Another week of lockdown 3.0 and we were still on the lookout for a new experience. Also the end of Italian week. We ended up with pizza! This place has a good score on Deliveroo and we hadn’t tried it for a while. We reviewed it some time ago (see here). The menu is certainly a little different to the run of the mill. As well as the margherita, napoli, marinara and funghi, they also had pistacchio, caramellata and salsiccia and porcini.
We chose a the salsiccia (tomato sauce, mozzarella fior di latte, Italian sausage, porcini mushrooms, grana padano, basil) and the pistacchio (mozzarella fior di latte, crema di pistacchio, mortadella, crushed pistachios, basil) – look carefully if you are vegetarian – the little symbols have a key at the bottom of the menu.
The pistacchio one was definitely nutty and the basil was a great smell and taste. I am not fond of mortadella, but it was good on the reheated portion the next day.
The salsiccia version was lovely – hot occasionally with a bite of of the Italian sausage and the rounded taste of the mushrooms.
You can see that they are not so particular about having them perfectly round, but I suppose it gives them more of a artisan look. Anyway, we enjoyed them both, but mostly on the following day. The reason was they were a little burnt on one side and we ate that one on the first day leaving the softer, less carbonised pieces to the next day. We know a pizza oven can be a little unpredictable but …. check the underside before tucking in.
The bill, without any drinks and before adding a tip, came to £29.71, good value when you have leftovers.
We are trying to improve our culinary creativity by concentrating on a specific country’s cuisine and doing our best with the ingredients provided in Brixton. We are following up our Maremma takeaway (see here) by going for Italian. The first offering in “Italian week” was designed by happen chance – you agree to all the substitutions in the online shopping and then discover that you now have not a standard sized haggis but the jumbo one. This fed us on Burns night, with some going to neighbours and family (no contact delivery nearby of course) but we still had some leftover so, after the haggis toastie, we invented “Left-over haggis with rigatoni”. Which was delicious with the added tomato and impossible to eat without a glass of red wine.
Our latest box from En Root (see here for details) contained aubergines this week and with the excellent Lidl parmesan we were able to produce “Melanzana Parmigiana” (Aubergine Parmesan) with some culture clashing patatas bravas and beans.
One of the favourites of the week was produced from the “Friends of Mine” Italian delicatessen in Coldharbour Lane. They sell large bags of coffee beans and an array of wine, cheese and pastries. We cought our Pasta di Semola di Grana Duro con vino Barolo – Pink pasta – and matched it with a mushroom cream sauce.
But towards the end of the week and in the current rainy weather you need something hearty and we did have a lot of leftover veg. So we made a sort of Italian vegetable soup – but not a classic minestrone. We used the stuff in the fridge plus home-made pesto and again some leftover rigatoni. Warming and delicious and surprisingly vegan, apart from the Parmesan of course.
For a special occasion – New Year’s Eve – we ordered the special menu from Maremma. We were already fans for both the eat-in and at home options – see here, here and here. The menu isn’t on offer all the time, but I am sure the dishes will reappear. The meal was definitely a special event, four courses, so not for everyday munchies. But Valentine’s day is approaching so perhaps that is the opportunity for a special romantic meal at home, but you will need to get in quick. Continue reading →
We needed something to do to make lockdown a bit more bearable. So, after the takeaway from Kuma, see here, and some hints from Nigella, we embarked on a Korean week. Lots of dishes seem to come with a fried egg and heavy doses of gochuchang, but that’s no hardship. Gochujang is Korean food’s hallmark red chili paste made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybean and salt.
All the food comes from local Brixton supermarkets, especially Wing Tai, the chinese supermarket in Electric Avenue, or the market. You do need tofu, chickpeas, spinach, bean sprouts, radish, rice and a bit of salad, together with a secret ingredient, fish fingers. We added some relishes – kinchi (Wing Tai on this occasion but you can make your own) and cucumber pickle – made in house. All are really simple to make. Here are the dishes:
Tofu and peanut Bibimbap
Fish finger sandwich with Gochuchang mayonnaise and salad
We also had a rice dish with fish fingers, but we were so hungry that we ate it all before we remembered to take a photo.
We were lost for a new kind of takeaway having exhausted the more usual ones recently – Indian, Chinese, Japanese and definitely all the Italian ones. So we rang a friend who lives in Kennington – so thanks Richard for the recommendation of something new – Korean. We know there is one in Brixton but the menu is limited and we visited not that long ago. We have never eaten at this new one, but they do have a long menu and are clearly very popular, especially on a Saturday night.
