My Food Week in pictures – A farewell lunch, Brixton style

When you’ve been friends with someone for so long, regardless of how diligent you both are at keeping in contact, you’re always going to feel a little tug on those strings which are, apparently, attached to a frosty cardiac muscle in the centre of your thoracic cavity (my scenario anyway).

My friend leaves Wednesday, having been so close to me in south London, for the Wild West – Portland, Oregon. Having a terrible geographical knowledge of US States (c’mon, they’d never be able to point out where Brixton is on a map) I couldn’t tell you if it is actually the Wild West – you know – with cowboys and all. They still have them, right?

The second farewell I bid this week was another westward escape. This time to Wales; land of bara brith, laverbread, and Welsh cakes (posted a sneaky link to Debs’ site. Hers are, quite frankly, the dog’s proverbials).

Because I need great content for my blog, and, because I love my friend (notice the ordering of that sentence) I invited some of my closest mates for lunch (dinner – nudge to the northerners). All I need is a film crew and I’m basically your next Naked Chef (I throw roughly chopped food into the pan from great heights too y’know).


A farewell dinner which would not be forgotten had to include some of Brixton’s finest produce. Seemed only fair since I had directed the party all the way up Brixton Hill. My cooking of late is naturally following the nature of the weather; increasingly inspired by spring. Elderflower and apple spritzers started us off, with some of my favourite olives on the side – nocerella. If you’ve never had them before and are a fan of olives in all forms, please try them. Bright green (like giant peas) and unusually round (like giant peas), they are a lot less salty than your average green olive, have a fleshy texture and nutty flavour.

I served up two whole sea bass between five of us, stuffing it with mint, basil, parsley, and lemon slices. I really don’t understand people who don’t like to see the animal they’re about to eat whole. I demand to know what I’m eating, which is why I always ask my fishmonger to just clean and gut the fish. Plus, the bones and head keep all the divine juices inside, retaining the fish’s moisture. Dust the skin with a reasonable layer of sea salt and I can promise that you will be fighting for leftover pieces of skin from the plates of the fusspots.

Sea bass from Brixton Village

Offering the carbohydrates for the meal was a large portion of kisir (I may have made too much) – a Middle Eastern dish made principally with bulgur wheat, parsley, and tomato paste. I used a recipe I spotted about three years ago in the Guardian by one of my favourite columnists and chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi. I needed to add more chilli from the original recipe, and I preferred my bulgar wheat a little softer, so I added more water. It’s a beautiful traffic light platter when all is done and dusted, but I can tell you finding pomegranate molasses when your bastion of hope (Brixton Wholefoods) have run out of stock, can be a little unnerving an hour before your guests arrive. Luckily A&C Co Delicatessen saved my bacon, and my kisir, incidentally.

Ottolenghi's Kisir

Ottolenghi's Kisir

And the rest of the week…well just a quick one about a fabulous and entertaining cheese and wine evening at Entrée restaurant, on Battersea Rise. The event was hosted by their new restaurant manager, Chloe Gounder-Forbes. She’s a bit of a cheesy star having been on the judging panel of the British Cheese Awards – she knows her stuff.

Cheese Board at Entree


SW9 – My food week in pictures – Brixton Farmers’ Market

I remember when I was a child sitting up at our kitchen’s breakfast bar watching my mum curate culinary activities and prepare the dinner. Quite often there was only me and her in our house; my dad worked away from home, sometimes several months at a time, and I used to sit and keep her company while she cooked up mountains of food for me – I may have been an only child – but my appetite was equivalent to that of two other siblings. We used to chatter about our days, plan the activities for the week, or sometimes she would tell me about her jungle experiences when she lived in Brunei.

While we chatted I would give her a hand with the preparations. Even though I was young, I was given responsibility with the sharpest Kitchen Devil – chopping and peeling the vegetables – checking every now and then that the carrots were the correct  thickness. My mum liked things just so, and as her only daughter, I aimed to please. By helping out and observing her I learned how to gut fresh fish, make gravy from scratch, and test how al dente the pasta was – never has there ever been a better excuse to thrown spaghetti at the wall! I learned ridiculously simple, yet ridiculously useful tips – tips which cooks learn only through experience – at a very young age. Most importantly I learned about timing. A roast dinner is one of the simplest meals to cook, but allowing the chicken to rest, ensuring the potatoes have a crunchy exterior, making sure the gravy doesn’t burn, and not overcooking the broccoli can be one of the hardest things to coordinate.  Yet by my early teens I was a comfortable kitchen hand and cook.

Between the ages of 19 to 24 I lost my love for the kitchen and the joy of cooking fresh food. It started when I moved to London. I was studying full time, paying out of my nose to live somewhere that, really, I couldn’t afford. It’s not that I couldn’t afford to eat – I obviously did and have survived to tell the tale – but when you have a limited budget you cook up meals with no more than four ingredients. It means the cooking experience lacks joy and creativity. Meals are filling, but uninspiring. Those who try to pay an affordable amount of rent in London do so through the mechanism that is the house-share. We all shudder with the term ‘Gumtree’.  When your living space is not your own, and you share with strangers, you keep yourself to yourself.  Kitchen space is at a premium and you become increasingly accommodating to a lack of utensils, space, and others’ unusual culinary habits. Also, making soup is mightily difficult when the household only has one bowl (my house-mate and I affectionately, and somewhat originally, named it ‘the house bowl’).

