Friday, 2 November 2012

The Kerb, the Ribman and the Kooky

Yesterday I was going to meet up with N, a friend of mine since our school years back in Cyprus.
She loves food,  I love food.
We were both in London.
I proposed to give Kerb a try, she accepted.

And this is how this story begins: we met up outside King's Cross Station and made our way to the colourful vans reminiscing about the old times (even if you don't know your way around that area, there are signs pointing to the right direction. Or you can just follow the crowd to King's Boulevard-the stronger the smell of food cooking, the closer you are).

Two minutes later and we're there. Given that we wanted to try everything, it was a tough call what to have for lunch. 
After about twenty minutes of discussing the matter (I told you, it was a tough call), we decided we'd go with The Ribman's famous rib meat rolls. I had mine with his famous Holy Fuck sauce:

It was mouthwateringly delicious and eyewateringly hot. I have no regrets though!
N was more on the safe side and had hers with BBQ sauce, although she repeatedly assured me that it was amazing.

Foodies as we were, we had to have dessert, so we turned our attention to Kooky Bakes and their Americana baked goods: whoopie pies, cupcakes, cookies, slices and sweet pies. 
We were sold. 
I settled for the last S'mores whoopie pie (from which £1.50 will go to Movember), although I did get a couple more for take away just in case...

If you'd love something a bit different and a bit more exciting than your usual lunch, don't miss Kerb! 

It's open Monday to Friday 11:00-14:30 and right at the beginning of King's Boulevard. The traders have a rota; no day is the same as the previous one, so it's worth checking them out on the day you're going.
After yesterdayI obviously have to go back to try out the food from the other KERBanists

For updates follow the Ribman here, Kerb here, and Kooky bakes here.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Pitcher and Piano - Nottingham

Last weekend I escaped the hustle and bustle of London and took the train to Nottingham to visit my friend A, who I don't see nearly as much as I'd like to. And this time I'm so glad I did.
I'm not going to go into the Halloween  festivities, or the amazing, cobbled-street town, but instead I'm going to introduce you to the Pitcher and Piano: A to told me that he was going to take me somewhere I've never been before: a bar in a church.

I thought he was joking.

He was not.

The ambiance as I'm sure you imagine was unique; I don't know if it was the archways, or the church windows, it just felt wonderfully different. Unfortunately we went on Sunday night so there wasn't much going on, but I do recommend you go on Saturday nights as they've got music and it turns more into the kind of bars we know and most of us love.

Nevertheless, if you can't go to Nottingham don't fret; there are other P&Ps all over the UK (with three in London!), and they also serve breakfast (which I regrettably missed), and light lunches for as low as £6.

For the one in Nottingham, which I highly recommend visiting (it's a bar in a church!), the address is:

    The Unitarian Church, High Pavement,
    Nottingham, NG1 1HN

    or call them on 0115 958 6081.

    I couldn't resist the odd Halloween photo! Happy Halloween everyone xx

    Friday, 12 October 2012

    If you love hot sauce...'ll love this. Okay, it's no secret that the foodies of the blogosphere have gone crazy about a particular kind of hot sauce: Sriracha.

     They've gone crazy about it for a good reason as well: it's a sweet, garlicky, tangy, spicy red hot sauce with a kick. What's not to love?!

    This is my favourite recipe to make your own sriracha, and I love it because it's dead easy, only five ingredients are needed, and it's one of those recipes that you do the minimum preparation, put your feet up and everything else is done as if by magic. Plus, I promise you that the taste will be even fresher and bolder than the bottled sauce you get from Tesco's.

    To make your taste buds happy, you'll need:
    - 1 pound of chillies. Don't go for the small, super hot ones even if you like your sauce hot. Choose some meaty ones, they'll be easier to handle and won't make your sauce inedible. Also, I highly recommend a visit to your local farmers' market to get these fresh instead of the packaged ones in the supermarket.
    - 3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
    - 1 cup of white distilled vinegar
    - 1 tablespoon of salt
    - 2 tablespoons of agave nectar, or sugar, or honey or whatever sweetener floats your boat and you have in your cupboard.

