Saturday, May 19, 2018

Street feast at Woolwich public market review

Woolwich market street feast food
A quick trip to Woolwich public market Street Feast food stalls after work revealed an array of stalls selling drinks and different dishes. I was pretty impressed when I saw the variety of food stalls on display. The first thing that came to mind was when did this actually open and how come I had no idea. Well it turns out it opened just a few months ago, in March to be exact. A few comments on twitter from the Street Feast founder Jonathan Downey really centred on the various battles he had to go through opening Street Feast opposite the Royal Arsenal developments. I am glad the permission was granted for the public market to be transformed on weekends because Woolwich or Plumstead road is not exactly a cool place to hang out or spend friday evenings. A new foodie spot can really transform a place for good. Check out pictures of my evening below
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Friday, May 11, 2018

Nigerian spinach and melon seed stew recipe

Efo egusi
My forays into Nigerian cooking mostly involves making Jollof rice and fried rice. Yes i love my Jollof, but like many things can be tiresome when you have it 6 out of 7 days a week. Whilst watching a cooking show on BBC , a Masterchef meets Apprentice and Bake off style programme, I decided to try out a new Nigerian dish out of curiosity. The stew known as Efo Egusi or in English melon seed and spinach stew is possibly one of my favourite Nigerian stews. It goes well with pounded yams, cassava and ....drum roll..my beloved rice. Yes it looks like it's going to be rice 7 days a week. There are 3 important sources of inspiration when making this stew.

1) A Nigerian or African shop 

I walked into the Nigerian shop outside my flat to buy all the ingredients and to my amazement 2 much older ladies who were themselves shopping, started offering advice about the best ways of cooking the stew. The lovely man at the till also offered some advice by telling me the sort of fish to buy, what to do with the melon seed powder...to fry or not to fry, he basically went over the cooking process. I have to admit, many of it zoomed past my head. All I could think of was....this might just be as bad as my souffle attempt a few years ago. You ever tried making souffle in a cup because you didnt know what ramekins were ? .. well I did and I still get shivers. Anyways back to the food, their advice was pretty useful. I have a feeling I am going to rely a lot on advice from that shop in the future. 
Nigerian masterchef : He really gave me some good advice

2) Family Whatsapp group 

My family chat group really helped. My mum and her many sisters gave me tons of advice, even if they did make fun of me a little. I spoke to one in Chicago and another in Lagos. The stew was definitely intercontinental. Blending onions and mixing it into the melon seed powder before you stir it into the pot of pepper blended stew was one key advice.
Family chat picture 1
Family chat picture 2
Family chat 3

3) Internet 

There are tons of good Youtube videos out there, however it can all be a tad confusing as people tend to cook it slightly differently delending on what part of the country they are from. So I would say check out some videos, but really study the comment sections to see what other Nigerians think of the recipe.
Research over, it was time to start cooking up a storm. Here are a list of ingredients I bought 

Ingredients 

3/4 cup of Palm oil
2 onions
3 bell peppers
1.5 scotchs bonnet 
1 plum tomatoes ( optional)
3 tbs of crayfish ( You can buy a liitle sachet )
3/4 cup of Melon seed powder ( you can buy a sachet )
Smoked catfish / stockfish ( 3/4 of a cup)
1 cup of Spinach leaves ( diced )
1.5 Cups of diced lamb - ( keep the stock when you boil this. You need 1.5 cups of stock)
1 knorr chicken stock cube
1 maggi cube 

Let the cooking begin 

Boil some well seasoned lamb ( you can season with onions, peppers, garlic , curry powder, knorr chicken stock cubes , salt and mixed herbs) for 40 minutes and save the stock. You need 1 to 1.5 cups of stock. Ps Nigerians can boil tripe ( shaki ) and ponmo as well. Non Nigerians should stick to meats of known origin as the assortments of meats I mentioned might make you grimace. If you want to try something new however, then ask your local butchers for those meats as well.
Boil some meat
Blend the 3 bell peppers, 1 onion and scotchs bonnet together. You can also add plum tomatoes, but this seems to be optional based on all the advice
Pepper mixture blend
Pour the palm oil into a pot and saute half a diced onion for 4 minutes on medium heat. Add your maggi cube and knorr chicken cube to the palm oil for a minute, then pour in your blended pepper mixture for about 8 mins. Pour in your cup of stock and let it simmer for 5 additional minutes.
Fried palm oil and onions
     
