Monday, 18 November 2013

London Trip

A month ago I visited my good friend Louise in Brixton. I'd never seen Brixton before and it was like a completely different city! I loved the multicultural, laid back people with their eccentric clothes and the fact that there were markets all over the place. Brixton village is amazing! Rows of tiny cafes and restaurants all full with people enjoying dishes from all over the world, each of them quirky and with defining character and individuality.
After a very colourful party with awesome costumes, friendly folk and not much sleep, I headed out to explore. My first stop was the closest cafe. It just happened to serve one of my favourite drinks - vanilla chai latte AND they had almond milk!! It was liquid heaven and rid me of any hangover. I watched the browsers and shoppers of the market as I supped my hot cup of comfort.

Brixton market under the bridge

Inside Brixton village.
 Next I met up with another friend, Simon and we went for some food in Brixton village. I had a spicy scrambled egg breakfast with plantain which was exciting and unusual.

Camden lock market
 Once I was hungry again, later in the day I visited Camden lock. I found a stall that served these beautiful white corn rolls filled with shredded chicken, guacomole and more plantain!

 More exploring = hungry again so popped into this vegan and gluten free bakery near Camden. They had a rockabilly style and various awards so I tried their peanut butter chocolate chip cookie which was super sweet but tasty. It lasted me three days!

Vegan gluten free peanut butter chocolate chip cookie

 A bit more exploring of Camden with the owners of numerous stalls thrusting samples of their food on a stick outwards towards passers by. I also browsed the clothes stores. I love the unique style of some of the clothing and the fact you can haggle down prices

 Last stop was the incredible InSpiral lounge. The atmosphere and vibe here is great. They're big on ethical food, everything is vegan and most of it is raw. They host dj nights and open late, makes me sad that there is nothing like this in Sheffield. I had the raw pumpkin pie which was light and festively spiced.
Canal with InSpiral lounge on the right

Already I miss the excitement and activity that London has to offer. Sheffield feels so un-happening in comparison. I do love Sheffield though, it's my home after all and I have so many things to be grateful for here.

Next trip is Scotland!! See you soon readers x

Fancie's Veggie Curry Supper Club - Review

My stomach was grumbling. In preparation for Fancie's seven course feast I'd eaten what I intended to be a small amount but still probably more than most people eat. Anyway it did the trick and I was actually hungry - a rare feeling for me.
An exciting evening was planned. First Fancie's supper club and then off to see Chuck Palaniuk - one of my favorite writers - presenting his new graphic novel at the showroom.
I was invited to dine via Twitter and after telling them about my restricted diet they reassured me that it would be fine.

I notice personalized name tags on the bottles on our table that were a nice touch. Inside feels half like a cafe and half like someone's amazing kitchen, very intimate and cosy with exposed brick walls and cookbooks that add character. The staff are really friendly too.

Me and my friend Dave discussed the origin of macanese and chatted for a few minutes. I love the exposed wooden walls and candles, little touches like this really create a warm atmosphere.
It did feel odd not choosing from a menu and just waiting for your food, also kind of exciting.
Twenty minutes later the first course came and after seeing the samosa, I checked that they got it written down that I don't eat wheat or dairy but unfortunately they didn't get the message.
The problem was however, very quickly rectified and I was brought a new plate within a few minutes. It was lightly spiced and tasty.

Next was the popadoms with biryani which was more spicy than the last course. The almond added a nice texture. I liked the popadoms, which were made with gram flour. My friend commented that he usually gets sauce with biryani, having never had one before that night, I wouldn't know about sauce anyway.

Following that was a watermelon Thai curry which was unusual but I absolutely loved it. The coconut on top is great and the sauce was delicious. My friend who spent time in Thailand said it's very authentic. Altogether that was my favourite dish of the night.

Tagine was next and was very sweet with cinnamon and plump raisins balanced by the savoury olives, the accompanying salad was crisp and fresh.

Nepalese chickpea and goats curd was the next course. It wasn't as flavorful as the previous ones and they'd added goats cheese which I can't eat but my friend gladly takes off my hands. It would have benefited from some acidity. Perhaps the goats cheese provided that.

