Rum Punch

Rum Punch Fun and Caribbean Cuisine At Cottons Shoreditch

Shoreditch is an absolute foodie hotspot and whilst it has traditionally been seen as “Little Vietnam” given the number of high quality Vietnamese restaurants in the area it is great to see original restaurant that stand out in the area. Cottons is one such restaurant, the flagship restaurant is based in Camden and the second is in Notting Hill, with their third restaurant the pressure to remain authentic is intense given the impact that becoming a chain sometimes has on restaurant brands. Not to say that Cottons is necessarily becoming a chain so to speak but it is certainly become a recognisable brand, enhancing the brand awareness and accessibility of Caribbean cuisine to the mainstream (outside of The Notting Hill Carnival). Having only ever been to the Camden branch I was looking forward to sampling the menu at the exclusive food blogger Rum Masterclass and menu taster. Having grown up in Hackney I have been to numerous independent Caribbean restaurants and have many friends from across the Caribbean so I know what tastes good and what doesn’t when it comes to authenticity of taste. I was not disappointed by the food at Cottons at all, in fact it exceed expectations, as I discussed each dish with fellow foodies we were all impressed (our rum tasting session beforehand may have had something to do with our excitement too!). Cottons is a Pan-Caribbean restaurant, that is the dishes come from or are inspired by various countries from across The Caribbean so go there with an open mind and willing tastebuds.

We were treat to an excellent Angostura Rum Tasting masterclass in which we learnt about the history of the brand. It was a fascinating talk and gave us a great background into the rich cultural heritage of the brand and rum as a whole. I particularly enjoyed learning about the medicinal benefits of Bitters…I’ll let you do some research into what they are.

Here’s what we tasted:

  • Angostura Aromatic Bitters
  • Angostura Orange Bitters
  • Amaro Di Angostura
  • Angostura Reserva Blanca
  • Angostura 5 Year Old
  • Angostura 7 Year Old
  • Angostura 1919
  • Angostura 1824

The food was absolutely delightful, we had a steady stream of the starters and mains from the menu so we had the chance to try pretty much everything. Some of the starter dishes include Salt fish fritters with Spiced Mango Chutney and Chilli Jam, Barbecued chicken pieces with Mango chilli salsa, Crayfish and Lobster Mac N Cheese and Caribbean fish goujons. I absolutely loved the mac an cheese and would definitely return to Cottons just for that.

The mains were show stoppers, especially the Seafood platters and mixed meat platters. Mains include curried mutton with  rice n peas, coleslaw and plantain, brown stew chicken with steamed rice and stir fried vegetables, Oxtail and bean stew with Steamed Rice, Trinidadian fish curry and Ital vegetable curry with dumplings.

The oxtail stew, curried mutton and fish curry stood out for me but I have to say that everything I tasted was absolutely wonderful, the flavours were balanced and everything was well seasoned. Some dishes could have been spicier but that’s because I’m a chilli friend.

Get down to the new addition to the Cottons restaurant family in Shoreditch, Curtain Road and tell your friends – it’s definitely worth it! www.cottons-restaurant.co.uk

Hibisicus by Lope ariyo

Lopè Ariyo Brings Contemporary Nigerian Food To The World With Hibisicus

Who’s For Dinner is very pleased to feature the new cookbook by Lopè Ariyo. After helping to judge HarperCollins/Red Magazine’s “The Next Star of African Food” competition in 2016 it is great to see that Hibisicus has come to life! Despite having some of the most rich and vibrant flavours in the world, African cookery has so far taken a back seat in the British food scene. Lopè Ariyo is a 23 year old cooking talent, fresh out of university who wowed the judges with her modern approach to Nigerian cuisine. After winning the competition and landing herself a book deal, Lopè is set to take the cookery world by storm and her wonderful new cookbook Hibiscus was published on 1st June.

Hibisicus by Lope Ariyo Hibisicus by Lope Ariyo

Featuring a stunning collection of delicious Nigerian recipes, Lopè has used the cooking she grew up with and has added her own British twist, adding contemporary touches to Nigerian classics. The book tells the story of Lope’s childhood through the dishes – from her early love affair with plantains, the street food from Lagos, all the way up to her Uncle Yomi’s baked eggs dance. It is a beautifully designed book with stunning images that make Nigerian food look as good as it actually tastes! By combing European ingrediants with African flavours, Hibisicus will open up a new world of culinary delights to people from a variety of backgrounds. It is time for Nigerian food to shine on an international level and Lopè will help to make it happen.
Nigerian cuisine is all about sharing and bringing people closer together – this book will do just that, as well as introducing a whole new audience to a delicious and incredibly vibrant cuisine. It’s time to make Nigerian food just as prevalent as Chinese and Indian food in the wider foodie community! The recipes are easy to follow and reflect Lopè’s vibrant and warm natured personality, we know she’s set to be a star!

