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Indigo –Street Food of India


fusion of authentic sub- continent dishes



Indigo in Shoreditch, prides itself on bringing the authentic vibrant and colourful heritage of India’s cuisine to Shoreditch and on Thursday last week, I had the joy of confirming they really should do. As soon as I arrived, I was warmly welcomed and chose a seat in the window, so to watch all the revellers from Richmix Cinema next door coming and going and the city coming alive for the weekend.

As it is BYO and I was trying to be good, I ordered a sparkling water, proud of myself for not ordering one of the delicious looking lassis or non-alcoholic cocktails. Think subtle mango delight, rather think grenadine and orange.

Jack arrived and we started to review the menu, which along with having all of the must have favourites, had a number of dishes which quizzed us to prompt the waiter on A: what they were and B:which was best. He suggested we ordered one from each section and as they all look great and are all very reasonably priced, we saw no reason to not do as he suggested.

We started with a mixed tandoori or lamb, chicken and paneer, all of which were perfectly charcoaled and rich in spice. We then followed this with a mixed vegetable dosa, which was just as amazing as it smelt as we watched one of the chef’s cook it on the open oven. We then followed this with a Saag Talwa and a Butter chicken masala, which were both excellent and greedily mopped up by a garlic nan.

I would highly recommend visiting them in Shoreditch or later this month their new restaurant opening in Croydon


£40 for two (starter, main and soft drink)

Head Over Hills Luxury Retreat: stunning views and a £50,000 bed – Knysna, ZA


Head Over Hills is a 5* luxury retreat situated along the Garden Route of South Africa.



Despite spending 8 weeks working at a state hospital in Cape Town, it would be a lie to say that the last few months have been in any way stressful. Joe and I are absolutely in love with South Africa and have enjoyed treating ourselves to all of the delights that this incredibly beautiful country has to offer. These treats are largely focused around the themes of eating and drinking, relaxing and having a great time. So with these aims in mind, we decided to spend our final two weeks in South Africa travelling along the Garden Route with various stops along the way. The Garden Route is essentially the N2 highway which starts in Cape Town, in the Western Cape, and meanders 800km along the coast to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. However, this is no motorway as we know it. Along its course the road travels past some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, is flanked by rolling hills and awesome mountains, lagoons and lakes, forests and rivers. You’ll also drive past fields of Ostrich and potentially over an aggressive Baboon or thirty.


One of the more popular destinations along the route is the forested town of Knysna, situated on a picturesque lagoon and famed for its Knysna Heads, two giant headlands that ships would need to negotiate before entering the lagoon from sea. The variety of accommodation in Knysna reflects its popularity with tourists and something can be found for most budgets and tastes. Unquestionably, the areas best views of the Knysna Heads can be seen from Head Over Hills Luxury Retreat, and we were lucky enough to stay there for our two nights in Knysna. Situated on the Eastern head, the retreat offers breath-taking views of the Western head and Indian Ocean from all of it’s eight rooms.


Manoeuvring along the tiny winding roads up the Eastern head after a fairly long drive from Hermanus, we had google imaged to death the view from our balcony and could wait no longer. However, we were made to wait outside the property for a good few minutes before being let in by Debbie, who informed us that she had been watching dolphins play around in the sea below and hadn’t heard the buzzer. We totally understood and nodded in solidarity.


The retreat consists of 4 suites and 4 deluxe rooms. We were shown to the Captain’s Suite and were greeted by the most stunning hotel view that I have ever seen. The whole width of the room consisted of glass doors which could be folded out to open the room onto our private balcony. We decided pretty quickly that this is obviously what we would do and then settled down into our sunloungers with a couple of beers to soak it all in. Whilst the views are clearly their selling point, the rest of the room was also excellent. It was clean and spacious, with a cosy log fire for the chillier evenings. The Smeg fridge was stocked with plenty of soft drinks, including complimentary beers and still and sparkling water. There was also an Nespresso machine, much appreciated by Joe, with complimentary tea and coffee and Le Creuset cups and saucers. The bathroom took up half of the room and included a large shower, double sinks and a Jacuzzi bath from which you could enjoy the exceptional scenery.




