Dabbous – Whitfield Street, London

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Homemade sourdough bread, butter flaked with sea-salt & big green nocellara olives

Dabbous, in central London, launched in 2012 to rave reviews. It was quickly impossible to get a table, with a year-long waiting list, especially after winning it’s first Michelin star in 2013. But it’s not about formal fine dining; the decor is like an industrial workshop – battleship greys, rough plaster walls, cold steel scaffolding pipes, bare wood and concrete. There’s no linen tablecloths or flowers, the service is calm and friendly, and wines are served by the carafe. The dining room is on the ground floor, while downstairs is a bar where the well-dressed  drink cocktails.

So, how good is it?

The chef, Oliver Dabbous, trained under Raymond Blanc and worked at The Fat Duck and Noma. The food is balanced, carefully thought-out with a focus on the ingredients rather than fancy foams. The 4 course set menu lunch is short, simple and seasonal, and a real bargain at £32.

We kicked off with a healthy plate of shaved raw celeriac, muscat grapes & toasted hazelnuts and the alternative starter of iced raw scallop with eucalyptus – a savoury granita idea, not entirely convinced but definitely an experience. A dense acorn flour noodles in a rich duck & fenugreek broth  with garlic chive flowers followed. One foodie declared it was ‘lick the bowl’ good while the other really disliked it – bit of a marmite experience, I’d say!

Perfectly cooked, poached cod with warm potted shrimps on a bed of potato puree, pea shoots and a fish broth was the highlight dish. Light and delicious. The roast pink veal fillet with autumnal vegetables & a cheese broth was well executed and interestingly topped with nutty, thinly sliced raw mushrooms.

We felt the burrata and tamarillo: a creamy mozzarella with caraway and a slice of sweet, roasted tomato-like tamarillo was ok, but steep at a £5 supplement. But we both loved the dessert of a miniature warm fig & honey cake, and a chilled, frothed rice milk infused with fig leaves. We’ve been determined ever since to recreate this simple dish at home. Finally, chilli-infused, gold bullion bar chocolates ended the meal perfectly!

So why was it so special? Probably the fact that we’re still talking about it. It was a real treat to be able to have a very ‘London’ foodie experience without a massive bill …. maybe we’ll go back for the eight course tasting menu next time!

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Shaved celeriac

Iced raw scallop

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Acorn flour noodles in duck & fenugreek broth

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Poached cod & warm potted shrimps

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Roast veal fillet with autumn vegetables & a cheese broth

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Burrata & tamarillo

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Fig & honey cake, with a chilled rice milk

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Finally, chilli-infused, gold bullion bar chocolates!

Dabbous, 39 Whitfield Street, London, W1T 2SF

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Hipster hangouts – the changing food scene in Palma de Mallorca

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La Seu – Palma Cathedral

Palma, the capital city of the Spanish island of Mallorca has changed over recent years and eating out now has become an amazing culinary experience which really took us by surprise. There’s a tidal wave of Peruvian ceviche, Japanese fusion and slow-poached truffle eggs.

When we stayed here about 7 years ago we froze in the Hostal Cuba, it was a cheap and friendly but cold and old-style Spanish hostal in the traditional fishermen’s area. Now it’s a boutique hotel complete with a roof terrace, restaurant and bar in the trendy Santa Catalina district.

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Hostal Cuba in Santa Catalina

This gentrification has brought the arrival of hipster hangouts across Palma – it’s like Hackney, Dalston and Barcelona, all bearded guys who ride white racing bikes and drink aeropress coffees. We especially liked La Molienda serving designer coffees, cakes and gourmet teas which happened to be just across the road from our apartment.

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La Molienda – Carrer de les Caputxines

The Room (Calle Cotoner, 47) is a Santa Catalina pasticerria and restaurant with informal cafe decor and friendly staff. Their lunchtime menu offers 3 courses for 14 . We opted for a cream of cauliflower and cheese soup decorated with steamed greeen beans, drizzled with a rich olive oil, followed by a homemade pasta with a veal ragu, and desserts of banoffee tart and cheese cake accompanied by a glass of Mallorcan red wine.

