North London Kitchen

Cooking, eating, and designing a kitchen in North London

100% foolproof guide to avoiding avocado hand

Last week everyone was talking about avocados.  Apparently millennials are spending all of their money on avocado toast instead of houses, oops.  Ok, so I was living on scraps from the back of the fridge with multiple other people of varying degrees of personal hygiene in a flat with no living room for about ten years before I was finally able to afford my own little space, but I’m not going to give any advice on how to get on the property ladder to those younger than me because I get it.  I bought the last affordable flat in North London so I know there’s nothing left.  You may as well drink your single estate espresso and eat your avocados.

But please do so safely.  The Guardian also reported that people keep injuring themselves trying to cut avocados.  I know.  I have been there.  But you do not have to live like this, my friends. I’m here to tell you that cutting an avocado safely is much easier than saving for a deposit.  Here’s how:

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Step 1: Taking a sharp knife, cut around the middle of your avocado.  A sharp knife is less likely to slip and head off in the wrong direction.  I nearly sliced the top of my finger off with a blunt knife as a teenager in my mother’s kitchen.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT attempt to put your knife, however sharp, in the avocado stone.  That way lies blood and stitches.  Instead do this:

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Step 2: Cut your half avocados in half again. You will be left with the stone in one of the quarters.  And then it’s simple:

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Using your fingers, which you still have because you did not cut them off in Step 2, to gently remove the avocado stone.  Now, why didn’t you think of that before?

Extra for experts: waste none of the avocado.  From here the skin is easy to peel away from the avocado flesh.  Any minor blemishes tend to stick to the skin, so what is left is ready to use.

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Get your bread into the toaster, an egg into the pot, mash up your avocado, and brew your coffee.

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Breakfast is served.

If you really, really can’t afford avocados get a packet of frozen broad beans for £1 at your local convenience store.  Double pod them and mash them up with some roast garlic, olive oil, s + p.  You might think of it as a poor man’s avocado toast but it’s delicious in its own right.  And it doesn’t involve any knives at all though does involve boiling water – I’ll leave you to do the risk assessment.

Performance enhancing porridge

Sorry, I’ve not been around for a while.  Literally – in that for three weeks I was away from North London in New Zealand running, hiking, kayaking, meeting my new nephew, trampolining with my niece and generally having fun.

And then three weeks after I came back I ran the London Marathon.

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I’ll tell you a secret: I took that photo at least an hour after I finished the race. I did not finish looking that fresh! Running is hard. That smile is probably because I was on my way to Franco Manca for a free pizza. Thanks Franco Manca!

My previous meal (if we don’t count gels or concentrated beetroot juice) had been at about 6 that morning: what I like to call my Performance Enhancing Porridge.  It’s my favourite thing to eat before a race, and certainly when I started making it last year I started getting personal best after personal best.  Maybe that’s because I’d also just trained for and run my first marathon so I was in very good shape, but maybe it was the porridge.

And did it help me in London? Well I got a 37 minute personal best so I’m very happy with that!

This is how I make it:

Performance Enhancing Porridge
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836 calories
73 g
0 g
57 g
20 g
38 g
303 g
30 g
18 g
0 g
14 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
303g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 836
Calories from Fat 475
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 57g
87%
Saturated Fat 38g
189%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 30mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 73g
24%
Dietary Fiber 12g
47%
Sugars 18g
Protein 20g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
4%
Calcium
18%
Iron
60%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 100ml organic porridge oats
  2. 200ml coconut milk
  3. 1 tablespoon chia seeds (it don't matter if they're black or white)
  4. 1 tablespoon almond butter
  5. honey or maple syrup to taste
Instructions
  1. Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, turn the heat to medium high and start stirring. I use a risotto spoon (it has a hole in the middle which helps make the risotto creamier). It cooks pretty quickly so make sure your coffee is ready to go too. Stir until just before your preferred consistency, you're going to eat it straight away but it does thicken up slightly on standing.
  2. If you have a microwave, you could put everything into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about two minutes on high. I quite like the ritual of stirring it over a stove though - especially before a race.
Notes
  1. You'll notice this porridge is dairy free. I'm trying to cut down on dairy for ethical reasons (baby cows, climate) but I still love cheese so much. I figure cutting out milk is a step in the right direction. Also, milk can cause digestive issues for some runners. The coconut milk tastes divine so it's a win/win.
  2. I use a volume measurement for the oats and milk - pick the same cup to use every time once you figure out the right amount for you. I use a cup for measuring rice but a teacup would probably work well.
beta
calories
836
fat
57g
protein
20g
carbs
73g
more
North London Kitchen http://northlondonkitchen.com/