But there is a light ahead of this story’s tunnel. It came in the form of The SW Food Blog. I’ve been blogging now for just over a month, and unintentionally it has given me more impetus and desire to cook that I ever have had before.  I set out to review a few restaurants and local producers, but now I’m finding myself planning dishes for a Sunday night and inviting friends over for dinner. I’ve been rekindling those tips and tricks my good old mum taught me (less of the old, she’d say), and for the best part of Sunday I was completely engrossed in the kitchen; making brownies as a teatime treat, as well as home-made fish cakes and cauliflower cheese.  Not only have I been consumed by cooking once again, I have also been consuming the cooking.

The ingredients for Sunday night’s cauliflower cheese were sourced from Brixton’s weekly Station Road Farmers Market which is open from 10am until 2pm.

Meat and vegetables at Brixton Famers' Market

Perhaps it was the sunshine, but the market seemed to be more bustling than usual. Turning the corner under the bridge off Brixton Road, the eyes were greeted with Brassicas of all hues and varieties. Cauliflowers were selling for as little as 60p, and the purple cauliflower (actually a broccoli, although different from purple sprouting broccoli) was one I couldn’t resist. Cavolo nero, other varieties of kale, and leeks, were among the glut of potatoes, onions, carrots and storeroom essentials.

Brixton famers market broccoli

Sampling the wares I settled on a mature cheddar made by Green’s of Glastonbury. Strong, creamy with a grainy texture, it was going to give my cauliflower cheese a tangy bite.

There are so many other stalls there which I have yet to try. I did however pick up Giggly Pig’s Irish sausages; I have it on authority that they were meaty and filling. They didn’t lose any volume on cooking, which says a lot about the amount of water in your average supermarket saucisson.

Colourful and intriguing was the greenery of Wild Country Organics‘ salad leaves. Tatsoi, claytonia, and their mixed salad with spinach and rocket were just some of the highlights.

Wild Country Organics at Brixton Farmers Market

Veggie lovers can delight at Brixton Farmers’ Market, but those looking for something altogether less wholesome can still tuck into the Carribean vegan cakes of Global Fusion foods, and the pastries of the Old Post Office Bakery.

I even had a go myself at counteracting all this beautiful fruit and vegetables. Decadent brownies made with Green and Black’s cocoa, and a whole bar of 70% chocolate, made my Sunday cooking and domesticity a pleasure. It’s so great to be back in the kitchen after this long overdue absence and put the love of cooking and fresh food, learned from my ma, back into practice.

70% Chocolate Brownies

My food week in pictures – I’m no pastry chef

I’m quite organised in life, but when it comes to preparing meals in advance, I’m terrible. I think it’s because I like to eat on stimulus, inspiration, and to be honest I’ll eat whatever I bloody well fancy, whenever I bloody well fancy it. This usually results in paying an extortionate amount in my nearest Sainsbury’s local.

This weekend I was returning to the motherland (Yorkshire) and I knew that on Sunday evening, when I was to return, a flaccid £5 fishcake was not going to cut the horseradish. Pre-empting this disappointment I made, and then froze, an aubergine parmigiana. As it happens, it’s not the most attractive dishes to photograph, but it’s pretty tasty.

Aubergine parmigiana prep

Aubergine parmigiana prep

The aubergines and tinned tomatoes were sourced from various grocers and purveyors of vegetables in Brixton. I’ll give a shout out to A&C Co Continental Grocers on Electric Avenue where aubergines were only 60p! Their parmesan cheese was excellent value and great quality. Furthermore they’ve got a brilliant selection of fresh herbs – even found some fresh oregano which didn’t break the bank. Leave a comment if you’re interested and I will post the recipe.

Thursday night was simply marvellous. I really enjoyed tapas at Seven at Brixton in Market Row which I reviewed. I’ll recommend the patatas bravas, as well as the wilted spinach, rocket and warm manchego salad.

Patatas bravas, Seven at Brixton

Warm spinach, rocket, and manchego salad

I returned a little earlier than I thought on Sunday night, and to keep myself entertained (Sunday night television is simply dire), I made apple pie. Although I love to cook, baking is not my forte. I don’t think I allowed the pastry to rest enough, and as a result it was crumbly and a bit short. But by god, eating it in a cosy lounge when the rain is hitting the window horizontally outside makes it taste flipping good.

Home made apple pie


My food week in pictures – Seafood and eat it, but watch for the whelks

My weekly post ‘my food week in pictures’ comes to you not on a Sunday night, as I normally would have planned, but on a Tuesday. Sundays are the best  time to cook up a decent carby dinner, and before you start to get that digestive-dozy feeling, I find that the 45 minutes after you’ve eaten is an excellent time to bosh out a blogpost. Unfortunately I decided to drown my sorrows after England’s defeat to Wales in the Six Nations on Saturday night, and as a result, Sunday was a write-off. I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t eat. Frankly, I couldn’t even talk.