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Veal ragu @ The Room

Across the street is Bros, a Skandi decor restaurant / cafe with bearded hipster staff in designer aprons. Their seasonal foodie menu of the week is only 12.90 €. From the 4 starters and mains offered, we chose the goats cheese salad with piquillo peppers, and the gooey aubergine stuffed with cheese & tomato with a sticky red wine & onion reduction. For mains, the risotto of courgette & shrimp and the grilled pork loin & potatoes with mushroom salsa were well executed. We greedily polished off a rich chocolate fondant with chocolate ice cream.

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Seasonal menu @ Bros

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Shrimp & Courgette risotto @ Bros

When we arrived in Palma a local friend recommended the new Toque de Queda (Can Cavalleria, 15B) a deli / bar in an historical oven bakery ‘Forn Cremat’. It was so good we went twice. They specialise in local and Mediterranean platters of meats and cheeses and tapas served with cristal tomato bread. They are part of the wave of restaurants reinventing tapas aimed at the new young locals with money looking for the Barcelona lifestyle.

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A 1/2 racion mixed platter, cristal bread and oven roasted potatoes @ Toque de Queda

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Hot Provolone cheese with mushrooms @ Toque de Queda

Another new bar on the scene is Can Trispol, (Travessa Den Ballester, 6) named after a local Mallorcan red wine. They specialise in llonguets – an artisan bread traditional to Palma. Here they are served filled with anything from quinoa veggie burgers to smoked salmon, cheese and jamon. They boast using local products from the market including the Mallorcan Pep lemonade.

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Newly opened Can Trispol

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Mallorcan hand-made Pep Lemon

Even the stalls in the old market halls in de l’Olivar and Santa Catalina have been given a makeover following in the fashion of the Mercado San Miguel in Madrid and now are a hive of drinking and eating. Street food, tapas and pintxos is served from small kiosks and stalls. So if you fancy a foodie weekend or longer, Palma is an exciting place to be.

Now get me back to London – I’m dying for a good curry!

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Fibonacci coffee stall @ Mercat de l’Olivar

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E17 Cook Book Club – 28 January, Spanish theme

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Our next E17 Cook Book Club get-together will be on 28 January 2015, 8pm in the back room at The Bell, 617 Forest Road, E17 4 NE.

The concept for the Cook Book Club is simple: it’s a foodie social evening, each person brings some themed food to share and buy drinks at the bar. The theme for 28 January is Spanish food. We now have a Facebook page, E17 Cook Book Club, so we can all discuss and see in advance who wants to cook and bring what to avoid a glut of cakes as happened at our last one!

Everyone is welcome to join us, just turn up at 8pm. The plan is to meet every 6 weeks and for it to be … well… fun!

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Last minute Christmas food shopping in the Stow

20130522_185627[1]I love to be organised, so you’d think that all our Christmas food shopping would be in hand. Well it’s not. I’ve just started a new job and seem to be spending a lot of time travelling up and down the country, so playing Santa has been neglected this year. But all is not lost. Although I’ll be working right up to the big day I know that our wonderful shops in the Stow won’t let me down.

I thought that I’d share, as we often get asked, some of the places where we’ll be shopping including some of the less obvious shops that we love. This year the meat will be Yorkshire game from home, but last year we bought a duck and an organic chicken from the Sunday Farmers Market. We’ll be picking up some home-smoked salmon from Davies Fishmongers at Bakers Arms – they can also supply fresh lobster and crab if ordered in advance.

DSCN6156We’ll probably get our favourite merguez sausages from Maghreb on Hoe Street as an alternative to pigs in blankets. It’s also the best place for dates to wrap in bacon – a great tapas snack.

DSCN0640We have a regular veggie box from Organiclea which we’ll add to from the Veg Hut on Chingford Road. Herbs, fruit and olives will be from the Turkish supermarket, Akdeniz on Hoe Street. DSCN0644Cheese was sorted by a trip on Friday to what will be the new East London Cheese Board shop on Orford Road. For steaks I’ll be popping into the Brazilian butchers Boi na brasa and wine will be from Forest Wines.

DSCN6567I’ve heard about sourdough from Fluffy’s Bakery on Lea Bridge Road so I’ll be off in search of that, although if I run out of time there are many Polish shops selling great rye bread. I’ll be getting sliced meats and cheese from Gulliver’s the Polish deli on the High Street.

With all these amazing and diverse independent producers and traders, I really can’t see the point of all the rushing and queuing in the supermarkets – the little shops always have more unusual and better quality products. All that remains is for us to wish you a safe, happy and healthy Christmas – see you in the New Year!