 

I think Recipe Card based the calorie count on coconut milk in a tin rather than the milk alternative kind, so dn’t be alarmed by the calorie count! But I do tend to save this for before a long run or race.

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I took this around 6am yesterday morning. I had been woken up by my smoke detector running out of batteries at 4:45am, which just happened to be the time Nike’s Breaking2 attempt started. So I decided to watch it. And I’m glad I did. When they introduced the athletes I was so impressed by Eliud Kipchoge. The guy is a Zen master of running. He didn’t break 2 hours, he did it in 2:00:25 but that’s still incredible.

So I’m going to ring off with this video about him. What an inspiration (I wonder what he eats for breakfast?).

Passione e Tradizione

Two and a bit years ago when I moved to the area, there was a little Italian restaurant just down the road called Buonissimo.  Inside the decor looked fairly modern and trendy – lots of exposed brick and wood.  Walking past one day I’m sure I saw the word “burrata” chalked on the specials menu.

Unbeknown to me the restaurant apparently changed hands, and when I finally checked it out I had the most average meal imaginable.  I could have bought fresh pasta and sauce from the supermarket and eaten it at home.  There was no sign of any burrata or anything particularly special.  I had taken a date there to help me check it out in preparation for a visit from my mum.  I decided not to take mum there!  It wasn’t actively bad, but I couldn’t find a reason to like it much either.

Not long after the place closed down and was vacant for a long time.  Then rumours started that it had been taken over by Mustapha from the wildly popular restaurant Anima e Cuore in Kentish Town (another restaurant that had been on my list for a long time and I hadn’t gotten around to going there).  The rumour said he wanted to use it as a prep kitchen for the tiny KTown premises.  It would be open during the day but not in the evenings.

After it opened it was so popular they decided to open in the evenings after all.  I went in November not long after it opened and I’ve since returned.  The menu is constantly changing and you can ask for off-menu stuff too.

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Aperol Spritz, now you’re talking.

20161118_193229 Quattro Stagioni pizza – my friend loved this. The pizza oven is not wood fired though, and to be honest you want to go to this place for the pasta. 20161118_193243
Spaghetti with broccoli and clams

On my most recent trip I insisted on starters.
20170114_193459 Radicchio and gorgonzola crespelle. You all know this is a combo I can’t resist. But then I was struck by extreme food envy. 20170114_193448
Because the tuna tartare was out of this world. It came with a smear of avocado on the plate but also a scoop of cucumber sorbet. Did I mention they make all of their ice creams on site? Well I have now.

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For mains we both had tagliatelle, I chose the wild mushrooms and G chose the beef ragu.  We drank a lovely and affordable Montepulciano.

I had to order ice cream for dessert (one scoop each of chocolate and caramel), and we also had hot chocolates, which they will make with dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate.

It was such a lovely meal and I need to go back while that tuna is still on the menu. I don’t think they take cards yet so make sure you take cash with you.  UPDATE: they take cards now!

Passione e Tradizione
451 West Green Road, N15
020 8245 9491

Sambal Shiok at Blend

I’ve written about Blend before, one of my favourite coffee shops with its Antipodean style coffee, Danish furniture and great brunches.

At dinner time at the moment the flavour changes a lot: laksa outfit Sambal Shiok have taken a residency.

