Tag Archives: camden lock market

Camden Market in the sunshine and the Urban Food Festival

123My weekend was so jam-packed with activities, fun and most importantly FOOD, that I simply had to split it across a few posts. So here is 2/3 and this is all about the time spent in Camden Market on Saturday, a gorgeously sunny day which we spent wandering around the stalls and enjoying delicious food. It was a beautiful day – lucky after a bit of rain in the morning and lots of storms elsewhere – and we headed straight for Camden so we could sit out by the river and relax. Now I love Camden Market, I feel like it is my spiritual home (jokes). I always say to myself that I need to explore more areas of London but I never get round to it because I can never resist visiting the Market. And as I’m sure you guys all know, once you are in, you’ll be stuck in there for hours looking at incredible stalls.

ssWe took a walk along the more peaceful end of the river, where families were sitting and dipping their feet in the water or eating food fresh from the stalls. It was so peaceful and the water was so calm, sitting in the sunshine, you could believe you were abroad it was so warm.

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After sharing a camel burger and a Turkish wrap, we walked back to the Tiki Bar which looked even prettier than it had the day before. We grabbed a table and a jug of Pimms to enjoy, and with live music and a DJ we stayed well entertained people-watching there for a few hours.


When it started getting closer to 6pm, we decided to start out on our tube journey to Shoreditch – which turned out to be a bit of a mission after we found out some of the tube lines were out of order. We ended up getting off at Bethnal Green and after a quick stop for a drink in the sweetest little park, we started on the ten-minute walk to Shoreditch. Our destination was the Urban Food Festival, which we soon discovered had taken over a small car park not far from the tube station. After stumbling across the website last week when looking for free things to do in London, we were so excited to go along and try some different dishes. Both big food lovers, we are always looking for new flavours from different countries and the food festival provided us with a fantastic opportunity to do just that.burgerFirst up for us to try was The Invincible Burger from the Korean stall, we spotted the huge queue and smelt the delicious combination of spice, marinade and meat and figured we couldn’t really go wrong! Everybody was tucking into these gorgeous burgers and I’m really not surprised, they were delicious with a beef burger that had been marinated in Korean spices before being stacked with equally flavoursome pulled pork on top. It packed a tasty punch and certainly had our mouths watering. It was easily the best savoury dish I tried and I wish I had another before I left! After trying this, we spotted the Italian stall and saw that they had several types of gnocchi on the menu. Now boyfriend and I have a long-held obsession with gnocchi despite neither of us having tried it before – it’s all thanks to Gavin and Stacey! Well I went straight over and picked up a gnocchi dish with a sage and pork ragu. Sorry to say but I was so disappointed, I have no real comparison when it comes to gnocchi, but I found the dish soggy and flavourless and I certainly would not bother to have it again. I really wished I had tried the semolina pasta instead.

Third up was pizza and after seeing lots of people tucking into wood-fired and crispy-based pizzas covered in chorizo, cheese, mushroom and more, we were looking forward to this one. Boyfriend went over and ordered the chorizo, cheese and jalapeno pizza which, although it took a while because there was a bit of a queue, was well worth the wait. I’m very particular about my pizza bases and yet I couldn’t have been happier with this one, just the right amount of crunch and softness. The toppings were the perfect combination and we wolfed the dish down, wishing we had more! We had a break after this and enjoyed the live music that had been playing throughout with a beer.1234After a while, the smells and sights coming from the Peruvian stall were just too much and I insisted we have one more savoury dish, just to try. I went over and ordered a steak wrap after studying the orders of those in front of me. I had been keen to order the ox heart dish, but it seemed a bit small for two people to really get the taste so I went for the steak wrap instead. Watching them prepare the food was fantastic, a show in itself. The head chef was so focused and calm despite flames flying everywhere and the orders pouring in like crazy. This was the busiest stall by the time I joined the queue but again, was most definitely worth the wait! The meat was so tender and the whole thing was just so brightly coloured and full of flavour. I can really compare the flavours as they were so unique. All I could say is that it is cooked similarly to peri-peri but the flavours taste completely different and you get the opportunity to add a variety of sauces including a cheese and chilli one, a red pepper and chilling one and another with lime, mint and yoghurt. I sloshed in all three and wow. It was incredible – kind of like eating a mojito-flavoured steak wrap – and if that doesn’t sound good, what does?!

