Zumbura, Clapham Common

Summer this year has been awesome. Besides the fact that I work long hours as an architect, I have been eating and drinking all summer through the Cyclades, Athens, Copenhagen and London. The backlog of photos and food adventures are piling up, but I am living life and trying to find inspiration once more through my lens.

Just over two months ago, we were invited to Zumbura, an Indian restaurant down south in Clapham. Since we moved to London three years ago, we have only been to a couple of Indian restaurants. Apart from Dishoom and the usual brick lane stretch, we have never ventured far.

When we got to Zumbura that summer evening, we were welcomed by vibrant shades of colour and beautiful furniture, a delightful modern setting which set a scene for our dinner meal. It was no wonder that Aamir Ahmad, Sean Galligan and David Garrett, co-founders of Zumbura, used to own the contemporary furniture store, Dwell.

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Zumbura’s menu features “authentic homemade food from the Purab region of North West India”. We were encouraged to order 2-3 small plates each to share for our main meals. The selection on the menu catered well for vegetarians as well as meat lovers. It featured curries like and a salon (an egg curry in light home-style sauce) to flat lamb kebabs “twice cooked for a velvety smooth texture”.

For our starters, we ordered the pakora, which were spinach and onion chick pea flour fritters. Accompanied with chutney, the pakora went down a treat.

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Next up were the main dishes. We selected khullia (lamb and turnip stew), machli ka salan (pollock fish curry), kharela, a bread selection and braised rice. The khullia was delicious and the lamb was stewed to perfection. It was a pity that there wasn’t much lamb in the portion but every mouthful combined with the braised rice was a delight. The karela is a bitter gourd dish, cooked very differently to the Chinese-style dishes I have tried before. It complemented our fish and meat choices well. Our only disappointment was the bread selection.

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For desserts, we ordered the warm creamed carrot pudding (gajjar ka halwa) which came recommended by the waiter. The warmth and sweetness of the pudding was something we had never tasted before and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
We also got the home made pistachio ice cream as it has always been a weakness of mine and when I saw it on the dessert menu, I knew I had to have it too. I dare say that it was one of the best pistachio ice creams I have ever had!

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We really enjoyed our meal at Zumbura and there were still lots of dishes on the menu like the meat grills which we didn’t order. We will definitely be back to try out the rest!

Zumbura
36a Old Town
Clapham, London SW4 0LB

*I was a guest of Jori White PR & Zumbura but all views here are my own.

A twist on banana cake – with green tea and lemon icing

Last weekend, there were three rather old bananas sitting at home so I decided to bake and made use of them. I would typically make banana bread from David Lebovitz’s recipe but this time I wanted to try something new. After some googling, I settled on Mary Berry’s banana and lemon drizzle cake recipe and put in my little twist in it and it turned out amazing!

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BANANA MATCHA CAKE WITH LEMON ICING
Ingredients:
175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
300g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 ripe bananas – mashed
Zest from 1 lemon
2 tbsp milk
2-3 tsp matcha powder

Topping ingredients:
Juice of 1 lemon
80g granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the bottom and side of your round cake tin. Place all the cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Using a hand-mixer, mix together until smooth. Pour batter into the tin and smooth the top out.
Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, until golden brown. Use a skewer to see if the cake is cooked through. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready.
For the topping, mix the lemon juice and sugar together in a bowl. Pour it over the warm cake and leave it to cool completely before slicing.

This is such a simple cake to make but it definitely satisfy!

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Starting again… with one of the best meals of my life.

It’s hard to know where to start. I have not written in three months as the wordpress platform was not available in Shanghai where I was posted for work. It was a busy end to 2012 and I found myself travelling around Asia for the first quarter of 2014. I am not sure where Dishpiglets is going but the focus for this year is going to be on my photography.

I have been wanting to write about one of my most memorable meals of my life.

Whilst we were on our honeymoon in Andalucia last year, we were treated* to a fabulous dinner at Calima, a two Michelin star restaurant located in Marbella, opened by famous Spanish chef Dani Garcia. Located at the luxurious Hotel Gran Melia Don Pepe, we didn’t know what to expect when we arrived and headed down a flight of stairs into the restaurant. When we were greeted by a fabulous view of the beach as the sun sets, we knew we were in for a treat.