There are “appetisers like tempura, gyoza, Kokkoke (mashed potato with chopped vegetables fried and served with a tangy sauce – now wish I had ordered that one), different Kimchis and many, many more. More substantial offerings come in the form of Bibimbap with different accompaniments (beef, chicken, tofu etc), Noodles – soba, udon etc – with delicious descriptions, stir-fried rice, Donburi and then you get to the Korean Barbecue, curry, Teriyaki …… and now I am bored. The problem is the overwhelming choice and the number of changes made to the order. In the end, as usual, we ordered too much.
Our meal consisted of Gim (Crispy dried seaweed squares coated in sesame oil & salt), Kimchi Jeon (Kimchi pancake served with soy dip), Nasu Dengaku (aubergine topped with sweet and savoury miso), Gul Twigim (Deep fried oysters served with Japanese brown sauce) , Yang Yum Chicken, (Medium size Korean crispy fried chicken in sticky gochichang sauce), Prawn Bokkumbap (spicy stir fried rice with king prawns) … too much of course for two people. If it hadn’t been for the helpful friend’s suggestions we would have ordered more.
Despite having to travel all the way to Brixton, the food arrived hot enough to eat, although, as we ate in waves, we ended up putting the rice in the microwave. It was all really interesting – even the fried oysters which were covered in well-seasoned crumbs and batter (and I am not that much of a fan of fried oysters).
We loved the kimchi pancake and will certainly try a version at home – the added crunch made you feel like you might be a vegan some time. Although for kimchi it was pretty mild. The aubergine (sorry no photograph) is what I would eat every day – sweet and sticky and a bit slimy, but in a good way, and not too much so that you would need to chew.
The rice kept giving little surprises like the odd tasty spice and sometimes a hot burst of chili. Prawns can get a little overcooked in this sort of dish, but you have to go with the flow. If they were under-cooked when they left the restaurant they would be steamed by the time they reach us – so will remember that next time.
The Korean fried chicken was covered – as they said – in sticky sauce and fingers are required and a lot of kitchen paper and races to wash your hands.
Then we were left with the Gim – it is the sort of packet seaweed that we buy from the Chinese shop in Electric Avenue, or from Tesco for that matter. It was good to have that salty boost in between courses and went really well with the drink we ordered.
Last on the list was alcohol and they have a large variety (beer, sake, soju, Korean wine etc). You need ID to buy it, but I expect the sight of greying hair appeased the delivery guy. The one we ordered was 300ml of Nigori Creme De Sake (descibed as aromas of melon, marshmallow and fresh white cream with a smooth wholesome texture and noted of vanilla ice cream). It was really a sort of Sake flavoured Baileys – there is still some in the fridge.
We did order too much, so had rice and chicken left over for another day. The bill came to £57.20 including a service charge but the sake was £14.50 of that bill. We will order again – in fact we may have another go at ordering this coming week which is being devoted to Korean food. You have to have something to aim for in Lockdown 3.0.
A new place in Brixton offering Jamaican goodies from Market Row. This is part of a small chain in Shoreditch, Fulham, Canary Wharf, Borough Market and now in Brixton. If you are fed up with traditional fare then this is a lovely Afro-Caribbean alternative. The menu has four main sections – Likkle, Real Jerk, Yard Classics and Wraps. For the sweet tooth they have one offering – Rum cake and cream.
We ordered Jerked Chicken Wings with a sweet sauce, Rice and peas, and Ackee and Saltfish all from the Likkle menu and from the Real Jerk menu, we ordered Jerk Chicken (medium) which comes with rude sauce (very spicy) and jerk gravy.
Despite being described as Likkle – it wasn’t and the ackee and saltfish came with the best festival (sweet corn fritter) I have ever eaten. We have eaten a lot of ackee and saltfish and this was good….really good. Well seasoned with an occasional piece of chili, not too mushy and no fish bones – delightful.
Rice and peas were also up there with the best tasting ones and we will certainly order it again. The jerked chicken wings were hot but not enough to make you blow your nose until you had finished and they were spicy, savoury and sweet not quite in equal measure.
The jerk chicken was excellent as well and the choice of medium was right for us. Others might want it hotter to get that Scotch bonnet high, but still enough to make it special. The cole slaw was fresh and crunchy, providing a good complement to the jerk flavours.
There was enough to save for lunch the next day – definitely microwaveable and a feast on these cold, rainy days. We drank beer (not ordered with the meal although you can) and the bill, including fees and a tip for the rider, came to a few pence short of £40. Given that this, in effect, provided two meals, it offers great value.
We have been in-person to Silk Road and loved it, so we thought we would try a delivery. It’s a well-known Sichuan restaurant in Camberwell, where in normal life you have to book to share a table. We went with a takeaway via Deliveroo.
There are hot, cold and Xinjiang Style Dishes, as well as dumplings and side dishes. We avoided the tripe and the gizzards which appear several times – we were just a bit squeamish. There is a very good guide on heat and whether it is vegetarian. We mostly chose slightly hot, which is the right level for us. Hot and very hot are also available.
