Jun 17, 2014

Eat the Art Trail Post: Spotlight on some foodie venues

Much of the wonderful art displayed at the E17 Art Trail could not have done so without the generous hosting of visionary venues, the churches, houses and of course cafes. To show our appreciation, feel free to visit them throughout the year and lend your support. Many come with attached galleries and host art throughout the year.

Rose and Crown – along with showcasing several artists’ work, they host the E17 Pop Up where sushi and dim sum masterclasses were held throughout the Trail. Here was my experience: http://e17arttrail.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/eat-trail-post-roll-up-roll-up-for.html

A quirky interior with walls adorned with coaster upon coaster.

Arts and Crusts – for such a small venue they certainly packed it in, even utilising their window to showcase the wonderfully “pow” comic art Cindy & Biscuit. 

Clever use of the location and story together
Inside along with scrumptious fresh crusty bread and artisan cakes, and a pineapple...

...they hosted the Little Library – I managed to find a food related book. More on the little libraries here: http://e17arttrail.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/library-love.html

Book called Kitchen
Round the back their gallery hosted artwork including a photo of Kat from the Hornbeam Cafe

 Their bread is what they’re famed for. 

Taking a bite into the simple pleasure of plain bread and butter I upgraded myself to a humungous wholemeal sourdough loaf to share with those back home, too good to keep to myself.

Being a massive sweet tooth, I couldn’t resist the rhubarb and strawberry flan which went down a treat: moist, tangy, sweet and just the right proportion of each.

Hornbeam CafĂ© – both hosting artworks on the walls and Norman Loves. The opening tapas evening gave a preview into their creative work. The fun food orientated feel went throughout, with their tea cup plants and fun colander lamp shades.

The Veg Hut – beautifully decorated indoor farmers market who hosted a photographic exhibition amongst their own little pieces of art such as the unusual purple carrots.

Foodies supporting one another
Unusual produce available
Bounteous display
Walthamstow Farmers Market­ – I went on the Junior day so there was Punch and Judy, pin the tail on the pig, a gorgeous wooden mini market to play with along with all the scrummy food on display.

Great words!
They hosted the poster competition for the local school and provided a lovely central point where people could gather and really get to know their producers.

One of the designs by a Year 10 pupil from Kelmscott School
Others of note that have already been featured in the blog including: Bygga Bo, 56 St James, Chequers pub, The Bell and many others.

Eat the Art Trail Post: Another 2013 to 2014 E17 Art Trail Success Story – Bygga Bo

When I was first introduced to the Art Trail, Bygga Bo was a name bandied around with pride. Starting as a pop up in 2013, they decided to go for it this year, and a few months ago launched their serene Swedish corner for all to visit.

Remembering their roots of the Art Trail, they have a gallery at the back. For this year’s E17 Art Trail it is hosting an intriguing exhibition Mixed Race17. As a “mixed culture” person myself I really related and thought it was beautifully executed by Fabien Ho. See more about Fabien here: http://e17arttrail.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/from-chile-to-finland-nigeria-to-japan.html

Intrigued by their name, I was told that it means to “build a nest.” Appropriate given the comfy and welcoming atmosphere that greats you as soon as you enter the sanctum created by James, Eva and Malin.

Hard at work!
Selection on sale
 The flickering candles and neutral Scandinavian interior, through to the scented gardens and gallery at the back all lend a sense of calm and tranquillity.

 There’s a playful touch too with the funky lights made from hairdressers’ hairdryers. 

Cool funky retro lights

Finding the food connection in the Mixed Race17 exhibit, I particularly related to these quotes.

Michael's photos proudly states: “I’m not mixed. Mixed is what happens when we bake. My family is multi-heritage & I’m a Yorkshireman.”

And Rachel reflects on her food heritage, the ultimate in fusion! “My mum & dad played Reggae loudly in the kitchen while cooking Chinese food. It’s normal for us to mix soya sauce with Jamaican thyme. Doesn’t everybody do the same?”

As for food, there’s a great choice on offer, just a of which sample below.

I started with the iconic meatballs on beetroot salad flatbread.

I then moved onto the cheese and tomato toastie which although not as Scandivanian as the other dishes on offer hit the mark with my taste buds: crispy and chewy bread, oozing and flavoursome cheese and basil within, soft ripe tomatoes and punchy rocket salad. I'll let you in on a secret... there's only one on the plate as I got too excited and tore into the other half before remembering I was meant to be photographing... but shhh!

This didn't last long either!
 I couldn’t resist the smattering of Scandinavian sweets, including of course the delightfully named “Plopp” which would elicit a snigger from most men.  

The same fate befell the Dumlea and Plopp before the camera arrived...
The popular cinnamon buns flew off the counter, so I was lucky to procure two from the back. Soft, gently spiced, sticky and sumptuous!

With Bygga Bo and Silvana blossoming from last year, who will go forth bigger and bolder than ever for the eleventh E17 Art Trail in 2015? My bets are on Bestowed Kitchen, Kids' Kitchen and Norman Loves as a start.

Eat the Art Trail Post: 2013 to 2014 E17 Art Trail success story – Silvana Gambini

Having supped at Silvana’s Cocomero supper club, I wanted to know more about the charismatic host and her recipes.

The legend herself, photo courtesy of Cocomero blog
1. Please do tell us a bit about what makes your supper club special? 
My supper clubs are all about recreating the feeling of eating at my mother's table - delicious home-made Italian food that makes everyone happy!  

2. What’s next?
I'm taking bookings for the next supper club 'Lo Zio D'America' http://www.cocomero.co.uk/supper-clubs/lo-zio-damerica-supper-club to celebrate US Independence Day.

3. How did you get into supper clubs?
I went to a couple of local ones during the Appetite Festival last year and thought what a good idea they were - and certainly a lot more manageable than the manic - if very successful - drop-in pop-up Italian cafe I ran during the Festival!  To be able to take more time and give your guests a memorable food experience really appeals to me - it fits very well with the whole concept of Italian hospitality.

4. Any tips for others wanting to start their own?
Make sure you get everything legal in place - get your kitchen inspected by your local Environmental Health Food Safety Team, get your Food Safety Level Two certificate, make sure you have the right insurance cover, make sure you are on the right side of the licensing laws. The last thing you want is for your food adventure to go bad on either you or your guests! Voice of doom aside, I'd say just think about the kinds of details you appreciate when eating out and try to deliver those to your guests.

5. Any cooking tip you can share with us?
When you've switched off the oven after baking or roasting, don't waste the residual heat! Put a tray of cherry tomatoes, or pomodorini, cut in half (with each half topped with a sea salt crystal)  into the oven and leave them in there overnight or until the oven has cooled. Then remove the salt crystals and put the tomatoes into a sterilised jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil. You now have very own version of semi 'sundried' tomatoes that can be used in all manner of ways and dishes and can even be whizzed up in a processor with the oil to make a rich tomato paste. Perfect way of using up a glut of toms from the allotment or when they are selling for 10 a penny down the market at the height of summer.

6. What do you enjoy most about working with food in Walthamstow?
There is a real 'foodie' community here in Walthamstow now - people who love producing and eating good food.  You can see that in the something like the Waltham Forest Food and Drink Society Facebook group, set up recently by talented local baker, Elisabetta Iudica. It's a forum that has really taken off with everyone pitching in with great recipes, sharing helpful hints and tips and reliving their food memories - it's the friendliest local online community!  Locally there is also a trend of starting small and seeing where your food journey takes you - like the magnificent Aura Rosa Cakes and the lovely Lucy Scott Traybakes before them.  That's what I want to do - start small and build up a successful local business. 

7. Where is your favourite place to go out to eat locally?
Can't limit myself to one place and one type of food - sorry!  A pizza from Peppe's mobile wood fired pizza oven outside the Rose and Crown is like taking a mini break to Italy!  'Chocolate y churros' from Cafe Bonito on Wood Street is my decadent treat and the best full English in the borough is served at LOT 107, again in Wood Street. When I'm looking for a meat feast, it has to be Urfa, a Turkish ocakbasi restaurant on St James Street and for something more upmarket, Eat 17 on Orford Road always delivers the goods.  I could go on - and on and on and on and on....

8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Did I mention that celebrity chef, Gennaro Contaldo (Jamie Oliver's mentor and star of BBC 2's 'Two Greedy Italians') called my porchetta (aromatic Italian roast pork) 'the best porchetta this side of Rome!'?  Well if I didn't, I'm mentioning it now!  

The famous moment! Photo courtesy of Cocomero blog
I raved about the limoncello, so different to the sickly sweet neon yellow concoctions usually served. Silvana kindly shared the recipe with us. The ingredients do look very simple and given the distinct herby flavour I asked if she had changed anything to which she replied only accidentally using golden caster sugar – which it appears works just as well if not better. She hypothesised it might be the particular batch of lemon she used which were particularly zesty. I only hope when I attempt to make it at home it tastes half as good.

Photo from Cocomero blog
To access the limoncello recipe, it’s available here on her own Cocomero blog: http://www.cocomero.co.uk/2014/05/05/limoncello-easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy/