Monday, 31 August 2015

Destination: DF Mexico

Minimalist black exterior, tiny potted cacti in the window and the smell of Mexican food. A winning combination in my eyes. I hadn't heard anything about DF Mexico but had walked passed it on my way to Nude Espresso and was curious to see what it had to offer. 

On going in you are met with an open plan restaurant, perfect for casual dining. The set up is nandos-esque where you are given a table number and have to go up to the desk to order and pay- the most orthodox of diners might turn their nose up at this style but it's perfect for groups. Once you get to the desk you have the option of ordering yourself on the touchscreen pad which I went for but ended up making so many mistakes that the waitress had to come over and help me anyway (haha). Perhaps this is an example of where technology is more or a hinderance than a help.

Peanut butter is my first love but avocados follow as a close second. So naturally I had to sample the guacamole. Rich, creamy, moreish. But nothing you can't make at home. I did enjoy the corn tortilla chips though, they were on another level to the humble dorito.

I was incredibly greedy on this Sunday evening at DF Mexico but I'm going to use the excuse that I was unbelievably hungover and couldn't stomach anything for the whole day so this was my first actual meal- I don't usually go in QUITE so hard. So we tried the veggie nachos which were the same tortilla chips with refried beans, cheese and spicy salsa. Also nice but you probably only need to go for one of the guac or nachos options  satisfy your tortilla cravings.

I decided to try the chicken burrito with a 'cup of corn'. A rather boring option but I enjoyed it none the less. Lacking the heat which is often found in Mexican food, I had to dowse this in chipotle sauce. It was good but it didn't blow me away. The real winner was the cup of corn. Deliciously salty and flavoursome, the unassuming cup of corn stood out as one of the best things I had that evening. 

Next up were the chicken tacos with a side of cowgirl beans. The tacos were fresh and satisfying but again- nothing insane. The cowgirl beans had a LOT of potential. Beans and chorizo.... What could go wrong? They came out luke warm- lacking in both chilli heat and ACTUAL heat. I wasn't impressed.

One of my favourite parts of the meal was the drinks section. Yeeeees, okay, the refillable drinks theme is also quite nandos-esque but look at this! This reminds me of OLD SCHOOL itsu which used to have these same drinks dispensers. The ice sink and wedges of lime on the side were a nice touch and it's always fun to get involved with your dining experience. I tried all of the drinks and I particularly liked the hibiscus agua fresca. I've never tried horchata before but felt obliged to because 'Horchata' is one of my favourite Vampire Weekend songs. I'm glad I tried it because spiced rice milk is DELCIOUS. Think of masala chai but lighter and icey cold, the perfect after dinner dessert drink.

I enjoyed my trip to DF Mexico and have actually been there since. I won't be running back but it is a fun restaurant with some good food. There is nothing really to me that sets DF Mexico apart from Wahacca (they were both started up by Thomisina Miers). Wahacca has a more extensive menu and there are far more locations around London and the country, I'm sure both restaurants can satisfy the same hankering for Mexican food.

DF Mexico- Hanbury Street, E1 6QR.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Bermondsey Brunch

On Saturday I took a trip down South to Bermondsey to explore Maltby Street Market and Rope Walk. If you're a fan of Borough Market but want to try something a little bit different, this is the place for you. The stalls are little less well known on the London street food circuit and it's the home of wholesale Monmouth and Neal's Yard. An artisan dream.

We started off the food fiesta by trying a hopper. When I was India last month I was obsessed with appom with coconut milk so I was PUMPED to see (the synonymous) hopper on offer. This didn't disappoint. It was light and tangy, sweet and sour, crispy on the edges and soft in the middle. I also had a lot of respect for the girl making them because I definitely couldn't handle the heat of the stove which she made the hoppers on! There is a serious gap in the market for Sri Lankan and South Indian cuisine in the UK. It is so different from the rich and creamy Northern curries which are so popular here. England needs more thalis and dosas. Seriously.

