Friday, 10 November 2017

Food Roots Interview: Zoe Adjonyoh

Zoe Adjonyoh
Photo:  c/o Z Adjonyoh


One thing that strikes me when I see Zoe Adjonyoh on TV or when interviewed in magazines is her passion for food, her Ghanaian heritage and the desire to fuse them together.

Bearing this in mind, as relatively unexplored territory on the food scene, Zoe has made it her mission to bring African/Ghanaian food to the masses.

Born to a Ghanaian father and Irish mother, the writer and cook from South-East London deepened her understanding of West African cuisine after a trip to visit her extended family in Ghana.   There she spent time exploring recipes in her grandmother’s kitchen and at the famous Kaneshi street market, where she met with cooks who shared their own takes on traditional recipes.

Described by The Observer as a “standard bearer for West African food” and picked up by Nigel Slater as one to watch on the topic of immigration food in Britain, Zoe has been enjoying enormous success ever since her first sell-out supper club in 2011 at her home in Hackney Wick.

Zoe has taken her fresh interpretation of classic Ghanaian flavours to pop-up venues across London and Berlin as well as prominent street-food festivals around the UK, including Bestival and Camp Bestival as part of The Feast Collective.

Named as one of “London’s hottest chefs” by Time Out, Zoe launched her first fixed restaurant space in 2015, at shipping container community project Pop Brixton.

Zoe's Ghana Kitchen Cookbook
Photo:  c/o Z Adjonyoh


2017’s highlights for Zoe include the release of her debut cookbook ‘Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen’ published by Octopus Books as well as her commencing a residency at The Duke’s Head Highgate in London this month showcasing her Ghanaian menu.

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is the spirit of social, relaxed and affordable dining – where guests gather to enjoy Ghanaian favourites, notable for their heartiness and spice.  And if you’ve not had chance to sample Zoe’s food yet, then her interview below will give you a flavour of what you can expect.


~~~

How important is it for you to keep your Ghanaian roots alive? How much of that is expressed through food?

It's incredibly important and very much the heartbeat of everything I do. Ghanaian food was, for a long time, my main access to that part of my heritage and one I've kept alive through my restaurant, cookbook and event catering business. It has been that route to navigating and unearthing cultural heritage that started Zoe's Ghana Kitchen in the first place. 


  
How nostalgic (if at all) does it make you feel eating Ghanaian food?

Food is such a nurturing part of childhood - it can denote safety, comfort, family, love, special occasions and apart from the nostalgic memory of where a special or even regularly cooked dish can take you in time - the taste, smell or texture of food in the present day can jolt you back to those familiar, less complicated times ...

For me - the epitome of this is always groundnut soup.  My favourite dish to eat as a child and still as an adult, the dish that launched my business and nothing compares the spicy sweet piquancy of the dish and with fluffy boiled yams and some simple fried plantain - it just tastes of love and feels like being hugged with each mouthful. My ultimate comfort food by far.



How important is food in Ghanaian culture and do you celebrate calendared Ghanaian festivals with any particular kind of feasting?

Isn't food important in any culture? Of course it is and in Ghana as with many other African cuisines, dishes and ingredients are imbued with meaning, tradition and particular health benefits sometimes too.

Here in the U.K. the main event on the Ghanaian calendar for me is Independence Day and I usually prepare a huge feast of well-known staples and favourites such as Jollof, Red Red, Palaver Sauce, Kelewele, Suya, Hot Pepper Soup, Oto and whole Tilapia with Banku.



What vegetarian dishes could you recommend when dining at a Ghanaian feast and/or restaurant?

Wow, there are so many - palaver sauce, tatale, yele kraklo, oto, okra soup ...



What would be your 'must have' pantry items to replicate a Ghanaian kitchen?

Hmm - well that really depends on your dietary requirements.  If you're cooking stews and soups you're going to want to have a stash of smoked or stock fish to add to a pretty basic holy trinity of onions, tomatoes, finer and fresh peppers - having a good stock of Shito is always a good thing - then Kenkey and plantain will pretty much make any meal for me.


