Berber & Q’s Shawarma Bar

God, looking for a new flat in London is an exausting task!

So after a loooooong morning of (rather unsuccessful) viewings, when we found ourselves right around the corner of my favourite little pocket of London, we decided to take a break from it all and treat ourself to a nice lunch.

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

Our spot of choice? Berber & Q’s super-instagramable Shawarma Bar.

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + WhiskyShawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

A tiny but perfectly formed, new-wave shawarma bar, brought to central London by Haggerston’s Middle Eastern barbecue superstar.

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

No mystery meat to be seen here.

Instead, the menu’s on the shorter side and full of vegetarian-oriented small plates, shawarma-stuffed pitas dishes and plates and creative sides.

Needless to say, it’s a ‘let’s get one of each and share’-type dinner’s dream, be it for a relaxed weekday lunch, a casual dinner or not-your-usual weekend brunch.

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

Start with a cock/mocktail…

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + WhiskyShawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

Followed by a smogasboard of small plates to share!

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

Za’atar-roasted tomatoes with labneh.

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

Ezme with pine nuts and red chilli.

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

Joojeh chicken pita with blackened green chilli sauce & garlic yoghurt.

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

(which was quite enjoyable as it came, but even better once turned upside down onto a plate, teared up and mixed!)

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + WhiskyShawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

Signature cauliflower shawarma with sultanas, rose, pine nuts & pomegranate.

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

And some of the best hummus I’ve had in my life.

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

A tableful of goodies ready for you to scoop and dip into to your heart’s content!

Shawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + WhiskyShawarma Bar, London | Restaurant review || Cake + Whisky

All topped up with a beautiful, panna cotta-like cardamom malabi.

Delicate and wobbly and all, what a way to wrap it up!

Shawarma Bar by Berber & Q, 46 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 4QE
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Berber & Q’s Shawarma Bar

Smokestak Barbecue, London

Much like this famous restaurant critic, I thought I was done with barbecue. Thought I had seen it all, tasted it all and that there wasn’t much point in having to deal with smoke-scented coats and sweaters if the only thing I got for all that hard work was dry meat the texture of cotton-wool covered in ridiculous amounts of overly sweet barbecue sauce.

And then Smokestak came along and convinced me that maybe, there were times when smoke-scented winter coats were worth it.

Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky

The decor alone makes it clear that this is not your average ‘Murica-inspired diner. No red leather booth, no US flags, no ketchup and mustard in squeezy bottles. Instead, plenty of grey shades, dark wood, unpolished metal and leather details. Industrial, stylish, to the point.

The menu goes in the same direction: no pulled pork, a few true-to-their-roots classics, and plenty of twisted ones, all cooked with incredible attention to detail.

Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + WhiskySmokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky

Unsurprisingly, the brisket bun (a butter-brushed soft bun pilled high with super soft meat and pickled chilli) is an absolute dream.

Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky

So are the thick-cut pork ribs. Rich, fall-off-the-bone meat, finger-licking good sticky glaze, punchy cucumber pickles, textbook barbecue perfection.

Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky

Somewhat gruesome-sounding pigtails turns out to be little morcels of crackling-like sticky joy. An instant favourite.

And unlike many other barbecue restaurants, where anything that’s not meat is hardly ever worth ordering, side dishes at Smokestak are as stellar as the main bits.

Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky

Try the Celery, fennel, almond slaw, with delicate notes of preserved lemon and cumin. It’s fresh and light, crunchy and surprisingly moreish.

Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky

Order the Smoky rarebit jacket potato. Not doing so would be a mis-steak.

Blackened, crispy skin spud, scooped out, pimped with plenty of cheesy, ale-y rarebit mix, then re-stuffed, and quickly popped under the grill to emerge in all its golden, cheesy beauty.

But then again, there are many other things to love about Smokestak. The strong, perfectly mixed cocktails. The paper-thin, delicated slices of bacon-like cured pigs jowl… Not to mention what’s possibly the best sticky toffee pudding in the whole of London.