Make sure you order a copy online or in book stores.

Photo credit Jade Nina Sarkhel starters Bistro Vadouvan

Who’s For Dinner With Chef-Patron Durga Misra of Bistro Vadouvan?

Bistro Vadouvan; based in Putney, South West London, is the first solo venture for Chef-patron and Michelin-trained Durga Misra. The menu delicately mixes elements of Middle Eastern and Asian spice with classical French cuisine, creating mouth-watering and original dishes which balance great flavours with a delicate, contemporary feel.  Chef-patron Durga’s inspiration comes from his Michelin-starred background, having worked with the likes of Eric Chavot, Joel Antunes and Pascal Proyart and ensures each one of the Bistro’s dishes is unique, perfectly balanced and utterly delicious. We were lucky enough to interview Chef-patron Durga and find out about his inspiration and passion for food.

Photo Credit Jade Nina Sarkhel- eating brunch at Bistro Vadouvan

Photo Credit Jade Nina Sarkhel- eating brunch

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where does your love of food come from?

I accidentally got into a cooking school and fell in love with the profession almost instantly. My boyhood dream had been to join the army and I think that the discipline which attracted me to that was also the magnet that first pulled me into the kitchen! But the propelling force, which keeps me going, is making somebody smile when they have the first mouthful of my food. The surprise element,  the wow factor and the joy when they take spoonful of all the flavours, savour them and watching how it can brings out different emotions in people is really fantastic. I always try to bring that element of “je ne sais quoi” in all the dishes we serve, to always surprise and delight with something different and delicious each time.

How did you start your career in food? 

My career took off in India in 1998 but I guess it really started when I joined Eric Chavot in 2004 in the 2 Michelin star Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge. He fed me with the basics of cuisine Francaise and taught me the finer details of flavor combinations and subtleties which have helped me later build my repertoire .

Photo Credit Jade Nina Sarkhel-crab and prawn salad

Photo Credit Jade Nina Sarkhel-crab and prawn salad

Photo Credit Jade Nina Sarkhel- duck leg pot au pho

Photo Credit Jade Nina Sarkhel- duck leg pot au pho

What would you say has been your greatest food-related accomplishment to date?

Creating the dishes for bistro Vadouvan! It’s been an incredible journey – for the first time being the person actually creating, defining and deciding on each dish. It’s a lot of pressure but unbelievably rewarding – especially now that we can see the customers really enjoying them and appreciating the effort we have made to bring out different flavours.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?

To be honest everything has been a challenge as I am a novice as a businessman and it’s all been a really steep learning curve! But I am really fortunate to have a business partner and great friend in Uttam Tripathy who has a lot of experience in running a very successful restaurant already with Potli in Hammersmith. His good judgment and calm business ability has really helped me in every step.  I’ve also been incredibly lucky to have the support of my former mentor Eric Chavot, who has been quietly providing guidance and words of wisdom to help me develop the food side – not just creating dishes that taste great but that work for the restaurant, within the kitchen we have!

What is your favourite meal and why?

It’s always difficult for a chef to pinpoint one favorite meal. But as summer is here, I would love to start with a gorgeous salad of asparagus and broad beans,  for a second course I would love a bowl full of broth, maybe with some pasta or noodles and for dessert a chilled peach soup with Elderflower sorbet.

Name 3 ingredients that you cannot live without?

Olive oil, maldon salt , lemons

Photo credit Jade Nina Sarkhel starters Bistro Vadouvan

Photo credit Jade Nina Sarkhel – The starters at
Bistro Vadouvan

Who’s For Dinner with you? Who would you invite for a meal of a lifetime with you and why?

I am basically a chef’s chef and I live, eat and breathe cooking, so I would have my Dad who has always been a massive support and a great admirer of my cooking along with a table of the chefs whose cooking I really love. My dream-team table would have Pierre Koffmann, Eric Chavot, Bruno Loubet and Raffael Duntoye sitting round eating and discussing the food.

Bistro Vadouvan

Bistro Vadouvan is located at Brewhouse Lane,  Putney Wharf, Putney, London SW15 2JX  www.bistrovadouvan.co.uk

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