Foodie Finds #14 with Karen Harvey

If you’ve been to Cambridge, but not been to foodPark, you’re really missing out! A few weeks ago I headed over to try out the delicious lunchtime menu of one of the latest traders to join foodPark, Chihuahua’s. Three hand-pressed, soft shell, blue corn tacos, for £8.00, and a choice of four different fillings. All delicious. Modern Mexican street food, served straight from the van. You don’t like Mexican food? (I find that hard to believe!) Well, the beauty of foodPark is the variety, a friendly bunch of street food traders, all offering something different, on different days. Find them here.

You might not know, but when I am not busy eating, I am busy working with photographers, helping them reach new audiences and develop their careers. This month we held an exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery and showcased the work of 150 international photographers. It was glorious! Dalston’s provided the refreshments for the private view, and I have never been so happy to see a can of fizzy pop! I gave up Coca Cola years ago, and usually the only fizzy drinks you’ll find me drinking are made with ginger, but, Dalston’s have changed that. Dalston’s use natural ingredients and work hard to be carbon neutral, they also make the best Cherryade I’ve ever tasted.

Looking for lunch, just a few minutes from Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament? I wasn’t, but St Ermin’s Hotel lured my friend Lynsey and I in for an exceptionally good meal at the The Caxton Grill, and I’m not complaining.

The menu was great, not too big, and something for everyone, but, as soon as I saw the words ‘Josper Grill’ I knew that I’d not be able to resist a steak. Josper is a charcoal grill oven that cooks at really high temperatures, retaining moisture and adding a hint of smokiness, for a perfectly cooked meat.

Avoiding starters we headed straight to the main course. 35-day dry aged British Rib-eye steak for me, and a Wagyu burger with pulled pork for Lynsey. We shared sides of fat chips, smoked garlic mushrooms, and spinach with chilli and garlic. The steak was, of course, perfectly cooked. Everything was spot on, delicious.

I don’t know if you feel the same, but sometimes when it comes to pudding time ( and it should always come to pudding time) I feel a little, or a lot, let down. It’s often the case of a great main course, and then a pudding that may well have come frozen from somewhere else. Well, all I can say is, save space for dessert because you’re in for a treat! Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!

The Caxton Grill, St Ermin’s Hotel, 2 Caxton Street, SW1H 0QW
Open: Mon-Fri 12.00pm – 2.30pm | Mon-Sun 6.00pm – 10.30pm

This feels like the perfect drink for Autumn, British Cassis – a rich and round blackcurrant liqueur, made in Herefordshire by White Heron, using a technique similar to winemaking in order to perfectly capture the intensity of freshly picked British blackcurrants. Once the blackcurrant juice has fermented naturally with champagne yeast, it is blended with a little vodka, to fortify, and sugar, to bring out the rich fruity flavour.

Fancy adding a bit of blackcurrant to your drinks cabinet? You can find a series of cocktails to make yourself here, including the Hereford Mule and Pink Russian.

Also finding itself onto the drinks trolley is this Benjamin & Blum pre-mixed Negroni. I’m more into mixing my own drinks, but Benjamin & Blum’s bottled gin cocktails each contain a subtle tea infusion, inspired by the brand’s collection of cold-pressed teas, and there’s no chance of me being able to match their century old recipes, built on a family legacy!

Stocked at Harvey Nichols nationwide, the collection currently consists of a Negroni, Aviation and Orange Bloom.

And when I’ve not been sampling all the cocktails, (for your sake, honest) I’ve been trying out other interesting drinks, such as this UPBEAT protein water. Made with spring water, fruit juice, whey protein and vitamins B5, B6 and B12 and containing 25% of your recommenced protein intake, these drinks come in two flavours, Blueberry & Raspberry, and Summer Lemon. They taste, to me, like very strong sugar-free squash, and whilst that’s not something I’d like to drink every day, I think it’ll be a joy for some people!