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Pizza Express – Walthamstow

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Chefs at work at the new Pizza Express Walthamstow

We’ve watched ‘The Scene’ cinema complex develop over the past 15 years on the corner of High Street and Hoe Street, Walthamstow. A WW2 flying bomb first cleared the area in 1944, then the derelict 1960’s concrete arcade was demolished in 2004 leaving a tarmac open space that’s hosted the occasional market, a wonky blue xmas trees and a tiny ice rink over the years. After all the rumours, planning changes, the ‘fight the height’ campaign, false starts, funding problems and scrutiny comittees something finally happened in April 2013.  The JCBs arrived to rip up the tarmac, followed by huge cranes, loads of builders, lorries and mud.

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Start of the work on The Scene

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Beginning to take shape

And now it’s nearly finished … and so we are home to penthouses, apartments, a nine screen cinema and five new shiny restaurants to try although only two are currently open. When we were invited to review the new Pizza Express at first we argued – about our integrity, our independence  – but, hey free pizza on a Friday night proved to be too tempting!

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Mare Rosa pizza

The decor is based on the old Walthamstow Stadium dog track and the cinema theme is reflected in the camera-styled lighting. I’m sure the large seating area outside will be a popular people-watching spot on warmer days. Back indoors, the booths are great for groups of four. We were given a large round table in the centre of the restaurant which was probably meant to be an upgrade on the rather tight tables for two, but the staff use it as a cut-through from the pizza ovens, passing behind with plates of food, which was rather disconcerting.

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Try and bag a booth table

We wanted to try the pork & pancetta croquettes from the Xmas menu but they’d already run out, so they must have been popular. Instead we had the Arancini Provola – risotto balls with spinach & cheese, unfortunately they were a flavourless start to the meal, although the spicy arrabiata sauce they came with was addictive. The antipasti sharing platter of salami, olives, sunblush tomatoes and mozzarella with bread sticks was enjoyable and good value for a group at about £10. However we must admit that we do prefer Sodo’s mozzarella and local cured meats – we’d like to see Pizza Express putting more locally sourced products on the menu.

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The antipasti platter for sharers

The rocket and Gran Moravia (a veggie-friendly parmesan alternative) cheese salad with truffle oil was fighting – some would find it overpowering. Onto the pizzas, the Mare Rosa was generous in it’s toppings of prawn, salmon and broccoli but was under-seasoned while the Francesco Mazzei Calabrese suffered from being too fiery. I love chilli but I found the balance of sweet roasted peppers didn’t work with the hot ‘nduja.

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Fiery Calbrese pizza with ‘nduja

However the desserts brought smiles, especially the little dolcetti served with a coffee, the Cafe Reale mini figs soaked in spiced wine with mascarpone was a great end to the meal.

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Figs & mascapone – dolcetti and coffee to finish

It was a bit odd being asked to review a Pizza Express – surely everyone’s been before, has their opinion and has a favourite pizza already. Ok it’s a chain and limited in being creative or individual, but what’s great about Pizza Express is that it appeals to such a wide range of people and Walthamstow needs that. Everyone was out last Friday night, frazzled mums and kids; old and new Stowers; couples of every nationality, gender and ages; folks celebrating with prosecco and those just sharing a pizza and a couple of cokes. It’s a place for a reliable, happy night out and you know what to expect. There’s always plenty of online vouchers and deals available and it’s commendable for the wide range of gluten-free and less calorie options. Of course we are loyal to Peppe – his pizzas are fantastic, but it’s quicker at Pizza Express and you don’t have to hang around in the pub for 40 minutes (although this isn’t really a hardship!) But Pizza Express suits people who wouldn’t eat out in the pub or don’t have the budget for the restaurants in the village which up until now have been the only options for an evening out in Walthamstow. I’m sure we’ll go again – the staff were lovely and it’s a reasonable price, a convenient location and there’s plenty of choices to work our way through.

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Deals & vouchers!

 

*Disclaimer: we were invited to review Pizza Express as their guests.

Pizza Express Walthamstow
The Scene
265 High Street
London
E17 7FD

Tel: 020 8521 8889

Open daily: 11.30am-11pm (Sun 10pm)

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Tassili – Algerian cafe on Hoe Street

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Tassili Algerian Cafe – Hoe Street, Walthamstow

It’s not a glamorous location – sandwiched between a barbers and a Sri Lankan grocers, opposite the Skoda garage on Hoe Street, so there’s nothing from the outside of Tassili shouting “come in, give us a try!”. But if you’re feeling brave and venture in you’ll find a warm welcome and authentic Algerian dishes. This is our secret Saturday lunch place when we want quick, very cheap, home-cooked food.

