Tag Archives: Camden

A big bow to Namaaste Kitchen

10 Feb

I always find it strange you can live in a neighbourhood for years, but not notice restaurants on your doorstop.

For instance, I have been a tried and tested central North Londoner for most of my more than four years here in the capital. There was a brief stint just off of Brick Lane, which I loved too, but North London and I always seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet. It was where the boy and I had our first date, where I have eaten some of the best cuisine with some of my best friends, where I have (countless times) wandered idly through vast parks amazed at how green this city is…it is, in short, the place that feels most like home.

So, when I was invited to Namaaste Kitchen on Parkway (just off Camden High Street) recently for dinner, I presumed it must be new. I hadn’t noticed it before and, in my naivety I thought this must mean it hadn’t existed previous to my learning of it.

I was, of course, wrong – there are dozens of restaurants along Parkway, so it’s not surprising I do not know them all.

In fact, Namaaste Kitchen has been open since 2010, operating from a small but cozy storefront closer to the upper end of Parkway. It is all comfy booths (another booth!) and low, purple-blue lighting. But its main attraction is the giant grill at the back – perfect for making your taste buds salivate and keeping you warm on a cold winter night.

The restaurant focuses on Pakistani and Indian cuisine and is running a new regional food year programme, where guests will have the option to choose a set menu based around that month’s featured region. February plays host to Hyderabad, an area rich in history of culinary delights. The region – in the central south of India – was, from the 18th century onwards, under Nizam rule and much fanfare was created around food that was inspired by the rulers’ tastes and Irani, Turkish and Arabic flavours. I had the opportunity to taste some fantastic delicacies formed around ingredients like tamarind (my favourite), coconut, peanut and sesame.

Like any good Indian meal, there were lots of dishes. We started with Patthar Ka Gosht (marinated meat cooked on a stone), followed by Reshmi chicken kebab and Chakna (goat tripe and meat in a spicy sauce). Each dish was paired with a wine to make the notes and flavours of the individual sets of spices.

Crispy, crunchy Patthar Ka Gosht

My personal favourite was the Patthar Ka Gosht – the meat was tender but perfectly crispy on the outside and literally dripping with glorious juices and a spicy, coriander sauce that I nearly licked up the remnants of. The Chakna, however, didn’t go down so well – I was more than happy to try goat intestines (I’m a lover of haggis and black pudding, so I’m not put off by offal). But it was a bit too gooey and chewy, and I found it was too over-flavoured with garam masala and left a grittiness on my palate that just wasn’t for me.

Moving onto the mains, we tried a whole host of various dishes: Murg ki Pakki Biryani, Malai Chicken Tikka, Baghara Baigan, Khatti Machli, Bhindi Gosht and Rogoni Roti!

The ones that stood out by far were the Baghara Baigan (baby aubergines) and the Katti Machli (sea bream). The former was oozing in a puddle of salty sweet coconut, peanuts, cumin, ginger and tamarind – sweet yet savoury; rich yet delicate. Harmony on a plate. The latter, meanwhile, was flaky and delicate as a floating feather, despite the heavier tamarind and tomato sauce is was served in.

Gwiltypleasures can reveal MP David Milliband likes poppadoms

I was so absorbed in my indulgence of all these pleasurable things I almost didn’t notice MP David Milliband casually wander in! What tipped me off? Given I was sat at a table of journalists, the whispering was quick to begin. Then five phones came out and Twitter became a flurry of our chitter-chatter. I believe (by this point, remember, I had tried a different wine with each dish) I proclaimed it: #Millibandchronicles and made many a comment about his dashing purple tie and decision to order more poppadoms.

But, even a high-ranking MP couldn’t keep me from my meal. It was glorious and I couldn’t finish every bite on my plate.

We ended with a sickly sweet apricot pudding – while it looks small, one only needs a few bites of it before the body wants to crash from a sugar injection. It was nice, but maybe worth sharing.

All in all, a highly satisfying evening. And, remember, if you too want to try some of these delightful dishes, they’re only on until the end of February – at which point, a new region will be the star of the month.

