Bamboula, Brixton

The first sunny summery Friday night of the year found my friend L and I hungry for Carribbean food in Brixton. Too late for the stalls and shops around Brixton Village, we decided to try the Brixton institution that is Bamboula. Tucked away opposite the Town Hall, its bright frontage brings a bit of cheer to the bottom of Acre Lane and some home cooked charm to Brixton.

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Lángos and beer for breakfast…

The locals love lángos

(Mister North’s in Budapest for an old university friend’s wedding this weekend). I was determined to enjoy lángos for breakfast, as I’d read it’s as Magyar a food experience as paprika or goose liver, and much more unhealthy.

The local English language edition of Time Out recommended a stand-up gaff in Fény utcai piac market near Moszkva Tér. My friend and I wandered about, eyes on stalks at the profusion of local produce, from freshly picked cherries and strawberries, kohlrabi and paprika to kolbász sausages and fogas (pike-perch from Lake Balaton). Eventually we tracked down a tiny stall at the back of the building: the smell of fat and garlic wafted across the queue of punters waiting patiently for their cholesterol levels to be boosted heartily.

We tried ordering two sima lángos (the basic kind where one paints on a garlic paste and flakes of salt) in halting Hungarian, but the nice lady behind the counter helped up out by replying in much less poor English. We also decided to accompany these with a pint of the local dark beer (well, most locals seemed to be doing this even though it was only mid-morning, so who where we to argue?)

It may’ve been unhealthy, but boy was it ever good. Think deep-fried garlic bread or focaccia; light yet filling, with a superbly nutty beer on the side. Next time I’d like to graduate to the significantly more unhealthy sour cream and cheese numbers which are so popular with the locals. Who needs an Ulster fry when you can have your heart attack on a napkin in your hand, with a pint on the side? Marvellous!

I’m surprised we Norn Irish folk haven’t fully embraced lángos: they may be ‘foreign’ but after all they’re made with flour and potato, deep fried, and salted heavily. If it wasn’t for the lashings of garlic on the top I’d suggest this would be a prime candidate take over kebabs and pizza as a post-pub meal in Belfast on a Saturday night.

Vive Colombia!

Mister North happened to be in London at the tail end of last week and after a late night watching election results and bemoaning the state of the nation we needed fortified and soothed by some hearty food. Inspired by Mister North’s recent purchase of Felipe Rojas-Lombardi’s The Art of South American Cooking we decided to visit the Colombian butcher in Brixton Village for inspiration.

A purchase of some of the plumpest meatiest sausages (or chorizo colombiano) I have seen in a long time had us so engrossed in conversation about what to do with them that before we knew it we were on 2nd Avenue and found ourselves standing outside Restaurante La Cabana. Realising we could indulge our craving for Colombian food right then and there, rather than going home and cooking for an hour or two we were seated inside with a menu in front of us before we knew it. Read more

Little Lamb… and huge portions

A rare opportunity to have dinner with my mum in London beckoned this week and it was the perfect opportunity to visit Chinatown. I like to try something new each time I visit so we decided this was the perfect chance to sample ‘hot pot’ at Little Lamb on Shaftesbury Avenue.

For those of you who haven’t tried this delight, hot pot is the Chinese equivalent of fondue where you dip small portions of meat, fish or vegetables in steaming hot stock to cook it at the table, eating as you go. Also known as ‘steamboat’ or ‘shabu shabu’, it is a fantastically sociable eating experience as you congregate around a steaming pot of stock and pass plates of deli-thin meats and tantalising seafood around, soaking up the smells and aromas as you eat. Read more

Make Whoopie…

Apparently the cupcake has had its day. There is a new baked goods craze sweeping the nation in the shape of the delightfully named Whoopie Pie which is basically two cake shells filled with flavoured buttercream. They more closely resemble a macaron than a cake and their robust, sturdy squidginess is making them very popular, particularly with those who are put off by the increasing feminisation of the cupcake.

The Times article was picked up by several people on my Facebook feed upon publication and since I had a trip planned to The Hummingbird Bakery the next day, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to sample these delightfully named little numbers. Just call me a trendsetter! Read more