Because when it comes to great barbecue, Smokestak doesn’t just meat expectation but exceeds them from start to finish. It makes decisions very, very hard to make and pretty much garantees you’ll leave very, very full indeed.

Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky Smokestak Barbecue, London | Cake + Whisky

Good thing the little Shoreditch pocket Smokestak is located in is a nice place to go for a walk afterwards… Everyone knows that ace street art and a therapeutic dose of thrift shopping is the best way to fight off the meat sweats!

Smokestak35 Sclater St, London E1 6LB
Smokestak Barbecue, London

Señor Ceviche

With so many new pop-ups and restaurants opening their doors every week, return visits are a rare occurence, especially if said restaurants don’t happen to be within a 5-min walking radius from my front door.

That said, some places do make the cut for a second visit, be it because we just happen to be in the neighbourhood, or have a specific craving that simply must be satisfied.

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

As far as Señor Ceviche is concerned, it was a combination of both.

On a nice, sunny weekend, we found ourselves wandering near Kingly Court in great need of a cocktail and some barbecued side action.

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

So after over a year, we made our way to Señor’s casa, eager to quench our thirst with a glass of house pisco and sink our teeth into some Peruvian small plates.

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + WhiskySeñor Ceviche, London | Cake + WhiskySeñor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

The restaurant itself was as packed, fun and vibrant as ever (as you can absolutely not guess from the above press pics ??), with loads of groups celebrating the weekend and foodies delighting in the Casa’s specialities, including some truly stunning cocktails!

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

Obligatory Pisco Sour (Machu Pisco, lime juice, egg white, Chuncho bitters).

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

Another Casa Clasico: the Pisco Punch (Machu Pisco, lemon juice, pineapple syrup, rosemary)

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

All served up by the friendliest & funniest of teams!

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

And quickly followed by a tableful of colourful small plates to share, tapas style.

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

Starting with an old favourite, Chifa Chicharrones.

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

Slow cooked, crispy pork belly with sweet soy sauce, it’s as indulgent as you’d imagine and an absolute must-order in my book.

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

Mr Miyagi tiradito

A Salmon tiradito and the perfect mix of South American and Asian cuisines, it was a brilliant example of Nikkei cooking, as well as very light and fresh. Perfect for super hot days!

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

Though The Spaniard still remains my absolute favourite.

With sea bream and king prawn in a perfectly balanced sweet-and-spicy tomato & aji rocotto tiger’s milk and crispy chorizo, it’s basically summer on a plate and the sort of dish you can’t refrain from ordering a second order of the second you finish it.

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

Nikkei Pulpo (Kombu grilled octopus with nikkei chimichurri & sweet potato causa)

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

Perfectly grilled octopus and a citrusy green salsa, it was always going to be a winner!

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

An a cheeky side of Patatas Fritas with fiery aji rocotto mayonnaise.

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

Peru’s answer to French fries (and I’m quite tempted to put them in charge of the Fries Comity to be honest…), and one of the many dishes worth peru-sing!

Señor Ceviche, Kingly Court, Kingly St, London W1B 5PW

PIN FOR LATER:

Señor Ceviche, London | Cake + Whisky

Señor Ceviche

Greek Chicken Skewers + The Real Greek Cookbook Giveaway

You know that frustrating feeling when you go to a restaurant, you have the most *amazing* dish and you know that you won’t for the life of you be able to have this again ever because the restaurant has an ever-changing menu and they won’t give you a recipe so you can make it yourself at home? SO FRUSTRATING!

Well, that won’t happen with The Real Greek.

Not only do they keep classics and favourites right and centre on their menu all year round, but they also just released a cookbook running you through those same recipes that have made their success on London’s restaurant scene.

The Real Greek Cookbook with Tonia Buxton

A stunning collaboration between the team of experienced chefs at The Real Greek and the restaurant’s consultant Tonia Buxton, the cookbook is a comprehensive guide to creating restaurant standard food at home.

