An Evening in The Callaloo Kitchen is Just What The Doctor Ordered

I was recently invited to attend Lola Brown’s Calloloo Kitchen Supperclub event at the Erith Lighthouse on September 21st 2017 and what a fantastic foodie experience it was. Lola’s cooking style pays homage to her truly multicultural heritage,  with Yoruba parents, an English grandmother and a Bajan step-grandfather, Lola celebrates the different cultures  in her life through her food. She does this with ease, nothing on her menu feels forced or gimmicky and the proof was in the pudding so to speak. There is a congeniality that comes through in every dish, and when you meet Lola you can understand why. As a obstetrician/ gynecological doctor who took a career break in May 2017, the same care and attention that I assume she puts into her medical skills goes into her cookery skills. I loved the fact that she was able to combine Nigerian and Caribbean flavours to make dishes that were appealing and tasty.

#LolaBCooks

#LolaBCooks

The group of diners was diverse, something that I am particularly keen to flag purely because I want EVERYONE to experience the pleasures of Nigerian food! And whilst this wasn’t purely Nigerian food it was a great introduction for those who have never tasted Nigerian cuisine.

The cassava chips were absolutely great nibbles, and being a chilli addict the shito sauce just made it difficult for me to stop nibbling! I have to say that the callaloo soup was my absolute favourite course; warming, spicy and thick it was just a fantastic start to the evening with the moreish agege bread it was the perfect autumnal meal!

The main course was served in sharing platter style which added to the Caribbean/West African communal feel of the evening. Sharing our dishes with our fellow diners was a great icebreaker. We had a really generous selection of dishes, there was something for everyone. I found that the beef was beautifully tender and sweet, perhaps a touch too sweet for a chilli fiend like myself and since the jollof rice wasn’t particularly spicy I had to add some of the hot sauce that was made available (Lola really did think of everyone!). I absolutely LOVED the slaw, I usually do not enjoy coleslaw but this was different from anything I had ever been offered before.

The Mac n Cheese was SO good, wholesome and rich, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was so feeling I would have eaten all of it. The sweet potato pottage was a perfect accompaniment, although again with the sweetness of the beef and the plantain as well as the sweetness of the mango in the slaw it almost pushed the meal over the edge (almost but quite). There was still enough of a savoury balance to save the meal and let’s not forget that hot sauce was at hand if I needed it.

Our dessert was a real pleasure, the coconut “puff puff” (a Nigerian doughnut) was actually made in a Mandazi style (East African doughnut, thicker dough used). The pineapple and passionfruit jam went really well with the dish and overall it was the perfect ending to a really lovely food experience.

I encourage you to follow Lola’s journey. There is something so inspirational about seeing someone follow their passion, their dream and literally tasting the fruits of their labour. I can see through the supperclubs that she has hosted before and the one which I attended that Lola is a gifted chef, it is time for you all to see.

Visit her website https://www.callalookitchen.co.uk/ and follow her across social media #LolaBCooks.

A Multitude of Ways to Eat Mashed Potatoes

Every great meal needs a good base, usually the most popular bases are rice, pasta, potatoes or vegetables. Mashed potatoes are one of those dishes that whilst relatively easy to make it is also relatively easy to get wrong. There’s nothing worse than lumpy mashed potatoes so you have to take the time to make them correctly, with love and care, as you should with all your home cooked meals. Once you get it right it is a delicious compliment to any meal. Once in a while though you want that warming taste of a dish like mashed potatoes but you have limited time, the alternative solution is ready made mash which doesn’t taste as good as the real thing. That is until Idahoan launched it’s range of easy to prepare potato packs which include mash potatoes that can be made in a minute and oven bake meals of Creamy Dauphinouise and Cheesy Gratin. To celebrate the launch of their range of potato products I was invited to attend The Idahoan Challenge featuring a range of potato dishes cooked by Masterchef stars Billy and Jack in which myself and a group of fellow foodies had to guess the difference between Idahoan mash and actual mashed made from scratch.

Dine With Idahoan

The dishes were creative and unusual and although I guessed 4 out of the 7 courses on the menu correctly I have to admit that it was not always easy to spot the difference. I really enjoyed the Croquettes and pressed potato with three cheese sauce. The deconstructed cottage pie was delicious, the beef was so rich that the potato helped to cut through that depth of flavour. I didn’t enjoy the honey potato cake (who knew that you could make desserts with potatoes!?) although the honey comb was lovely and I didn’t even attempt the potato truffles as I don’t like white chocolate.

These products are definitely levels above the standard instant mash powders that some of you might be used. I can’t remember the last time I used instant mash, purely because I don’t like the artificial texture but these products have definitely changed my perspective.  It was also great to discover new and unusual ways to use mashed potatoes for dinner. The variety of flavours, aside from classic, as well as the bakes mean that there is something for everyone.

You can find the Idahoan bakes in ASDA, Tesco, Morrison’s and Ocado and the Idahoan mashes are in ASDA, Tesco, Morrison’s, Ocado and Sainsbury’s.

I was an invited guest to their launch event, no payment was received in the writing of this piece.