Category: Food legacy

Eat of Eden – the Caribbean vegan eatery


Should I be embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of Veganuary until I saw the advertisement on the London Underground (subway) at the end of December 2017? Well I’ve admitted it now and just glad that I came across this social movement. It’s opened my eyes to so many things about food, health and animal welfare.

I ate relatively healthy, but after my mum’s cancer diagnosis (she is in the clear now, praise God), my family decided to walk with her on a healthier lifestyle journey. I follow a few vegans on Instagram but didn’t think it was something I could do myself. I only have one vegan friend and it (going vegan) seemed to be something other people did. After watching the Netflix documentary ‘What the Health?’ (I know, I’m probably late to the party on this one too!), I had all the fuel I needed to try veganism.

I signed up to Veganuary and received all the helpful daily emails and recipes. I can’t say it’s been easy, I probably should have gone vegetarian first, but I thought it’s only for a month so I’m just going to do it! I had to be organised and think about what my vegan meals would be for each week, so it did feel like a bit more effort than before.

I was keen to find good vegan food places that were not high street chains, for the days I just couldn’t be bothered to make something myself. On my quest, I came across a new Caribbean vegan eatery in South London. I don’t know why I was a bit apprehensive before my first vegan takeaway, but I was. Anyway, I walked into the intimate Eat of Eden setting and went through the menu with the waiter.

Eat of eden
Eat of Eden in Brixton Village

I ordered a platter because I wanted to try a bit of everything; that way if I didn’t like something I would find out then rather than later. I can honestly say I enjoyed everything, but if I had to pick two things I would definitely recommend the pumpkin curry and seaweed fritters – they were just yum!

I know a lot of people associate Caribbean food with heat / pepper / spice, however, the food was savoury but still had the signature Caribbean flavours. The spice level is fine for any palate and there were people from a range of ethnicities there. I make that point because sometimes I feel ‘people’ think Caribbean (or African) food is just for black people. I want to dispel that myth as I think food is food and for everyone. We don’t think Chinese food is just for Chinese people – If you live in the Western world I’m sure you’ve had a Chinese takeaway more than once! While I’m happy to see more independent Caribbean and African food establishments become a permanent feature on the UK food scene, I also want to see people from other ethnicities embracing Caribbean and African food because it’s amazing!

Eat of eden 2
Eat of Eden box 1 – Chickpea and pumpkin curry, callaloo, ackee, ‘macaroni’ pie, red African rice and quinoa (underneath)

Eat of Eden is a small spot with al fresco dining (only 5 tables inside), which isn’t ideal during winter but after tasting the food I understand why it’s popular. The staff were helpful, the service was timely and now I’ve found this little gem I’ll be going back and taking some friends with me to! If you are in South London and feel like trying some wholesome Caribbean plant-based food, Eat of Eden is your spot.

 

Eat of eden 1
Eat of Eden box 2 – plantain, seaweed fritters and lentil stew.

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Etta’s Seafood (Caribbean) Kitchen


I haven’t eaten much at Brixton Village; another corner of London being forced through the gentrification sieve but I think I’ll start going there more often on my quest to seek out good African  and Caribbean eateries in London! 

An impromptu Friday night meet up led me to Etta’s Seafood Kitchen. I didn’t have time to look at any reviews beforehand and went on the trusted recommendation of a friend who visited there 2 weeks before.

etta seafood 4

 

It’s a small eatery with around 5 tables inside 1-2 waiting staff and 2 cooks (one of them being Etta herself). As a small business I resigned myself to the fact that service would be slow, especially as the restaurant was packed inside and all but 1 of the additional tables outside were also full. Service was friendly, but I did have to nudge the waiter a couple of times when requesting extra hot pepper sauce.

