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A Taste of Goan-Portuguese Cuisine at Assado Restaurant

I recently had lunch with a new friend at the newly-opened Assado Restaurant in Waterloo. It’s a bright and airy space with a colourful interior, less than 5 minutes away from Waterloo station.  I was given a simple lunch menu, although I should have asked for the Full Menu as I wanted to sample the tapas that I had spotted on the restaurant’s website.  Assado is the brainchild of  Cyrus Todiwala who has developed a truly colourful palate of intense flavours from his travels around the world.  Along the way he found a natural correlation between Portuguese and Goan cuisine and has combined it with dishes from his Indian origins. With Assado, he is sharing this fusion with the British public and it appears to be working. I love portuguese food (having lived there for a little under a year a while back and it is one of my favourite European cuisines) and I’m  big fan of Indian cuisine so this was a real treat.  Goa, on the Western coast of India, was a Portuguese colonial territory for over 400 years. I have never been to Goa but have heard that the food is definitely something to try at least once, so I was excited about this new culinary adventure.

Assado

Assado

For lunch I went for Chicken Caldeen which is chicken breast simmered in a mild creamy coconut curry, served with steamed rice. It is a Goan delicacy developed for the initial milder Portuguese palate and is the perfect curry dish for lunch, not too heavy and the chicken was perfectly cooked in the sauce. I asked for some extra chillis to go with my dish as it is not a spicy dish, but that’s only because I am a bit of a chilli addict. I really enjoyed the sauce and only wish I had a little more to go with my rice. My friend had  Goan Prawn Curry & Rice  which is a staple curry of Goa cooked with tiger prawns and served with Arroz Vermilho (organic red rice) which I sampled and was very impressed with.

Chicken Caldeen

Chicken Caldeen

There are lots of restaurants to visit in the Waterloo area and Assado is definitely a worthy addition. If you’re looking for something unusual to satisfy your taste-buds head down to Assado!

Perfect for:

  • Lunch meetings
  • Catching up with friends

http://www.assado.co.uk/

@assadowaterloo

Perfection at Plateau

I first came across Plateau Restaurant on my favourite social media medium, Twitter, and promptly added the restaurant to my “Restaurant Bucket List“. So I was pleased that a friend agreed to catch up with me over dinner in Canary Wharf and even more pleased that The Evening Standard was promoting some great special offers starting from just £15 for 2 courses and a glass of wine! Canary Wharf is not always the first area that people think of for social gatherings, unless they work in the area which is a shame really because it really does have some gems and Plateau is definitely one of them.

From the moment I arrived the customer service was excellent, I mean REALLY excellent. Every single member of the Plateau treated me with such courtesy and grace that I wanted to invite everyone to live with me…or at least buy them all a round of drinks. They were so lovely, particularly as from first impressions one might think that Plateau would be a typically pretentious London restaurant, but it was far from that. The balance of luxury, class and impeccable customer service make it a joy to visit. Even if you just have drinks (you’re welcomed with complimentary olives, nuts and water in the bar area) you will immediately feel relaxed and comfortable.

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The interior design was clean and stylish as one would expect, with great views of Canary Wharf’s many slick high rise structures.

To start I went for the Plateau terrine maison, seasonal leaves with sourdough toast. It is a rabbit and chicken terrine and was thick and flavoursome. I found that the sweetness of the chutney served with the terrine made this a perfect introduction to my main course. I love meat as you know and this was just a perfect way to whet my appetite.

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My main course was Slow cooked short-rib, sautéed potatoes with rocket pesto and as you can see from the image below it was a generously sized portion. Head Chef, Allan Pickett did not hold back on this dish, what a triumph!

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The beef was so tender and rich, with the combination of the pesto and potatoes, it was just a delight! I would have been happy if the meat had been left on the bone but I will say that it was a meal worth more than the £15 I paid! Everything about this meal felt wholesome, the piquancy of the sauce and the freshness of the vegetables created a balanced, delicious meal. We ended our meal with Brie de Meaux, Carr’s water biscuits and I drank a glass of Graham’s Six Grapes Port which I don’t normally drink but wanted something sweet to drink and it was the perfect end to a perfect meal.

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Although I booked this meal as part of a special offer, I would have no problem reserving a table at Plateau again without any offer at all. It deserves as much praise as it deserves because it really is worthy of praise. A true gastronomical joy with VIP treatment, without the stuffiness of The City.