    To make magic happen, roughly chop the chillies and put them in a container with the vinegar, salt and garlic. Depending on your heat tolerance, you can include the chilli seeds as well. Let the brine mellow the peppers for a day or two while you get on with your life.
    After the peppers have mellowed, pour everything in a pan, add the agave/sugar/honey, bring to the boil and then turn it down to a simmer for about five minutes. Turn the heat off, let the mixture come to room temperature, transfer to your blender and blitz away.
    When you see the vibrant red mixture jumping up and down your blender you know you've made it. Run through a strainer, pushing out as much pulp as possible, pour the sauce into jars and smile. You've made your own homemade rooster Sriracha.

    Concerning storage, this baby contains enough vinegar to last for decades if you keep it in the fridge. Alternatively, you can freeze it and when ready to serve, defrost it and give it a quick stir.

    Now what to do with it: use it with pretty much everything. That's what I do. Nevertheless, if you need some ideas, I love Kristen's Spicy Sriracha Butter:

    image via
      these Sriracha-Cheese crackers:

    image via

    Diana's Sriracha garlic wings:

    image via

    and Cassie's Sriracha Sesame Ginger Popcorn:

    image via

    Eat and be merry :)

    Tuesday, 9 October 2012

    Pizza Metro - Notting Hill

    A friend of mine raved about this place for so long I felt I had to go but whenever I went to London something came up and back it went to my 'to do', or more likely to my 'to go' list. BH, who apparently knows me better than I originally thought, took me there last Friday night as a surprise.

    I expected one of the best pizzas in London. 
    Hell, the country.
    I got it at Pizza Metro. The place had a lovely warm, rustic feeling, the pizza was fantastic and by the amount of italian we heard in the two hours we were there, I think it's pretty safe to say that it is frequented by Italians, and Italians know their pizza.

    But the best thing was their wood fired pizza oven; it's authentic, it's beautiful, it's pizza as it should be made!

    We got one with authentic parma ham, rocket and cherry tomatoes, and another with olives, mushrooms and salami.The crust was really crispy as I like it (and as it should be!) and the toppings delicious.

    Playing hide and seek :)

     ...and this is whatever was left. Nothing much.

    Unfortunately our experience wasn't as nice as I had hoped. The service was... how should I put this nicely...
    I didn't mind that they set the cutlery on the table the wrong way round.
    I turned a blind eye at the grammatical mistakes and spelling inconsistencies in the menu (once a linguist, always a linguist).
    But there's no excuse for having to spend fifteen minutes waving my hand in the air just to grab your attention to order. And looking at someone else when I'm talking to you certainly shows really bad manners.

    Such a shame. Such great pizza, such bad service.

    Nevertheless, if you are willing to ignore the service (you've been warned!), you'll find them at:
    147-149 Notting Hill Gate
    London W11 3LF

    or call them at 0277278877

    PS: For those with an allergy to running-around, screaming young children, please take note that the place is also frequented by families with said children.

    First two pictures taken via

    Monday, 1 October 2012

    Cafe Mercedes - Nicosia

    I don't know what went wrong on my first visit at Cafe Mercedes. Maybe it was because I had high hopes for it, being the younger sibling of Vila Mercedes in Athens. When my friend K called to make a reservation the lady on the phone said that for our reservation of eight, there would be a minimum charge of 80Euros. We didn't mind, we actually got excited that maybe this arrangement was in place because the place was so popular.

    Unfortunately I don't have many photos of the place because I wasn't intending on writing up a review, but after we left I simply had to.
    From the outside, in my humble opinion, it looks like a bar with a bad name, the kind you find in the seediest of neighborhoods in the old district of Nicosia. Not a very good first impression, however I kept my hopes up.

    Next, there was a guy at the door in charge for the face control. During this economic climate, when businesses in Cyprus close down in a rate of three per day, it's probably not the best time for face control, neither is the time to be too picky about who's willing to give you money.