From delicious meze dishes to scrumptious feast, it’s the perfect companion for beginners and well-read foodies alike to explore the wonders of Greek food.

Greek Chicken Skewers from The Real Greek Cookbook | Cake + Whisky

With over 100 recipes to choose from, deciding where to start was no easy job, but I decided to try recreating one of the dishes we indulged in at The Real Greek cookbook launch: Marinated chicken skewers.

The ones we had at the restaurant were simply beautiful: tender chuncks of chicken with sweet pepper and onion pieces, basted in a light and fresh marinade, with the subtle flavour of the charcoal there had been cooked over.

Greek Chicken Skewers from The Real Greek Cookbook | Cake + Whisky

So I was curious to see if I could achieve the same results at home.

And the good news is, I did! …oh, and there’s another good news!

I teamed up with Blink Publishing to give out a copy of The Real Greek with Tonia Buxton cookbook so you also get to cook restaurant-worthy Greek recipes from the comfort of your own home!

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Greek Chicken Skewers from The Real Greek Cookbook | Cake + Whisky

Chicken Skewers (serves 4-6)

Ingredients: 6 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless, cut into 3cm chunks), 1 small red pepper (deseeded), 1 small yellow pepper (deseeded), 1 red onion; For the marinade: 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp freshly chopped rosemary, 1 tsp freshly chopped thyme leaves, 1 tsp ground paprika, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients for the marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken chunks, coating them well, then marinade for at least 1 hour, but preferably longer (ideally overnight in the fridge).

2. Cut the peppers into 2 cm pieces. Quarter the onion and cut the leaves into 2cm pieces.

3. Soak 6 wooden skewers to prevent them from charring. When ready to cook, thread the chicken, peppers and onion alternately onto the skewers. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Cook under a medium-hot grill or in a griddle pan for 8-10 minutes, turning every couple of minutes and basting with any remaining marinade.

5. Cut each skewer in half and arrange crossways on individual serving plates.

I served my Greek chicken skewers with a side of tzatziki and pan-fried pepper slices, but lemon mayonnaise would also work well.

A’meze’ing, isn’t it?

The Real Greek with Tonia Buxton, RRP £20, out now, Blink Publishing

Greek Chicken Skewers + The Real Greek Cookbook Giveaway

20 great recipes for a Summer Potluck

Summer is the perfect season to organise a potluck party.

If everyone makes a dish, it’s easier for everybody, right?

Well, it is. Up until the point when you have to decide what you’ll bring!

…and if you need a little help with that, the list below is just what you’ve been looking for!

Whether you said you’ll bring dessert or salad, and no matter what your cooking level is, there is something for everybody!

 

1. Guacamole

Guacamole

picture source

Everybody loves the guy/gal that brings guacamole. Simple as that.

And I won’t even make you the offence of linking to a recipe because nobody needs one.

What you do need is ripe avocadoes, loads of lemon juice, salt, pepper, Tabasco and everything else you might want to add.

2. Pimped-up hummus

How to make supermarket hummus amazing | Cake + Whisky

You better practice your most mysterious smile because everybody’s gonna ask what you put in your hummus to make it taste that good (I won’t tell if you don’t).

Get the magic tips here. Want to take it a step further and make your own? Get the recipe here.

3. Tzatziki

Light tzatziki recipe from Rachel Phipps'

This lighter version of the classic Greek tzatziki is ready in minute and the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats… And also delightful scooped up with soft, light pitta bread!

Get the recipe here.

4. Crispy bacon wrapped prunes

Prunes in crispy bacon from Epicurious

Sweet, salty and sticky all in one bite. If that’s not snack-fection, I don’t know what is.

Get the recipe here.

5. Radishes in soil à la Noma

Radishes in soil à la Noma from Chocolate & Zucchini

For those times when your usual crudité platter simply won’t cut it and you need to take it up a notch.