I ate there in November (I said I had a backlog, right?).  The menu says “Ask for your laksa to be regular spicy, otherwise it will be served SUPER SPICY by default.”  I loved this.

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It was nicely challenging and I wouldn’t have traded down to regular spicy, though I recommend making sure you have a full pitcher of water and a couple of tissues on hand (yes, I had another winter sniffle at the time – spicy food is a good but somewhat violent remedy).

I just stopped in for the laksa, but there are coconut rice plates, some tasty looking snacks and a few kids’ options too – which judging from the noise coming from the back of the room were being heartily enjoyed.  I had the veg laksa which came in a vegetarian broth.

Reading over the menu as I write this post, I see that they deliver via Deliveroo.  They also do collection.  And their website advises that if you arrive early (before 6:30) you will get 25% off in January.  Booking advised – especially as Jay Rayner recently gave it the thumbs up.

Sambal Shiok
Blend Cafe, 587 Green Lanes, Harringay N8 0RG
www.sambalshiok.co.uk
@sambalshiok

New Year, new pizza

How are those New Year’s resolutions going, folks?

My blog hosting just renewed, reminding me that one of my resolutions is to get back on the blogging wagon.  I’ve been eating a lot, and taking a lot of pictures, but just wasn’t quite getting around to the blogging part.  I blamed it on technical difficulties for a while, but I have a new computer now.  For a while there my time was also taken up with marathon training.  I ran my first marathon at the start of November.  If you’ve never run one before, you have NO IDEA how much it takes over your life.

So of course I’m in my first week of training for the next marathon now.  THE marathon.  Somehow I managed to land a place in the London Marathon.  It’s like finding the golden ticket.  Then illness struck and derailed my first week of training, but I got it together in time for my first long run today.  I’m feeling so much less fit than I was two weeks ago, but I know it will come back.

The plus side of illness of course, is one of my favourite hobbies, comfort eating. Remember when I wrote about LOVENpresents?  At the time they were based at Tottenham Hale, in the outdoor bar at arts venue Styx.  I also wrote about the time they started delivering to the Lord Palmerston.  Well, it gets better: at the end of 2016, they opened their own restaurant!

LOVENpresents is located in a building on Norman Road N15, close to Seven Sisters station.  I went there on New Year’s Eve with my friend Caroline (who now has my cold. Sorry Caroline). It’s a warehouse type building, and you have to press a buzzer to be let in – it was quite dark outside and it took us a while to find it!

20161231_193720 Inside the place was buzzing. There is a bar at one end serving up a good range of cocktails.  A rather glamorous looking pizza oven sits to the right of the room. 20161231_193716

The textiles were all made by a local company. I want those cushions!

20161231_194814 And then the pizzas. Oh, the pizzas. They have expanded their range from the pizzas they previously served, so there’s a great amount to choose from. Caroline had my favourite Zola: 20161231_195324

Radicchio, Gorgonzola, pistachios.  Such a good combination. I decided to branch out with one of the new pizzas and chose Burrata.

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A whole ball of oozy burrata on top of a pizza with tomato, cherry tomato, and rocket. And for only a tenner.

Prices seem to have risen a little with their overheads, but I don’t think I’ve had better pizza than this in London, and now you can eat it inside, from a real plate, with a knife and fork (if you’re weird like me; if you prefer to eat with your hands they do slice the pizzas).

Deliveries will re-start in the next week or so.  This could be very very dangerous. In a completely delicious way.

LOVENpresents
2 Norman Road
Tottenham
London
N15 4ND
www.lovenpresents.com
@lovenpresents

Loven Presents at the Lord Palmerston

The Lord Palmerston is a pub situated between my flat and my friend and running buddy Dave’s.  Despite this, he had never visited in his four years of living in the area, and I had never been either.  

