Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Plotting something...

That's all I'm gonna say at the moment!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Changing of the bab!

Not often you get to see the switching of a shawarma stick mid-service. But I guess when you're as busy as Mustafa's - my top tip for Berlin street food - this could come about anytime. The queue says it all...

So busy they got the next shawarma lined up outside the kiosk. Here it is, complete with trolley.

Getting on the spit. Two man job.

Then back in business. Slick.

On the Kebalfe trail

I just got back from Berlin. It was pretty awesome. When I told people I was going to Germany to research döners, kebabs and Middle Eastern street food, lots of them wondered why not go to Istanbul? Well Istanbul is next on the list, and with a lot of the Middle East out of bounds at the minute, Berlin, with the highest concentration of Turkish people outside of Turkey, seemed like a sensible choice. Plus I also needed to let off some steam after a busy summer, and Berghain / Panorama Bar on a Sunday morning is probably the best place in the world to do just that.

It's claimed that the döner was invented in Berlin, at a place called Hasir in Kreuzberg - the centre of Berlin's Turkish community. From there came the genius of wrapping the meat, sauce and salad in a flatbread, and rolling it around itself to create the portable meal that is now enjoyed by drunk people from Wellington, New Zealand to Welling Garden City, Hertfordshire. Hasir, we owe you. Big time.

So nowadays kebabs - or kebaps, as they say there - are all over Berlin and there's a Middle Eastern takeaway on every corner, plus a few more on every block for good measure.

The main thing that struck me was how different each product was. No two döners, falafels or shawarmas were the same. The regional variations in spicing, sauces and garnish were extremely apparent. A bit of cardamom here. Peanut sauce instead of hummus there. Pickled vegetables sometimes in place of salad. Foccacia bread or flatbread. The variations were endless, and damn tasty.

So here's my top three Middle Eastern takeaways in Berlin.

Mo's Kleiner Imbiss. Gräefstraße 9, Kreuzberg

This place calls itself "The king of falafel", and they do rightly lay a claim. The falafel balls are huge, and the sandwiches are served with loads of salad and a splodge of nicely hot and sour chilli sauce. The thing that make's Mo's standout, though, is the walnut paste they smear all over the bread. That and the cute little old lady that's running the show. The queen of falafel, clearly. 

Dada Falafel. Linienstraße 132, Mitte

In at number two is Dada's. It's a bit more up market than some of the places we visited. It's a slick operation, fitting of it's high end surroundings in Mitte. The prices are a little higher, and the portions are a little smaller, but it's made up for by the quality of the food (and cleanliness of the shop). Veal shawarma was dripping with meaty juices, grilled aubergine had a sour hint of sumac and the falafel had the added depth of cardamom. Spicing and seasoning in general was spot on. Check this one out.

Mustafa's Gemüsekebap. Mehringdamm, West Kreuzberg 

Ok, this is the one. Mustafa's is simply the bomb. They have a kiosk on the street just up from Curry 36, outside a hostel, and next to an off license. That could be your weekend right there. Mustafa's do chicken shawarma with fried vegetables, or fried vegetables for the veggies. You get the choice of durüm (flatbread) or pocket (pictured), or plate. The durüm wraps were huge, and packed with juicy meat, crisp salad and fresh herbs. We got there about 7pm, and there was already a long queue forming. It's well worth the wait though. Grab a beer from the liquor store, and settle in for a serious dose of street food. Exceptional. 

Also on the Kebalfe trail were a few non-Middle Eastern joints that are worth a look. This was my fifth trip to Berlin, and it's taken me til now to get around to visiting Curry 36 (just down the road from Mustafa's). It's a sloppy and saucy and bit fake-tasting (in a good way..?), but an institution none the less. Sausage fans, go take a look. And while we're on the quick and dirty theme, Burgermeister, housed in an old public toilet, is also pretty damn tasty. Burgers hit the spot, but are let down slightly by the bun. The fries on the other hand... Whoa. Try chilli, bacon & jalepeno. 

Curry 36. Mehringdamm, West Kreuzberg

Burgermeister. Oberbaumstraße 9, Kreuzberg

This lot may seem a bit South East-centric, but if you're elsewhere in Berlin, fear not. The Kebalfe has got that covered. In fact, I even made a Googlemap... Just click on the image below. Have a look and go get exploring! 

