30th September 2010

Hare and Tortoise

11-13 The Brunswick, Brunswick Square, London WC1, UK

Japanese fusion is the style at this busy restaurant, popular with students. For starters you can try the mixed salad greens, which come with avocado, wakame and dressing. Another side dish is maki, a kind of sushi without wrapping in which the rice encloses avocado, asparagus and kanpyo…the waiter didn’t know what this last ingredient was, and it turns out to be seasoned gourd; pickled ginger, soy sauce and horesradish accompany the dish. More substantial is the satay vegetable lo mein, in which tofu, capsicum, sprouts, carrots, mushrooms and white onion are piled on a bed of noodles or rice; the onion, not common in East Asian cuisine, is only  lightly cooked, giving the dish extra crunchiness as well as a strong taste. Don’t be surprised if you find a queue outside the door, but this is not the kind of place where people linger, so you won’t be waiting long for a table. In every respect its style is that of a hare, and I’m not sure why a tortoise enjoys equal status in its name.

Hare and Tortoise Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

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25th September 2010

Konaki Greek Restaurant

5 Coptic St, London WC1, UK

Tucked away in one of the small streets to the south of the British Museum, this very attractive restaurant was a wonderful place to share a meal with some dear English friends. We began with a bowl of black olives, slices of carrot and pickles accompanied by warm pitta bread. One of our number ordered the moussaka, a nice mix of baked aubergine, courgette and mushrooms standing on a potato base, over which a rich dressing had been poured; a crunchy salad accompanied it. And it’s not being disparaging to the restaurant to say that the dish of gigandes, ‘giant’ white beans in a tomato and herb sauce, had all the virtues of home cooking at its best, being uncomplicatedly straightforward, immensely hearty and satisfying, yet tasty. We shared a tomato and red onion salad, and washed the meal down with a bottle of  Kritikos Topikos Oinos, a chilled dry white which complimented the food perfectly. Eucharisto Konaki for a very happy dinner!

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19th September 2010

Greens and Beans

131 Drummond St, London NW1, UK

Two of us sat to lunch at this downstairs vegetarian eatery, and owing to a confusion over the menu we ended up eating the same thing,  the arrabbiata pasta. It’s somewhat spicy, its tomato-based sauce not too runny, nicely cooked to a perfect al dente texture, and comes with lots of olives, although these are of the pitted kind that don’t have too much taste. The dish is vegan, but the staff offer a bowl of parmesan cheese which can be sprinkled over it.  It may have been better to have ordered one of the more health-food style options rather than a dish one could get at any Italian restaurant, but the pasta makes a pleasant meal. Juices are available, including one I’d never struck before, made from apple, carrot and spinach; the last ingredient showed itself in the greenish tinge of the drink, but its taste was submerged beneath the sweetness of the apple. The apple, carrot and ginger juice is strongly recommended.

Drummond St is famous for its Indian restaurants, which I hope to discuss in a series of reviews beginning in a few weeks.

Greens & Beans on Urbanspoon

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12th September 2010

Safadi Lebanese Express

113 High Holborn, London WC1, UK

One sometimes finds authenticity in unexpected places, and despite its air of efficient modernity one eats very well at the Safadi. The favva beans in the ful are cooked to the point of disintegrating, the pieces of soft falafel, of the kind shaped like cupcakes,  come with lemony tahini, pickles, tomato and shredded lettuce, and the parsley in the tabouleh is so fresh it seems to have come straight from the garden. But the outstanding dish is the fattoush, in which a large plate of tomatoes, lettuce, green capsicum, cucumber and bread has had poured over it a brown liquid that turns out to be pomegranate juice, which gives the dish an unexpected but utterly appealing sweet edge. The supply of bread is plentiful, the complementary olives are welcome, and while there is no alcohol the still lemonade and freshly squeezed orange juice complement the strong tastes of the food superbly. The speed of the service fully accords with the name of the restaurant, and the vegetarian dishes on the menu are very reasonably priced. I recommend the Safadi without hesitation!

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9th September 2010

Highlighted Campaign for September 2010

GM Food: Our Right to Know

“People have a right to know what they are eating.” Margeret Fulton
“I want my grandchildren to taste real, natural and healthy food.” Stefano de Pieri
“If we are to get GM canola, it should be labelled, and if it is not labelled, we should all ask why.” Dr Rosemary Stanton, nutritionist

The introduction of genetically modified food in to the food chain is removing a choice that we Australians take for granted – that of choosing what we do and don’t want to eat.  Many people hold real concerns about the safety of GM foods and therefore consumers should have the right to know if either an ingredient in the food they are buying is GM or if the food is a product of an animal which has been fed on a GM food. 

You can sign a petition to the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, the Honourable Nicola Roxon, calling on the Federal Government to keep its promises and to protect public health and consumer choice by introducing, and strictly enforcing, legislation to ensure that:

  • GM crops are only approved if they are proven to be safe ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ using evidence from independent, long-term, published studies – measuring indicators relevant to human health.
  • All GM foods are clearly labelled, including highly processed products such as oils, starches and sugars from GM crops; and meat, milk, cheese and eggs from animals fed GM feed.

Find the petition at http://www.truefood.org.au/OurRightToKnow/

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8th September 2010

Little Singapore

Shop 3A 341 Mains Road, Market Square, Sunnybank

Market Square in Sunnybank is the undisputed “China Town” of the southside, although it sports restaurants from a variety of Asian backgrounds.  Little Singapore is one we have been wanting to try since it opened in the not too distant past but were often put off by it’s busy and full appearance, delaying a vist there until we could afford to be…well… delayed.  Recently we gave it a go and were very pleasantly surprised.   The service was friendly and speedy (despite it being as busy as ever), the food  freshly made and delicious, and when asked for a Vegetarian recommendation, were assured that anything on the menu could be made vegetarian.   We enjoyed our meal very much and will most definitely return…

Little Singapore (Sunnybank) on Urbanspoon

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4th September 2010

Alara Health Foods

58 Marchmont St, London WC1, UK

The annual Marchmont Street Party took place on a fine day, and the little thoroughfare in central London was full of Caucasian, Indian and Muslim families, the faces of their youngest members stretched with concentration as they clutched their balloons. Among those feeding the happy throng was Alara, a health food store where the staff seem to be southern European, that offers self-service takeaway vegetarian meals.  It’s hard to choose from so many tasty looking foods, but I ended up with a plate of a lentil dish with potatoes and pumpkin known as dhansak, vegan shepherd’s pie, wonderful sprouting beans with ginger dressing to which crushed almonds gave extra crunchiness, some amazingly colorful beetroot hummus, a vegan potato salad with corn and peas, and a tomato and cucumber salad. Doubtless eating outdoors surrounded by people who are enjoying themselves adds piquancy to one’s lunch, but it occurred to me that the kinds of food on my plate, wonderfully reflecting so many cuisines, mirrored the varied human population on the street. The happy way in which peoples and cuisines can happily rub along together is surely something to be thankful for.

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