We had saltfish fritters to start which were divine! For my main I went for the sea bass with coconut milk, which came with a vegetable medley, green plantain (or ‘green banana’ as some may say), yam and pumpkin.

etta seafood 1

I’m not a fan of fish head, but at least I was served the whole sea bass! I enjoyed the meal and washed it down with their rum punch which was OK, but I’ve had better (so probably won’t have again when I go back).

 etta seafood 3

Portion size was OK-ish, I was in a good place when I left but thought there would have been more food on the plate as it was a Caribbean restaurant. But I guess if I wouldn’t hold European restaurants in London up to the same standard of large portion sizes, as this is not a cultural norm for such restaurants, I should be a bit more lenient on Etta’s Seafood kitchen!

etta seafood 2

I looked at the reviews afterwards and the ones I found were quite old (2012) and not great. I’m glad I made a spontaneous visit because if read the reviews first I probably wouldn’t have gone. Etta has made some improvements and for now I think I may have found a nice little seafood gem in South London. I’ll be visiting again to try out the rest of the menu. Watch this space!

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Soursop fruit is supreme


It’s not one of my staple fruits yet, but I’ve been hearing about the amazing benefits of soursop for a while. It’s also been doing the rounds on Instagram.

It wasn’t until a family friend was diagnosed with cancer, and a couple of years later my mother with the same disease that I started looking into this strange looking fruit.

Growing in tropical regions across Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and Southeast Asia, the active ingredient annonaceous acetogenins, is said to hold all the power. Soursop’s highest claim to fame is that it cures cancer. Currently there is no medical/scientific evidence to prove this; and all claims are anecdotal.

According to Cancer Research UK, lab test have shown extracts of soursop killing certain types of breast and liver cancer cells. Tests have not been done in humans, so the charity does not endorse soursop as a treatment for cancer.

soursop
Now the soursop power is in my hands! @ads_diaspora Instagram

I thank God that my mother’s cancer was detected early and removed. Our family friend, who has an advanced stage of cancer, was told by doctors he wouldn’t see 2015, but is still alive today. He drinks the dried, powdered leaves of the soursop fruit sent from Ghana. He hasn’t been ‘cured’ of the cancer, but he’s still here and strong enough to stand unaided for at least an hour which wasn’t possible during his latter courses of chemotherapy.

Hamamat’s video made me want to try soursop even more!

It’s not easy to find soursop in the UK and when you do it’s very expensive. It’s ironic because in Ghana, I’ve been told it’s not a fruit that’s revered much. Probably because in the tropics there are so many amazing fruits, soursop is just one of the bunch?

In tropical countries, the leaves of certain fruit and veg are used as food themselves or to preserve / aid in the cooking process. In addition to the anecdotal claims of fighting cancer, there are claims of various benefits of soursop leaves when eaten regularly, including fighting against arthritis, diabetes and gout, to name a few. When applied topically, it’s said to clear eczema, boils and blackheads.

I believe there are natural remedies which can help fight or even cure diseases and will start incorporating soursop into my diet from now on.

If you’ve tried it let me know what you think by commenting below.

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Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Brownies


Jamaica is the 5th largest populated island in the Caribbean, with nearly 3 million people. The cool Blue Mountains, are famous for producing some of the world’s most sought after coffee!

The Blue Mountain coffee bean, comes from Arabica coffee plant. According to the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica (CIBJ), at one point buyers were paying six times more for the Jamaican coffee bean than coffee from Latin America or Africa. But in times of global economic austerity, buyers are looking for a better deal especially their main buyer Japan, which imports around 75% of Jamaican coffee. Production of Blue Mountain Coffee goes through stringent quality assurance processes, to ensure its premium quality. To prove authenticity, the coffee needs to be certified by the CIBJ.

As tasty as it may be coffee isn’t just for drinking, and has been used in baking for decades. Try out this recipe for Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Brownies from Bon Appetit , and let us know what you think by commenting below.

jamaican-coffee-brownies-with-pecans
Can’t go wrong with some yummy brownies. Photo credit: Bon Appétit

 

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Snippets of an African legacy

Pot & Platter is the food section of this blog –> A curation of what’s cooking in the African-Caribbean food scene: Cooked up in our blog pot and served on a platter.

