Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Ma Petite Jamaica, Camden - Restaurant Review

Ma Petite Jamaica is London's newest Caribbean diner - a Jerk Pit and Reggae Bar. Just a couple of minutes from Camden Town tube, Inverness Street is a thus little-known part of the infamous Camden now peppered with several new restaurants, catering for tourists and Londoners alike.

I was invited along for a review for Love Food Love Drink * on a quiet yet blustery Tuesday evening. We were seated in the centre in what felt like a spotlight, other quieter cosier tables scattered around under bamboo canopies, with colourful art and furniture brightening up a dull November.
The staff were lovely, young and friendly, and we could see the chefs at work in the kitchen at the back of the restaurant.

Nothing like starting with a cocktail to warm the, err, cockles. Many rum-based favourites like Cuba Libre and the might Mojito, but we opted for a Spanish Town Rumgria - basically, yes, a sangria made with 7 year old Havana rum, but MUCH more potent! - and a Bird of Paradise, a fruity colourful number, also extremely potent. Totally tropical, mon.

Bird of Paradise, and Spanish Town Rumgria

To start, we greedily ordered three plates between two of us: Pumpkin and chickpea curry with stuffed roti - creamy and full of warmth; Jerk chicken skewers, served with a peanut sauce - this was a huge portion, lacking in spice I found, until about halfway through, when the chilli hit me (maybe I was numb from the rum!); Salt fish fritters with a mango chutney - crispy and a little dry, but full of flavour. You can choose from a range of small plates and larger platters to share, tapas stylee, to get a flavour for all the traditional Jamaican dishes - patties, ackee dumplings and barbecued ribs.

Jerk Chicken Skewers, Pumpkin and Chickpea curry, Saltfish Fritters
Not quite stuffed enough, and continuing on the warming theme, we then opted for curried goat - of course! Served with rice and peas (obviously) and crispy fried plantain, this dish was the highlight of the evening. Tender (it had been slow cooked over 24 hours), rich, and just the right amount of spice. The only downside was the bones, but that was indicative of the length of cooking. Also, the red snapper, a meaty white fish, served with a barbecue jerk sauce - sumptuous.

Red Snapper, Curried Goat

As the evening wore on, the reggae played and the wine magically disappeared, we felt chilled, and warmed at the same time. A great little find in Camden town, for great food, tropical tastes and a totally relaxed vibe. Them belly full.

Ma Petite Jamaica
4 Inverness Street, Camden
020 7482 2977

Meal for two with wine/cocktails ~£65
Lunchtime Belly Full meals £7.50

Square Meal
* I'll post a link as soon as it's published!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Arigato Sushi and Thai, Winchmore Hill - Restaurant Review

Thai cuisine is my favourite. Luckily for me, a new Thai and Japanese restaurant has opened up locally, so I felt it my duty to check it out with some friends and let North Londoners know what it's like.

Located on Green Lanes, a few minutes walk down Station Road from the Green and the pubs of Winchmore Hill, Arigato offers a menu with all the traditional best-loved Thai dishes, as well as an array of Japanese specialities such as Sushi, Sashimi, Nigiri and Teriyaki. Formerly Makan Minum, a Malaysian eatery, it has been refurbished in a contemporary oriental style with some Japanese pallet tables and a guitar inside the door for anyone to play (we didn't!).

Mixed Starter: Spring Rolls, Prawns in blankets, Prawn toast, Thai Fishcakes and Satay chicken
Pud Thai
Thai Green Curry
Mussaman Curry

I have read quite a few bad reviews, poor service, wrong orders, but on this occasion the waitresses were very sweet and helpful. As it's BYOB they charge a small corkage fee, so once we plonked our Prosecco on the table, the waitress brought us glasses without even asking. The Japanese menu is extensive and seems to cover all areas of Japanese food, but we stuck to the Thai menu (which is, after all, the best cuisine there is!).

Starters are the thing. Always a good barometer: If you just want to carry on eating starters all evening then you know it's good. However, I wasn't blown away by them. I think I wanted to be, but the satay chicken didn't taste of anything, and the spring rolls were falling apart. Between three of us we ordered the mixed starter and it was just enough.

The main event was much more promising though. My friend ordered the Thai Green curry and it was fresh and flavoursome, though perhaps lacking in heat. My Mussaman curry was actually really good - creamy and coconutty with some the traditional potatoes and topped crispy fried onions. My other friend had the Pad Thai and was rather impressed. 

Portion sizes were really big - if we hadn't been going on to the pub we would have had enough for a whole other meal to take home. Since eating here, my friend has ordered takeaways from Arigato and been more than happy. This is great for the area, particularly since the closing down of the Green Dragon Pub, where the Thai food was excellent. It did feel a little as if it were a Japanese restaurant catering for people who liked Thai food, and specializes more in Sushi and the like, so I think I may have to return to try out some tempura and maybe a bento box...

Doitashimashite (You are welcome!)