I inherited my love of peanut butter from my mum. I can't live without it. Cut me open and peanut butter runs through my veins. (Ok, slight exaggeration). I have seen this company in a few smaller health food shops but always thought it was quite pricey but there was a special offer if you bought three from the stall so it was a must buy situation.

I needed a fresh juice to combat the endless carbs I was about to consume. I went for the Liza Mintelli- so minty and fresh. I would say £4 for a juice is pretty extortionate though. But this is London and with the right marketing techniques I'm pretty sure you could get a Londoner to pay £12 for an almond croissant.

 I then proceeded to sample on the finest St John's raspberry doughnuts, grilled cheese and homemade Italian ice-cream. After a morning of culinary delights, I rolled back West with a serious food coma.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Best Flat White in East London

I've been thinking about doing a something like this for quite some time. This 'Quest for the Best' series will be a way of my documenting my search for the very best flat white... gelato... cinnamon bun... whatever it may be. As a self proclaimed coffee lover and sometimes accidental coffee snob, it isn't surprising that I start of with the eminent flat white. What is surprising though is the location. London is home to some truly excellent coffee, but I tend to stay close to my roots, sticking to the delights that the West End has to offer (Monmouth, Tap, Curators etc) but I have strayed away from my old haunts. The allure of Allpress (honestly, was heartbroken that their Shoredith cafe has relocated) and the appreciation for all things artisan which can be found in East London means that I have ended up sampling a number of (overpriced) Flat Whites.
First off is Brooklyn Coffee on Commercial Street. This coffee shop gives off a modern and cool vibe. The monochrome colour scheme and bare interior give it a stylish aesthetic but I found it quite clinical and uninviting. I am a fan of their cup designs though, the minimal print in an inoffensive font is my kind of thing. The coffee itself? Underwhelming. I found it to be too acidic for my taste and I prefer a much smoother and richer flat white. Not great but no unpleasant. Price: £2.40
Next up is Craft Coffee on Sclater Street. The shop itself is cosy but cool- emitting quite a Kinfolk vibe with the wood and enamel features. I made the unfortunate mistake of getting an almond milk flat white. Sometimes almond milk works in a flat white, sometimes it doesn't. I'm going to go with the latter in this situation. It was just a bit too sweet for me, I should have found out which almond milk they use. My all time favourite dairy free flat white (and iced coffee) is from Allpress and they use Bonsoy which is a soya milk and I find it just the perfect level of sweetness. I did try my boyfriend's normal flat white though and can confirm that it was pretty nice. Nothing WOW but definitely satisfying. Price: £2.80
Unfortunately my picture for the Nude Espresso flat white isn't very good. But I would say that this is the my favourite flat white that I have tried. The cafe is on Hanbury Street, just off Brick Lane and just across the road they have another shop for takeaway coffee. This was all that I love in a flat white: rich, creamy and smooth. There was hardly a trace of an acidic after taste and the size of the coffee was perfect. The interior is open and simple with hints of red. I'm a fan. Price: £2.70 Although I haven't included in this post- I would definitely recommend checking out the Allpress Espresso on Redchurch Street which I have been known to make the trek to East London for. Out of the three reviewed here, I'm going to go with Nude Espresso as the best. But, it must be noted that East London is extensive and the number of coffee shops opening is only getting greater. The quest continues.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

The raw obsession continues

Everyone needs to download the Hippie Lane App! I'll be honest, it was the design of the app which forced me to get it- it just looks THAT good. Not only do I love the aesthetic of it but the recipes themselves look almost too good to be healthy and the 'favourites' feature makes it so easy to flick between the recipes you want to try. I went through the whole app gasping at how amazing all of the recipes looked and telling myself 'I NEED TO MAKE THAT' but I settled on the raweos for my first attempt.