Blended pepper mixture
While the meat stock is doing its thing, blend half an onion and add this blend to the melon seed powder along with 2 spoons of the crayfish powder. Mix it and add it to the pepper mixture for 5 minutes.
Melon seed to the left and crayfish on top.
Melon seed powder, onion blend and crayfish
 
Stew with melon seed mixture
Add in your meats and fish for 5 mins.. You can add some salt after you taste it.
Boiled smoked catfish / stock fish and meats added into stew
Toss in your diced spinach leaves for 5 mins and take off the stove.My aunts also mentioned adding a few diced basil leaves, but thats optional.
Spinach leaves in melon seed stew
Stew is ready
There goes my first ever attempt. I had it with a plate of rice and plantains. A match made in heaven if you ask me. The verdict on my stew according to my taster was a healthy 7 out of 10. Pretty good for a first attempt. The recipe have added to this blog has been edited a little to encompass the comments. The maggi cube and 1.5 cup of stock instead of 1 cup is a new addition. I think adding tripe and ponmo ( meats ) also adds a bit to that flavour. 
Give this a go and let me know what you think. If you have any tips, I would love to see it in the comments as well.
Rice, stew and plantains
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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Best Spanish restaurant in Dartford

Grilled Sardines
This story is about a youngish Chilean man with ambition that I met at a Spanish restaurant in Welling 3 years ago. Lorenzo looked after the front of house and often spoke about his dream of opening a Spanish restaurant in Dartford, Kent.  This restaurant when he described it at the time was going to be in a building akin to that of a private member's club in Soho. A games area, a cigar room, a bar with the finest drinks and a tapas restaurant all within one building. Yep, it was definitely a big dream filled with tons of ideas, however when you hear Lorenzo speak you pretty much gather he has the drive to make it come true. When his life's long dream of opening a Spanish restaurant finally came to fruition by partnering with Craig and Greg, I just had to visit to see what he came up with. The verdict after two visits is definitely a positively glowing one, even with the missing Cuban cigar and games room (one day Lorenzo ) . The restaurant called Carnaval meat and tapas bar is located on 70 Spital street, a few minutes walk from Dartford station. I dare say this is the best Spanish restaurant in Dartford, or even the best restaurant in Dartford. The reviews and ratings on Tripadvisor pretty much captured my thoughts about the place.

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

A fun all inclusive trip to Cape Verde's Sal Island

Bikini Beach Sal
Bikini Beach Sal
A holiday to Cape Verde's Sal Island was just what the doctor ordered after traumatic train cancellations and delays to and from work due to the interestingly named beast from the east. Snow in the middle of March? What's that all about. The hotel I ended up booking ( Melia Llana ) had a fabulous all inclusive package.This was all done via Tui group, formerly Thompson travel. This was my first ever package holiday and I have to say it far exceeded my expectations. The flight left on time, the plane journey was pretty uneventful (always a good thing), airport pick up was on time and the hotel itself was a joy to behold. The only slight pain was not having inflight entertainment, something I might have fixed by downloading movies on my Ipad the night before. The niggle aside, top marks to Tui group. On getting to the resort, I noticed they had tons of free daily activities (dance classes, yoga , pool exercises), basically a lot to get up to apart from just lounging by the pool side. Seeing as have got an allergy to exercise, I booked two restaurants within the resort, a teppanyaki night at a restaurant called Nami asian bistro and dinner at an Italian place called Casa Nostra. 

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Jollof rice and peri peri chicken for a dinner party

Hot pot of Jollof
Hot pot of Jollof
Hi readers, I know its been a few weeks since my last post. The past few weekends was spent eating out or entertaining friends with any little spare time spent watching Netflix instead of creating new content. One thing I did focus on over the past few weeks however was reaquainting myself with Bae... Bae being Jollof rice. Yes, the west african dish is that special. So special my friend Tavian posted a song on Youtube about eating the thing. That track really conveys my feelings about the dish. The voice sounded soft, sweet and then shaky at one point because he was holding back tears. We can safely say the dish means something to him and most west Africans. Keep on singing Tave. Let the next be a ballad about spinach stew and pounded yam my friend. I also posted soo much about Jollof a colleague sent me pictures of the Jollof rice she made for her mum on mothers day and from what I saw she didnt to too bad. Let's put it this way, it looked better than Jamie Olivers confused Jollof mix. Good job Taz.