Then one day on twitter, a new account popped up from Eamonn, the new manager there.  I followed the account with interest as Eamonn poured his heart and soul (and no small amount of elbow grease) into improving the pub – check out the pictures of the roof terrace, it looks great. The pub itself is still very much a football pub. Eamonn said a lot of their old regulars left after prices rose, but I can say that those who remain are friendly and the pub had a nice feel to it on a Wednesday evening.

Bottled beer is availble from local favourite Redemption, and as it’s a Greene King pub there’s a selection of their beer including a drinkable pale ale.  Then came the icing on the cake: pizza.

My favourite pizza comes from Loven Presents, a street food pizza outfit formerly located somewhere along the Lea, then relocated to Styx, the theatre/concept bar at Tottenham Hale.  Many’s the time I’ve been there and taken crap photos, and if you follow me on Instagram I’m sure you’ve seen them.  Dave and I were both excited to hear that they deliver, as Styx really is the wrong direction for both of us.  However, they deliver by cargo bike, and have a 1km delivery radius that we live just outside.  HOWEVER, Eamonn has clearly talked them into extending the radius a little further, and Loven Presents pizzas can be obtained at the Lord Palmerston.  Hallelujah.

On Wednesday we went there after running group, and six hungry runners tucked into six different pizzas:

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I love that we all chose different pizzas – that’s how varied and interesting the menu is. However, I keep coming back to the Zola. Gorgonzola, radicchio and pistachio nuts – an interesting combination but it really works. The creamy richness of the Gorgonzola is balanced by the bitterness of the radicchio, and who doesn’t love pistachios? It’s pizza that makes me very happy. I can fully believe in the psychoactive properties of blue cheese after eating one.

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They really know how to make good pizza – the dough is soft but thin, and look at that blistered crust.

Do check them out – and maybe drop me a line if you’re heading there!

The Lord Palmerston
197 Philip Ln, London N15 4HQ
@palmerstonn15
@lovenpresents

North London Vegan

I’ve been back in training as I continue to recover from shin splints.  They weren’t getting any worse the more I ran, so I took the plunge and committed to a couple of half marathons (and 10k and 14k trail races) over the next couple of months.

Determined not to get injured again and inspired by reading ultra champion Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run, I thought I might try going vegan for a while.  Jurek found that on a vegan diet full of vegetables and whole foods, his recovery times were faster, he was injured less and his race times (and records) speak for themselves.

The timing works because I’ve been trying to cut down the fish I consume to just what I receive from Soleshare (more on them another time!), and they’re taking August off.

It turns out it’s very easy to eat vegan in North London, with a few small slip ups.   I didn’t realise some fries I had ordered would come smothered in mayonnaise, for example.  But I’m not worrying too much about the small stuff.

Here’s some of the food I have been tucking into:

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Nasu dengaku with chard, sesame carrot salad (grated carrot with grated ginger, a splash of sesame oil, a slug of rice wine vinegar and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds) and brown sushi rice.  Veg all from Crop Drop.

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Lunch al desko (my new job is BUSY): smoked tofu, more of the carrot salad, and a lovely salad I made with cucumber “noodles”, edamame and peanut sauce.

Five runners came over after Finsbury Parkrun one day and I served up an almost entirely vegan meal. 

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The most amazing heritage tomatoes from Crop Drop became…

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Butter beans with fennel, lemon and tomato, from Anna Jones’ book A Modern Way to Cook. I am in love with this book. Everyone raved about the other recipe I made from the book: kale, sumac and crispy brown rice salad. The crispy rice is made by cooking it three times – boiling it, dry frying it to dry it out further, then frying in coconut oil to make very crispy rice. It’s a fantastic textural element.

I have now purchased her earlier book A Modern Way to Eat. In fact tonight’s dinner of sweet potato and cannelini bean quesadillas (no queso!) was from that book.

Eating out and about has been easy too. I had a fantastic lunch from Spice Box, who serve up fantastic vegan Indian food (without dairy, if you choose). Also from Kerb Kings Cross I tried a delicious vegan burrito from Club Mexicana. One day I lunched with a friend at Google’s Pancras Square office (where I felt too self conscious to take photos!). There were plenty of options including a chickpea tagine and various salads.