View Kebalfe trail Berlin in a larger map

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

My guest chef night @ Cannon & Cannon

Earlier in the month I did a dinner at my buddies' Sean & Joe's deli in Brixton, Cannon & Cannon. I meant to write about it at the time, but I never got around to it. It seems a bit late now, but it do go really well, was a lot of fun, and got loads of props from the guests who came - If you follow me on twitter, you might have seen all my retweets bigging myself up after the event! So I thought I should make a bit of a record of it on here.

The menu was built around the products that Sean & Joe sell at the deli, with some well-sourced, interesting & seasonal ingredients, plus a few bits I foraged for myself. I thought it all worked together really well. Thanks to everyone who came, and sorry for those who didn't manage to get a ticket. Next time!

I'll be doing some more stuff at Cannon & Cannon in the future, so watch this space...

Monday, 1 October 2012


We came, we saw, we grilled. Pretty much everything.

Thanks to everyone at Franks Cafe & Bold Tendencies. The staff, the suppliers, the artists, the punters. It's been a great summer.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Mutant rarebit

Doing some rarebit testing here at Love To Eat HQ. I always thought calling fancy cheese on toast a rarebit was a bit strange actually. Throw in the Welsh bit - to give it it's full name, and it starts to get really confusing. I've just done about two and a half minutes research into the name (thanks Google), and it turns out the origins are pretty unclear anyway. Basically it's to do with it being poor man's food, and the Welsh being poor, and the English not liking the Welsh. This is all back in 1742, of course. Nowadays, a poor man wouldn't be bothering to make a cheese sauce to pour over his bread. And the Welsh and English are more or less as poor as each other.


So I made a mutant version yesterday, not based on historical archives, or what I just read on Wikipedia, or the BBC, or even Delia, but on what was available in my local corner shop. The cheddar looked dull as dishwater, but there was a slab of West Indian-style processed cheese which ended up in the basket along with a bottle of Guiness. Add a slosh of jerk sauce in place of Worcestershire, and there you have it. I guess you might call it a Deptford Rarebit.

The Deptford Rarebit

Big knob of butter
Small handful of flour
Splash of Guiness (from a bottle to be really authentic)
Some jerk sauce
West Indian processed cheese e.g. Dunns River
Another cheese that actually has some flavour (I used Parmesan)
Decent bread

Heat the grill and lightly toast your bread. In a sauce pan, make a roux by melting the butter, and stirring in the flour until fully combined. Gradually add the Guiness a dribble at a time, stirring as you go, until it's a thick sauce. Add the jerk sauce and stir. Add the two grated cheeses, reserving a bit of the strong tasting one for now - I used a ratio of about 70:30 processed to real. When it all looks like a big thick cheesey sauce, pour over the bread. Sprinkle the remains of the strong tasting cheese on top, and grill until bubbling and starting to brown.

Serve with the remaining Guiness on the side.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Frank's in the Guardian

And while I'm at it, my other job, Franks, was featured in the Guardian's top rooftop hangout tips of their travel section this weekend. Props all round then.

Cannon & Cannon in Timeout

Just wanted to say big up to my buddies Sean & Joe, a.k.a. Cannon & Cannon for the props they received from Timeout in their first big review. I helped them out with the menu and kitchen fit out, so glad to see they approve!

Get down to the Cheese (& Meat) Salon, and check it out for yourself.

Cannon & Cannon
18 Market Row
Brixton, SW9 8LD

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Wood fried egg

We're still working out exactly how best to cook an egg on a charcoal and wood burning grill... This is about as good as it's got so far. The trick is to sit the cut side of a log on hot coals for an hour or so until it's smouldering heavily, then flip it over and crack an egg on top.

Works pretty well... Not sure we'll be doing to order on the roof just yet though.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Up on the roof

Peckham multi-storey carpark. Home of the annual Bold Tendencies art installation project and Franks Cafe & Campari Bar. Judging by the crowds up there today for the opening party, hanging out in car parks has never been cooler.

The kitchen, where I'll be spending the remainder of the summer, opens tomorrow - Sunday 1st July - with a menu inspired by people, culture and flavours of Peckham and South East London. We'll be incorporating Caribbean, West African and Middle Eastern flavours, all cooked over a charcoal bbq.

Come on up for a Negroni and plate of plantain with burnt pepper sauce. You can check out a sample menu here.

Franks Cafe, 10th Floor, Peckham multi-storey car park, 95A Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
Thursday - Sunday from July to September.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

And onwards, to Cadaqués

For la vida - and comida - salvaje!

Sea Urchin, fresh from the Med, sea lettuce, wild fennel, wild rosemary, plus a shop-bought tomato, cucumber, and some japanese rice crackers. Yum!