However, my favourite part of the room was the bed. Three of the four suites have luxury Vividus beds, made by Swedish based company Hästens. They are labelled as ‘The World’s most incredible bed’ and retail for around £50,000, which is absurd. Each bed is made by hand from a recipe of natural ingredients, including eight different layers of horse hair and slowly grown arctic pine, and takes about 150 man hours to make. I had the dreamiest nights sleep that I have ever had on that bed, it felt as though I was sleeping on candy floss and purring kittens. But is any bed worth £50,000? A more relevant question is: will I ever be in a financial position where I might need to make this decision? Probably not.  However, there aren’t many hotels in the world where you get to sleep on such a luxurious bed and I would be keen to pay the extra for a suite if we stayed here again, purely for this reason.


As we weren’t quite sick of the scenery just yet, we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant for the evening. The restaurant looks out on to the shared balcony and infinity pool and you can enjoy the same views of the heads whilst enjoying your evening meal. The menu isn’t particularly adventurous but the food was tasty and perfectly cooked. You can pre-order oysters in advance, but since I’d forgotten to do this, I went for the mussel pot instead which was really nice and spicy. Joe had the venison carpaccio and we both had the springbok loin for mains. All of the dishes were served and explained by the chef which was a nice touch.


When we made our way back to our room in the evening, the room had been turned down and we had been left two small bottles of amarula as a nightcap. There is also an honesty bar downstairs where guests can help themselves to an impressive selection of South African wines, beers and spirits when there are no staff around, so there’s no danger of running dry. Head Over Hills has a very good balance of providing a warm and helpful service whilst at no point making you feel harassed – a great quality for a small hotel as I’ve found that they can sometimes feel slightly overbearing. An extensive breakfast is also included and served in the restaurant. There is an assortment of cold and hot dishes and some bubbly to keep everyone happy.


The view from Head Over Hills really is stunning and we spent way more time in the hotel than planned because of this. If you’re after some ultimate relaxation then you will not be disappointed here. The service is a little more laid back than in most 5* hotels, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you enjoy being left alone. Prices per night range from R3400 (£195.00) for the twin Oyster room, to R6600 (£375.00) for the Elephant Honeymoon suite, and our Captain’s Suite was R5700 (£325.00). The hotel is often fully booked during peak season (Dec-Feb) so booking well in advance is advised.

Balan’s Soho Society Celebrates British Food Fortnight and Their Beautiful Refurbishment


To celebrate British Food Fortnight we were invited along to Balan’s Soho Society to indulge in all things British!



Everybody loves locally sourced food, other than the fact it is fresher and is better for your local economy- there’s something satisfying about knowing that the radish you are nibbling on was grown just down the road. It also helps when we are lucky enough to have some of the highest quality food produced right at our doorstep. On Thursday evening we were treated to a delicious array of locally sourced food (and drink!) at a newly refurbished Balan’s Soho Society.

We began our feast with Scottish smoked salmon supplied by legendary East London smokehouse Foremans (served with wasabi and said radish). This was followed up with Cornish crab (also from Foremans) – this was a highlight for me – deliciously light and rich all at the same time. We then transitioned from the sea to the land with a mouth-watering Cod fishcake (South Coast fisheries) served with a perfectly poached Woodlands Farm egg on top. The focus then moved to vegetables – served just how I like them – in pastry! The Kent Vegetable and Feta Pide was wonderfully flavoursome, crispy on outside and wholesome in the middle – and yes this did count to my 5 + a day!

The Ginger Pig supplied our next two dishes – succulent Marshland Lamb Noisettes and Yorkshire Longhorn Beef, and it wouldn’t have been a Celebration of British food if the beef wasn’t served with a Yorkshire pud! It was also accompanied by an Onion puree –which gave the dish a subtle sweetness and made it one of the most memorable of the night.