Tottenham Green Market has great vegan food too:

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My favourites The Green Bean. Next time I go I must remember to take a container so I can take home some salad without the waste of packaging.

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Newcomers Vurger, serving up three different vegetarian and vegan burgers. This was amazing after a 2 1/2 hour run.

Finally, I dragged some friends out after a run for vegan pizza from Fed in Dalston:

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That’s some sort of cashew concoction in place of cheese. Everyone liked it.

Cheese though. I’m off to Paris later this week. As good as I’m feeling, will I be able to restrain myself? We shall see….

Smoked trout, kohlrabi and apple salad

Guys, it’s been a while.  I’ve been eating my way around North London so I have things to share.  I was also in Sweden for midsummer, which was amazing.  I have also finished my kitchen, so there will be more posts on that soon.  Oh, and I started a new job.  I’ve never been so busy!

Meanwhile, summer has well and truly arrived here in North London.  Today is set to get up to 33 degrees (I even heard 35 threatened on Radio 4 this morning).

Even in a modern, air conditioned office we are feeling the heat.  The best meals in this kind of weather are those that require no cooking.  With crisp, fresh ingredients and bold flavours.  I was craving smoked trout and managed to find some at M&S – I’ve found fillets at the larger food halls but this was just a packet of hot smoked trout flakes.  I felt like kohlrabi too and so this salad was born.

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No recipe for this as you can adjust quantities to suit what you have available.

Use a julienne peeler or sharp knife to turn half a kohlrabi and one apple (I used a Bramley) into thin strips.  Again with the sharp knife or a mandoline if you have one, slice a few radishes into thin slices.  Add some chopped tarragon, dill or chives (I happened to have some tarragon in the fridge) and some thinly sliced spring onions.  Stir the whole lot together with the smoked trout (don’t break the flakes up too much though).

Make a dressing by shaking up some lemon juice, wholegrain mustard, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and stir this into the salad.  The lemon juice should stop the apple from turning brown.

When you come to serve it, layer it up with some watercress or rocket.

Honey and white miso aubergines

After a weekend spent running against horses, riding horses, and partying hard in Wales I was after some home cooked, wholesome food.

On Sunday I got home at after a long journey back and delved into the fridge, coming up with carrots, an orange that had been zested so needed using up quickly, some kale from last week’s Crop Drop bag, and some tofu steaks (it pays to keep some healthy convenience foods on hand for times like this).  I grated up the carrots and some ginger, adding rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and juicing some of the orange into it for a tasty salad.  I quickly steamed the kale and whisked up a quick tahini sauce (tahini and some hot water to loosen it up – a lot of recipes call for lemon juice but I find it always curdles when I use lemon – best to add a squeeze after you’ve served it up).  It was exactly what I needed to eat and was on the table in about 15 minutes.

For tonight’s dinner I again turned to the contents of my Crop Drop bag and came up with two glossy aubergines and an organic stir fry pack.  This is a mixture of whatever is stir-fryable and in season.

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This bag came with both red and white spring onions, kale, chard, and mizuna.

I decided to try a recipe from Anna Jones’ book, A Modern Way to Cook.  Her recipe calls for kale and pak choi but I decided to sub in my stir fry pack, and halve her recipe because I only had two aubergines instead of the four the recipe calls for.  So here is my version.  Do buy her book for the original and loads of other yummy recipes besides.