Over on the drinks stalls they had the tasty Orchard Pig truffler and reveller ciders from Somerset and absolutely fantastic. You could taste the sweet apple flavour and it had a nice sparkle. I’d had a few people recommend the cider to me before but had never had the opportunity to try it before now. For those with a taste for ale, we also tried the brand new Indian Runner premium golden ale, which was only launched a couple of weeks ago. A perfect Shoreditch beer, their slogan is ‘refreshingly different’ and it certainly was!12345We sat for hours at the festival, watching people and their food choices, enjoying the beers and wines on offer. The live music was great and had the crowd singing along to all their favourites – the last act on, The Twelve Band, really had people dancing along and gave a great performance. The whole place was packed out from start to finish, and this really added to the atmosphere, it was lovely to see people of all ages enjoying the food, whether they had come straight from work or dropped in right before a night out. As the event was winding down, I made sure to pop by the SE Cakery & Brownie Bar where they had the most amazing cakes on sale. I had spotted and tried a tiny bit early and was determined to grab a bag of goodies to take home. We had six individual bites, a mixture of vanilla cheesecake brownie, oreo brownie, banoffee brownie and honeycomb brownie. All were just incredible – I can’t even describe how good these brownies were. I have to say, I am a baker myself and pride myself on how good my own brownies are but these just blew mine out of the water. If you get the chance, make sure you snap up some of these cakes!

It was a fantastic event, and although smaller than I expected, I have no doubt it will soon be growing in size. I was equally excited to find out that the free event is run weekly on Saturday nights from 5pm to midnight at Euro Car Parks on Shoreditch High Street. From the looks of things, the stalls change weekly so whenever you go you will get a taste of something delicious and new! If I were you, I’d make it my business to head down there often and discover some new foodie delights.

Have you been to the Urban Food Festival? What did you think and what was your favourite dish?

 

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Restaurant review: Eating everything from the savannah at Shaka Zulu

sThis weekend, me and the boyfriend decided to take advantage of the empty flat in London before my sister moves in and have a weekend away to celebrate my birthday. We’ve both been so busy the last few weekends, we figured it would be good to get away and do something fun. We had originally planned to go to Zoo Lates, which is the late night opening at London Zoo where they have cabaret and entertainment, but sadly didn’t get tickets in time. I checked my phone while at work in the week and had a hilarious text from Mark saying he hadn’t managed to get the tickets so he had booked a table at Shaka Zulu, the South African restaurant in Camden Market so we could “eat the fuckers instead”.

bfNever one to pass up an opportunity for a good meal out at a fabulous restaurant, I was pretty excited to say the least. I had never really eaten much South African food but knew that I would like it, and after knowing others who had been to the restaurant and hearing rave reviews, I was certain we were in for a treat. Amusingly, Michelle Keegan was celebrating her birthday there the same night I was, although I’m sure she was on the champagne. We headed to the Tiki Bar first for a cheeky Pimms in the sunshine, while live singers performed. It was such a gorgeous sunny day and the Pimms just put us in the summer mood.

bWe arrived at the restaurant and were taken straight to our own booth, on the way to our table I couldn’t help but just stare at everything around me. Shaka Zulu is beautifully decorated from top to bottom, with giant statues of South African warriors, tribesmen and animals, engraved and carved walls with gorgeous designs and the most fantastic  furniture – I was in love with the chairs! The service was amazing, I felt like we had our own personal team of waiters ready to jump if we needed anything and eager to recommend dishes. I couldn’t resist visiting the ladies, just to have a walk around the rest of the restaurant, which was equally impressive with a champagne bar, massive group tables downstairs and another gorgeous bar. Meanwhile, Mark chose us a delicious South African wine which went beautifully with the food.fdMore importantly, what did we eat? Well, we went all out guys, both starving and desperate for some really tasty food. We decided to eat our way around the savannah and by gum, I think we did pretty well. We started with the top dishes, the left is Ham Hock & Wildebeest Terrine with Papaya Salsa and the right is Crocodile Cigars. Both were incredibly tasty dishes with an exciting array of flavours. The wildebeest had a lovely meaty flavour which worked well in contrast to the ham hock, and I loved the papaya salsa – it seemed out of place on the menu, but it certainly hit the spot on the plate. The crocodile was interesting, although I wasn’t expecting the spring roll style, I really enjoyed the taste. It has definitely left me wanting to try crocodile again, next time I would like to try the meat without the spring roll style just so I can really get the individual flavour of the meat. Both were great dishes that certainly had our mouths watering for the second course, but we didn’t have long to wait!