~~~


Notes & My Thanks

I would like to thank Zoe Adjonyoh for her time in participating in the interview.
To find out more about Zoe and where you can enjoy her food, please contact:

Website: www.zoesghanakitchen.co.uk
Twitter: @ghanakitchen
Instagram: @ghanakitchen
Facebook: /zoesghanakitchen


Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen cookbook is available to purchase and is published by Octopus Books.

Address:
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen
Unit S36 Pop Brixton
49 Brixton Station Road
London
SW9 8PQ
Reservations: 07494 746907 or  email
popbrixton@zoesghanakitchen.co.uk

For more information about Zoe’s residency at The Duke’s Head Highgate, please click here.






Monday, 23 October 2017

Kefir

Kefir.  It's kind of dancing around the edges of mainstream.  

Still very much cocooned in health food shops and farmer's markets, but it's getting there, out into a wider arena.  



Mind you, it's always been 'there' in Eastern Europe.  My Mother loved it when she lived in Poland and defines it as the ideal thirst quencher on a hot day, which may seem an odd thing to say as kefir is milk based.




So what exactly is kefir?  It's made from kefir grains which resemble a cauliflower floret and these grains when combined with (any kind of) milk begin to ferment it and it starts to make a bacterial culture.  The grains are then removed with a strainer and used again to make a new batch of kefir and the process goes on.





Whilst there is no exact definition of when these grains were discovered or how indeed the concept of kefir was produced, it is known that it originated from the Caucasus mountain area which straddles the Eurasian borders so hence why kefir's popularity in Eastern European is so great.

Kefir can have a little sourness to it, so just like you would with ordinary milk, I like to turn it into a smoothie with berries and it becomes a sweeter drink.   Classed as a probiotic and because it is a fermented product, it's claimed that it is suitable for those that are lactose intolerant.