 The last curry was very spicy and perfumed. Really delicious and I love the cabbage and star anise. Everyone around was sweating and downing their water.

 I'm very impressed the chef managed to adapt the menu and prepare something for me at such short notice.
Pudding was a meringue with lime and blueberry. It was really light and finished my meal perfectly.   I had nothing to worry about in regards to eating too much. I was pleasantly full but not bloated.

 Overall a great atmosphere and delicious food. Easy to see why the chef won young chef of the year with inventive dishes like these!

Food - 8/10
Service - 10/10
Value - 8/10

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Aagrah Restaurant Review

Last week was my lovely cousins birthday and to celebrate, a trip to Aagrah was arranged.
We arrived at 7pm to the Leopold Square based restaurant. Aagrah has good neighbours, Leopold Square is home to a selection of good chain restaurants including Wagamama and Tropeiro.
For a Monday, the absolutely huge dining room was very busy and had a lively atmosphere.
With sleek black tables, large mirrors and walls, the decor is really swish and modern.
Everyone choose the buffet so I joined them. Hot silver containers held a wide selection of dishes and they all tasted very authentic. I liked the fact that the vegetarian curry changes frequently and there was a selection of dahls, rice and little salads. They also helpfully label which dishes contain wheat or dairy.

My cousin shared this plate of desserts with her friend
The masala fish was particularly good and I went back for seconds. Great value as you only pay £12 including a dessert.
A selection of fresh fruit and small glass ramekins of puddings such as cheesecakes and jelly is available plus hot gulab jamuns and a pipe your own ice cream with various toppings which the kids loved.
I enjoyed a bowl of fresh pineapple, melon, persimmon and grapes plus a nibble of my nieces orange jelly. It finished my meal nicely.
All in all a good standby Kashmiri restaurant in a great location.

Food - 7/10
Service - 8/10
Value - 9/10

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Little Hanoi Restaurant Review

I was really excited to be taking my mum out for dinner and fancied a change so we headed down to the relatively new Little Hanoi. I'm a big fan of Wasabi Sabi and seeing as this is their sister restaurant, the expectations were high. Inside, the décor is really elegant; dark wooden tables, beautiful paper lanterns and paintings. Little touches such as china white and blue painted plates and chopstick holders. It was quiet for a midweek dinner, other diners were a family and two couples.
The menu features a range of Vietnamese dishes, some of them new to me including crunchy papaya salad, Saigon pancake and coconut stews.

We decided on a mango salad to share and I opted for a coconut aubergine and tofu stew, whilst my mum chose sautéed scallops with asparagus. Our salad arrived first and there was a great big mound of it, sweet, sour and spicy vegetables and mango combined with chopped peanuts, mint basil and coriander. Next was the coconut curry which was delicious with hints of lemongrass. A little lime juice would have been beautiful, just to lift it slightly as it was very rich. My mum's scallops were tender and well cooked with the al dente asparagus.

I'm pretty full by this point but my mum wants to order more so she asks one of the friendly waiters for a honey coconut roast chicken. I sneak a taste and It's delicious. Crispy and charred with a subtle sweetness. I couldn't detect any coconut though. The accompanying pickled carrot, mooli and chilli sauce all compliment the dish nicely.

To finish we are given a free small portion of melon which is refreshing and tasty. Total bill came to just over £36.

I'll definitely be back, it's a great addition to the London road restaurant collection.

Food 8/10
Service 10/10
Value 7.5/10

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Where to eat and shop for the health conscious and speciality diets in Sheffield

I care about what I eat and I look after myself. I've not always been this responsible but I've developed this passion over the past few years. I suppose this comes from working in an organic cafe, studying nutrition and reading blogs and magazines that promote a healthy way of living.
I used to eat anything and everything but I a few years ago I discovered I was lactose intolerant, which I believe is a result of my years as a vegan - cutting out dairy depleted my natural ability to produce the lactase enzyme and then when I tried to reintroduce it into my diet, I suffered negative consequences.
A couple of years later I started to notice I was becoming lethargic and bloated after eating, a blood test showed that I had lower than normal red blood cells and was becoming anaemic from eating wheat.

