Welcome to your brand spanking new monthly foodie round-up. As Belle’s newest resident food fan, I’m here to give fellow foodies a little monthly treat packed with all the little places you should visit and things you should try. This is the first one, with a few things I reckon you should get yourselves down to in August. Events you can go to, restaurants you can try, festivals to frolic at, and food you should be munching on.
Take a trip to Rio with a Battersea Brazilian barbecue
August is all about the Olympics, so expect to see plenty of Brazilian-themed tomfoolery going on this month. And with all sorts of treats like cachaça and churrasco, it’s a perfect obsession for us foodies to have.
If you’re looking for Olympic-obsessed events, head down to Battersea where gastropub The Latchmere is hosting a rum and cachaça pop-up bar in its beer garden.
From 12-14 August (Friday-Sunday) – set to be the most successful sporting weekend for Team GB – on the menu will be Brazilian barbecue street food, along with caipirinhas, caipiroskas and cervejas.
They’ve got more than 20 rums and cachaças on offer, including the artisan Abelha organic cachaca silver, handcrafted in the highlands of Bahia, Brazil, and Santa Teresa 1796, believed to be South America’s best rum, so there’s guaranteed to be something to get you in the carnival mood.
The Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road, Battersea, London SW11 3BW. Nearest stations – Battersea Park, Queenstown Road, Clapham Junction.
BBC Good Food Festival
It’s one of the biggest names when it comes to food fests and the perfect Bank Holiday activity.
From August 27-29 some of the biggest chefs in the land are descending on Hampton Court Palace. From Paul Hollywood, Michel Roux Jr, John Whaite – resident chef on ITV’s Lorraine – and Great British Bake Off winner Jo Wheatley, it’s a foodie’s dream, complete with samples, tips and demonstrations and live entertainment – all in a stunning setting.
Nigerian Tapas for Chuku’s First Birthday
The self-proclaimed world’s first Nigerian tapas lounge is celebrating its first birthday with a return to its first pop-up venue in London this month.
Set up in August 2015 by London-born brother and sister team Emeka and Ifeyinwa Frederick, Chuku’s is all about bringing a taste of Nigerian cuisine and culture to the UK. It offers traditional and experimental dishes – think fried plantain alongside Emeka and Ifeyinwa’s own twist on traditional jollof rice. Not only has Olympian Christine Ohuruogu checked it out, but it has already been listed as one of the top five African pop-up restaurants of 2015.
To celebrate its first birthday on Sunday, August 21, it’s returning to its first venue at Palm 2 in Clapton. With its slogan: ‘chop, chat, chill’ – chop being Nigerian pidgin for ‘eat’ – spend a summer Sunday eating, chatting and relaxing while you try a taste of Nigeria.
Chuku’s will be at Palm 2, 152-156 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0QG on Sunday 21st August from 1pm to 8pm. Nearest station – Clapton
Gin Festival Tobacco Dock
Okay, so it’s drink, not food. But it’s GIN! On Bank Holiday weekend Tobacco Dock out east will be taken over by this manna from heaven. Grab your Gin Festival glass and a brochure and wile away some hours using drinks tokens to try the 100-plus different gins on offer, including Tarquins ‘Single Estate Tea’ Gin, made especially for the festival.
It’s not just boozing on offer, but live entertainment, talks from industry experts and food too.
Tickets are £12.50 plus booking fee, with evening sessions and afternoon sessions running throughout the weekend. They’re available from www.ginfestival.com/events
Dock, Tobacco Quay, Wapping Ln, London E1W 2SF. Nearest station – Shadwell DLR & Overground, Wapping Overground, Tower Hill Tube
Shotgun at The Gardening Society pop-up, John Lewis, Oxford Circus
‘Tis the season for pop-ups, especially of the outdoor variety. This summer the rooftop of John Lewis Oxford Street has been transformed into an al fresco setting for a range of pop-up restaurants, complete with the backdrop of flowers and fresh herbs. In August, it’s all about American barbecue, from ‘Shotgun’. Running from August 2 to September 4, they’re bringing the US of A to the big smoke, from ribs to corn-fed chicken along with side dishes and thirst quenchers. A perfect summer’s day treat.