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Saturday, February 03, 2018

Dinner at luxury Russian restaurant in Soho

   
Press the champagne button
Press the champagne button
   

The names Bob..Bob Ricard

What better way to kick off ones foodie week than dining at a luxury Russian restaurant in London's Soho area. This place had a golden plush interior that wouldn't look too far out of place in a Bond film. The film in this case being Goldfinger of course and in the midst of all that gold and blue interior is a button that sticks out just above the dinner table . Visions of failed stooges, trap doors and peckish sharks at the push of this button actually came to mind. As much as one would hope however ( makes me sound nuts right ) or not hope, this button doesn't bring forth sharks, but the finest champagne. Top marks for ingenuity and I do really mean that because it was that feature that made E book Bob Bob Ricard when she saw a piece in the Evening Standard. Well that and the 25% discount you get courtesy of the Monday off peak menu.  
The names Bob..Bob Bob Richard
The names Bob..Bob Bob Richard            

To push or not to push 

We checked out the menu and decided to push the button for 2 glasses of champagne just to see if it does what it says on the tin. E pressed it and our waiter was next to her in less than 3 seconds. He was so fast she was actually startled and almost whispered what manner of sorcery is this?. We spent a while trying to figure out how he did it. Was he wearing an Apple Watch that shows the table number ? Did he have an ear piece  ?  Maybe our table lamp had a different glow and only the waiters could tell because the owners fitted them with augmented eye implants designed in a Siberian laboratory. A few more seconds of looking and the answers we were searching for was just above the drinks bar. Table numbers that glows when the buttons get pushed. Simple, yet effective. Now two rules comes to mind when you push this button 

Know the rules :

 Rule No 1

Not a first date venue..unless papa has an oil well in Lagos or mum owns an investment fund. If you still insist on going however, there are precautions you can take. See the next rule 

Rule No 2

Does your date like champagne ... if yes make sure you actually sit next to the button and not your date. If the answers no..well make sure you still sit next to the button. The last thing you want is your date discovering he/ she loved champagne all along. 


she refused to share her starter 


Drinks ordered, here are pictures of the dishes we had over the course of the evening. It must be noted however that I didn't taste everything because sharing jumped out of the window slightly. By that I mean my foodie partner refused to share their truffled potato and mushroom starter. It apparently tasted soo sublime she was already planning to order it again on her next visit . I asked my waiter for tips and the advice was to try a fresh salmon tartare brought to life with generous amounts of roe that adds a slightly salty dimension to the dish.

Salmon tartare garnished with salmon roe, cucumber , horseradish and fennel
Salmon tartare garnished with salmon roe, cucumber , horseradish and fennel
Truffled potato and mushroom Vareniki
Truffled potato and mushroom Vareniki
 For mains E had a perfect Lobster Macaroni and Cheese dish that was made with fresh lobster , Gruyere ,Cheddar , mozzarella and Parmesan. She loved it soo much I heard purring across the table. I tried some and actually loved it . Well maybe I didn't love it as much as my 28 day aged Aberdeenshire Scottish beef bathed in a pool of truffle gravy. The meat was intensely flavorful, juicy and cooked just the way I liked it..medium rare.
Lobster macaroni and cheese
Lobster macaroni and cheese
Chateaubriand served with truffle gravy
Chateaubriand served with truffle gravy
Tasty Aberdeenshire scotch beef
Tasty Aberdeenshire scotch beef
Truffle potato mash was yum
Truffle potato mash was yum

They had me at Souffle 

For desserts we ordered the two souffles, a sour cherry souffle and a strawberry and cream souffle. The latter was served with strawberry coulis and pouring scream.  It was sooo good I licked it all up and had some of E's for added  measure. She didnt like her sour cherry souffle as much because she was expecting something more akin to a fondant ( this was her first ever souffle). 
Strawberry soufflé heaven
Strawberry soufflé heaven
Strawberry and cream soufflé
Strawberry and cream soufflé
Strawberry coulis and pouring cream flowing through the soufflé
Strawberry coulis and pouring cream flowing through the soufflé
 Show me the money 

An evening of 3 courses , 4 glasses of champagne and a glass of Vin de Constance nicknamed Africa's greatest sweet wine because Napoleon Bonaparte used to have it shipped to his death bed while he was exiled in St Helena, resulted in a bill of about £197 including service charge. It may be a bill worthy of an emperor, however the experience was worth every penny. 
I give Bob Bob Ricard a Makele 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Napoleon refused everything but a glass of Constanta wine on his death bed : priorities
Napoleon refused everything but a glass of Constanta wine on his death bed : priorities
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