Killer Tomato + Cheeseburger Tacos = the ultimate hybrid of the greatest foods on earth…

Tacos.

Like the final of Bake Off, my desert island food list and learning the words to the entire ‘La La Land’ soundtrack, this is something I take very seriously.

When they’re bad, I’m not happy and my less-than-perfect poker face will do the honours and let you know. Cheap meat cooked badly and stuffed begrudgingly into heavy, lumpy tortillas does not a good Mexican time make but when they’re good? Oh man, they totally transport me back to downtown LA, to dives where I’ve feasted like a fricking queen, to beach-side shacks where the juices have dribbled down my hands and onto the sand beneath my feet, to meals I’ll never forget and have tried to replicate & recreate in every other part of the world I’ve visited since.

FYI, we all realise I’m talking about soft corn tortillas that fit perfectly in your hand here and not the splintery shells that wage a personal war on your poor innocent gums, yes? Ok good, just checking.

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This adoration of the taco makes its’ current resurgence in London something I’m damn happy about and when a work colleague – who you better believe I’ll be shaking the hand, patting the back and kissing the cheek of tomorrow morning – told me about a little spot on Goldhawk Road that served up awesome reincarnations of these moreish beauties, I’d been waiting for the right time to go west (and let’s just pause for a second to remind ourselves of how many great songs those kings of the ’80’s had) and get stuck in. Well, thanks to a Saturday date night with J, Sean Lock and a few thousand stand up comedy fans in Hammersmith, that time arrived this weekend.

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Tiptoeing deliciously into the world of raw food at Nama…

 

In an ever changing sea of new and relaunched restaurants in London, it’s sometimes hard to pick out those which genuinely seem to offer something different; boasting an entirely vegan and almost exclusively gluten free menu of raw food, Nama in Notting Hill most certainly does that.

Innovative, exciting and – most importantly of all to those of us blessed with big appetites – delicious, Nama is a small, modern & understated spot near Westbourne Park station where you can whet your raw food appetite and it’s the ideal spot for a pair of food adventurers to have lunch.

Staff are, quite frankly, lovely. Unassuming, mild mannered & utterly charming, we were welcomed in with a quiet, gentle smile & an aura of calm and ushered without delay to a table. Swear down, if Buddhist monks decided to start waitressing on the side, this is where they’ll end up.

Nama might possess a niche menu but the good folk of London town are nothing if not intrepid in their quest for food that sits outside of their normal comfort zone parameters and the place was full for the entirety of our lunch. It’s not a huge location and there’s a likelihood that at peak times you may find yourself queuing but the stripped back décor and Paltrow toned colour palette of perfect neutrals are easy on both the eye and the Instagram account.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThe weekend brunch menu has a nice choice of smaller plates for sharing (and somewhere like this is absolutely the right place for you to go with friends, ordering things you’ve never had before and dipping in and out of each with an exploratory fork) as well as larger options and a generous dessert menu. Blueberry pancakes are elegant in their simplicity, the three sticky, chewy discs layered with banana, maple syrup and a pool of silky coconut ‘mascarpone’. Pine nuts give the dish a sweet, earthy flavour and unlike their transatlantic starred & striped cousins, this stack didn’t leave us feeling in immediate need of a gastric band afterwards.

I’m afraid my sister’s Blood Cleanser Juice resembled too closely that which it was aiming to clean for my liking (flashbacks of Buffy replaying through my mind as it was placed in front of her) but she chugged it as though she was Serena Williams headed onto Centre Court. I meanwhile headed for the super food rich rain-forests of South America and a Luscious Lucuma Smoothie, a creamy drink so deliciously fruity I downed it like I’d spent six months crawling my way through the longest of winter droughts towards that first glass of chilled summer blushed rose.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetSkipping daintily from the sweet to the savoury, a cheese & pickle sandwich was like none I’d ever tried before. Artisan raw almond & walnut bread was wafer thin and fully of light, nutty flavour with slices wrapped around silky cashew cheese (which can only be described as looking like the very best version of American sliced cheese but tasting eye-wideningly authentic) & fresh cucumber and onion pickle. It might not be cheese & pickle as my dad knows it but it was creative and intriguing and I adored it.

A slate streaked with simultaneously sinful and guilt-free temptation rounded off lunch with truffle, brownie and energy ball sitting side by side, winking virtuously up at us – such a great way to see how you feel about raw desserts which, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself feeling pretty damn great about.

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There’s an awful lot to like about Nama and its ongoing aspiration to introduce a city of ever increasingly health obsessed Londoners to the benefits of raw food; unprocessed, organic and as close to its natural state as it can possibly be, this is food treated with respect and served with a real passion for the ethos behind it.

You won’t have tasted anything like it before but that’s part of sheer delight of living where we do – you can globe-trot the cuisines and the trends of the world without having to set foot across your own time zone and you can find enough edible inspiration to instigate hot spot holiday bookings for the next decade and beyond.

 

New year, new class, new cooking school…

Hands up who loves a brand new year? Come on, let me see them! Okay so maybe not the cold & wet bleakness of January…and maybe not the too tight clothes & the too empty wallets that follow Christmas with alarming annual regularity…but the flawless, spotless, pristine pages of a new diary, a new week and a new year are pretty wonderful, right? I don’t make resolutions – call me crazy but I’ve never felt the urge to put myself under extreme amounts of pressure to start delivering something new at the hardest time of the year! – but I do like the thought of filling my life with new experiences and if they’re connected to something delicious that I can eat, so be it!

With that in mind, last week I ventured out to try a cooking demonstration at the Divertimenti Cooking School on the Brompton Road, a few doors down from the twinkly-against-a-black-velvet-sky lights of Harrods & Harvey Nichols, y’know, the cheap end of town…

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