With Polish shops on many High Streets selling mass produced kefir in their refrigerators and many farmer's markets selling artisan versions, isn't it time for trying something new and perhaps getting it a step nearer to being mainstream?

~~~
 


 


 

More Information:

To find out more about gastro-health check out fellow blogger's site:  A Balanced Belly.

Artisan kefir makers Barrel & Bone and The Happy Gut Hut trade at Farmer's Markets in the Birmingham areas of King's Norton, Moseley, King's Heath to name a few, selling kefir and other fermented goods.

Photos featured were taken at the Barrel & Bone stand at King's Norton Farmer's Market.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Fischer's - Austrian Restaurant London

For the past couple of years, I've scrolled through Tweets applauding Fischer's food and ambience (including Nigella Lawson if I remember rightly) and so I've always said to MCH (My Carnivorous Husband) that our next trip to London should include a visit there.  This weekend was the time.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


A short walk from Baker Street tube station brings you to Marylebone High Street, where surrounded by affluent boutiques and the likes of Cath Kidston and LK Bennett stores sits Fischer's, dressed in sunshine yellow awnings and extended by pavement seating.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Fischer's describes itself as "warmly evocative of Vienna in the early years of the twentieth century" and short of the plumes of smoke that I imagine would've swirled in the air entwined with coffee aromas, it replicates that continental European café culture circa 100 years ago (how I envisage it anyway).  MCH and I both said even the toilets look like cabins from the Orient Express.  You get the picture, it's like a charming snapshot of history.  And if you've ever been to Hotel Sacher in Vienna, then it's a bit like that.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Back to business, here's more about the food.  It's Austrian, so think - hearty, carb-fuelled schnitzels, strudels and potato/vegetable led menus. 



Best of all, they've got a standalone vegetarian menu.  A rarity, I was drinking it all in whilst chowing down on the homemade bread and finally settled on the Cheese & Potato Knodel served with Sauerkraut & Crispy Onions with a side order of Horseradish Roasted Cauliflower.  MCH chose Sausages with Potato Salad &  Sauerkraut.

Cheese & Potato Knodel
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The Knodel resembled Polish pierogi.  The knodel dough was soft, the filling fluffy and delicious when paired up with a forkful of sauerkraut. 


Horseradish Roasted Cauliflower
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The cauliflower had a hint of horseradish, not overpowering, softened by it being roasted, I'm thinking of trying to replicate this at home.


Photo:   Word In Veg Ways
 
 
MCH went for the Wild Boar and Frankfurter sausages, he commented on the sausages being good quality and the accompaniments worked well together as a dish.
 
    
Cinnamon Strudel
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


We chose two desserts with the idea of sharing the two.  Cinnamon Strudel with Ice Cream and Drunken Sisters.  The apples in the strudel were nicely spiced and the pastry was delicate, very Austrian, very nice. 

Drunken Sisters
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The Drunken Sisters consisted of shredded pancakes in a punch style liquid with pistachio ice cream.  Perhaps seduced a little by the name, the dessert wasn't as fulfilling as we had hoped and I should've gone with my instinct and had a slice of Sachertorte instead.   But sharing the two worked well for us. 

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Fischer's is a delight and now that Franzl's in Birmingham has closed, it's nice to know there is a good quality Austrian restaurant to visit.  Fischer's is somewhere we'd look to return to, especially as the vegetarian menu is extensive for me.  It makes for an interesting place to try and their patriotism certainly cannot be questioned as a framed picture of Eurovision's Conchita Wurst at the till point smiles at you as pay the bill.....


~~
Note:  I paid for my meal in full and Fischer's were not aware that I was conducting a review.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Veggie Food in Malta


Watching the rain beat against my window on this so-called August day, makes me yearn for hotter climes and for hazy afternoons spent in flip-flops, listening to Despacito as it booms from café stereos whilst letting sandy shale drain through my sun-kissed hands on the beach.    For me this epitomises my trip to Malta earlier this summer.

Whilst I can echo the above and I could write tales that build glossy wanderlust images in the mind, but today I’m doing a shout-out for Maltese food.

Not really knowing what to expect from Maltese food having not been there before, I was keen to see what it was all about.

Firstly, I’d describe it as a hybrid of Italian and Arabic/Middle Eastern food which is not surprising when you think of Malta’s geography and history.  Although vegetarian options are available, it’s not as forthcoming as in other countries and the lionshare of menus are meat/fish dominated.  But still, restaurants that aren’t 100% veggie are eager to please and most will put something together for vegetarians if the menus don’t suit.

Pasta plays a big part on most menu roll calls, which for vegetarians is a little predictable, but many offer Speciality Ravioli with Maltese Cheese, the cheese often being from neighbouring island, Gozo.