    Nevertheless, we passed through the face control as well. Finally sitting down, the ambiance was nice. The music was okay, and the interior decoration classier than what it seemed from the outside. When it was the time to order at last, I was hungry (story of my life), so I asked for the food menu. Having a look at the menu, the list of dishes was quite limited, but I thought that this was a good thing; if they have a small menu maybe they would make great food. I chose a dish with chicken in a yogurt-based marinade, while my friend C ordered a salad, and the rest just got drinks.

    I would very much like to tell you how the chicken was, alas it never arrived. An hour and several reminders later I told the waitress to cancel the order. She said that the kitchen was busy, that's why they were behind. An hour's work behind? With a quick glance around I verified my suspicions; less than a dozen people were there for dinner, the rest were just for drinks. There's no excuse for such delay.

    To sum up, this was the first and last time I set foot there. I can understand some delay given that it was fairly new, but there's no excuse for the kitchen not to be able to deliver food within a reasonable time to a dozen people.

    The salad. The only dish which made it to our table.

    Just a quick note: While my friends had their drinks and I still waited patiently for my dinner, I wondered how they would accommodate their customers in terms of space in winter, since its large size was mainly because of the large patio. Remarkably, a friend of mine replied: 'we don't know if it's going to make it till winter'.

    Saturday, 22 September 2012

    Ulyana Sergeenko - Refreshingly traditional

    Ulyana herself
    In light of the fashion weeks of the world being the focal point for pretty much all the fashion blogs out there, this post is about Ulyana Sergeenko. Don't you know her? I didn't up until this morning, when I read an interview of hers in The Times and was intrigued. I did a little research of my own and was intrigued even more.

    So let me introduce you the second wife of the Russian oligarch Danil Khachaturov, the 32-year-old Ulyana. Ulyana was born in a small, poverty-stricken town in Kazakhstan, and showed an interest in clothing and style (which is very different to fashion by the way), since she was pretty much a child (she had to make her own clothes), and met her husband-to-be in a dentist's waiting room. Yes, you can assume that this is a classic rags-to-riches tale... with a twist.

    What makes Ms Sergeenko stand out is that despite her uber rich husband, her status as his wife, and her potential of becoming the flashiest and trashiest WAG ever, she doesn't show off every bit of skin she has. No sir. Instead she dresses like her grandmother, Baba Sonja (her words!). Nevertheless, she apparently took it upon herself to teach Russian women how to dress, as she launched her own fashion label in 2011 during Paris Haute Couture Week (the horror!), despite her inexperience in design or tailoring. It goes without saying that this move did raise several eyebrows as it was deemed audacious and arrogant. She appeared to be someone who probably didn't have anything better to do rather than spend her husband's money. It could be argued that she was doomed.

    She was not. Her shows drew an influential audience which included Grace Coddington, Anna Dello Russo and Carine Roitfeld, shutting the mouths of those who initially criticized her (including her present friends, she admits). At this point I should note that her clothes are not your average designer pieces - they are quite complicated (and heavy) with lots of hidden bits and pieces holding everything into place. Reportedly, the team of 40 tirelessly working for Ms Sergeenko's label need weeks for a single dress and months for a coat, resulting to an end product of the highest quality. However, they don't come cheap; her dresses cost around 17 000Euros, while the prices for her (amazing) coats climb to an eyewatering 28 000Euros a piece. Nevertheless, there is interest for her work and she did manage to break even within her first year.

    I think the clothes speak for themselves.

    Oh by the way, she has a blog.

    Photos via

    Monday, 17 September 2012

    The tale of Zanettos and how BH met his Waterloo

    So, after two months of intensive work I came back to the (surprisingly not rainy) UK and I'm already missing the Motherland. Luckily, a few days before leaving we went to Zannetos in an effort to bid Cyprus goodbye. If you've never been to Zannetos, you probably don't understand what this entails, so let me just say this: if you don't have the appetite of a giant, don't go there. You'll just embarrass yourself. Nevertheless, I suppose large quantities of food go hand in hand with Cypriot culture.