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Grilled marinated liver kebabs – £4.50

There’s always a range of fresh fish, tagines and grilled meats. Everything comes served with either homemade chips or spicy rice, plus salad and a warm baguette.

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Snapper & chips

The owner brings fresh fish with him every morning from Billingsgate Market, there’s often tuna steak, swordfish, mackerel and sardines. The portions aren’t enormous but this red snapper only cost us £5.50 and was freshly grilled and tasty.

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Merguez sausages – c £5.00

We’ve had a meatball dish which is broken down and fried with an egg – I’ve forgotten the name but it was delicious.

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The mystery meatball dish

Recently the ‘Loubia b’lham’ was an amazingly comforting white bean stew with lamb – cooked like his mother does, apparently! There’s no menu, just look in the counter and see what you like, and let the owner talk you through what’s cooking. Sometimes there’s some scary stuff – a tripe tagine or other offal offerings. Everything costs around £5.00 including sides and bread, so with drinks and coffees a lunch only ever costs us about £12-13.

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Tagine Djedj b’ Zeitoun – Algerian chicken with olives

It can be a bit of a ‘men’s place’ – we’ve never been brave enough to go in the evening when the football’s playing or try out the pool table in the newly opened back room. We’re often the only women and usually the only non-Algerian customers. But we’re always made welcome by the friendly owner and staff – when we’ve asked for a diet coke or mustard they’ve gone to the shop next door, and we’re left in peace to enjoy our lunch. They also do sandwiches and takeaway.

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Good coffees too!

In August 2013 Tassili scored a ‘4 Good’ in the FSA hygiene ratings.

Open daily 9am – 11pm.

Tassili
134 Hoe Street
Walthamstow
London
E17 4QR

 

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E17 Cook Book Club

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Ever since I heard about Thane Prince’s Cook Book Club in Islington, I thought it was a great idea. Being a bit shy I had put off attending and I wasn’t sure about taking food to complete strangers for their critique – I had a vision of something between Come Dine With Me meets Bake Off! But I had a great evening and plan to go again.

The concept for the Cook Book Club is simple: it’s a foodie social evening, each person brings some food to share and contributes to cover the cost of the venue. The themes or cook books change – I attended the ‘Wild’ night and took a rabbit pate, while other others took foraged fruit jam, bread and potted shrimps.

I raised on Twitter the idea of having a Cook Book Club in Walthamstow and so we launched the E17 Cook Book Club last week at Bygga Bo Cafe. After lots of interest we were worried that it would either be a dismal failure and no one would turn up, or we’d have too many people and run out of space! Thankfully, neither nightmare came true and we had a lovely group of people with a shared interest in food – quite a lot of which turned out to be cakes. Everyone brought along a favourite dish to share and a few bottles of wine helped the evening along.

So we’ve agreed the theme for the next E17 Cook Book Club is ‘Spanish’ and we will be meeting up on Wednesday 28th January 2015 – venue to be decided, everyone is welcome to join us. Again, it will be bring a dish and maybe the recipe or cook book. The plan is to meet every 6 weeks and for it to be … well… fun!

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North Gran Canaria restaurants – a different flavour

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Artisan ice cream in Arehucas

Eating-out in northern Gran Canaria is different in many ways to the south of the island. The southern resorts with their beautiful beaches, shopping centres, hotels, holiday villages, marinas, bars & restaurants are tourist-focussed. Although we found some authentic Canarian food, the restaurants are mainly geared towards the holidaymakers wanting pizza and pasta after a long day on the beach. But the green and leafy north, with its banana and coffee plantations, the capital city of Las Palmas and quieter beaches is where the Canarians live; it’s more local and more multi-cultural. So it makes sense that eating-out would be different too.