Finally, just as I was feeling as though I had single handily eaten every single morsel of food that had ever been produced in the UK – pudding was served! And unfortunately for my expanding stomach – they had saved the best for last – a Cinnamon and Somerset Cider Apple Doughnut served with Jude’s Peanut Butter Icecream. WOW. God Save the Queen – it was absolutely glorious.

And of course, being a Thursday night in the heart of Soho we didn’t go thirsty either. Starting the night with a Lychee Gimlet – made with King of Soho gin. We then had English bubbles by Coates & Seely to sip on between bites – crisp, light and straight to my head – just the way bubbles should be.

By the end of the night I was well and truly reminded why British food is worth celebrating. Fresh, flavoursome and far too delicious keep to one fortnight.


Cocktails £9.5

Entrees £7-£9

Main £11 – £26

Desserts £6

Coin Laundry

Laid back neighbourhood bar and restaurant, Coin Laundry, serves up proper comfort food, 70s revival cocktails and a big fat slice of nostalgia.

70 Exmouth Market

Perched at the top of Exmouth Market sits 1970’s inspired restaurant, Coin Laundry. The restaurant boasts nostalgia-inducing culinary delights and retro classic cocktails. I met my friend Sophie on Saturday afternoon to give their new cocktail menu a whirl. “What do you mean 70’s? Like pineapple on a stick?” “Exactly, Soph”.

I was expecting extravagant Retro Bar-themed decor, but was pleasantly surprised to find a spacious subterranean bar with subtle references to 70’s design. The room felt contemporary, less Bee Gees, more Rolling Stones.

The cocktail menu was a joy to ponder. Apart from a few well known classics, the menu featured a host of real original flavour combinations I was excited to try. First up, some bubbles. The Flipper blends apple sorbet, prosecco and lemon in a wide champagne coupe with jelly accompaniments. Sophie and I agreed that we had never tasted anything quite like it. It was sweet, tart and powerful. I could liken it only to yuzu fruit. We could have happily sipped on The Flipper all afternoon, but there were plenty more cocktails to discover.

Next up – my holiday favourite – the trustee Pina Colada. It was made with the traditional blend of rum, coconut milk and pineapple. If it wasn’t pouring down with rain outside, we might have believed we were on a beach in St Lucia.

Coin Laundry offer a bar snack menu throughout the day such as ham frittas & mushy peas, deep fried cockles and chicken popcorn. Sophie and I shared some spag bol croquettes which  were covered in parmesan. The crispy croquette balls were a meaty take on a classic Italian arancini which I love. They were washed down by our final cocktail of the afternoon, White Chocolate & Raspberry Bellini. As you might imagine, this cocktail was not for the sugar phobic. It was super sweet and more like a dessert. Luckily, desserts are my thing.

Pina Colada £9
The Flipper £8.5
Spag Bol Croquettes £5

Festival of Heat

The Festival of Heat: London’s Chilli Festival is back on 25 September 2016


Red Market
288 Old Street

Preparations are hotting up for London’s spiciest food festival at Shoreditch’s culinary hub, Red Market. Workshops, tasting sessions, supplies, music and deliciously confusing chilli infused drinks await.

Last year was my first Festival of Heat experience. I cooked my own infused chilli oil, which has been keeping my pizza crusts happy all year. The festival focus is on eating, growing and cooking chillies, and is designed for those who like to add a little heat to their mealtimes.

This year, vendors keeping our bellies happy include Ayam Happy – White Men Can’t Jerk – Agua Na Boca amd Purbeck Ice Cream. See you at the tasting stall.

Early Bird Ticket £10 here
Door Price £15

A Lazy Lunch at La Belle, Constantia – ZA

la belle constantia


Lunch at La Belle


La Belle, Alphen Hotel, Constantia

Cape Town 7848


On Thursday we headed for lunch at La Belle, part of the Alphen Hotel in Constantia. Despite staying fairly nearby in Observatory, we hadn’t been to Constantia before and we were pleasantly surprised by how lovely it was. This side of Table Mountain is much lusher, and the drive down oak-lined streets took us past several stately homes and long driveways. We weren’t surprised to learn that Constantia is the home of old money in Cape Town.

