Bestowed Kitchen’s pop-up café-deli in Walthamstow

Bestowed Kitchen pop-up shop front

If wholesome and colourful salads bursting with flavour tickle your tastebuds, but you also like to indulge in something sweet, then you need to catch Bestowed Kitchen’s pop-up café-deli while you can.

Bestowed Kitchen, founded by local Walthamstow residents Jeremy Wood and Sabrina Floriani, opened their doors to the public at Hoe Street Central on 18th March to serve an array of breakfast and lunchtime treats until Sunday 29th March.

Taking pride in making all of their food from scratch – from homemade chutneys and mustard to decadent and indulgent cakes – Bestowed Kitchen describe their dishes as different and curious and this is evident in their use of a wealth of interesting flavours.

Supreme salads

‘Salad? That’s rabbit food’ is a phrase I’ve all too often heard in the past. But Bestowed Kitchen have proved that the days of bland, iceburg lettuce leaves and boring raw carrot shavings are safely behind us.

Their selection of superb salads take influence from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines using a diverse mix of sweet and savoury flavours and vibrant, colourful ingredients.

Herby and nutty roasted carrots

Growing up, I wasn’t particularly fussy. I’ve always quite happily eaten carrots. Boiled, roasted, raw, I’ll take them as they come. But they aren’t a vegetable that I’ve ever found particularly exciting. Until now.

These cold roasted carrots were delicious. Brought to life by coriander and cumin, the toasted almonds added a bit of crunch and the dates a little extra sweetness. Relatively simple yet very tasty, and well presented.

Roasted carrots

Pearl barley with whipped feta and pumpkin

There is a lot going on in this salad; it’s bursting with wonderful flavours. A base of pearl barley is filling and brings a nutty flavour, mixed with sweet and soft pumpkin cubes, flavoursome balsamic red onion slices, a touch of parsley and topped with zesty, creamy yet light lemon whipped feta. De-licious.

There were also some hazelnuts mixed in, which I don’t think the dish really needed, but otherwise it was top notch.

The idea of whipped feta is really innovative and not something I’ve come across before in all of my vegetarian eating. Definitely something to try.

Pearl barley with pumpkin and feta

Satisfying sweets

When you’ve got a few of your five-a-day from Bestowed Kitchen’s salads, satisfy your sweet tooth with one of their delicious desserts.

Honeycomb with chocolate and sea salt

Wow wee. This is like a Crunchie’s older, mischievous brother. The sprinkling of sea salt juxtaposed with the melt-in-the-mouth honeycomb and sweet milk chocolate leaves you wanting more.

Honeycomb with chocolate and sea salt

Earl grey chocolate brownies

You can’t beat a well-baked chocolate brownie. Rich, moist and with a subtle hint of citrus from the earl grey, these brownies tick all the boxes for chocolate lovers.

Earl grey chocolate brownies

Community feel

As well as all of the interesting, varied food on offer, Bestowed Kitchen have managed to put their own stamp on their temporary space with help from the community in E17.

The walls are decked with prints from local artists and the quirky, upcycled furniture has been handpainted by a local designer, all of which is available to buy. And even the counters, made from wooden palettes, were made nearby at the Forest Recycling Project.

The Bestowed Kitchen pop-up is full of character, tasty food and drinks (locally brewed beers and Caravan coffee) and a real community spirit.

It’s on every day (Monday – Friday, 10am till 6pm. Saturday – Sunday, 9am till 6pm) until Sunday 29th March at Hoe Street Central, Unit 3 Central Parade, Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 4RT. A mere four-minute walk from Walthamstow Central underground station. Don’t miss out!

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A vast vegetarian Valentine’s meal at Amico Bio, Holborn

Amico Bio is a vegetarian restaurant specialising in healthy and organic Italian food. With authentic ingredients sourced from the owner’s family farm in Italy and with an ever-changing menu, you know you’re getting the good stuff here.

There are two branches in London. I’ve been to their Barbican restaurant twice before; and both times the standard of food and service was great. For Valentine’s Day,  we decided to try its sister restaurant on New Oxford Street for a change.

There was a four-course Valentine’s set menu, including a sparkling cocktail. Having had some disastrous Valentine’s experiences in the past – with restaurants not having our reservations written down and the like – we were pleasantly surprised when we could choose where to sit on arrival. The restaurant was pretty quiet for a Saturday night in central London, but I wasn’t complaining!

First course

I opted for the Spaghetti di zucchine, misticanza, peperoni e basilico i.e. courgette spaghetti with mixed leaf salad, pepper sauce and basil. I’ve got to say, this was my favourite course.

Substituting pasta for vegetables is very en vogue at the moment, especially with the rise in kitchen gadgets like ‘the spiralizer’. I’ve been meaning to make some of my own, and having this dish has inspired me to do so.

Courgette spaghettiIt was cold with a gazpacho-like pepper sauce. The courgette was cooked to perfection, and all that was on the plate tasted really fresh. It was light and the perfect entree to the banquet to follow.

Second course

It had to be the vegetable moussaka. The vegan second course option, this dish was a well presented tower of gorgeously al-dente aubergine, carrot and tomato, topped with a vegan roux sauce and a crisp and delicious big basil leaf.