Sometimes, it goes to show – it’s great to know a neighbourhood, but even better to be surprised by the new delights it offers up!

I was a guest of Namaaste Kitchen but dishes are reasonably priced, ranging from £4.95 for the Patthar ka Gosht to £13.95 for the Khatti Machli. More information on the restaurant, located at 64 Parkway, can be found here.

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Magnificent Marie Curie Event

21 Nov

As you all know, I’m a big fan of anything a little bit indulgent.

But, it is as true that not all in life is or should be just about pleasure!

So, when I’m not eating or drinking my way through London’s fantastic restaurants and bars, I spend time volunteering with the rather magnificent Marie Curie Cancer Care

It all started with a rather funny hat I wore last year – I had so much fun wearing the charity’s silly dafodil hat for its dafodil day (where I paraded outside of Camden Tube trying to sell as many dafodil pins as poss) that I decided I wanted to do more. So, when the call came for a new group to start in Camden at the same time I returned from my travels, I signed right up.

And a couple of weeks later, the Camden fundraising branch for Marie Curie was born. We’re a fun-loving group, and our aim is to get as many funds as possible for the incredible work the hospice does. And what, you ask, does the hospice do?

Well…each year, 2,000 palliative care nurses provide vital in-home and at-hospice care for those people in the final stages of cancer. For FREE! All 1.2 MILLION hours of care (the amount of work done in the last year’s count). No patient ever pays for this incredible care, which allows people to stay in a more peaceful space during their final hours. The charity also does huge amounts of research into tackling this disease AND provides care and counselling for families affected by it. In short, it’s incredible.

But – and there’s always a but – it costs a massive £13,000 a DAY to run these services. Only 53% of that cost is covered by primary trusts, and with government cut backs, that will likely change. The rest of it is funded through donations.

So, our fundraising group is here to do the little bit it can to help make sure these life-changing services continue on. We all know someone who has been affected by cancer. For me, it was my mum. It was a horrible time in my life and I wish I would have had access to the incredible support of Marie Curie (given I didn’t live in this country then, I couldn’t). But, now that I do live here, I’m proud to help make sure that other kids out there get some support if they do go through something like losing a family member at a young age. It’s the least I can do.

But, this post is not just about telling you about this work or the hospice. It’s about also telling you about our hugely exciting fundraising event, happening in less than two weeks time!

The event takes place on Saturday, 3 December at the fabulous Fiddler’s Elbow music venue near Chalk Farm – the place is perfect for what we have planned and, given it recently won an award for being a top music venue in Camden, we’re really rather chuffed to get it!

The flyer for our big event!

Our night will include some fantastic up and coming London bands, including Jamie Gordon , Holly Walker, Kings of the City, and one other very exciting band which I am forbidden from revealing, so we’re just calling them our “Special Guests” but I will say, they are a great London band with a big following and certainly set to make some music waves in the coming months. The night will be hosted by Josh Lever and the fab Jacky Wood will be making us all laugh.

We’ll also be doing a load of other exciting things, like having a super cool facepainter (a professional, mind – no little-kid balloon drawings here!), a dress-up photo booth, and a big raffle which we have been getting some supremo donations for, including: a Kenwood food processor from Robert Dyas; bottles of wine from Virgin Wines; high-end absinthe from La Clandestine; tickets to a whisky tasting with Dramatic Whisky; a £100 voucher from Camden Mirrors; a £35 voucher from Rum & Sugar Bar in the Docklands; and, many more things to come!! So stay tuned!

If you want more info about the event, then head to our Facebook page here.

And, if you can’t make it, but would like to send over some funds, then you most certainly can at our newly set up Just Giving page here.

We do hope to get a sold-out crowd on the night so if you are free on the 3 December then definitely come on down. Tickets are only £5 on the door but all other donations are, of course, more than welcome.

All in all, I’d say it might not be what I normally write about, but our event and all the work that Marie Curie Cancer Care do, makes me rather happy inside…and that, my friends, is very pleasurable indeed.

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