If I could play you the sound of a choir of angels singing, now would be the time. It’s probably been at least 15 years since I last had a beigel from the world famous Beigel Bake on Brick Lane, but once I realised what I was missing, I had two in one week! Hot Salt Beef with gherkins and mustard, £4.50. Best lunch ever. Not only does it taste totally amazing, you also get to queue with all the other desperate beigel lovers and listen to some great banter from the women behind the counter. It’s a real institution, and I’ll not leave it so long next time!

Another place worth eating on London’s Brick Lane is Kahaila Café. Yes, you can get a toasted sandwich, a good slice of cake, cups of coffee and hot chai, but the thing that stood out to me most is that you can do this and know that at the same time you are supporting one of Kahiala’s four charitable schemes – Luminary Bakery, Ella’s Home, Kahaila Reflex and Kahaila Brew.

Each project supports people in vulnerable situations and helps offer ways to improve lives, be it through supporting women who have been exploited or trafficked, working with young women in prisons, or helping homeless people access employment skills and support.

It’s impressive and wonderful, and well worth contemplating over a cup of tea.

Have you seen the latest Fourth Plinth installation in London’s Trafalgar Square? It’s called The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, and it’s a fabulous sculpture by Michael Rakowitz. The sculpture was unveiled in March 2018 and will be exhibited until 2020.

Constructed from over 10,000 cans of date syrup, it’s a recreation of the Lamassu – a protective deity that stood in Mosul, Iraq from 700 BC until 2015, when it was destroyed by ISIS.

‘In Iraq, it is traditional for parents to place a date in the mouth of their newborn baby, so its first taste of life is sweet: a harbinger of good things to come.’

Rakowitz’s interest in themes of food and hospitality as a means by which to bridge cultural and political divides, lead him to collaborating with Plinth on a range of products too. In response to the Arabic proverb: A House With A Date Palm Will Never Starve, Rakowitz and Plinth have made a cook book, wooden spoon, pin, tea towel and tote bag. They’re fun, they’re collectable, and they’re supportive of something much more serious.

The good people over at Divine have released a new collection of dark chocolate – Divine Organic. A range of rich high cocoa dark chocolate made with specially sourced organic cocoa from the island of São Tomé, off West Africa.

There’s the exceptionally rich 95% cocoa bar, and the 85% with cocoa nibs, the refreshing lemon and the blueberry and popped quinoa, but for me, it’s the turmeric and ginger that has the best flavour. (Yes, anything with ginger in it!)

And more chocolate, this time it’s award winning Gin and Tonic chocolate, and I don’t think there’s many people who could say no to that! I’ve mentioned Cocoa Mester before, and Anna Sterling, the amazing chocolatier behind the Sheffield based brand. Anna’s Gin and Tonic, with a twist of lime, milk chocolates received a silver award from The Academy of Chocolate, and it’s not a surprise. There’s nothing synthetic about this flavouring, it’s truly delicious, light, limey and amazingly accurate. I do think I need to taste test a lot more of these though, you know, just to be sure!

And, in other foodie news…

I made this gluten free mashed potato cake. It was good, but if I made it again, I don’t think I would use polenta!

Huskup, the company behind the reusable and biodegradable coffee cup made from rice husks, has been awarded the product award at this year’s P.E.A. (People. Environment. Achievement.) Awards, the UK’s leading sustainability awards. The Huskup comes in 12 different designs and can be purchased from www.huskup.com, priced at £10.95 each.

Hide has been awarded a Michelin star less than six months after it opened in the heart of London’s Mayfair. Its success fulfils the expectations of many of the UK’s restaurant critics, with one of the earliest reviewers, esteemed wine writer Fiona Beckett, deeming it worthy of a hat trick. A joint venture between chef Ollie Dabbous and Hedonism Wines, Hide offers a relaxed and holistic setting in which to savour seasonal cooking at its best, complemented by the UK’s most comprehensive wine list.

I’ll be back soon with some more Foodie Finds to share, until then, if you’ve got something you think we should know about, please get in touch… send biscuits!