Perfect for:

  • Special occasions
  • Date night
  • Catching up with friends

http://www.plateau-restaurant.co.uk/

@plateaulondon

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Deliciousness in a jar from Mackays

Mackays Jams recently sent me a range of their new Hand Stirred Conserves range to sample and review. I love jam; jam tarts, jam on toast, a finger dipped in a jam  jar as a cheeky snack…not that I would be eating the finger of course, not a human one at least.

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I was sent 3 flavours, strawberry, cherry and raspberry and I couldn’t wait to try them all.

I went for the usual jam on toast for a quick breakfast and was impressed by the quality of the cherry conserve. The cherry chunks enhanced the flavour of what should have been a straightforward spread and gave it a much richer taste, turning what can sometimes be a boring breakfast addition into a sweet treat.

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For a midnight snack, one evening I made some crepes and filled them with the raspberry hand-stirred conserve. What an absolute delight! Though sweet, the conserve was in no way sickly sweet, in the way that some jams can be. The balance of the savoury flavour of the warm crepes combined with the almost syrupy texture of the raspberry conserve created an absolutely delicious snack.

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Finally I used all the flavours to make some jam tarts which I have always loved eating but have never tried making at home. I purchased ready-made pastry (I’m not ready to make my own pastry just yet!) and decided to improvise with my tarts. As you can see they’re in no way perfect, and the use of a cupcake baking tray is probably not for everyone but I wanted to see if I could invent Jam Cake-Tarts. Let’s just say that the contestants of The Great British Bake Off are safe! My “Cake-Tarts” were absolutely yummy though, I was a little impatient and started to eat whilst hot…NOT A GOOD IDEA, for obvious reasons! When I calmed down and let them cool off I ate them ravenously. They were SO good.

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These conserves are an absolute treasure in my fridge and I would encourage you to get down to your local Asda store and grab yourself a jar. Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I did!

http://mackays.com/

@mackays_jams

2014-08-07 20.41.43

Indian Food Paradise at Zumbura

When  I was invited to sample the menu at Zumbura, I was as excited as anyone who loves food as much as I do would be. I love curries, and having grown up a stone’s throw away from Brick Lane I thought I knew what to expect from Zumbura…little did I know how wrong I would be.

I was all set to be in Clapham Old Town early when TFL decided it would be a good idea to scupper my plans and suspend my service mid journey. Thankfully we weren’t stuck in a tunnel and after waiting with hope that the service would resume to no avail,  I jumped out along with everyone else and flew to Clapham* as there were no taxis! I called Zumbura to let them know and a calm & friendly member of the team (always a good sign) assured me that my reservation time could be amended. I was late, and I hate being late, especially when food is involved, I hurried in, hot and flustered whilst MR WFD was sitting there waiting patiently (but obviously hungry) with a smile and some water.

We were served by yet another friendly team member who answered all our questions; recommended dishes and wine for us to try, he knew the menu very well, which although should be expected is becoming a rarity in some establishments. The menu is simple and straightforward, which I feel is a sign of a good no-nonsense restaurant. The food is traditional cuisine of the Purab region of North India which I have to admit I’ve not tried or at least can’t remember it having tasted this good. The dishes are designed to be shared, with at least 2-3 dished per person and at an average of about £7.5 per dish, it is great value.

The merlot which helped me forget about TFL

The merlot which helped me forget about TFL

To start we had Pakoras; Spinach and onion fritters made with chickpea flour and aloo tikia; spiced potato cakes. The spinach and onion in the pakoras complemented each other perfectly, with just a hint of spices to uplift what on paper should be a run-of-the-mill dish; it really wasn’t! They were a taste sensation. The aloo tikia, was light and the amalgamation of the herbs and spices created a potato cake that was unique, striking and ultimately delicious.