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The tasting menu – cocinacontradicion consisted of 20 dishes. What ensued after we ordered was an amazing display of precise service by the waiters and waitresses dressed in black. It is difficult to describe the whole experience but you have to see it to believe it. We have never seen such a performance.

Our Pic-nic at Calima started with little bites in a three part tiffin carrier displaying corn with kimchi, brava potato and Iberian rustic bread. The brava potato was so light and crunchy and sets us off to an amazing start.
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Next up was caviar with dates. Never quite thought of this combination before but this was absolutely delicious!
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The “empanadilla” of my mum was the third dish which we were told to eat using our hands. I recalled reading about chef Dani Garcia’s three key words when working in the kitchen – memory, flavours and high technical excellence. The empanadilla which we tasted, melted in our mouth.
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Iced almond and foie
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Oyster, tomato, beet and orange
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What impressed us the most in terms of detail was the rocky seabed. Crunchy and with smells of the sea, this was like prawn cracker on a ‘godly’ level.
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Scallops in orange/ lemon was next.
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The suckling pig was nowhere near what we imagined given the portion. It was different- served in a wet base but the combination was well executed. I just wished we had a bit more of it.
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Our desserts came in three different course and the banana magu was the most impressive.
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Petit fours
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The restaurant was full that evening. It was clear that people have travelled from all around to visit Calima. Out of the twenty dishes we had, they thrilled, surprised and fulfilled our tummies.

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Being able to meet the talented chef Dani Garcia at the end of the night was such an honour. We had such a great time at Calima – the food, the setting and the service. It was definitely a night to remember.

*Big thank you to our family friends, Andrew & Lisa Smith who kindly bought this dinner as a gift for our wedding.

Brunch in the east

Mr Buckleys has been very much talked about amongst my foodie friends. Located along Hackney Road, I have been there once prior to my return visit today. They serve brunch all day and have cocktails for day time drinking if you fancy it. The space itself is very simple and is a fantastic place to catch up with friends over breakfast.

Having been disappointed with my breakfast choice on my previous visit, I decided to go for a crowd favourite today. I ordered their potato & courgette rosti, bacon, avocado & poached eggs. My friends decided to go with the minute steak with poached eggs, spinach and béarnaise on sourdough and they thoroughly enjoyed it. As for me, I preferred my eggs a little bit more well done and the whole breakfast ended up being a little too dry for me. The potato and courgette rosti was not crispy on the surface and fell apart when I cut through it. It was not as seasoned as I wish it was but the bacon did the job.

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On this occasion, the service was a little slow with only three people servicing the floor. It came up to about £15 for my breakfast with a coffee and tea. Given that this was my second shot, I am not quite sure I will be back again anytime soon.

Dishpiglets’ rating: 6/10

Mr Buckley's on Urbanspoon

A Very British cookbook – Roast

Three years ago, I did not own a single cookbook. Fast forward to today, my shelf is now home to a couple of beautiful cookbooks in addition to my architecture collection. Inside one of them, the recent Plusixfive cookbook has a full page spread of a photo I took! It is such a pleasure to browse through these cookbooks when out of ideas on what to cook for dinner. My latest addition is - Roast – a Very British cookbook by Marcus Verberne.

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Roast restaurant opened in 2005 with a mantra that is “to use produce from the nation’s farmers and fishermen to bring a new level of energy to British cooking.” Located in Borough Market, on the mezzanine level of the Floral Hall, one needs to look up to admire this jewel directly above Brindisa and the Ginger Pig stall off Stoney Street. Its elegant white interiors and amazing high ceiling space offers diners another perspective into Borough Market and gorgeous views out towards the Shard and St Paul’s.

Last week, I was invited to Roast for the launch of their first cookbook written by their head chef. I have never been to Roast but have heard good things about the breakfast which they serve.

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Shortly after we were seated, Marcus Verberne, Roast restaurant’s head chef came out to our table to welcome us to the restaurant. He gave us an introduction to his first cookbook and how he went about writing it. Originally from New Zealand, Marcus has been living in the UK for the past 12 years. His career in food began in Wellington before he moved to Melbourne and finally London. It was a pleasure to listen to the passionate chef talk about the thought process behind the cookbook and his love for British produce.