Accordingly, the Alphen Hotel is steeped in history. Originally part of Groote Constantia wine estate, one of the first wineries in the region, guests have apparently included Captain James Cook and Mark Twain. Now that is old. The property is incredibly beautiful, with classic green and white Cape Dutch buildings nestled beneath enormous old Oak Trees and, unsurprisingly, was very busy.  We were there for a mid week lunch and it was absolutely packed with other diners sipping on large glasses of local wine.

The building that formerly housed the Boer and Brit pub is now the La Belle Café and Bakery and specialises in salads, sandwiches, (not so) light meals and an array of pastries – you can often see people here early on Saturday mornings buying their treats for the day. Inside, the café seats about 60 people beneath an open thatched roof with a large counter displaying all of the pastries and breads that La Belle has to offer, and there are many.

After spotting the size of the meals arriving at the tables around us, we decided to skip the starter and go straight for mains. The dishes all sounded very wholesome, with plenty of fish and vegetarian options, however, I decided to go for the meatballs and tagliatelle served with parmesan and chunky tomato sauce, whilst Joe ordered the chicken burger, which came with crisp lettuce, tomato, mustard mayo, feta, gherkins and shoe string fries. The meals were both very tasty and enormous, and I caught Joe looking lazily around for somewhere to crawl off and have a nap afterwards before embarking on desert. As this didn’t seem appropriate, we decided to order another bottle of wine, enjoy the lively atmosphere and peruse the extensive pudding menu.

The choice of cakes was immense, providing something for all tastes. We decided to share the gluten free caramel and walnut cheesecake and the lemon meringue pie, which were both delicious and definitely worth the wait. Following dessert, we finished our wine and went for a much needed walk around the large grounds, taking in the beautiful surroundings. La Belle is a lovely place to meet friends for a very reasonably priced lunch, and to while away a lazy afternoon.


Sandwiches: R75-130 (£4-7)

Starters: R70-95 (£4-5)

Mains: R95-170 (£5-9)

Cakes and pastries: R50-60 (£2.50-3)

Opulent Perfection at Delaire Graff – ZA



Lunch and wine at Delaire Graff Estate.


Delaire Graff Estate, Stellenbosch,  South Africa


After an incredible mini holiday to Cederberg National Park, we decided to counterbalance our time out in the wilderness by stopping off in Stellenbosch for a few days of indulgence. Surrounded by the vineyards of the Cape Winelands, Stellenbosch is the epicentre of the South African wine industry and you are spoilt for choice with lavish scenery and luxurious wine tasting tours. Since arriving in Cape Town, more than a few people have told us that Delaire Graff wine estate is a place to be experienced at least once, so we decided to go there and see.


Finally getting into Stellenbosch at about 10pm, we continued driving along the stunning Helshoogte Mountain Pass towards Farm France, our home for the night. We hadn’t quite realised that we would be driving straight past tomorrow’s lunch destination, but it was impossible to miss it. Set back into the hills, the entrance to the estate is impressively landscaped and lights up the highest point of the mountain pass it resides over. All the love, over-excitement and high expectations that we currently had invested in the two large Col’Cacchio pizza boxes in the back seat, suddenly paled into insignificance at the prospect of tomorrow’s lunch. Having shown zero interest in this event up until now, Joe showered me with compliments and head pats for organising such a treat.


The following day, we were excited to learn that the extravagance continued well past the entrance. The long driveway is flanked by lush sprawling gardens and magnificent South African sculptures. The effect is breathtaking. The owner is East London born founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff, and so it should have come as no surprise when he opened the doors to the estate in 2009, that he would be revealing one of the most luxurious destinations in South Africa. Graff is also a well respected art collector and it is his personal collection of contemporary South African art that decorates the walls of this beautiful estate and its gardens.


After a mesmerising tour of the grounds, we were taken along an expansive corridor (with flooring made from peach stones and resin – lovely!), past the Graff diamond boutique, housing the type of fabulous jewellery that no-one I know could ever afford, followed by giant glass doors that open onto the winery, and finally, to the restaurant for our lunch.