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Aloo tikia

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Chutneys

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Pakoras

For our mains we went for Kullia (lamb and turnip stew), hari murghi (marinated roast chicken), Machli Ka salan (Pollock fish curry with fenugreek), Bhindi (braised chopped okra), a bread selection (chappati, poori, paratha breads) and muttar pulao (braised rice with peas and spices). Just writing this list is making me hungry again. My favourite dishes were without doubt the kullia, hari murghi and muttar pulao but to be honest it was all so good that I feel bad having to pick a favourite. The Kullia was like a flavour sensation inside my mouth, literally the moment I consumed it my taste buds woke up and went into overdrive. The sweetness of the turnip, combined with the savoury sensation of the lamb cooked in such intense flavours were simply a delight! The freshly made bread was perfect for soaking up the remnants the stew sauces and scooping up the bhindi. I rarely eat okra in the style in which it was served at Zumbura, I usually eat it as a soup and so to try this style was appealing and definitely satisfying. The hari murghi had been marinated overnight and the herb/yoghurt marinade had thoroughly infused the chicken with a true depth of flavour. The machli ka salan, was probably my least favourite dish purely because I didn’t get the same taste sensations with this dish that I had from the others but it was a good, rich curry. The muttar pulao was incredible, the smell alone was enough to enliven any waning appetite. What a joy that rice dish was! It was consumed with such speed and enthusiasm that I’m pretty sure it looked like we were drinking it at one point.

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A feast of champions!

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Healthy-sized sharing portions

Even my shadow was hungry...

Even my shadow was hungry…

I’m not a big fan of dessert but we ended up with 3, try not to judge us, Mr WFD ate most of them anyway. Kheer (rice pudding with cardamon), gajjar ka halwa (warm cream carrot pudding) and pistachio ice-cream. The ice cream tasted of pistachios so that can only be a good thing, I don’t like rice pudding so I didn’t try the kheer but I liked the gajjar ka halwa and so did Mr WFD who finished it. He really does not like carrots, but it didn’t actually taste as “carroty” as one would expect so it was a winner. All in all a lovely end to what was a lovely meal.

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3 Desserts + 2 people = 1 great relationship!

Believe me when I say that this had to be one of the best Indian meals I’ve had outside of Asia. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve eaten a lot of Indian stews and curries in my lifetime, here and abroad and Head Chef, Raju Rawat has created something truly exceptional with these dishes. Unlike some other establishments where sharing dishes are actually 2 canapés on a plate, these sharing dishes were reasonably sized for sharing. “Raju’s focus at Zumbura is on delivering fresh, aromatic, healthy and light dishes that are totally authentic but without compromising on flavour.” They have definitely succeeded on delivering an authentic, laid back restaurant. We will be returning very soon with friends, as it is the kind of place that you would take people you like to spend time with, people who you would want to share food and relax with. The team is friendly, the decor is meticulous (as you  would expect from the Co-founders of Dwell) and the prices are fair but most importantly the food is fantastic.

Head down to Zumbura for taste of North India in South London, I promise that you will not be disappointed.

Perfect for:

  • Date night
  • Catching up with friends
  • Family nights out

www.zumbura.com

36a Old Town, Clapham, London SW4 0LB

@zumburauk
*NB: By fly I meant jumped on the bus, but you knew that right?

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A Taste of Leighton Brown Crisps!

Any food that you can eat before you can eat more food is a winner in my eyes. Crisps fall into that category, you can eat a packet without feeling too guilty unless you eat those giant packs that are made for sharing of course, which I may or may not have done before *shifty eyes*.

When the team at Leighton Brown Crisps sent me a few packs of their healthy crisps to try I managed to wait for about 4-5 hours before devouring a packet. Alas Mr WFD was with me so I had to share them (he’s always seems to be around these days!) and we started off with the Great Taste Gold Star winning Sweet Potato, cheese and jalapeno crisps. They were sweet and savoury at the same time and tasted of all the ingredients listed, I know it sounds obvious but some crisps don’t quite taste like the flavours they’re labelled as. The use of sweet potato crisps as the base is a genius idea and gave the crisps a true depth of flavour and for once I could taste the kick of jalapeno peppers, not just a hint, an actual kick.

sweet potato cheese & jalapeno crisps

sweet potato cheese & jalapeno crisps

The beetroot, horseradish and dill flavoured crisps almost looked too good to eat, using red and golden beetroot to make the crisps created a burst of colour in the packet and the use of horseradish and dill piqued our taste buds.

Beetroot, Horseradish and Dill Crisps

Beetroot, Horseradish and Dill Crisps

My favourite flavour was the parsnip and manuka honey crisps, aside from sounding the most unique they just tasted divine. The subtle sweetness of the honey combined with the wholesome base of parsnips was a joy to sample.

Leighton Brown Crisps are not your average crisps, using other vegetables aside from potatoes make them an actual taste experience and not just a snack. The packaging and design of the crisps reflects the quality and care taken by the founders to create something truly special. They have succeeded.

Visit www.leightonbrown.co.uk

@leightonbrownLC