Vegetable moussaka

Palate cleanser

I’m usually more of a starter and main girl myself, so I felt like I’d gone up in the world having a palate cleanser between courses. The lemon sorbet was sweet yet tarte, with a slightly unnecessary but warmly welcomed topping of caramalised lemon.

Lemon sorbet

Third course

I went for the Arrosto di seitan ala Wellington aka seitan wrapped in puff pastry with seasonal vegetables. Seitan is a meat alternative made from gluten, also known as ‘wheat meat’.

Seitan wellingtonIt’s got quite a chewy texture; a more meat-like consistency than other veggie meat substitutes. This dish was okay, but seemed more apt for a Sunday afternoon than a Saturday night. Served with herby roast potatoes, shallots and some other bits of roasted veg, it was quite flavoursome, but a little on the lukewarm side and not a showstopper like the previous courses.

Dessert

For the finale, I chose tiramisu. I’ve only actually had tiramisu once before, but this innovative spin on the creamy, coffee-based Italian dessert was delicious.

A home-made biscuit basket layered with rum-infused sponge cake, oozing with rich mascarpone and topped with toasted coffee beans; phwoar. An indulgent ending to an exciting and tasty menu.

TiramisuThe service was good and the food came promptly throughout the meal. I’d definitely recommend Amico Bio if you like healthy, fresh and innovative vegetarian food.

If you found this review useful, please leave comments below.

Vegan and vegetarian eating in Prague

I visited Prague for the first time last weekend with my boyfriend. What a beautiful city; its streets are lined with grand pastel-coloured buildings and red-roofed houses. There is a wealth of historical architecture from the Jewish Quarter up to the castle, and its quaint, cobbled streets don’t get tiresome to wander around.

View of Prague

And of course, I’d heard a lot about Czech beer. At around 90p for half a litre of good quality pilsner, you can’t go wrong. The food however, I hadn’t heard much about…

If you opt for a meatless diet, it’s best to do a bit of research before going away, especially if you want to sample the local cuisine.

For a short three-day trip, we managed to eat a lot of food! We visited two vegan restaurants, but the first of the two was the most memorable for me.

On the first evening, we were super excited to try traditional Czech food, so we jumped on the metro to Plevel.

Plevel

A little off the beaten track, this cosy café-come-restaurant had a friendly floral interior and was bustling with young Czechs and laid back staff. As we were keen to try traditional Czech nosh, I opted for the vegan equivalent of brawn to start.

Brawn

I had no idea what ‘brawn’ was, but the waitress seemed to think it was nice, so I thought, why not? Soon after however, the sensible part of my conscience laughed in the face of such spontaneity…

As described by Wikipedia, brawn is a ‘terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig, or less commonly a sheep or cow, and often set in aspic.’ So, in its traditional form, it’s very much a meaty concoction.

On Plevel’s meVegan brawnnu the dish is described as ‘Agar brawn made from vegetables, soya and tofu’, with onions, vinegar and brad. I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

I now know agar is a type of jelly. The dish is what I imagine a combination of meat loaf and cat food taste like – not to my taste!

So round one of sampling Czech cuisine didn’t go so well. But luckily, the main course made up for it.

Hearty goulash

For the main, I had vegan goulash with dumplings. Described as ‘spicy goulash with soya meat, cooked with beer and served with homemade dumplings’, I was intrigued to see what this dish would look like.

Vegan goulash with dumplings

The sauce was a thick, soupy consistency which tasted of creamy pumpkin and herbs. In amongst the sauce were big chunks of soya meat and as you can see from the photo, there was a tangy lemon slice and scoop of chunky cranberry jam to offset the rich sauce.

On the side were thickly sliced dumplings that had a soft and doughy texture and absorbed the goulash well. This type of dish would be perfect in the cold, winter months.

The portion was enormous, and so as is very rarely the case, I couldn’t finish it all. Unfortunately, neither of us had any room left for pudding. Two of us had two courses and we each had a glass of wine/beer, for the equivalent of about £15.

If you’re off to Prague and fancy trying the local food without the meat, Plevel is definitely worth a visit.

LoVeg

The second vegan restaurant we visited was located in the Little Quarter, a more touristy part of the city. Up a sloped street and with a few sets of winding stairs to climb up, by the time we made it to the restaurant, we’d earned our dinner.

With a more hippy/spiritual vibe, the walls were decked with canvases of photography from around the world, particularly from Asia.

Having learned from having eyes bigger than our bellies the night before, we decided to share a starter: a classic vegan entrée with a twist – double houmous – the classic dip as well as a beetroot version.

Double houmous

The portion sizes were modest in comparison to our feast the night before, but provided a tasty, light starter, well-presented with a contemporary look.

Vegan burger

For the main course, I chose the vegan burger, described as a ‘mixture of black beans and smoked tofu in homemade bread, with grilled potatoes and homemade tartar sauce.’

I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a burger out without it coming with chips, so this was a revelation. The potato stack was quite light and went well with the tartar sauce which was fresh and creamy and tasted of spring onions.

Vegan burger

The burger was served in a fresh, springy bun with a crisp, crunchy salad, but the burger itself was a little on the thin side for my liking.

Overall, I thought the quality of the food at LoVeg was high in terms of presentation and choice, but it was a bit pricier – I would imagine because of the location (though still very cheap compared to London) – and the huge hearty portions from the night before made my choice of meal look a bit small on the plate.

The waitress was really friendly however and the organic draught lager was delicious.