741 Green Lanes N21 3RX
020 3581 1609

~£15 a head, not including drinks
Bring your own alcohol.
Cards not accepted.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Godiva Chocolate Challenge #2 - The Finals

As National Chocolate Week draws to a close, I know of one lady who will still be celebrating. Last year's Godiva Challenge Winner, Heather, returned this year as a finalist and according to the judges, it was no 'Hix Fix' that she retained her title.

The four judges, Mark Hix, Gizzi Erskine, William Sitwell and Godiva's Master Chocolatier Jean Apostolou (an old friend of mine ;)), took a little less than an hour of deliberation whilst us honoured invited guests (and non-finalists) mingled and tasted the four desserts. Impressive skills, a high standard and being able to taste the fine chocolate ingredients was key in their decision. Each finalist reproduced their dish six times - four for each of the judges, one for photos, and one for the rest of us to sample.

The four entries were:

Heather Bennet: Come Fly With Me

Heather's was really original, and so complex it took about six hours to re-create. Good luck with that to the professional chefs that will be serving it up in Mark Hix's Soho restaurant!

Come Fly With Me: Raspberry and Chocolate Meringue, Chocolate Mousse, Caramelised Almonds and Rose Cream

Anoop Momi: Nuts About Cherry

Anoop was supported by his lovely girl, who is always urging him to enter the Great British Bake Off. I reckon he would have a really good chance, his dish was perfection, in presentation as well as taste.

Nuts About Cherry: White Chocolate, Cherry and Pistachio Delice, Macarons, Tempered Chocolate, Kirsch Cherry and Ganache.

Joe Fallowfield: You Can Eat Flowers

Joe's beautiful dish showed off his chef skills with originality and opulence. An explosion of chocolate flavours.
You Can Eat Flowers: Chocolate and Rose Mousse, Kirsch Ice Cream Meringue, with Edible Flowers.

Rosanna McPhee: Chocolate Nut Torte with Cherry Meringue Ice Cream

Rosanna's dessert was, in my humble opinion, home cooking at its best. Although delicious and extremely skilled, it's also quite an accessible dish, which I hope to re-create soon.

You can find Rosanna's recipe here.

Chocolate Nut Torte with Amarena Cherry Meringue Ice Cream

Another wonderful evening hosted by Godiva. And better still, for every purchase of their delicious Mousse Meringues, they will donate a percentage to Breast Cancer Now. What better incentive to indulge in some luxurious chocolate?

Chef and Judge Mark Hix with the Godiva Challenge Winner, Heather.
Photos courtesy of LuxxPR, Photography by Carl Pendle.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Li Veli Winery & Bistro, Covent Garden - Restaurant Review

Li Veli Winery and Bistro, on Long Acre in Covent is bringing the simple authentic cuisine of Puglia, the boot of Italy, to London. I was invited in for a review for Love Food Love Drink, and as soon as we arrived we were treated like VIPs. Our reserved table in the window was perfect for people watching, both on the street and inside this modern, spacious and stylish eatery featuring elements of Apulian design.

Li Veli Winery & Bistro

Our very charming maitre d', Nicolas, ushered us to our seats and remained attentive but not intrusive for the evening. From the Antipasti menu he recommended the Apulian 'Frisella' Bread and the Fave e Cicora, a broad bean mash with chicory. Not being a huge fan of tomatoes, I tentatively ordered the Frisella, a wholewheat bagel bread covered in organic cherry tomatoes and doused in San Domenico olive oil. It was good, really good. A sizable portion too. Himself went for the red tuna tartare instead of the Fave, and both of us were stuffed after our starters. 

Frisella Bread; Red Tuna Tartare; San Domenico Olive Oil;
Aubergine Parmagiana; Orcchiette; Pistachio Ice Cream
Most of the wine served in Li Veli is sourced from the owner's own vineyards in Puglia, The Masseria Li Veli. The white wine was light and fresh and extremely drinkable. The red, served with our mains, was earthier and slid down our throats like silk. 

Li Veli wines
Li Veli wines

For mains, we followed Nicolas's advice and plumped for homemade organic orecchiette, little ear-shaped pasta, served with melted anchovies and toasted breadcrumbs. For me, aubergine parmigiana, topped with smoky caciocavallo cheese - delicious. 
The menu catered well for vegetarians, with only a few meat dishes, but every was organic, fresh, and simple. This simple yet sophisticated style is typically Italian, and more so Pugliese, taking quality ingredients and serving them in time-honoured traditions.

Dessert was the highlight of the meal. Tiramisu, of course, and an enticingly flavourful pistachio ice cream, drizzled with San Domenico olive oil. This you have to try for yourself. You won't believe it works, but it does. 

Join these two families, one culture, and the traditional Apulian taste in Covent Garden. Not your typical pizzeria...

69 Long Acre, WC2E 9JS
020 7240 8163

Pre-Theatre Dinner (5-7pm) 2 Courses £18, 3 Courses £22

Li Veli Winery & Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Godiva Chocolate Challenge #2 - Chilli Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry and Lime Italian Meringue

This year's entry to the Godiva Chocolate Challenge - an added incentive to submit this before tonight's deadline is that Godiva are very generously donating a fiver to Breast Cancer Awareness for each entry. After last year's challenge, I know the standard will be ridiculously high, so here is my humble attempt.