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Honey and white miso aubergines
Serves 2
Anna Jones' recipe for miso dengaku, adapted for the ingredients I had to hand
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Total Time
45 min
Total Time
45 min
615 calories
110 g
0 g
15 g
16 g
7 g
690 g
909 g
23 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
690g
Servings
2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 615
Calories from Fat 131
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g
24%
Saturated Fat 7g
37%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 909mg
38%
Total Carbohydrates 110g
37%
Dietary Fiber 24g
95%
Sugars 23g
Protein 16g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
20%
Calcium
18%
Iron
26%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 150g brown sushi rice
  2. 2 long, slim aubergines
  3. 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  4. 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  5. 1 tablespoon dark miso paste
  6. 1 tablespoon runny honey
  7. 1 tablespoon mirin
  8. a healthy pinch of chilli powder
  9. 1 stir fry pack (bag of mixed stir fry veg)
  10. a splash of soy sauce or tamari
  11. 2 teaspoons yuzu juice
  12. 2 tablespoons black and white sesame seeds
  13. 1 tablespoon brown rice or white rice wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. Get all your ingredients together and preheat the grill to medium.
  2. First, cook the sushi rice. This is how I like to do it: wash the sushi rice three or four times in cold water, until the water runs clear, then add 200 ml of cold water and bring to the boil. Put a lid on and boil for 10–15 minutes for white rice and 15–20 minutes for brown, then turn the heat off and leave the lid on. Don’t peek, as it will release the steam, which you need to finish the cooking.
  3. Cut the aubergines in half lengthways, then cut the flesh in a crisscross pattern without cutting into the skin. Brush both sides of each aubergine with the oil. Place on a baking tray cut side down and grill for 5 minutes, then turn them over and grill for a further 5 minutes, until soft all the way through. Turn the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7 and turn off the grill.
  4. Mix the white and dark miso in a bowl with the honey, mirin, chilli powder and a tablespoon of hot water. Rub the cut side of the aubergines with the miso mixture and put back into the oven to cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Heat a pan with a little coconut oil and sauté the vegetables until just cooked, then toss with the soy and the yuzu or lime juice. Take the aubergines out of the oven and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Take the lid off the rice and stir in the brown rice vinegar. Serve the rice topped with the greens, aubergines and the sticky sauce from the tray spooned over. Top with more sesame seeds if you like.
Notes
  1. Isn't it lucky that one of Crop Drop's pick up points is a Japanese grocery, Sika Oriental Express on Green Lanes. They sell most of the ingredients but you will have to search further afield for the yuzu - I got mine from www.souschef.co.uk but I have also found some at Natural Natural, an amazing Japanese shop on Goldhurst Terrace, just off Finchley Road. It's expensive but worth seeking out.
  2. I served it with some of the leftover sesame orange ginger carrots from last night - it went well with the other flavours in the dish.
Adapted from A Modern Way to Cook
beta
calories
615
fat
15g
protein
16g
carbs
110g
more
Adapted from A Modern Way to Cook
North London Kitchen http://northlondonkitchen.com/

 

 


Brunch at Moka, Wightman Road

Wightman Road forms the left leg of the Harringay “Ladder”, with Green Lanes on the right.  Finsbury Park lies to the South, Turnpike Lane to the North, with cross streets forming the rungs of the Ladder.  West of Wightman Road are the railway lines that bisect the borough: the poshest parts (Crouch End, Muswell Hill) are on the far side of the tracks, but the Ladder is the most affluent part of the East side of Haringey.

Currently, Wightman Road is closed to traffic due to a railway bridge replacement, causing havoc with the commuter rat race though local residents are all welcoming it.  With the loss of vehicular access locals were worried Moka could be experiencing a downturn in trade.  Having heard good things about it I suggested it as a place to meet my friend G, who had an appointment nearby, for brunch.

Walking in it was nice to see the place pleasantly buzzy.

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G had a soy flat white but I’d already had two coffees so I opted for an apple juice mojito (non-alcoholic). After perusing the very tempting menu, G chose the Baked Eggs and I the Mauritian Omelette. A shelf next to us had travel & coffee table books on New Zealand and Mauritius – it was nice to see this reflected in the menu too.

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The bill came to about £22 for both of us. Definitely one for the “to go back to” list.

Moka, 5 Wightman Road 5 Wightman Rd N4 1RQ

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