Sunday 29 November 2015

Levi Root's Caribbean Smokehouse, Westfield, Stratford

I grew up in West London, which boasts a thriving afro-Caribbean community.  Caribbean street food, including curry goat, was always widely available.  Travelling regularly to Shepherds Bush, to see my beloved QPR, means access to the same,   I love it, and often cook it myself

Levi Roots burst onto our TV screens on Dragons Den, and his Reggae Reggae sauce was backed by Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh.  You cannot say Reggae Reggae sauce without a smile on your face.  It was clear that Peter and Richard were as enthralled with Levi's enthusiasm and charisma, as well as his sauce, Sainsburys were quick to list the product, which has grown into a great range since - I had the fab crisps recently too

Today, we were invited to Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse, his new venture which is due to open on the 30th November in Westfield, Stratford.  We were met by very friendly staff, who directed us to our booth - gotta love a booth!   The interior is kinda beach-housey, with interesting decor, pictures and quotations on the walls, but the first thing that hits you is the beautiful smell coming from the open smokehouse kitchen, the reggae music playing and the total calmness and warm ambience.

We initially ordered some "popcaan" for nibbles - just beautiful. Would have had more but the kids inhaled them!!!!!

Regarding the kids, there is a fab, well thought out kids menu, which has hot dog, fish fingers etc., but also offers curry goat, great to see!

For starters, "street food",  we ordered the jerk mushrooms, bajan fish cakes and jerk chicken wings.   It was all fabulous, but I have to say the fish cakes were just outstanding, and nothing like anything I've had before - an absolute winner!   The kids ate all the chicken wings, fair praise indeed, and the mushrooms had a subtle flavour, with a slow heat coming through them.   Portion size was good, so excellent value for money.
For mains Chris had the lamb, I had the jerk chicken and the kids both had the short ribs.   They all came with 2 sides, so we had roti breads, rice and peas, sweet potato fries, slaw and a green salad.   The meat and sweet potatoes all came out together on one tray, which I thought was kinda sweet, with the other sides coming separately.  I would have liked to have seen a bigger portion of the chicken and lamb, but I have to say the ribs, breads, rice and sweet potato fries were huge portions! Way too much for us to finish, so again, as a meal, excellent value for money.

For desserts the kids had brownies with ice cream, Chris had the pecan and ginger brownie with ice cream and I ordered the rum and raisin brownie with ice cream for everyone to try.   I have to say, at this point of the meal it went very quiet as everyone tucked into their sweet treats.   Again, portion size was pretty large, hardly a complaint, but dare I say that they could afford to offer smaller portions and still have satisfied customers?

We didn't make the most of the drinks menu, which was pretty extensive, but I noted that the wine started at £15 per bottle, which is very good for a restaurant, or should I say #rastaurant!  There is also a good range of cocktails, smoothies, and of course Red Stripe!

We will certainly be back, as I'd like to try the one pot curries (including goat) and also the wraps which would make a fabulous lunch.   They also have burgers etc. to choose from, so something to please everyone's palate.

Good luck everyone, and thank you!
Annie x

Disclosure: Our food was complimentary

Friday 13 November 2015

Slow Cooker Jamaican Curry Goat

I adapted another recipe to make it suitable for the slow cooker.  This is also fab using mutton, but if you can get goat it is so worth it.  I've found a supplier locally who does it (Madina General Store, Hatfield Road, St Albans) - what a find!  I only went in for some scotch bonnets and curry leaves!  (Wasn't able to source scotch bonnets or fresh curry leaves from either Morrisons or Sainsburys locally)??

1 large onion, chopped
10 garlic cloves, chopped
100g ginger, peeled and chopped
a little vegetable oil (I was the spray version)
2 scotch bonnet chillies chopped (I used a red and a yellow)
Small handful of curry leaves - more Asian than Caribbean but it works
3 sprigs of thyme
4 tbsp mild curry powder
750g mutton or goat (I used shoulder)
400g can chopped tomatoes
150ml lamb stock
400g can of beans of your choice, drained,I used pinto
juice of half a lemon
Small bunch of coriander, chopped, plus a little more to garnish

Pre-heat the slow cooker to low.

Blend the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor to form a paste.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion paste, frying for a couple of minutes.

Add the chillies, curry leaves, curry powder and meat and stir until browned.

Pour mixture into the slow cooker, add the tomatoes, stock and beans and stir.

Cook for 6-8 hours until the meat is moist and tender.

Add the lemon juice and coriander and serve with roti breads (if you can source them), or rice or salad of your choice.

Simply delicious, and Chris said it was my best curry ever!  Fine accolade indeed.

Annie x

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Interesting Experiment shifting schooling hours for teenagers!

I have a pre-teen, my goodness he's only 11, but my I've noticed a difference already.  The silence, or - if I'm lucky - the occasional murmur in the morning, show the signs that this boy is not ready for school first thing in the morning.  Having said that he does get himself up and dressed and fed (often force fed) in time, but it's not the tigger bounce in the morning of yesteryear!

So was very interested to watch on BBC the story of the school who have shifted the school time for teenagers to 1.30-7pm, and apparently making a whole lot of difference.   The hormone changes in the hypothalamus means that them getting up at 8am (say) is the equivalent of an adult getting up at 4.30am every morning.

It's too early to check exam results, but by all accounts making for happier kids all around! I love this kind of stuff, and will be monitoring.

Having said that, Jasper is doing very well, as he's a conscientious kid (for the teachers), but still one to keep an eye on.

You can watch for yourself here!

Would welcome feedback from real parents with real teenagers, I am just a fledgling right now ;)

Annie x

Sunday 24 May 2015

Annie's Villa

After last year's adventures to Vietnam, we are just as excited this year to be going to our own Villa in Crete.  It's been a long time since we have been out in the Summer, and we are combining it with a week in Santorini, where we've never been.

Cannot wait!

We are always asked if we rent it out, and we do, details here!  (And yes I ought to do a course on positioning of pictures on blogger *adds to list*

Tuesday 17 February 2015

The Nationwide House Price Premier League! #QPR

So Nationwide did a survey, and we are a tad higher than reality *coughs*, thought it was a little bit of fun yayyyy,

So where are QPR in the House Price Premier League?  

YEAH BABY!!!!!!!


Annie x

Friday 30 January 2015

Team Honk Red Nose Day Danceathon #Lastingchange

My finest Zippy moment
Last year I felt priviliged to be part of the Team Honk Red Nose Day relay event, which saw bloggers across the country link up to send a batton from Land End to John O'Groats.
It was lots of fun, with silly costumes, and lots of children joined in the fun too, AND we managed to make a huge amount of money along the way.

This year I am very excited to be part of the Red Nose Day Danceathon, which is taking part across the country, and I am hugely grateful for Popdance sponsoring me to take part in the event at Wembley Stadium - though I am yet to be told what I will be wearing!   I am sure it won't be just leggings and some lycra?????

Pretty, pretty please, please, please sponsor me to dance for 6hrs, or at least send wine and kebabs (maybe not)!  My Just Giving Page is HERE

The amazing Tanya, Annie and Penny are out in Kenya at the moment, visiting projects that have benefited from all our efforts, as well as seeing some of the ways our fundraising can help further this year.  Below are some links outlining some of these.

Power Porridge

Helping Mothers and Babies with HIV in Kenya

Girls playing football and changing their futures

This is going to be a huge event, and a lot of fun, but at the end of the day it is about raising money. I would be grateful for all sponsorship, as it all goes towards the big pot of money hoping to bring #LastingChange.

Photos will be added as we go, and YES it will include *that* costume, whatever it may be!

Thanks for looking!
Annie x