First there were the dumplings – egg leek and shrimp filled, then we ordered Special cooked lamb noodle (Lamb, onion, cabbage and chili with hand-pulled noodle), Xinjiang Lamb Shish (lamb pieces and fat roasted over charcoal, seasoned with salt, cumin and chili – described as a traditional street food popular throughout China), Homestyle Aubergine (stir-fried aubergine with tomato and green chili) and a box of boiled white rice.
The dumplings were warm and after adding some soy sauce were yummy. There were 10 of them so some were saved for the next day. We can definitely say that the heat is described well, as the Shish lamb described as “hot” was definitely a level up from the other dishes. But the heat was just right for this barbecued dish and barbecuing the fat meant that there was plenty of juice and it was really tasty.
The noodles were great as well. A bit on the soft side, but packed with flavour as well as a gentle heat. Finally, the aubergine dish was slippy and a great complement to the lamb and the rice. It had a bit of bite but not much and was “slightly hot”.
The meal for two (with one meal leftover) was about £31.00. It was more in total, as it involved a service fee, a delivery fee and a rider tip. We drank it all with Brixton IPA beer.
We have written in the past about how to shop locally at Christmas (see here and here). But Brixton has changed so much in recent years, so we thought we would give you an update. This is just a few ideas, as there are now so many great shops to choose from – although we would like Lidl back for their German biscuits and Stollen. It is the time to invest in a little something special, but of course it is also a hard time for many people. You can buy a child a toy by going to Kids Out (See here), or donate to the Brixton and Norwood Foodbank (link here) with money, or put items into their boxes in local supermarkets.
[STOP PRESS: Lidl Acre Lane now due to open after refit on 17th December.]
Pudding – well you can go for some interesting ones in M&S, now that Lidl in Acre Lane is closed until January (or go to the one in Stockwell). [See STOP PRESS above.]
Vegetables – why not go for a box from En Root (see here) £25.00’s worth of surprises (although we will let you into a secret – there’s always a pineapple). There’s also Nour, of course.
Cake – indulgent in the L’Atelier Patisserie, providing chocolate logs (see here) as well as proper french patisserie in Market Row. We still haven’t found the best rum cake. so if anyone knows where to buy one please send us the recommendation.
Fruit – well, for tangerines/mandarins, custard apples and persimmons (my personal favourite), we recommend the My Village shop at the corner of Electric Avenue and Atlantic Road. They also have some small bananas, but they are quite expensive. Note that anywhere you buy mandarins, it’s buyer beware – sometimes they look good but taste awful. Even the same stall can’t be relied on every week.
Alcohol – well there are the little cans of made-up cocktails in M&S or you buy a bottle in The Wine Parlour (89 Brixton Village), or from Salon Wine Store. Our favourite recommendation is a bottle of Palo Cortado – a nutty dry, but dark, sherry – a great accompaniment to opening your Christmas stocking.
Where to get yourDecorations
We have lost many of the shops selling decorations, but there is still the Brixton Party Shop in Brixton Village that sells paper plates, balloons and lots of other paper items you can use for Christmas. The Arts and Crafts shop upstairs at 387 Brixton Rd (over Kingshield Chemists) is great for coloured paper, so you can make your own paper chains. Please use it, as it’s an underused resource.
Tinsel is sold in all those hardware shops along Atlantic Road that sell large pans and colourful plastic bowls – just look up and it will be hanging there.
Red paper napkins from Tesco.
Tablecloth from Morleys, or a Table runner and napkins with silver reindeer.
From Poundshop there are the stick-on snowflakes – £1 for a set of 6. They are plastic, but ours have lasted for 5 years and are coming out again this year.
And some ideas for presents
Granville Arcade (Brixton Village)
If you want some really colourful fabric shopping bags (£5.00), or a dress or a headband, then go to African Queen Fabric shop in Third Avenue (aka little Africa).
The same alleyway has lots basketware for the table and for your laundry. Another shop there sells blue and white enamel plates and bowls that are often sold at a higher price in expensive kitchen shops.
For children’s books stop off in Roundtable Books (see link here) – only one customer at a time in the shop, but we are told they are very helpful.
Soap and Candles – always a good choice – then go to Cornercopia – Soap is only £2.00 so good for a Christmas stocking. Soap dishes can come from Artisan Stories (£12)
Of course there is the Jewelry shop (Rose and Thorne), the clothes (we can’t keep up as the open and close frequently) and the delicatessens (like Guzzl) selling everything you might want and consumables are definitely a plus this year.
I have always wondered if there was something I could buy from the Voodoo shop – but it would be ironic and I don’t have any friends who would understand the joke. There is also a shop on the corner of Electric Lane selling incense and smelly candles, which has a good range.