Cafes & bakeries: It took us a few days to get into the swing of Las Palmas. The Canarians don’t really go in for breakfast, then about 11am everyone floods out of the offices into the nearest cafe or bakery for jamon bocadillos, tostas, tuna empanadas, croissants and a vast array of cakes and tartas with their cafe con leche. At the weekend this becomes a late brunch as friends and families gather at the local coffee shop.  These shops are cheap, seem to be constantly baking on-site and have a wide range of fresh bread too. Some serve alcohol, they also have fresh juices and smoothies and gourmet tea selections, along with every possible coffee option. They often have free WiFi and leave you in peace to enjoy it. We frequently found ourselves in Xokolat (Leon y Castillo, 225) and the Panaria chain.

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Coffee & cakes at Panaria

Late lunches: In typical Spanish-style, lunch is a 2 or 3 o’clock affair and we often opted for the traditional ‘Menu del Dia’. This 3 course set menu is good value for money in Gran Canaria at only 8-11 Euros. It often includes soup and salad starters, 2 or 3 local Canarian / Spanish meat or fish mains, a dessert or coffee plus a drink – wine, beer etc to wash it down. It gave us a chance to try dishes we might not have ordered – sometimes a  limited menu you can’t read forces you out of your food comfort zone. We tried beef with prawn sauce – which was better than it sounds, chicken slow-cooked in beer, and saltcod fried with loads of potatoes, onions and garlic. Occasionally we decided to treat ourselves to a paella or rice dish, these are always made to order for a minimum of two. We really loved the soupy rice – Arroz Caldoso we ate sitting on the terrace at La Marea (Av. Alcalde José Ramírez Bethencourt), full of langostines, clams and local fish.

It’s all about sharing: Evening eating in the north is a whole different ball game to the south, restaurants open from 8pm and even that’s seen as too early for dinner. To bridge the gap, pinchos and tapas are nibbled.

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Tacos de Pescado with Mojo Verde

When we arrived in Las Palmas we went off to the Mercado del Puerto to immerse ourselves in the Saturday night tapas culture. The old market hall is a hive of drinking and eating, street food is served from small kiosks including pinchos – mini kebab sticks, montaditos – little sandwich towers and plates of seafood. We loved the Tacos de Pescado served with green Mojo Verde sauce at Piscos y Buches in the market hall.

Sharing dominates in the evening – as each dish is brought out, whether it’s steak and chips, a platter of seafood or boards of cheese and ham, everyone dives in and then they order some more. We shared Chocos Fritos at the recommended seaside Restaurante Terraza El Puertillo a 15 minute bus ride outside of Las Palmas.

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Chocos Fritos – fried octopus chunks

We shared in even the most fashionable restaurants, where in London you’d feel embarrassed and obliged to stick to your own plate. In Las Palmas it’s an eat, drink and move on to the next place culture. At the popular but pricey tapas restaurant in Triana, Kano 31 (Calle Cano, 31) we ordered Huevo Escalfado – a poached egg with potato puree, truffle, and mushroom sauce. We weren’t expecting this extravagent looking martini-glass wonder to appear – I thought it was someone’s tiramisu!

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The poached egg disguised as a martini!

We stumbled across La Dispensa (Calle Diderot, 8) when looking for another restaurant nearby. It’s an old shop, the long marble shop counter has been converted into a bar with all the old shop fittings retained and filled with wine bottles. The music plays loudly and it’s full of locals.  We shared an enormous half racion of fresh grilled tuna with potatoes & padron peppers, and then we ordered another 1/2 portion of fried pork with chips.

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Vegetable powered clock at La Dispensa!

Mix of cultures & flavours: The cuisine of Gran Canaria combines traditional Spanish recipes with African and Latin-American influences. Aji, Limon y Canela (Sagasta, 68) is a Peruvian ‘cevicheria’ on the Las Canteras beachfront, specialising in citrus-marinated fish and seafood. We tried the Causa Rellena, a tower of cold, seasoned mashed potato stuffed with prawns, egg and avocado. Las Canteras beach promenade is also the place to sample the amazing milk-free, tropical fruit ice creams including guava, passion fruit and mango.

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Peruvian starter – Causa Rellena

An unusual but traditional Canarian product is gofio made from toasted maize, barely or wheat ground to a fine flour. It is commonly used to thicken soups and sauces or make milk-based desserts. Gofio is cooked in saffron-infused fish stock to make a thick, hot, polenta-type dish called Gofio Escaldado which is served in most seafood restaurants. It’s a nutritious, filling but calorific starter, again shared by everyone at the table.