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GÙZZÜ Cocktails


I do love a good cocktail and was pleasantly surprised when I attended a Black Ballard event in London a few days ago, where GÙZZÜ Drinks were serving. I started the night with a pina colada mocktail – Blu Routes.

cocktails, drinks party
Virgin Flirt and Blu Routes served at the #CocktailsAndConvo @BlackBallardUK BHM event.

I usually consume cocktails with friends at bars during happy hour. After my first cocktail I was eager to find out where the GÙZZÜ bar was located. Unfortunately, they don’t have a bar, but cater for events, including birthdays, baby showers, and weddings. They’ve also expanded their beverage line to hot drinks and smoothies.

guzzu-drinks-love-in-the-sky
Love in the Sky @Guzzudrinks

 

With a professional and elegant presentation, the vibrant visual appeal of the cocktails matched their taste. I started the night with a mocktail and ended it with a Rum & Candy…hmmm yummy.

guzzu-rumcandy
Rum & Candy

 

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Rise of the African Supper Club


The relationship between Africa and the UK spans centuries. In the last 2011 UK census 1.8% of the population of England and Wales identified as black African. Various waves of immigration, have led to multiple snippets of African culture in the UK. According to the census, the foreign-born African population come from all across the continent including:

Egypt

Ghana

Kenya

Mauritius

Nigeria

Somalia

South Africa

Tanzania

Uganda

Zimbabwe

 We all know that Africa is a diverse continent and not a country. However, along with music and fashion, generalisations are also made in reference to African food. Undoubtedly, there are similarities in cuisine within specific regions but African food cannot be grouped onto one plate and that’s what makes it fun!

Battle of the ‘A’ continents?

Unlike Asian immigrants to the UK who have carved out a conspicuous niche for Asian Food, Africans have lagged behind in this area…but they are making up for lost time! In addition to African restaurants, some foodies/chefs have gone the supper club /pop-up restaurant route, making African food more accessible.

What is a supper club?

Supper clubs can vary in size and take place at different premises, decided by the host. This can be in a private home or a neutral location. Each guest usually buys a ticket beforehand and eats from a set menu. African supper clubs are slowly spreading across the UK, with many of them in London.

How do you find out about African supper clubs?

Online (including social media) and word of mouth.

Most of the African supper clubs I’ve heard of have been via Twitter, and Meet Up groups like The London Taste of Africa group. I also found lots of independent African food spots at festivals, like the Africa Utopia Festival.

london-taste-of-af

 

African supper clubs are not just for Africans!

Raised in a West African family, we generally ate our traditional food at home, so I’ve not really felt the need to look for African restaurants, until recently. Admittedly this was the wrong mindset to have. I’ve realised Supper clubs introduce guests to a creative fusion of African dishes that you (as an African) may not cook on a regular basis and they are a great opportunity to socialise with new people (which you wouldn’t really do if you went for a standard restaurant meal). There has also been an increase in non-Africans going to supper clubs, which is great as it puts African food in front of an additional audience, dispelling the myth that African food is just about pepper and heat.

african food, bean stew
I get stuck into some classic Ghanaian style bean stew and sweet potato at ‘Chop x Beats’ day party in East London.

 

 Why are supper clubs important?

First of all they are fun! You get to socialise with different people.

They give independent food entrepreneurs a platform to gain exposure, develop a following and build their business.

Where is the next African supper club in London?

Check out below; why not grab a ticket and get a little taste of Africa?!

Events in November and some featured ones below.

Lemlem Kitchen: Eritrean-Italian fusion21st October 2016

eritrean food london, supper club london
@lemlemkitchen

 

Tokunbo’s Kitchen – Theme: ‘Curry for Change’ Nigerian twist on the popular Asian curry dish – 30th October 2016.

supper club london
@tokunboskitchen

 

Jason’s Little Kitchen – West African – 5th November 2016.

jasons-lil-kitchen
@Jslittlekitchen

 

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