For an instant street food snack, Qassatat is available from takeaway outlets.  They are like large pasties filled with spinach and vegetables and for a Euro a piece, they’re a bargain!
 
In L'Chaim
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Like everywhere, there are international restaurants dotted around, one of which is L’Chaim in the resort of St Julian’s.  L’Chaim is a Jewish/Kosher restaurant and quite a quaint find.  Jewish folk music provides the backdrop whilst a large oil painting of a Rabbi looks down on you whilst you peruse the menu, the aircon is also a welcomed blessing in the30+ degree heat.  The menu is more Jew-ish than Jewish, so expect falafel and peppered steaks rather than stalwart favourites of salt beef and latkes.  Saying that, some meals are served with pickled gherkins and you can’t get more Jewish than that!

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
 
The capital Valletta is a must to see, not only for its architectural splendour but for the enchanting side streets with restaurants nestled side by side, over spilling with al fresco seating.  I loved Loop Bar in the Strait Street area.  Frequented back in the day by revelling sailors, it’s now a tourist haunt with echoes of the past present in the décor.  Their quinoa salad makes for a delicious lunch, but I imagine the sailors would’ve had something stronger though………..
 
Not the fruit stall as below, but outside a
shop in Gozo
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

One of my favourite memories was walking down a side street that had an open square and seeing a cheerful older lady purveying the most gorgeous large peaches, ripe huge tomatoes and an abundance of fresh fruit.  Seeing bountiful watermelons, I was told she could sell me a wedge.  The delightful lady, with cleaver in hand, sold me a quarter scored with slice marks making it easier to eat.  Her cherub-esque smile beamed at me as she exchanged the melon for 2 Euros.   This simple moment completely charmed me, I suppose this slice of watermelon symbolises a slice of Maltese life, it made me feel like a local, if only for that brief transaction.
 
View from Julia's Vegan Café down to
St Julian's Harbour
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Wherever you find your fodder in Malta, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to wash it down with a soya latte at Julia’s Vegan Café in St Julian’s, a glass of Maltese Green Label wine or a pint of Cisk beer with one or two date biscuits on the side.  Regardless what you consume, you’re guaranteed a restful, relaxing time in Malta, just like I can guarantee Despacito will still be number one in the charts as summer nudges into autumn…..

 

 

 


 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Din Dins at Min Mins


I suppose a number of my recent posts have been reminiscent of past events or have been prompted by things I’ve come across (again).

One of my little trips down Memory Lane this time have led me to think back to when myself and MCH (My Carnivorous Husband) went to see Mel C (aka Sporty Spice) back in April at the Institute in Birmingham.
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

Getting into Birmingham a tad earlier that night, we decided to try out Min Min’s located opposite the Arcadian car park for a quick dinner.
 
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

 
Having heard good things and lots of people loving its eclectic charm (pink moped by the till for instance), we thought it was worth a shot.
 
Walking in at roughly 6pm on a Sunday night, there were a good number of people in there – couples, families and a few lone diners, but yet we could easily find a table.  The set up was almost Scandi-canteen style with metallic furniture, all very informal.
 
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

Our waitress was dutiful but not gushy and we were left to our own devices to study the menu.  The menu was somewhat ‘busy’ with lots pictures of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese food supported by multi-lingual descriptions.  The vegetarian options weren’t accurate as seafood and some fish dishes were marked as vegetarian which I wasn’t very impressed by and so I had to study the menu harder to ensure that what I did choose in the end was 100% veggie.  Something strict vegetarians would need to bear in mind.
 
Veggie Pad Thai
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

I had the Veggie Pad Thai and MCH had a Beef Curry.  Portion sizes were adequate and although we both felt our respective dishes were nice, they didn’t wow us.
 
Beef Curry
Photo: Word In Veg Ways

All in all, Min Mins is great for quick, easy food when you need a meal pitstop rather than for a leisurely night out of feasting.  Its convenience works in its favour, close to Birmingham Hippodrome, Gay Village and the bars in the Arcadian area, ideal to visit en route to ‘wherever next’.

Oh yeah, and by the way, Mel C was amazing!  Ziga-zig-aaaa………

Monday, 19 June 2017

Charity Night with Belinda Carlisle - The High Field

It is very exciting to hear that two things I enjoy very much – The High Field Birmingham and 80’s music are collaborating for a charity extravaganza!

Photo:  c/o The High Field

On Saturday 15th July 2017, The High Field will be hosting a very special evening in aid of charity when Belinda Carlisle, one of the biggest selling female global artists of all time, makes a one-off appearance at the Edgbaston venue.

This exclusive event, which is limited to just 250 guests, will feature a short acoustic set of songs from Belinda as well as drinks and dinner in a glorious garden setting. It will raise money for Belinda's own co-founded charity ‘Animal People Alliance’ and the UK Charity Branch of ‘Her Future’.