John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street, W1A 1EX, Enter via the 5th Floor. Nearest station – Oxford Circus.
CLAW at Skylon
While we’re on the subject of pop-ups, you’ve only got a month left to check out CLAW at Skylon, the third-floor restaurant at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. CLAW’s name is pretty self-explanatory really. They’re all about the claws. Founder Fabian Clarke set up CLAW in January 2015 on a mission to get British crab back on menus and plates. It’s gone from strength to strength, and CLAW was crowned the Virgin Foodpreneur for 2015.
Now, thanks to a shared passion for sustainability and local ingredients, CLAW is hosting a crustacean-packed pop-up in Skylon’s Bar & Grill. CLAW’s famous crab burgers will be added to the menu, which has already got a bucketload of signature dishes from executive chef Tom Cook. You’ve only got until August 30 to try it, as that’s when the pop-up ends, so best get yourself down there quick.
Skylon, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 8XX. Nearest stations – Waterloo, Embankment
I’m not sure how I’ve missed out on this for so long, but my big foodie find in July has been Fregola – sometimes spelled Fregula – and if you haven’t tried it before, I suggest you make it your August mission.
It’s a type of pasta from Sardinia, made by rubbing semolina flour and water together, and actually looks more like giant couscous. I had it as a starter on a recent meal out, where it was mixed with roasted mediterranean vegetables, pine nuts, and a lovely basil-ey, oily dressing. A perfect summer starter or snack, and a demonstration of why fregula is a great vehicle for delicious dressings or sauces to stick to.
It’s definitely worth a go as a change from grains, pasta or couscous, and if you’re not sure what to do with it, try these recipes from Nigel Slater, another lovely of the silky spheres.
Are Pot Noodles making a comeback?
They conjure up images of grubby kitchens and student days, but apparently there’s a new pot noodle on the market that is actually pretty good for you. Mr Lee’s Noodles was created by Damien Lee who – as he recovered from stage 4 cancer – craved instant noodles but struggled to find any that were free from artificial additives and flavourings.
We all have times when we’re too busy to cook up a full-blown meal, and apparently these are the answer. According to the blurb, Mr Lee’s Noodles use rice noodles sourced from Vietnam and quality, freeze-dried vegetables and proteins. They’re designed to offer maximum nutrition and flavour and are free from gluten, artificial flavourings and preservatives.
In Damien’s words: “I’ve always cared about what people eat, and now more than ever I want to use Mr Lee’s Noodles to demonstrate this. It’s been an exciting process, and we can now put our hands on our hearts and say eat a healthier noodle today, and here it is.”
There are six flavours on offer: Warrior Fighting Shrimp, Shaolin Monk Vegetables, Tai Chi Chicken, Hong Kong Street Beef, Dragon Fire Mushrooms and Penang Curry Chicken Laksa. They’re available on Amazon from August and can be bought online or through new ‘noodle kiosk’ vending machines, that’ll be found in universities, hospitals and offices. Who knows, maybe they’re the speedy answer we’ve all been looking for….
Out of town
Summer is the time for escapes and breaks, so if you’re looking to go slightly further afield I’ve found a fab little place that’s not in the big smoke, but in the second city – Birmingham. Loki Wine is a gorgeous little wine merchants hidden away in the ornate and old-school Great Western Arcade.
It’s a mixture of wine merchants and wine bar, with machines that will dispense you a taste of whatever 40 wines owner Phil Innes has decided to put on, as well as seating upstairs where you can enjoy a glass of wine and platter of meats or cheese, or take part in one of its many organised events.
It’s not called Loki by accident – the use of the mischievous Norse god’s moniker is a reflection of Phil’s plan, that wine should be fun and not stuffy and intimidating. So if you’re looking for an escape and happy to be heading up to the Venice of the Midlands – possibly to visit one of its five Michelin-starred restaurants or many other eateries – don’t forget to pop in. You won’t regret it.
Loki Wine Merchant & Tasting House, Great Western Arcade, 36 Great Western Arcade, Birmingham B2 5HU
Well, that’s all from me for this month. I would love to hear if you make it to any of these and what you think. And don’t forget, I’m always on the lookout for new things, so let us know if you spot anything else Belle should be talking about!