The second course was absolutely my favourite because both dishes were just delicious. It makes my mouth water now to remember them. We shared the Zebra Fillet and the Springbok Loin, with sides of Sugar Snaps & Red Onion, Creamy Spinach and Peri-Peri Fries. Wow. What a feast! The first time I had tried any of these meats, but as a big fan of venison and lamb, I was sure to enjoy them. The zebra was lovely, strangely it looked a lot like lamb but with a different flavour that I don’t think I can compare to anything else I have tried. It went really nicely with the spinach and the fries. My favourite was the springbok, which was just so full of flavour and really reminded me of gamier meats like venison. It was gorgeous with the red wine jus and the red onions from the sugar snaps dish. It was the kind of food where you feel like you need a few minutes to recover because each mouthful is so good. The side orders were delicious, the peri-peri fries were flavoured to perfection and the spinach really added to the tastes of the foods.meAll in all, a pretty darn good birthday meal and I’d like to say a huge thanks to the guys at Shaka Zulu for making it special. I will most definitely be going back again and I seriously recommend that you give it a try too. A perfect restaurant for a special occasion with plenty of entertainment – there was African drummers performing and dancing around us as we ate! If you like experimenting with food and you love a good steak, South African is perfect for you and will introduce you to a host of new flavours and textures – just what all of us food-lovers enjoy! It may be a tad more expensive than you might usually pay for a steak, but for me, quality speaks volumes over quantity and I would always rather a high quality piece of meat.

Have you been to Shaka Zulu – what did you think? Are you a big lover of South African food – what’s your favourite dish?

Loving life in London town and celebrating in the sunshine

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The view across the London Eye and Houses of Parliament in the sunshine

I still haven’t quite managed to get back to reality after last week’s mid-week break to London – I just keep wishing I was back strolling along the South Bank drinking wine in the sunshine! Me and the boyfriend had the trip planned after he bought me tickets to see Ella Eyre at XOYO for Christmas – both very excited after seeing her perform the other year on tour with Rudimental. Unfortunately a change in the date of the gig meant the tickets had the wrong date on and we ended up missing the gig – so no Christmas present but we more than made up for it with an epic couple of days.

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Sunshine and smiles on the bridge

When we arrived in London we decided to ignore our previous plans to head to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaur exhibit and to the British Museum for the exhibitions on Egyptians and Vikings – it was just far too sunny to be inside looking at history. Instead we headed straight to Embankment with plans of grabbing some lunch and sitting out in the sunshine. As we walked out of the station and towards the bridge, we came across a food festival.

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Mark with his lucky heather

 

We could resist heading into the gardens were there were various stalls selling jerk chicken, pasta dishes, African cuisine and even fish dogs (fish finger hot dogs!). We plumped for a lobster bite, which was absolutely delicious, followed by black truffle mushroom risotto balls stuffed with Italian cheese and with a tasty ragu – incredible! We were glad for these later on when we ended up not getting the chance to eat again until late! While we ate, we sat in these beautiful gardens with a great view of the London Eye.

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Afterwards we walked across the bridge to South Bank and strolled along in the sunshine watching the street theatre and listening to live music. I loved the steel drums, while Mark was the perfect target for anyone selling anything from ‘lucky’ heather to bibles!

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The bendiest rasta men I have ever seen!

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Mark with his lucky heather

We must have walked miles, stopping now and then to sit in bars drinking wine in the sunshine and trying to remember where we were going. As we were walking, we found some leaflets for a gig that night in Camden Market where a ska orchestra would be playing at Dingwalls. We figured this was a perfect replacement for Ella Eyre and decided to head there instead of to Soho to watch a jazz band. After a quick stop at the Restup Hostel (genuinely nicer than hotels we have stayed in previously in London, perfect position for going out all over and my first choice more often than not).

10003439_10151937972882617_1889696327_nWe grabbed a quick bite to eat and a few drinks then headed to Camden where The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra and another ska act would be playing later on. It was a great little venue – slap bang in the middle of Camden, dark and full of interesting characters – just my kind of place. The bands were great, really lively and energetic – they had everyone up and dancing from the beginning. I’ve never seen any other music have such a awesome effect on a group of people with such different backgrounds, ages and jobs – it really has such a good atmosphere and has got me all excited for the summer at BoomTown fair. The band played such a range of instruments and were really talented – I was very impressed.

