Tag: Caribbean food

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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Caribbean Food: Three Little Birds


Where to eat a Caribbean brunch? We found Three Little Birds in Brixton, South London. This Jamaican inspired independent restaurant and rum bar is small, with big character. Their pancakes, with rum sauce are amazing!

This is a Caribbean restaurant in London to check out and let us know what you think, by taking the anonymous poll below and leaving any comments.

 

Caribbean brunch time, with pumpkin soup.
Caribbean brunch time, with pumpkin soup.

 

A curation of who’s cooking in the African-Caribbean food scene.

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Breadfruit – the superfood


Not as famous as other Caribbean staple foods such as yam and cassava, however breadfruit has an interesting history and much loved in the Caribbean. When its name is mentioned people usually ask, ‘what is breadfruit?’

Although breadfruit grows across the Caribbean, it’s in St Vincent where it’s apparently held in highest regard. A staple food in the Caribbean, breadfruit (with its potato like texture) originates from Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia.

Breadfruit friedas.com - Copy

Breadfruit plants were taken to the Caribbean by the British in 1793, as a source of food for slaves.

High in iron, calcium and potassium, and B vitamins and low in fat; breadfruit is prepared in various ways. In St Vincent and Jamaica, it’s usually roasted.

breadfruit - cook like a jam - Copy

Breadfruit pie and chips are common snacks, but people have found inventive ways of making use of the Caribbean staple food including, pickled breadfruit, breadfruit pizza dough and even breadfruit ice cream!

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Spicy Jamaican Ginger Cake


There’s nothing like a moist and crumbly slice of ginger cake to satisfy the soul. As a child I loved ginger biscuits and that is when my ginger indulgence began. Jamaican ginger is renowned for its intense flavour and as the main ingredient in the popular Jamaican ginger cake recipe, this Caribbean cake has become a must have in many parts of the world.

I must say, I didn’t expect Caribbean desserts to feature at the annual Pop-up Africa event at Spitalfields Market in central London at the end of May, but thinking about it, Africa and the Caribbean do have an intertwined history, so it made perfect sense…

Described as “A unique interactive shopping experience inspired by Africa; ‘Africa at Spitalfields’ – promotes and celebrates all things African and African inspired.” I was looking forward to all the festivities and food on display from the African/Caribbean diaspora in London.  Having a sweet tooth my first point of call was to check out the desserts; you can never stock up on too many desserts!

spicy jamaican ginger cake receipe
Ginger spice: Photo: Stock Xchng (jeff1980)

A bit of food history….

It’s said that the roots of Zingiber officinale the tropical herbaceous plant, which produces the ginger spice originated in Asia. Used by the Indians and Chinese for its healing properties over 5000 years ago, you can guess that the rest of the world wanted a taste of this intriguingly pungent spice and Arab traders brought it to Europe. Once the Roman Empire fell, ginger nearly became obsolete. Between the 11th-13th centuries ginger made a European comeback and was said to be imported to the New World by Spanish conquistadors.  Ginger is s now grown in tropical countries across the Caribbean and Africa. From 1585, Jamaican ginger was the first Asian-originated spice to be grown in the New World and exported back to Europe.

spicy Caribbean ginger cake
You can never go wrong with some good old ginger cake…

While walking around the market I was scoping out which stalls to visit; Tantie Lorraine’s ginger cake was calling out to me. I love all things ginger and was eager to try this Trinidadian version of the ginger cake. A friend told me that ‘Tantie’ is a version of ‘Auntie’ used in some part of the Caribbean. In some African cultures the term Auntie is also used to address an older woman, who may not necessarily be your blood relative (as a sign of respect).

tantie def

There were various other cakes and cookies on offer but I only tried the ginger cake. I do regret not trying the chocolate Guinness cake though! An unusual combination which I’ve never had before; I’m not a fan of Guinness on its own, but do like it when mixed with something sweet, like Caribbean Guinness punch. If I knew Tantie Lorranie won a Great Taste Award for her rum and raisin brownies, I would have tried those too!

Jamaica ginger and Guiness cake recipe, Caribbean ginger cake

Caribbean ginger cake has been a staple dessert in the UK for years. On British Chef, Jamie Oliver’s YouTube channel, a quick recipe is demonstrated, but is it a real traditional Jamaican ginger cake recipe?

Have your say; watch the video and vote below…If you have a better recipe, post it in the comments section!

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