Get the recipe here.

6. BLT salad

BLT Salad from The Londoner

Ditch the bread & keep all the BLT goodies to turn the classic lunchtime sandwich into the best barbecue side there ever was.

Get the recipe here.

7. Tomato & feta crumble

Tomato Feta Crumble 13

Tomato crumble is a Summer supper game changer; the intense flavor of roasted tomatoes, combined with the slight sourness of feta and topped with a deliciously cheesy crumb-topping is simply impossible to resist.

Get the recipe here.

8. Hoisin watermelon salad

Gizzi Erskine's Watermelon and hoisin salad

I am yet to try the duck part of this Gizzi Erskine recipe but watermelon being one of my favourite fruit, the salad has become a firm favourite and I make it any time I have an opportunity. Refreshing and satisfying, it’s a bit of a wild card that’ll be perfect to surprise your foodie friends.

Get the recipe here

9. Potatoes in foil with cheat’s tartare

cookwithwood-3

picture source

Particularly appropriate for a BBQ get-together. Simply parboil the potatoes until just about tender, then wrap each one in aluminium foil and throw in/on the barbie together with the meat to reheat.

Cheat’s tartare is the perfect (and lazy!) accompaniment for it.

Get the recipe here

10. Tomato & pomegranate molasse salad

Sabrina Ghayour's Tomato & Pomegranate molasse salad

 

My favourite recipe from Queen of Persian cooking Sabrina Ghayour’s debut cookbook, Persiana. It only takes minutes to put together but packs in loads of flavours and everyone I’ve ever made it for LOVED it.

Get the recipe here

11. Bacon potato salad

Summer potato and bacon salad | Cake + Whisky

You can’t beat a classic, but you sure can improve it (with bacon. Bacon improves everything.)

Get the recipe here.

12. Very Greek halloumi/chicken

Greek Caprese salad 8

Marinate your protein of choice in this fresh, vibrant marinade packed-full of Greek goodness before throwing it all on the BBQ for an instant Mamma Mia effect!

Get the recipe here.

13. Tomato & tapenade tart

Provencale Tomato and Tapenade Tarte Fine | Cake + Whisky

Get the recipe here.

14. Cheese plate & fresh bread 

A handy guide to the perfect cheese plate from A Cup of Jo

Cheese and fresh bread are right up there on the list of things any host LOVE their guests to bring to a potluck party. An especially brilliant news if you’re not quite so comfortable behind a stove, have no time on the day or are simply obsessed with cheese! Don’t have the first clue about cheese? Here‘s a handy guide!

15. Whole baked camembert

Baked Camembert recipe from Binny's Kitchen

Add a chilled glass of white wine of the side and there you have it: the ultimate indulgence!

Get the recipe here.

16. The world best brownies

sndguerin-best-brownies-ever-oreos

The name says it all. #WorldBestBrownies

Get the recipe here.

17. Mojito ice lollies

Mojito ice lolly from The Ice Kitchen

Fresh, zingy, refreshing and the very best way to sneak more mojitos into your diet!

Get the recipe (from ice lollies mastermind Ice Kitchen) here.

18. Chocolate mousse

Salted Chocolate Mousse Recipe | Cake + Whisky

Unlimited chocolate mousse? Count me in! #thedream

Get then ultimate recipe here or make a fancy marbled version (recipe here)

19. Lemon & poppy seed cake

Lemon and Poppy Seed cake | Cake + Whisky

We all have that one friend who doesn’t like chocolate…

Get the recipe here.

20. A big batch cocktail

Raspberry Wine Spritzer | Cake + Whisky

Because a party with good food is good, but one with good food AND drinks is better.

Many cocktails are easy to make big batches of… but this Raspberry Wine Spritzer is the prettiest of them all!

What’s your go-to recipe for a potluck? Any of the ones above you want to try next time?

 

20 great recipes for a Summer Potluck