1622840_10151937973082617_110445465_n 1012138_10151937973202617_1120837800_nWe danced long and hard and my legs were killing me by the end after a day spent walking all over London. The next day we spent eating our way round the food stalls at Camden Market nursing our hangovers before heading home. A great few days in London where we achieved nothing we planned to do but had loads of random fun. It was great to get away and really hard to come back to work after this followed by the weekend. It was also our eight year anniversary over the weekend – quite an achievement in itself! Can’t quite believe we’ve been together for more than a quarter of my life now – we must be doing something right!

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Do you love spontaneous trips like this or do you prefer to plan every second? What’s the most random thing you’ve come across in London?

 

Heading to the Big Smoke for a trip through history…

First of all, apologies for such a quiet weekend but I thought I would give you guys a chance to miss me after posting so often lately. My boyfriend and I headed to the Big Smoke for a cheeky weekend away after I had managed to score us some tickets to see Major Lazer a few months before. Both very excited, we decided to plan a weekend around the gig and used it as an opportunity to go and visit the Natural History Museum and head to our favourite – Camden Lock Market. Both of us love visiting London and doing the touristy bits, but we are also both in love with learning about nature and natural history (both massive David Attenborough fans!).

I had never been to the Natural History Museum before, Mark had only been once several years ago, and we were both excited to see the fossils, animals and dinosaurs. After a train ride to London, we headed straight to the closest tube and arrived at South Kensington, just outside the Natural History Museum – it was very easy to find but navigating between the crowds of people was hard work. We decided to head to a nearby tapas bar we spotted – Casa Brindisa.

We had a delicious meal of patatas bravas, spicy king prawns in garlic oil, smoked chorizo on toasted bread and aioli on toasted country bread. It was incredible and accompanied by some delicious sauvignon blanc, all picked out by Mark who has very good taste when it comes to food. On nearby tables, others were enjoying mixed meat and cheese platters, more wine and pesto covered peppers, more prawns and omelette/quiche-style dishes. It all looked and smelled delicious and was freshly prepared in the open kitchens, which we could see from our table, by extremely helpful staff . The meal set us up for the afternoon ahead and it was lovely to have some time to sit, eat and chat about what we wanted to see. I wish I had thought at the time to take pictures of the food and restaurant, but I was too busy enjoying myself! As a big lover of tapas, I would heartily recommend this restaurant.

Afterwards, we headed into the Natural History Museum and started to make our way around the exhibitions – which I seriously cannot believe are free. They are incredible and I salute the people who put them together.

The Natural History Museum, London

 

Whale skeletons

We spent ages looking around the rock exhibit, I don’t think I have ever been interested in rocks before and will never be again, but the diamond display really got me excited. I did tell Mark that if he ever were to propose, that I wouldn’t say yes unless he got the biggest diamond in there and stuck it on a ring – okay, it would be too heavy, but it was so pretty I could just stay home and look at it!

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend..

I was fascinated by the reconstructed skeletons of pre-historic animals, dinosaurs and the charting of their existence alongside our own and that of the planet – it truly is incredible to realise how insignificant we really are in comparison to the planet.

Terry the T-Rex head

We saw so much that I will have to cut down the amount of pictures, but my highlights were the insect section and learning about swarms, watching the ants and picking out soldier ants as they walked across the branches, and seeing a scorpion pounce on its prey. I also loved the section with huge stuffed creatures that I will probably never see alive in front of me in their natural habitat, such as the polar bear, the black bear, the woolly mammoth and even the dodo!

 

The Dodo – the now extinct bird of my father’s home country, Mauritius

The polar bear

He’s behind you!

We also checked out the theory of evolution and work of Darwin in On The Origin of the Species – I found this part really interesting and it was great to see how man had developed over thousands of years into the modern-day visitor to the museum. Among this exhibition, we found the parts of the “Lucy” skeleton which, of course, I had to have my picture taken with!

Lucy and “Lucy”

Finally, just as we were about to head out, we discovered another section that we had missed which was all about marine animals and had lots of huge creatures and skeletons including the whales (pictured above) and mammoth skulls. They were amazing, such vast frames that made us look positively tiny  in comparison. It was incredible to see how such vast creatures had gradually shrunk over time. Sadly, after this, (we had already spent nearly five hours wandering around the museum) we found a whole other section on dinosaurs that we would have loved to have seen, but there was a huge queue and we had to head to our hotel to check in. But we will definitely be returning to check out that section. Instead we walked out through the gift shop and found some very cute toys we wanted, but knew we didn’t really need…

Me and my new friend

Explorer Wolfy

It was a great day and was only about to get better… check out my next post to find out why!