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Fishy Gofio Escaldado

Hipster places: Finally – the north is just more stylish. It has the hipster places and as Londoners we were missing that in the south. After getting a bit bored of the standard lunchtime offerings we wanted something a bit different. On the seafront at Las Canteras we went to La Bikina Cantina (Paseo de las Canteras, 63). We shared a fresh fig and tomato salad, a delicious seabass ceviche with avocado and soft chicken taco wraps, then a warm chocolate brownie with green tea ice cream, all for only 23 Euros.

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Simple fresh, local figs and tomatoes in a basil vinaigrette

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Mexican inspired chicken tacos with guacamole for 5 Euros

Our coffee shop of choice that we returned to over an over again was El Apartamento (Av. Mesa y Lopez, 1). This arty cafe bar is the perfect place for a coffee & cake break while out shopping, but it’s open all day from breakfast to cocktails. The relaxed atmosphere attracts everyone – old ladies, young hipsters, locals and tourists.

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Cool hangout for coffee or cocktails

Inspired by the food, culture and scenery of Gran Canaria, a trip to the neighbouring Canarian islands is on the menu. Bring on that winter sunshine.

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Our favourite restaurants in Gran Canaria – the south of the island

DSCN6956With 350 days of sunshine a year, an average temperature of 28 C, budget flights from the UK and plenty of self catering accommodation – Gran Canaria ticked all the boxes for our late October holiday. It is one of the 8 islands making up the Canaries, located in the Atlantic Ocean 210 km from the West Coast of Africa. It has a unique micro-climate with mountains and an inactive volcano in the centre, miles of beaches and a Sahara-style desert in the arid south, and banana, mango and papaya plantations in the north of the island.

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Canarian Rancho soup – with chickpeas, goat meat and sweetcorn

It sounded idyllic; but then our pre-holiday research revealed that the south of Gran Canaria is known only for the all-day English Breakfast, burgers and pizzas, Irish pubs and German bratwurst. We found this to be true in part – but if you look hard enough you can find pizzas and pasta homemade by Italians using fresh, local produce, and Canarian locals serving traditional Spanish island cuisine, plus Maspalomas is home to many Scandinavians who know how to run a good coffee shop.

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Turron (nougat) cake

On arrival we went on the hunt for authentic Canarian food. Armed with a map and only a very vague idea of where we should head, we set off in the midday sun – what do they say about mad dogs and the English?! Several arguments later, with our only bottle of water running out, we found the sought after restaurant in the residential area of San Fernando Los Jose’s La Tapita (Calle Placido Domingo 5, Playa del Ingles).  This is the street for authentic local tapas and it became a regular haunt for us. Every visit we kicked off with a selection of tapas from the bar. They only serve a limited menu of 3 starters and 3 mains which change daily. We got a real taste for the the fresh octopus salad, the stuffed mussels and bacalao (cod) with tomato sauce and boiled Canarian potatoes. However the succulent veal T-bone steak was a real show stopper, cooked to perfection. About 20 Euro p/p and with food at this quality and price the queues are out of the door.

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Montaditos and tapas on the bar at Los Jose’s

There’s a strong Italian presence amongst the island’s restaurants. The Tripadvisor current number one place to eat in Maspalomas is just a few doors down from Los Jose’s. Bravo Cocina (Calle Placido Domingo 10) is a small place with only about six outdoor tables so you need to book ahead. A massive slab of fresh tuna was presented to our table on arrival which enticed us into ordering the tuna tartare – a very generous portion served on a puff pastry basket with capers, watercress, melon and confusingly dragon fruit – lovely, but a bit too much. The baked Tomino goats cheese wrapped in bacon and rosemary was simpler. We chose two pasta dishes – boar and venison, again both were large portions. Lovely food but go hungry!

Strangely, in Gran Canaria there seems to be a real love of  shopping centres – they are everywhere from the small to the gigantic, indoor and outdoor, all offering entertainment, supermarkets, shopping, bars and restaurants. There isn’t much at San Agustin except for the beautiful beach and the rather dilapidated, pink concrete Centro Comercial. Having wandered around for a while we stopped when we found a small relaxed Italian cafe/restaurant Pizzissima (Centro Comercial San Agustin, Calle de las Dalias 51). On the board outside were the magical words ‘homemade black pasta with seafood’ – that’s me sold!