The whole estate is jaw-droppingly grand and seamlessly stylish. Graff worked with designer David Collins to create a high-design interior, using traditional South African materials, techniques and colours, that also works as a dramatic display platform for his South African art collection. It is clear in its design that the estate is a homage to the beautiful country in which he made his fortune.



Like all of the estate interior, the Delaire Graff Restaurant is strikingly elegant. Burnt orange leather seating snakes around the restaurant with double sided open wood fires and a ceiling made from asymmetrically vaulted Tasmanian oak. But since today was a dazzlingly warm spring day (British audience read: smoking hot summer’s day), we were to have our lunch outside on the terrace.


It was the restaurant terrace that made the whole day for me. From our front row seats we were treated to the most breathtakingly beautiful panoramic views over the Banhoek Valley and the vineyards below, almost certainly the most incredible view I have seen in South Africa, or anywhere for that matter. We started with some Delaire Graff Sunrise Brut, made all the more delicious by the knowledge that it was grown in the vineyard below. The food menu is appreciably concise and seasonal, largely dependent on what is growing in the greenhouse at that time. Otherwise, it is locally sourced, fresh and organic.


For starters, Joe went, conservatively, with the Caesar Salad served with free range egg and house smoked chicken, whilst I had the West Coast Oysters (one served natural with tabasco caviar, one tempura with squid ink, and the other with soy caviar). The salad was absolutely enormous and the oysters were creatively served, fresh and delicious. For his main course, Joe ordered the Pork belly from the specials menu. It was served with pork crackling (I was very pleased to see this little slice of Wolverhampton), apricot jus, bacon apricot jam, homemade pork sausage, creamy polenta and roasted carrots. I ordered the prawn linguine which was served with lemon butter sauce, deep fried capers and confit tomatoes. Whenever I order a seafood linguine, I always hope that it will taste like this but it never quite does. It was deliciously creamy, set off perfectly by the salty capers and lemon. Not that we needed it, but we also decided to order some truffle and parmesan chips because the table next to us were eating them and they looked amazing. They came with aioli and, to our delight, a soft boiled egg! I have never before experienced such high-end eggy chips.


However, the food highlight was the dessert. Joe ordered the Textures of chocolate, which was salted crème, Guinness gelato, sesame oil aero, dehydrated mouse and crystallised chocolate. I went for the Peanut butter blondie which was guanaja cremeux, vanilla and mustard gelato, caramelised popcorn, cocoa meringue and salted caramel. They were both impeccably presented and tasted like a dream.

At this point we had also made our way through a fair few bottles of wine, were loving life and really didn’t want to go home. Having arrived for lunch quite early, it was now getting rather late and we decided that we would try to drag our lazy boozy lunch out for as long as possible, ideally until sunset. We managed this quite well with many thanks to the unrelenting hospitality and endless wine recommendations of our waiter, and before long we were treated to the most spectacular African sunset. However long you may have lived in South Africa, I can’t imagine that these views would ever get old.


The estate also has 10 private lodges with their own plunge pools and concierge service as well as a Spa. They are the definition of luxury and don’t come particularly cheap at R17,970 (approximately £930) per night for 2 people. In contrast to this, the restaurant is very reasonable. Although, this is easy to say when you’re converting everything to the British Pound, which even following the post-Brexit crash horror, is still fairing quite well against the Rand. The main courses range from R215 – 285 (currently between £11-15) which is the price of a standard pub lunch in London (this is vomit inducing) and I’ve definitely spent up to that in some of the fancier restaurants in Cape Town. But, at Delaire Graff, you’re paying for the whole experience. It’s not just the mouthwatering food and wine, but the exquisite views over the Banhoek Valley, the opulent architecture, the artwork, sculptures and objects of beauty throughout the estate. From the moment you arrive, you enter a world of affluent perfection. This is, indeed, a place that everyone should experience, at least once.



Starter: R125-155 (£6.50-8)

Main: R215-285 (£11-15)

Dessert: R115-145 (£6-7.50)