Ok, so they don't look as good as the ones from the app... But not a bad attempt. I decided to use peanut butter to fill the raweos because I couldn't really be bothered to soak cashews for 2 hours and in all honesty, I just love peanut butter. If you're looking for the biscuity crunch of an Oreo- you won't find that here but if you want something sweet and chocolatey to satisfy your sweet tooth, this is definitely a contender. What I have said about raw food previously also applies here- there isn't much point trying to imitate foods like cake and biscuits using raw recipes because it just won't be the same but if you want to try something a bit different and forget about the comparisons, raw treats can be pretty delicious in their own right. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Farmgirl Cafe

Some might say that I'm passionate about food... I would say that I'm obsessed. I love trying new cafes and restaurants so when I came across Farmgirl Cafe on instagram I knew it was somewhere I needed to visit. My friend and I tried to go one monday a few weeks ago but it turns out they are closed on mondays, not so ideal but it left us even more curious to visit and try out what the hidden cafe had to offer. It's at the very top of Portobello Road on the end closest to Notting Hill Gate and is tucked behind a courtyard along with the shop Sister Jane.
We started off with flat whites as we tried to decide what to order. SIDE NOTE: How nice is the pottery?! We took what seemed like an eternity to decide what to get but the waiter was very patient with us. The people next to us got the pancakes which looked amazing but we were in a savoury kind of mood and were both intrigued to try the COCONUT BACON BLT. Yes. COCONUT BACON. We weren't disappointed. I really hope this picture depicts how humungous this sandwich actually was. The combination of coconut bacon, avocado, cashew cream, buffalo tomatoes and salad was truly delicious. I'm going to be honest and say that this was probably at least 4x better than the raw sandwich I tried before at the Wild Food Cafe (which was also pretty good) and about 4x as big as well.
Just look at it. Perfect for any vegetarians craving a BLT fix... The lavender and rose lattes sounded amazing but unfortunately they didn't have any left today, I suppose that just means I'll have to go again, such a shame.

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Raw Revolution

I'd been wanting to try the Wild Food Cafe for a while. I'd always walked past it in Neal's Yard and not thought much of it but I've got caught up in the raw/vegan/all natural hype and after seeing what their raw cakes looked like... I had to try it. There's communal seating so the places emits a bit of a friendly and inclusive vibe which seems to fit the typical profile of vegetarian restaurant. There were loads of things that I wanted to try on the menu so I'll definitely be making a trip back. I went for the Ayurvedic salad, it seemed fitting for me though I would have assumed there would have been some ghee and/or turmeric if it were truly Ayurvedic. But good marketing to appeal to Yogis. The salad was delicious, a combo of avocado, olives, mixed leave, courgette noodles, seaweed. Yum. (I forgot to take a picture of our mains because I was about 0.2 seconds from passing out from starvation so had to inhale it immediately)
We also got the 'Forgotten Ecstasy' Smoothie which was undeniably very nice. The main ingredients are raw cacao, dates and coconut milk, a winning combination. ALTHOUGH I would say, if you own a nutribullet or any type of blender then you could make this yourself so easily/ maybe even better because you can customise it yourself. I like making chocolately smoothies in the nutribullet with a frozen banana, a normal banana, a heaped table spoon of raw cacao, a table spoon of almond butter,a little bit of agave then topped up with almond milk. When you think about making it at home, paying £6.20 for the Forgotten Ecstasy is quite painful, but it was worth it for the sake of trying it.
The RAW BANOFFEE CHEESECAKE was the star of the show for me. Probably because I just LOVE banoffee. I'll be honest, it isn't all that similar to an actual bonoffee pie but it is something special in its own right. I personally don't think I have the patience to make a raw cake/tart... maybe I will one day so going to the Wild Food Cafe for a lil taste of raw perfection is okay with me. Basically, if you are expecting a cake or pie like consistency, you will be disappointed, but if you go in with an open mind and take it for what it is then you will be pleasantly surprised. It also looks amazing which is always a bonus. I need to go back to try the White Choc Tart now.
I've also made some of my own raw creations at home. These are a hybrid of the deliciouslyella raw brownies and power balls which I added extra random stuff to that I had in the cupboard. They are so easy to make, probably around 10 minutes with the nutribullet. I used: A cup of walnuts, a cup of almonds, raw cacao, agave nectar, dried cranberries, chia seeds, flax seed powder and cinnamon. So easy and even my raw brownie HATER boyfriend liked them.