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.

 

From frosty beer & NY pie to organic salad – Santa Barbara, a town of contrasts…

Many places on this beautiful planet are well-known for a particular culinary style. Whether this descends from the people who live there now or the historical & geographical references of a specific locale, there’s often one dish or type of food that you can be guaranteed to find. So far on the trip we’ve had amazing re-inventions of classic dishes in Seattle, street food to mow down your own best friend to get to in Portland and a burrito that was a credit to it’s south-of-the-border roots in San Francisco.

Now here’s the thing about Santa Barbara…after 24 hours in this college-student-come-eye-wateringly-rich-residents town, I have no idea what it’s traditional or local food is because, frankly, you can get whatever you want, pretty much whenever you want it. That’s true of lots of places you might say and yes, to a point it is, but even in places like London, New York & Paris where the food offerings are diverse, there is also something in each place to call a culinary trademark. Here in this pretty Spanish Colonial styled town, we dined twice, we dined well and we dined in two places that could not be more varied in their menu, their environment and their specialties.

Let’s start with the one we all have a craving for now and then…pizza. I’m not talking one you pop in the oven on a Friday night and watch hungrily through the glass fronted doors as cheese bubbles & makes a break for freedom over the side of your baking tray. I’m not even talking the really naughty one that you order from Papa John’s when nothing but a hot, crispy, doughy, cheese smothered disc of deliciousness will do. I’m talking New York style pizza – a vast expanse of thin crust (unlike its chubby Chicago cousin) which is coated with the ripest, sweetest tomato sauce and smothered with creamy mozzarella. I’m talking Uncle Rocco’s NY Pizzeria on State St.

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