    Before I go down to the food, let me give you a bit of contextual information. Zannetos tavern has been in Trikoupi St. since 1938 when Savvas Zannetos sold tinned goods, meat, fish and cheese, but also served cognac and wine along with his mezedes. Mr Yiorgos Ioannides, who owned the coffee shop next door used to recall how Zannetos would make his own cognac and how octopus, afeleia and the snails in tomato sauce were among his most delicious mezedes. Trust me, if it wasn't this good, there's no way it would survive through the decades. It was the first time I went there and was very impressed by the quality of the food and the generous portions, but most importantly by their traditional Cypriot hospitality: the staff was very friendly and we even got to wash our hands with rosewater, which I hadn't done in years!

    This made me smile!
    So let me cut down to the chase: the food. As I already told you, you have to be serious about your food to go there. There's no ordering, there's just a fixed set menu of mezedes, about twenty of them, and I can assure you this is no tasting menu. Go hungry or go home! (I'm serious, there was a guy sitting at the table next to us pleading to the waiter 'no more food please, no more food').

    The array of mezedes included traditional green olives with coriander, grilled halloumi, pork belly marinated in red wine, pork and chicken souvlaki, sheftalies, spanakorizo (rice cooked with spinach), melt-in-your mouth veal liver, snails in tomato sauce (which we ordered a second time), traditional yogurt, ravioli with a halloumi filling and bulgur wheat cooked in tomato paste. The desserts didn't disappoint either (you do notice the plural, don't you?): traditional halva like my grandmother makes it, lebanese mahallepi with mastic and pistachios, fresh fruit and glyka tou koutaliou, which are fruit or vegetables served with a syrup made from water, sugar and infused with the fruit. We washed everything down with a glass of ice-cold beer. Pure bliss.

    The halva which comes second only to that of my grandmother's!

    We left happy, although BH was defeated; he just couldn't cope with the enormous amount of food. Honey, I know you're reading this, so please know I still have faith in you and your appetite :)

    If you want to try some of the best Cypriot food out there, I highly recommend Zannetos (it's not a locals' favorite for nothing); you'll find them at Trikoupi St, 65 in the old district of Nicosia or call them at 22765501.

    PS: It felt so good to be able to speak Greek to the Greek-speaking waiters!
    PSS: There are so many seagulls in the South!

    Wednesday, 12 September 2012

    No reservations - Nicosia

    THE mousse
    Let me clarify something from the very beginning about this little gem in Nicosia: calling and reserving a table is recommended. But you will enjoy food made by an Italian chef with no reservations about how food should or should not be, all with an impressive attention to detail. It was a delightful change to what we are used to in Cyprus. 

    Before we went, the BH and I had heard tales of pecorino flan, foie gras terrine with pistachios and cherries and kleftiko with quince (for my non-Greek readers, kleftiko, which literally means stolen meat, is lamb slowly cooked in a traditionally built outside oven sealed with mud so no steam escapes. Legend has it that thieves would steal lamb from a nearby flock and cook it in a hole in the ground for many hours, again sealed with mud so no steam escapes to give them away).   

    Unfortunately, we couldn't order the long-awaited kleftiko because the menu changes every fortnight (who doesn't love a restless chef?!). Nevertheless the dishes we did order didn't dissapoint. Again, I'll cut to the chase. The menu consists of fifteen dishes and you have three choices: you order 5 for 20Euros pp, 12 for 30Euros or 35Euros for all fifteen of them. BH and I decided to get 5 each.  

    Seabass ceviche

    Our choices included the parmesan mousse with pear, honey and balsamic (my personal favourite since it was the airiest, lightest, most melt-in-your-mouth mousse I've had in a long time), foie gras with fig jam (melting-soft and sweet), a seabass ceviche (highly recommended), tortelloni with potato and duck ragut, duck breast salad, beef with a blue cheese crust, sea bream with a potato crust, a coffee creme brulee and an apple tart. I'm not going to lie. I didn't love every single thing on the menu. But I still applaud the effort to bring fine dining to Nicosia with an affordable price tag.

    Foie gras with fig jam

    Sea bream with a potato crust

    Apple tart

    I'd definitely recommend it as it is something different and worth trying out, even if it's just for the experience. You'll find them at 16, Stasinou St, Nicosia (right next to the latter Zoo Club), they're open for dinner Monday to Saturday, and don't forget to call in to make a reservation at 22376584.


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