As a result, my photographic record of food and culinary adventures is pretty sparse – but the ones I do have, are as colourful as you could wish for, and more ecologically diverse than your average rock pool. Take a look:

Plateau Impérial at Le Bouchon Battersea

Plateau Impérial at Le Bouchon Battersea

Plateau Impérial at Le Bouchon Battersea

The Welshman and I seized a deal on the Telegraph Selected website for the Plateau Impérial at Le Bouchon on Battersea Rise. Full price, it is not something I would shell out (ho ho ho) for, but considering we paid a smidge under £20 a head, it definitely wasn’t bad value.

Included on our industrial platter were cockles, prawns, oysters, mussels, whole Devon crab and half a native lobster. They were served with either lemon, homemade aioli, or a red wine vinaigrette. All was fresh which made for a brilliantly messy lunch (I had bits of mollusc everywhere).  However, there was one item on the plate which I can barely bring myself to write…


There, said it.

Can anyone explain to me why in the devil someone would want to eat that? I am not a fussy eater. I am willing to try anything once, and generally, I’m offended by not a lot. The whe…gastropod which cannot be named is disgusting. Even having them on my plate made me feel like I was a guest on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

Just, no.

Fingers crossed I will be as right as rain tomorrow, continuing to gorge into all the foodie delights south west London brings us, save for the whelks.

My food week in pictures – £5 for 5lbs – A lot of food

I will give you £5 if I’ve not put on five pounds this week. This week’s gastronomical extravaganza will be difficult to surpass.

Monday was the day of the trout; fresh from Brixton Village market, I left it whole and steamed it with ginger, garlic, bonnet chillis, spring onions and a dash of soy and lime zest. It wasn’t rainbow trout, but you can see from the spectrum of spices and colours, it might as well have been named as such.

Fresh trout, lime, soy, ginger, garlic, chilli

Although I have no pictures to show for it, I reviewed The BreadRoom in Brixton on Tuesday – check it out if you fancy a cheap lunch.

Wednesday heralded the mid-week beer (I’m trademarking that phrase), in celebration of my friend’s birthday. We may have enjoyed food from the voucher-friendly All Bar One (which I will not be reviewing), but the festivities were not complete without a quartet of cakes from the one and only vegan-friendly Ms Cupcake.

Chocolate chip

Saturday was a treat. Beating the queues at 11.30am, the Welshman and the Scouser and I sampled, what for pizza aficionados can be best be described as Mecca.  Franco Manca in Brixton Market has a reputation for its glorious sourdough bases. It has, whether you agree or disagree, been crowned as one of the best pizza joints in London. I made notes. There will be a review. Watch this space.

The number 5 at Franco Manca

On what was a very windy day post-pizza, our trio left Franco Manca and headed to the vintage market which had set up shop on Station Road. Catching my eye and nose, was not the rustle of a musty mink vintage fur coat*, but the fragrant waft of roasting coffee. This traditional Ethiopian coffee vendor, who I am assured comes down to the road opposite the Rec every Saturday, roasts whole Arabica beans in a small tin handled pot, before grinding them and brewing them in a beautiful Jebana (long necked coffee jug). You’re poured a lovely little cup; the actual coffee is thick and grainy with a comforting amount of  astringency (when unsweetened). There’s also a large reed basket full of popcorn to snack on while you sup. Please visit – it’s a real treat.

Ethiopian coffee

Just when I thought the week couldn’t get any better, the Sunday comfort club (me) decided to cook up, not a roast, but a hearty wholegrain smoked salmon tetrazzini (spaghetti bake) with lightly smoked salmon, cream, chestnut mushrooms with a parmegiana topping.

Smoked salmon tetrazzini with mushrooms, cream, and a parmigiana topping

Happy Sunday!

*I don’t wear fur. Please don’t e-attack me!

My food week in pictures – Real ale, Eggs Royale, and a sandwich

It’s been a funny old week: it’s not often you spend your Thursday drinking pints of Hip Hop Green Bullet at a real ale festival, nor do I want my Fridays to be quite so bleary-eyed! But yes, for those of you who follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that the Battersea Beer Festival was on this week. I wrote a guest post for about the event which you can see here. It was a great opportunity to meet some local producers (I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Duncan Sambrook – yes –  founder of Wandsworth’s Sambrook’s Brewery), and some drunken German chap from Munich who kept telling me that is 9% abv German beer was “lekker”. I took his word for it. Here are a selection of photos of the main event which I think you’ll enjoy. There’s also a few more on my Facebook page.

Less about liquid now and more about solid food. After a brief stroll around Brockwell Park on Sunday I popped into the nearby Lido Cafe for a spot of brunch. They were closing early so I was lucky to get my hands on their Eggs Royale. Perfectly runny yolk oozed itself over the beautifully tender salmon, which comes from the Severn estuary, and is traditionally smoked by the Severn and Wye Smokery. The Lido Cafe would be a venue I’d love to review, but unfortunately it’s just the wrong side of the SW postcode. Rules is rules!

And finally, before I sign off, you should check out this week’s review of Rosie’s Deli Cafe – and here’s what I ate:

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