The cookbook’s recipes are written to be accessible for home cooks. It is filled with gorgeous photos by Lara Holmes whom Marcus spent quite some with during the documentation of the cookbook. Besides recipes, the cookbook has step-by-step photos from how to fillet fish to carving meat. You can even scan the QR codes in the cookbook to watch a video for further information! Amazing!

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Prior to us ordering our dinner, Marcus took the opportunity to explain to us about their menu and where they have sourced their produce from. It was featuring some of the recipes from the cookbook and we were given recommendations on what to order. As it was Thursday, Marcus mentioned that they had roasted a whole rare breed suckling pig which was their Thursday daily special. What I really enjoyed during the evening was listening to Marcus whilst flipping through the visual cookbook and there it was, a slightly charred roasted suckling pig on the third page of the cookbook.

However, I did not end up ordering the roast suckling pig but instead went with the chef’s recommendation of roast breast of Yorkshire cock pheasant with sprout top hearts, chestnuts and wild boar bacon for mains. It definitely did not disappoint! The roast pheasant breast was so tender and well complemented by the sweet chestnuts and saltiness of the wild boar bacon. Giulia and I both had the same and loved it! For starters, I had the seared Isle of Mull hand-dived scallops with whipped apple mash and smoked black pudding which was delicious.

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When it came to dessert, I chose the sea buckthorn berry pousset to end the evening. I was extremely intrigued by Marcus’ explanation on how they picked this berry as the branches of this shrub are thick, dense and thorny. The dessert which came was an amazing orange, almost fluorescent and was delightful to taste. Federica had the poached pear with ginger shortbread, walnut and honey ice cream whilst Giulia chose the sticky date pudding with toffee sauce and Neal’s Yard creme fraiche which all looked amazing.

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It was a pleasure to have met Roast’s passionate head chef, Marcus and tasted the outstanding dishes of Roast restaurant. I cannot wait to try out some of the recipes in the cookbook. Stay tune!

Roast – a Very British cookbook is now available from all good retailers, online and in store, for £25 (RRP).

*There is a twitter prize draw going on now for the month of November held by Roast Restaurant where you could win a signed copy of the Roast cookbook!

Roast Restaurant
The Floral Hall, Borough Market
Stoney Street, London SE1 1TL

*I was a guest of Jori White PR & Roast but all views here are my own.

Novikov

Novikov is located in Green Park, right in the heart of classy Mayfair. I recalled walking past many times whilst heading to the shops and have always wondered what it is like in there. Novikov serves both Italian and Asian cuisine in two separate rooms and underneath these restaurants is their fashionable lounge bar.

On this occasion, I had the opportunity to check out their aperitivo drinks menu at their lounge bar. From one of my conversations with Federica (The Daily Out), aperitivo originated from Milan. It is the pre-dinner drinks which comes along with some complimentary nibbles. Similar to the complimentary tapas served when you have a drink in Andalucia but perhaps the Italians might dispute this.

There was a good selection of drinks including Negroni and Aperol Spritz but I went with a prosecco to kick the night off. We were then served little bites (cichetti) which came in large platters. There was a good selection which included mushroom and truffle bruschetta, marinated olives and mortadella. This was followed by cold cut meats and a delicious board of cheese. Out of the lot, I was addicted to the crispy bread which I was told was Sardinian crispy bread. There were lovely rosemary sprinkled on top and it was so thin and crunchy to the bite, I couldn’t stop reaching for it!

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If you are in Green Park and seeking a trendy lounge bar to head to, Novikov is a good option. Their aperitivo menu is served Monday through to Friday, from 5.30pm until 7.30pm. Like the Milanese, you could pop by for a pre-dinner drink and get served some complimentary cichetti!

Novikov Restaurant & Bar
50 Berkeley Street
London W1J 8HA

*I was a guest of Jori White PR & Novikov but all views here are my own.

Dishoom

Dishoom is probably old news in the food blogging world but today was my first time at the Shoreditch branch. I have only ever been to the one in Covent Garden but this morning, we found ourselves on Boundary Road ready for breakfast.

When we stepped in, it was really quiet except for a few early birds. The interior is simply amazing. I felt like I was stepping into colonial times. The interiors were designed by Russell Sage Studio who also did the Zetter Town House. As there were not many around, we got to choose where we sat and headed to the verandah area which was heated.