There are Toys, headbands again, hats, leather satchels and little gifts all along this Arcade. But you can also buy someone delicious food from the Salon Delicatessen.
Pop Brixton: There’s Japanese knives (with instructions) from Kataba Japanese Knifeshop ( see link here). Or some wine from the (mainly) New Zealand wine shop, Specialist Cellars – they do delivery (see link here).
Loved Again Limited is a secondhand shop 140 Stockwell Road SW9 9TQ for some beautiful secondhand vases or decorative objects or treat yourself to a turn of the century desk or dining chairs.
Top floor of Morleys sells Charbonnell and Walker chocolates at a 20% discount (I’ve hinted at the egg nog ones). Lower floors also sell make-up of course and the kitchen department has almost everything you might need to prepare a slap up Christmas dinner.
Quirky vintage and artisan or vintage clothes, and decorative pieces for the house can be found at 61 Acre Lane. Choose from an upcycled sari sun dress or shirt or a timeless set of cocktail glasses. See https://www.quirkydovetail.co.uk/
Given the current Covid restriction of Tier 2, we are still having takeaways and were really pleased that Franzina Trattoria in Coldharbour Lane had click and collect, and delivery options. Despite it being relatively close, we still ordered through Deliveroo (Uber Eats also available). See our earlier eat-in review here.
This is a Sicilian restaurant and the menu consists of Piattini (small plates – you can actually buy the sicilian plates on the website), salads, fresh made tagliatelle with sauces and doci – puds. The Delivery menu is a little different to the eat-in version, but had plenty of options. For starters we chose Crocche – fried vegetable balls and caponata Siciliana. The menu promised two crocche each of three types – “potato, lemon, mint and basil. Aubergine, caciocavallo cheese and mint. Zucchini, pecorino cheese and basil”. The Caponata Siciliana is described as sweet and sour aubergine salad with tomatoes, nocellara olives, capers, celery and onions.
We ended up with eight crocche but there were only two sorts and, to be honest, it wasn’t clear to us which ones. One was just a chip and the other was pretty anonymous. So, these were a little disappointing. But this was definitely a starter in two halves, as the Caponata was fabulous. We could have eaten this by the bucket full and will definitely order again. It really does need some bread and luckily we had some, but next time we will also order some proper Italian bread with this meal.
This was followed by two types of pasta – Conchiglie con Salsiccia (described as conchiglie with with wild fennel sausage in a peppery tomoato sauce with pecorino cheese). Google describes the pasta as seashells. We also ordered Orecchiette al Pesto Trapanese (with fresh datterino tomatoes, basil, mint, pistachios, almonds, chili and lemon zest, topped with salty ricotta cheese). This pasta is sort of like little ears.
The Orecchiette were crunchy and spicy and a warm chili and nutty delight. The Conchiglie was also wonderful with a peppery warmth. The pictures shows them as quite distinct and they arrived not too steamed, so not al dente which pleased me as I’m not keen on any pasta crunch. However, we did have a lot leftover and microwaved it the next day. It was still wonderful to taste, but unfortunately over-cooked and we actually had a hard job distinguishing them. So our advice for the best experience is to wolf it all down in one sitting.
Finally – again eyes bigger than stomach moment – we ordered one portion of Baba al Masala con Panna. It was sweet and sticky, and we were glad that we only ordered one. We could have done with more “panna” and a little bit more marsala. But there was no crumb left at the end of the meal.
What did we think – we liked much of it, but not all (mainly the vegetable balls). That may be our fault. The best traveled dishes were the cold ones, but the pasta certainly managed the distance from their kitchen to our door without moving too far beyound the ‘al dente’ stage.
We are now beginning to understand the science of delivered food. Chips are soggy, no matter how brief the trip from the restaurant, unless of course they are the thin, very crispy type. Many dishes that were taken out of the oven just in time, arrive just a little overdone. We will definitely order from Franzina again with a very large serving of Caponata. Cost of the meal for two (with enough pasta leftovers for a meal the following day, but no alcohol) was £42, including Deliveroo fees and a tip for the rider.
UPDATE: We are now reliably informed that microwaving pasta is not the best way of reheating it – on top of the stove and lightly fry or put it in the oven.
This Thai restaurant is named after the bustling street in Bangkok and has attracted a lot of interest over the years, including a review by us back in 2011 (see here). How time flies.
Choose during lock-down from Deliveroo or UberEats and, although the menu is short, most of the dishes are not your usual standard Thai – although there is a green curry. There are not many vegetarian meals – fish, chicken or lamb seem to be in most dishes. The romantic names of each dish are explained, thankfully, in detail so you don’t need to guess. The meal was delivered promptly from the Brixton premises – watching the progress of the meal on the app is fun in itself.