So with my limited diet comes limited eating out choices and I'm not the only one who struggles in finding places to eat and also buy their groceries from. Hopefully this list I've compiled will help those of you in the same boat, if you know anyone with a limited diet, share this post with them and maybe they've got a few I've missed off the list. I'm always keen to discover more places.

Filthy Gorgeous
Brand new greengrocers / health food store literally two minutes from my house. What sets them apart from other health stores is the fact that they make fresh smoothies, sell organic wine AND stock products from pure on raw, including cheesecake! Wonderful! Plus they are the only place I've come across in sheffield where you can buy multicoloured quinoa!
Great for - healthy treats, chia seeds, buckwheat, unusual vegetables.

Rude Shipyard
Not a secret that this is a fav' haunt of mine, they'll always do their best to make something I can eat even if its not on the menu. Lovely quirky bookshop cafe with individual clientèle that frequent there
Great for - cd's from local artists, home made breakfasts ( the potato cakes!), wonderful staff, live music evenings.

the rude shipyard

Beanies is run by a workers coop and stocks a variety of unusual vegetables, vegan vegetarian and wheat free produce. They are also Sheffield’s first, longest running, best quality and best value organic veg delivery scheme and they have their own blog too!
Great for - knowledgeable staff, ethical produce, organic veg, good chocolate (booja booja and montezumas)

Pure on Raw
Sheffields only raw restaurant. Their mocha pie with  clementine gelato is one of the best desserts I have ever eaten, fact. You can read my full review here.
Great for - raw macaroons, cashew cheese pizza, home made almond milk coffee

Pure on raw dishes

Quirky little shop, always seems like they are having a move around. Located in one of my favourite areas of sheffield, very inviting with green awning and lots of fresh veg and plants outside. Inside is a mix of organic and ethical produce from incense to toothpaste, nut butters and vegan cheese. A nice shop to spend time browsing in.
Great for - raw cacao raisins, dairy free ice creams, candles, tea

Zeds in nether edge

I go here a couple of times a month or more. The salad boxes are packed full of tasty veg, hot fresh falafel and sauce. Full of flavour, cheap and healthy.
Great for - in house pickled turnip, fresh juices, event posters, chatty staff

Incredible Nutshell
Much brighter and friendlier since the new management and name change from "in a nutshell" here is a small and sparkly health store who stock home made fresh soup to go as well as plenty of other exciting food and ethnic gifts and jewellery.
Great for - christmas shopping, happy kitchen brownies, local honey, smoked garlic, tofu

treats at incredible nutshell
Saigon 68
Previously pho 68, as far as I know, only the name has changed. They do the most amazing crunchy fresh vietnamese salad with chilli and palm sugar and peanuts. Lunch time offer includes a hot bowl of noodle soup which you can have with rice noodles, delicious and you get a free tea and fruit.
Great for - huge portions, sriracha, people watching on london rd, yee kwan sorbet for pudding

The Blue Moon Cafe
Popular vegetarian late opening cafe in the city centre. Has tasty vegan cakes and gluten free ones too. The specials are wholesome and they serve organic beer and wine too. Menu doesn't change that often if at all so if you have a favourite then you can rest assured they'll have it when you visit again.
Great for - vegan ice cream, tasty jam, a plethora of notices, quirky meal names, pre-theatre dinner.

Just Natural 
I always visit here whenever I'm in crookes. I love the layout, very neat and the little wicker baskets are cute. It is rather expensive though so watch out for that. I love the self-pour raisin and nut selection.
Great for - fresh orange juice, wide variety of fruit and veg, yoghurt raisins, hipster shoppers

Heeley Farm Kitchen
Small bright cafe, located on their farm so nice for visiting after looking at the animals. Always children, always vegan options.
Great for - bringing the kids, petting the animals, the veggie chilli

heeley farm kitchen

 Delicious moroccan food in a busy restaurant that caters for all dietary needs.
 I recently had the fish tagine and there was plenty of tender fish, very filling with the rice.
 Great for - live entertainment, garlic mushrooms, friendly staff

So there you have my favourites. Let me know what you think and tell me yours.