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Homemade black pasta with garlic and fresh clams at Pizzissima

The more fine dining Piccola Italia (Centro Commercial San Agustin, 2a Planta Loc, 156 Pasillo Interno) was another restaurant that we loved, especially as they serve gluten-free bread, pasta, pizza, desserts and beer – oh, and more rare tuna.

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Fresh tuna at Piccola Italia

We also found a dairy-free ice cream at a new Italian ice cream shop, Cacoa in San Agustin. Gran Canaria caters for special dietary requirements and the supermarkets have a large range of free-from products.

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Homemade ice cream at Cacao

Being foodies we wanted to make sure that we had tried all the gems before we headed to the north of the island. A quick Google search flagged up a place nearby called A. Gaudi by Patrick Hartl (Calle Cuba 3, El Tablero) which gets rave reviews on Tripadvisor. This was an experience in many ways – the food was well executed but the service, decor and ambiance is eccentric and at times left us in fits of giggles. We went for the 4 course set menu which for 29 Euros pp was a bargain and included grilled green asparagus, potato soup served with mushroom croissant, and melt in the mouth beef and pork with carrot puree and black pasta. Highlight was the dessert, a fantastic hot chocolate & passionfruit fondant with carmelised kumquat and a smiley-face lollypop! On a serious note the cooking was probably Michelin quality – go for the food.

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Tender beef and pork main course at A.Gaudi – not sure about the black pasta

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Amazing dessert – smiley lollypop!

Back to Canarian food; so in a car park down the back of Arguineguin fishing port we found the Cofradia Pescadores de Arguineguin (Muelle Pesquero de Arguineguin) which is the Cooperation of Fishermans’ restaurant. We went early as it gets busy on a Sunday lunch with Canarian families and Spanish tourists – how many people other than locals would order a whole fried octopus and spend lunch chopping it to pieces! Our choices seemed tame in comparison, we had soup packed with seafood and chunks of fish, pan-fried John Dory and the local fresh fish, Choka.

After a week in Gran Canaria, we’ve found that the tourist resorts in the south of the island have much more to offer than we expected. Off now to the north to explore what’s on their menu.

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Rather fresh tuna!

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Puerto de Mogan

 

 

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The Culpeper – Spitalfields E1

IMG00574-20140928-1159Next to the magnificent Toynbee Hall, on a busy corner of Petticoat Lane and Commercial Street, The Culpeper is a recent refurbishment of an old East End Spitalfields boozer. It’s now a brasserie style gastropub with stripped back oak doors, large industrial windows, reclaimed lighting, retro furniture, a long turquoise leather couch, and a zinc-topped central bar with ceramic beer taps – oh, and a rooftop veggie garden!

IMG00575-20140928-1200The chef Sandy Jarvis, previously at Terroirs has created a menu that’s a mix of traditional British and French, using seasonal ingredients.

IMG00576-20140928-1228We tried out the Sunday lunch this weekend after a shopping trip through Petticoat Lane market. Starting out with the complimentary sourdough and homemade anchovy butter, followed by a whole globe artichoke with a fantastic warmed crab butter to dunk the leaves in.

IMG00577-20140928-1231They only offer one Sunday roast  – this week it was chicken served with red cabbage, Yorkshire pudding, roasties, a rich, fruity gravy and bread sauce (which I really can’t see the point of). The meat is from The Ginger Pig butchers – so, well looked-after animals and flavoursome meat, but I thought the portion was slight for £16 and would have been better value with some extra vegetables. There was one other meat dish and a veggie alternative.

IMG00578-20140928-1257The other foodie opted for the salt beef Pot au Feu (£14). We were expecting a rich meat stew having never had this dish before, but it turns out this classic French family favourite included 3 generous, thick slices of brisket with turnip, potatoes and spinach boiled in a light broth.  It was served with a little pot of cornichon and fresh horseradish relish.

IMG00579-20140928-1258This is a lovely place for dinner, after work drinks, weekend brunch or Sunday lunch (you need to be early or make a reservation). It has a relaxed ambiance and efficient, friendly staff. There’s a couple of real ales on tap, a wide choice of bottled, local-sourced craft beers, and a long wine list but the soft drinks choices are a bit limited. The total lunch bill with drinks and service for 2 was about £50 – reasonable for the inventive cooking and the quality ingredients in this tourist-heavy area of the East End.

The Culpeper
40 Commercial Street
E1 6LP
020 72475371

Culpeper on Urbanspoon

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