Barcelona, the real Barcelona

I know it is, because I just went there.

Ox Cheek at Pinotxo bar, in the Boqueria market.

Some chillies. Also in the Boqueria

And brains with balls...

Weymouth, the new Barcelona

 It must be true... it says so in the Guardian.

Good news, celebrated with a lobster lunch, at the Hive Beach Cafe.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Final Week at the Particular

Gorilla Jerk rolls into it's final week at The London Particular in New Cross. We still have a couple of places available for Thursday night (tomorrow). The final menu will look something like this:

Ox heart & scotch bonnet ketchup

Kingston Roulette peppers

Sweet corn & pimento butter

Squid, cauliflower & cashew nuts

Jerk pig's cheek, red onion & pickled pineapple

Smoked yogurt, sorrel punch & raspberries

There's also an Elderflower Mule cocktail to begin, and a little surprise at the end. £25 per head. Give me a shout to book your spot.

Saturday, 2 June 2012


Big vibes this week at The Particular! Gorilla Jerk burning up real nice! Thanks to everyone who've made it down so far, and look forward to all those who are coming down this week. There's still a couple of place left for Friday 8th, so get in touch if you fancy coming.

Full report coming soon - right now I'm off to enjoy my day off!

See ya x

Thanks to Helen Rankin for the photo - more of that to come too!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Gorilla Jerk Extension

Due to big demand, we've decided to extend the Gorilla Jerk run @ The London Particular into the following week.

We'll be running tings supper club style on Thursday 7th & Friday 8th June. Same deal as before - £25 for snacks, three courses, and a cocktail.

Get in touch with me to book places - nbalfe [at]

Cheers y'all x

Monday, 21 May 2012

Gorilla jerk @ The London Particular

Big news y'all! The Gorilla Jerk Summer Tour is underway, and the first stop is The London Particular in New Cross. We'll be rolling up for a three-night residency, between May 30th and 1st June, cooking up Jerk-inspired bizniz each night.

On Wednesday May 30th and Thursday 31st May, we'll be running tings supper club-style, with a set menu of snacks, followed by three courses that will look something like this:

Ox heart & Scotch Bonnet Ketchup
Kingston Roulette Peppers
Sweetcorn & Pimento Butter

Grilled Squid, Alphonso Mango & Chilli

Jerk Pig's Cheek, Red Onion & Dandelion

Smoked milk pudding, Sorrel Punch & Raspberries

There'll also be a cocktail to start, and some other bits and bobs along the way, all for £25 per head. Places are pretty limited, so if you fancy it, please get in touch and reserve your spot.

***To book a place on Wednesday 30th or Thursday 31st May, email me at nbalfe [at]***

On Friday 1st June, we'll be open to all comers, serving up similar dishes, but in a street food-style, complimenting the Particular's already excellent menu. If you're in the area, swing by for an ox heart roti and a glass of rum punch!

We won't be taking bookings on Friday night; the jerk will be served on a first come, first served basis from 7ish 'til we run out.

Hope to see you there!

Gorilla Jerk @ The London Particular
399 New Cross Road, SE14 6LA

Supper Club Wednesday 30th May, Thursday 31st May
£25 per head - places limited - booking essential
Veggie & pescie alternatives available - let me know when booking.
7pm for 7.30 start

Street Food Jerk Session Friday 1st June
No bookings - just roll up!
From 7pm

nbalfe [@] for info & reservations

p.s. thanks to static.wix for the gorilla image at the top of the post - watch out for my very own logo coming soon!


Due to high demand, Gorilla Jerk will be extending the run @ The London Particular into the following week - we will now be running supper clubs on Thursday 6th & Friday 7th June.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Testing, Testing, 1, 2...

Red Stripe Chicken gettin' hot on my new toy - the jerk cooker. More on these soon to come...

(And thanks to Food Stories for reminding me of the Red Stripe method)

New Toy

Big tings! Looking forward to putting this guy to good use over the summer.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Gap year

It's been bloody ages. Sorry about that.

I haven't been anywhere, just working very hard, and didn't really want this to become a blog about where I've been working. Nor did I want this blog to be about dinners I've had elsewhere, or stuff I've cooked at home, although I kind of see the value in both. What I really enjoyed when writing this blog was delving into topics and getting under the skin of things, and I haven't really had time to put anything like that together unfortunately. So I gave it a rest for a bit...

It's still resting. But it might be back now I have a little more time on my hands.

Thanks for reading, and look out for more sometime soon.