that’s exactly what it is, thinner than a crepe but thicker than a American pancake it doesn’t really have the feel of either, on the tongue it feels more like whatever it is they wrap samosas in.
Is it sweet? Well of course it is it’s a fucking desert. But I didn’t find it too sweet, I can understand why you might think that, plus despite being the exact colour of Coleman’s Mustard that pancake has chocolate flavouring in it, and of course I eat a lot of sweet things so maybe my definition of ‘too sweet’ is a little bit different to an average person but I have encountered things that are too sweet for me so it IS a thing and chocolate kebabs are not one of those things.
I want this to succeed, I don’t know if it is in fact Charley’s business but Charley’s a nice bloke and the product is good, fairly priced and surprisingly filling. As for if Romford is the place for it to succeed? Meh, the jury’s still out, I can see both sides of the argument – on the one hand selling kebabs to Romfordites is about as difficult as pulling a nymphomaniac and they do like their seemingly upmarket fad foods here but on the other hand getting people to embrace something different can be a bit of an
uphill upmountain struggle, as I’m sure
anyone who lives ‘round here and isn’t white Conservative (while also being
not-Irish) will know. But I repeat, I want it to succeed, I want to see Chocolate
Kebab Houses across the country (there’s one in Wales already) or at the very least ice-cream shops offering them as a permanent
option – and I somehow want Charlie to get residuals from that.