Chocolate Chilli Mousse with Raspberry and Lime Italian Meringue


Prep Time: 1 hour plus 1 hour chilling
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 4


For the chilli chocolate mousse:

120 g Godiva dark chocolate callets
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp chilli powder
4 tbsp milk
2 eggs, separated
1 tbsp caster sugar

For the raspberry coulis:

200 g fresh raspberries
50 g caster sugar
50 ml water

For the meringue:

2 egg whites
Juice 1 lime
120 g caster sugar
60 ml water

First make the chilli chocolate mousse:

Melt the chocolate callets in a heatproof bowl over a bowl of simmering water. Stir gently until smooth.

Combine the milk, cocoa powder and chilli powder into a smooth paste and add to the melted chocolate, stirring well.

Beat the egg yolks and add to the chocolate mixture. Cook this gently over the simmering water for about five minutes until thick, stirring all the time.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until there are soft peaks, then add the sugar and whisk until glossy. Gently fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture with a metal spoon.

Divide this mousse mixture into four cocktail or wine glasses, or glass ramekins, and chill for about an hour.                           

 Next, prepare the raspberry coulis:

In a small saucepan, put the raspberries, water and sugar, and bring to the boil.

Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Strain the coulis so you get a thin dark pink coulis, and set aside.

Finally, prepare the Italian meringue:

Make the sugar syrup by placing the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stirring constantly until it boils. Allow it to boil for about five minutes.

While the syrup is bubbling, whisk the egg whites with the lime juice until you get soft peaks.

Slowly pour in the hot syrup and keep whisking until you get the correct consistency - stiff peaks.

At the very end of whisking, add about a teaspoon of the raspberry coulis to turn the meringue a light pink colour.

Once the mousse has set, pipe the meringue on top, and drizzle some of the remaining coulis around the side of the dish.

Good luck to all the entrants and most of all, thanks to Godiva for their generous donations to Breast Cancer Awareness.
The final takes place on 13th October, where four finalists will have their dessert - chocolate, meringue, and ... a touch of pink, judged by Mark Hix, William Sitwell, and Gizzi Erskine.
The winning dessert will be served at Hix Selfridges for a week!

Link up your recipe of the week

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Indonesian Coconut Chicken - Recipe

As ever, for dinner, I wanted something quick and delicious, and had a few leftovers to use up. An opened packet of mini chicken fillets, the most of a can of coconut milk and a spanking new ScanPanCTX to try out.

I found a recipe in a little book called Step-by-Step Indonesian Cooking, which I brought back from Bali, about a million years ago. I just needed an inspiration so this one for Beef in Toasted Coconut appealed:

As I only had about half the ingredients, and a few other things I wanted to use, it was time to devise my own recipe. Here, my friends, is Indonesian Coconut Chicken. You Are Welcome.

Indonesian Coconut Curry

Serves 2

Prep Time:
Cook Time:


6-8 mini chicken fillets
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lemon rind, grated
2 cm piece ginger, chopped
1-2 chillies, chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp palm sugar (or demerrera)
1 tin coconut milk (a little less will do)
oil for cooking
handful peanuts, chopped
3-4 tsp desiccated coconut
sprinkle of fresh coriander, chopped


Place the coconut milk in a bowl and add the garlic, lemon rind, ginger, chillies, ground coriander and turmeric, palm sugar, and the chicken. Marinate for as long as you wish, but 15 minutes is fine. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and drop the chicken in. Fry off gently until the chicken is cooked. Let the sauce to reduce but don't let it get dry.

Once the chicken is cooked, add the desiccated coconut and toss it through. This will toast the coconut and add a lovely texture.

Serve on a bed of rice, garnished with chopped peanuts and fresh coriander.

Link up your recipe of the week

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Ruby Murray Curry

The best thing about food blogging is other food blogs. Love them. Always an inspiration, always something you need at just the right time. The first night back after our Spanish holiday (yes, I've been away - what, you didn't notice?!) nothing else would do but a curry. And for some reason, it had to be a Ruby Murray from Dishoom. It was a yearning. It had to be made. 

I found the recipe on The Food I Eat, written by an East London food blogger, with unending knowledge of the London food scene, restaurants, recipes and all the latest trends. She was sent the recipe for Chicken Ruby Murray by Dishoom themselves, after visiting their Southbank Pop-up a couple of years back.

It's relatively easy and doesn't take long, though I did have all the ingredients in my store cupboard. Although I do need a new bay tree... I may have left it simmer a little too long as the sauce reduced a bit too much, but the delicate flavours and tender chicken were just what I needed after landing back to the cool rain of London town. 

It's delish. Make it. I certainly will again.

Ruby Murray. Recipe by The Food I Eat. 

Oh, and speaking of food blogs, I was delighted to be included in an infographic by Rebatezone, a website which offers coupons, discounts and offers on shopping, and has collated their Top 50 Food Blogs in the UK. There I am at Number 39! That's me! Thanks folks!

Lots of lovely food blogs to read now...

Top 50 Food Blogs In UK