The breakfast menu at Dishoom is so full of delight. If you head there, order the house chai! I normally have two cups. It is fragrant and simply delicious! As there were three of us, we decided to be greedy and ordered the fresh fruit and yoghurt, bacon naan, egg naan and the bombay omelette. We were extremely satisfied by the end and nearly licked our plates! This place comes highly recommended by many and with breakfast prices like that, I would have a bacon naan every day!

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Dishpiglets’ rating: 9/10

Dishoom Shoreditch
7 Boundary Street
London E2 7JE.

Dishoom Shoreditch on Urbanspoon

Eating at Meet & 3Veg

On Thursday evening, we headed to No. 67 in Peckham where Meet & 3 Veg had their first ever vegan supperclub. Our friend, Richard is the brain child behind this new project. As mentioned previously, Richard works in the hospitality industry and those who have visited his restaurant, or perhaps dined at his house, would be familiar with his great attentiveness. The level of finesse that Richard brings to the menu and wine selection is top notch.

I have attended a couple of supper clubs so knew what I was getting into. The common share plates, sitting beside strangers and getting positively stuffed by the end of it all. Meet & 3Veg delivered all that in an amazing setting, and proved that the healthy and sustainable way of vegan food can also be delicious.

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We started with canapés which included ajo blanco, chicory with mustard and toasted peanuts and spiced sweet potato with tahini dressing. My favourite of the lot was the chicory where the slight bitterness was well balanced out by the toasted nuttiness.

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By the time we sat down, we were welcomed by candy beetroot, fennel, celeriac with a chilli and orange dressing for starters. This dish reminded me of a thai papaya salad dressed with fish sauce. However, there is definitely NO fish sauce in this dish. I am not much of a fennel fan but this starter was something else. I loved the acidity from the orange with the slight spiciness of the chilli.

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Our mains consisted of crunchy cumin cauliflower, toasted almonds, pomegranate salad, spiced beetroot and coconut cream, cardamom pilaf and date fudge as well as smoked aubergine and roasted garlic sabzi. For some of the meat eaters in the crowd, the spiced beetroot and coconut cream reminded them of a lamb curry. My favourite was the cardamom pilaf rice which was so fragrant, a reminder of my favourite ‘hainanese chicken rice’. I am normally not a fan of sweets in mains but the date fudge was a great complement to the pilaf rice. Out of the lot, I didn’t quite enjoy the smoked aubergine as it turned out a little too bitter for my liking.

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The evening ended with chocolate sorbet, blackberry syrup accompanied by candied pecans. It was a strong finish and even though people complained that they could not finish it all, everyone was seen slurping the last of the sorbet.

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We left Peckham full and extremely satisfied. The stomach was beyond holding any more food. It is amazing the difference one feels after consuming a big meat heavy meal compared to a vegan meal. There was no bloating sensation. It was a very successful evening and I definitely hope that Meet & 3Veg will continue on with this project.

A vegan feast…

Last year, our dearest vegan friend, Richard, invited us to his Oxfordshire home to celebrate his birthday and enjoy a delightful vegan feast. Richard works in the hospitality industry and has been vegan for many years now. As meat eaters, we often joke about his ‘lentil eating habits’. However, there are wide misconceptions about the vegan diet. Having lived with Richard before, I have tried some of the best dishes he has created. One would be surprised by their variety, tastiness and clever way of using ingredients.

This coming week, 12th September, Richard has collaborated with No. 67 Cafe to present to us Meet & 3 Veg, a vegan supper club.

Meet & 3 Veg was born out of a belief that a vegan diet can – and should – be appealing to everyone; a desire to bring people of all dietary inclinations together to celebrate food; a passion for hospitality; and a respect for humans, animals & the planet.

These are some of the impressive vegan dishes we had last year.

veg-1-4 Mushroom tea – hijiki seaweed, fried tofu, shitake, hon shimeji and enerji mushroom.

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veg-1-6 Ruby chard and broad bean salad

veg-1-7 Muhammara

veg-1-8 Pepper and artichoke fidejua

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English berries and muscat grapes

As for the menu this Thursday, this is what you can expect.

meet and 3veg menu

Follow M&3V on twitter @meetand3veg
Call No. 67 – 020 7252 7649 to book. We will be there and hope to see some of you there!