Tickets for this special event are now on sale and include fizz and canapés on arrival, followed by a three course vegetarian or vegan dinner with a menu created for the night by The High Field's head chef Ian Meek.

After enjoying good food and drink in the stylish surroundings of The High Field, which was named the Best Gastro Pub in Birmingham at the inaugural Birmingham Food Drink & Hospitality Awards, guests will enjoy a short acoustic performance of Belinda’s songs. 

There will also be a silent auction with some brilliant prizes to be won, special guests and even the opportunity to win breakfast with Belinda herself at a secret location the next morning.

Photo:  c/o The High Field

All the proceeds from ticket sales will be given to the two charities close to Belinda’s heart to support the vital work they undertake. Animal People Alliance's mission is to offer high quality care to street animals in need, alongside robust employment opportunities to survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations in South Asia. Her Future UK provides shelter, education and high-wage employment to survivors of human trafficking and extreme abuse so that they may remain forever free; since 2005, the charity has helped thousands of women and children to build a bright and independent future.

Photo:  c/o The High Field

Launching the evening, Sarah Robinson, General Manager of The High Field, says, "This is a fantastic opportunity to support these two amazing charities whilst enjoying good food and drink in a unique venue.

"We are thrilled to be joined by Belinda Carlisle and to have this unmissable opportunity to listen to her music in such an intimate setting," says Sarah. "As lead singer of the Go-Go's and one of the world's biggest selling female artists, she is a true pop icon, and we are honoured that she will be performing here in support of these two great charities.

"It's going to be a wonderful evening full of excitement and surprises, and we hope that as many existing and new guests will join us to help raise as much money as possible for charity," she says.

Photo:  c/o The High Field

Belinda Carlisle, says, “Animal People Alliance is a charity, based in Kolkata India, I co-founded with Paul Suit in 2014. Whilst still in the early days, we are starting to have a real impact, with our mission to provide quality care for India’s street animals, employment for survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations. We want to change the future generation's consciousness towards animals, and raise awareness of the need to treat animals humanely.

"I’ve always dreamed of having an animal sanctuary and I have such a love of India. I had an idea on how great it would be to combine both with the invaluable help of Her Future, of which I’ve seen first-hand the work they do, and I’m humbled even to be in the same room as Sarah Symons (the co-founder of Her Future Coalition and inspiration of Her Future UK), as she does the work of angels.

"I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the charity evening at The High Field, and grateful to all the generous people and businesses who are making this event happen. I will be performing a short acoustic set of my hits as music is still a big part of my life, as is Animal People Alliance,” she says.

There are just 100 tickets for this special evening costing £150 each, to include fizz and canapés followed by a three-course vegetarian or vegan meal, and a further 150 tickets at £75 each for those not wishing to dine, with a silent auction and some amazing raffle prices from sponsors.

To book, please email event@animalpeoplealliance.co.uk to request tickets.

The charity evening at The High Field with Belinda Carlisle takes place on Saturday 15th July 2017 from 5pm until midnight.

The High Field is at 22 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, B15 3DP. Tel: 0121 227 7068.
www.highfieldedgbaston.co.uk/ Highfield@peachpubs.com @_TheHighField www.facebook.com/TheHighFieldEdgbaston



Saturday, 17 June 2017

Breakfast in Budapest

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Looking back at some old photos, its triggered memories of my visit to Budapest in Hungary last year.  Packed with Eastern European charm, famous for goulash, paprika and thermal baths, it's small as capital cities go, but there is a lovely, easy, calm energy wherever you turn - perfect for a long weekend.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Hotel-wise, I have to whole-heartedly recommend Bohem Art Hotel.  Its location is ideal - right next to the underground station, by the Danube river, round the corner from Vaci Utca (the main road for shops/restaurants) - I could go on.....  Its contemporary decor with huge pieces of artwork on every corridor and in every bedroom makes it a very stylish place to stay.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Decor and location benefits to one side, what I really want to wax lyrical about is the breakfast.  NB:  **Info valid at the time of visit - April 2016**.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
The all-you-can-eat buffet (including various types of non-dairy milk) not only offered vegetarian options but also vegan and gluten free food with other dietary requirements potentially being catered for upon request.  Hot food, fruits, continental style items, all washed down with 'champagne' style sparkles.  What a glorious way to start the day!

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
This post is short but sweet, but the fact that I've still got memories of the breakfasts there surely are testimony of how enjoyable and plentiful they were.......... 


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways