West Norwood Food Week: 13th – 21st June

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So this is pretty exciting. The brains behind West Norwood FEAST (who we’ve raved about here) have come up with a whole week’s worth of foodie events aimed at pretty much everyone (well, except for those who don’t like food. But never mind those sorts.)

The week appears to be aimed at making the most of both the independent locations the town has to offer, and the sheer variety of food it boasts now too. The weekends are family orientated, while the weeknights have most international cuisines covered. If anything it’s a great opportunity to try out a new place in the area. The list is as follows:

13th June – A Taste of Victorian History – Foodie Cemetery Tour in West Norwood

14th June – Remember your childhood with a free family picnic

15th June – Share a Bangladeshi Family Feast at Lal Baag

16th June – A British Celebration Supper at the Tulse Hill Hotel (check out our views on their menu if you need any further convincing)

17th June – Summer Sharing Feast under the Stars at The Great North Wood (check out our thoughts on their brunch and dinner offerings)

18th June – Share an Italian Summer Dinner at The Garden Gastro Bar

19th June – A DIY DJ evening, with local craft beers and paella at the Book and Record Bar

20th June – A Summer Afternoon of Art in the Park and Picnicking in Norwood Park

21st June – A Taste of the Caribbean – A Midsummer Evening at the Portico Gallery

You can book your place via Grub Club (we used this facility to book our visit to PaoCha and it’s worth bookmarking for unique pop ups in the capital). If you’re interested in the British Celebration Supper, email eat@tulsehillhotel.com.

We’ve got our eating trousers on and ready…

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PaoCha London: a pop-up Chinese Dim Sum Brunch

pop-up chinese dim sum streatham

The table setting for PaoCha London

The title is a bit of a mouthful but bear with us. A Twitter follower recommended this new eating concept to us and after a quick browse on their website, we knew we wanted to get involved.

The traditional tools behind serving Chinese tea

The traditional tools behind serving Chinese tea

So what is PaoCha London? Two people, Sam and Alex, who have both spent a considerable time in China, decided to create a pop-up restaurant in their own Streatham-based home offering Chinese tea and dim sum. The event seats around 10 people and the menu is based on several courses, each interspersed with – you guessed it – tea.

The menu for the day

The menu for the day

Sam is the main host, while Alex is the artist in the kitchen. We say artist because dim sum he creates from scratch – yes from scratch – is almost too beautiful to eat. We’ll get to that in a second though.

Sam makes a great host, making everyone feel thoroughly comfortable. Her chilled demeanour made for a relaxing experience, putting to bed any thoughts or concerns that sharing a table with strangers could be daunting.

Steamed pork and butternut squash dumplings

Steamed pork and butternut squash buns

Each tea and plate of food was introduced with a bit of background, and Sam detailed the ritual of making Chinese tea, making our Yorkshire tea bag dunking look a little unsophisticated to say the least.

So, the food. Steamed buns packed full (Alex made pork ones and also offered a veggie option in the form of a butternut squash filling), dumplings, pickled veg that had a fresh crunch to it, and spicy greens. Even the snacks at the beginning weren’t just thrown together.

Spinach dumplings

Spinach dumplings

There’s plenty to go around, too – at least two servings of everything so you won’t leave hungry.

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So much detail was paid to the whole event, from the framed, handwritten menu and traditional cutlery to the tea making method which we found rather hypnotic. Sam found that tap water impaired the taste of Chinese tea so ensured the kettle was filled with bottle spring water every time.

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The dessert was a total treat too, featuring moon cakes and mousse poured into hollowed-out tangerines.

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The whole event stretches over three hours, from 12pm-3pm, which sounds like a long time to commit to but it flew by. Sam said there is such a thing as becoming ‘tea drunk’ when the drink isn’t served with food (tradition has it that the Chinese always have some sort of nibble with their chai) but we felt pretty zoned out by the time we left their flat.

So how much is this? Just £15 a head – that’s food, drink and a mini cultural tour in a comfy seat for a ridiculously good price. We couldn’t get over what a bargain it was.

PaoCha currently runs once a month on a Sunday. The next one is 7th June and bookings can be made via Grub Club. Sam tells us they offer private bookings and deals too, so it’s worth getting in touch with them to see what they can offer.

The irony now is that this post was written fuelled by Yorkshire tea. Not quite the same. Oh well…

A wedding at Brixton East

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We’d never heard of Brixton East before being invited to a wedding there recently, but it’s mere moments from Brixton Village and several minutes walk from the main road.

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An old furniture warehouse, the two floor space is now used for pop-up events (their website gives a snapshot of what’s been there before, including yoga and brunch days).

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Wooden flooring, exposed brickwork and original features (check out the old giant clock on the second floor) make this a cosy setting for an urban wedding.

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There’s also a small roof terrace which quickly became a smokers corner. We forgot to take a picture but some clever soul had thought to use old mattress springs as a frame for wall plants – now that’s upcycling taken to a new level.

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Our friends hired the lighting adorning the walls, along with the candles dotted around, while the absolutely stunning flowers were from McQueens.

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The best bit? It’s the most local wedding we’ve ever been to, requiring a 10 minute bus ride home Win.

Brixton East 1871, 71 Gresham Road, SW9 7NS

Forza Win, Peckham: Spring Chicken

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We didn’t know what to expect when signing up to Forza Win.

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What used to be a pop-up establishment is now a full-blown event in an old cash and carry in Copeland Park, Peckham.

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Check out their website for examples of past ‘projects’, turning basic locations like rooftops and pickle factories into feasting halls.

The set menu for the evening

The set menu for the evening

It’s a basic set up that really works – arrive between 7:30-8pm to take your seat (anywhere goes, it’s just a case of parking your bottom where there’s space) at one of the long tables. You’re encouraged to get to know your neighbours as ultimately you’ll be sharing dishes with them.

Limoncello mojitos were served on arrival

Limoncello mojitos were served on arrival

As soon as you enter, you’re enveloped in a warm atmosphere. Quite literally, too – the barbecue helps to heat the whole place and the woody smells reminded us of summer festivals (without the grim portaloo aspect, obvs).

Chickens for all! Food is cooked over the fire pit

Chickens for all! Food is cooked over the fire pit

Forza Win’s forte is Italian food using locally sourced ingredients. It’s a set menu and the price of the food (and aperitif – here it’s a limoncello mojito) are included in the £35 ticket price. Water is readily available on the table but if you want more drinks, you can order at their makeshift bar.

Homemade sausage served with cabbage and carrot to start

Homemade sausage served with cabbage and carrot to start

It’s a smooth operation run by a small group of individuals splitting duties into front of house, drinks server and a group of chefs. Dishes are served one by one; first up we had their homemade sausage with carrots and cabbage, then followed a series of greens before the main event – their 100 day old spring chicken.

Celeriac with apple

Celeriac with apple

Blackened leeks with Parmesan

Blackened leeks with Parmesan

Let’s just say you don’t go hungry. The ingredients might seem simple but everything has a delicious twist – think lemon and chilli infused broccoli with almonds and cheesy leeks. Platters of food are laid down with the intention of splitting between six people, and even if you think you’ll struggle to share fairly, you don’t – you won’t go hungry.

Serve yourself the chicken, with blackened potatoes and more greens

Serve yourself the chicken, with blackened potatoes and more greens

For those who aren’t ardent meat eaters, the chefs offer a vegetarian option too, so there’s no missing out. For those who are, enjoy some pictures of chicken.

Mismatched plates and cutlery add to the homely feel

Mismatched plates and cutlery add to the homely feel

All gone: this chicken had no chance with us

All gone: this chicken had no chance with us

The atmosphere is so friendly, it feels like a party. The staff seem to have just as good a time as you even when they’re flat out, and while you can’t always guarantee you’re sitting next to sociable people, usually your love of food translates and that’s it, you’re off chatting away.

They’ve just added some new dates for this particular event in May, so sign up before it’s too late.

As well as this seasonal event, they’ve just started ‘Awesome Sauce’ on Wednesdays, serving a plate of pasta with a glass of wine for £10.

As for us, we’ll be stalking their website to find out what their summer project is set to be…

Forza Win, Unit 4.1, 133 Copeland Road, SE15 3SN. 

The King & Co Clapham kitchen residency – Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen

The King & Co, Clapham

While pub food has certainly become more extravagant than before (pulled pork served with everything, most likely on a wooden slab instead of a humble plate), the King & Co have turned the age old tradition of ‘pub grub’ on its head by offering a changing menu every two months. We love this idea – there will always be something new to try and a platform for up and coming chefs who might not otherwise get such an opportunity. The only downside, we guess, would be that if you find yourself fond of a particular dish you’d need to savour it while it lasts!

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Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is the latest to set up home, cooking up African dishes from now until 31st May. The menu is short but sweet, comprising small tapas sized portions where the recommendation is about 2-3 plates per person.

The menu at the King & Co, Clapham

The menu at the King & Co, Clapham

There’s enough for veggies to get involved but the signature dishes really lie with the meat lovers. Our favourite was the mutton with satay sauce, and pork belly – generous cuts cooked for so long it just falls apart.

Pork belly with sweet plantain jus (closest to camera) and Zoe's signature peanut butter stew with mutton

Pork belly with sweet plantain jus (closest to camera) and Zoe’s signature peanut butter stew with mutton

Cassava croquettes and Red Red were among the vegetarian options Zoe's Ghana Kitchen Clapham

Cassava croquettes and Red Red were among the vegetarian options

Other hits were the mackerel (look past the minor food admin of small bones and you’ve got tender spicy fish) and ‘red red’, delicious black beans in a rich tomato sauce topped with parmesan.

Jollof chicken skewers

Jollof chicken skewers

The only disappointment was the lack of ‘Puff Puff Handmade Doughnuts’, because the kitchen weren’t able to make them properly the night we visited.

Mackerel fillets in chilli, lemon and garlic

Mackerel fillets in chilli, lemon and garlic

Still feeling hungry? Their Instagram page will get your stomach rumbling even more…

If you’ve not been to the King & Co before, there’s no sectioned-off restaurant area. Eating takes place in the heart of the pub and, with the tapas attitude of “you eat when it arrives at the table”, the whole vibe is very relaxed.

If south west London is a stretch, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen frequents Peckham Springs on a Friday night too. Result.

The King & Co, 100 Clapham Park Road, SW4 7BZ