Happy Dumplings in Brixton Market

IMG_0398There is something pure and nourishing about steamed dumplings.  These little purses of fragrant flavour bring out a feeling of well-being in me that verges on devotion.  A good dumpling makes me happy, which is why it was extremely appropriate to eat such perfect ones at ‘Happy Dumplings’ in Brixton Market.  IMG_0390I used to live in Brixton and the market was always a thriving centre of global foods but now it has become a centre for pop up restaurants too.

When I heard this, I couldn’t get there fast enough on our visit to London.  We went on a Sunday and the place was bustling with diners perusing the sumptuous choices on offer.IMG_0405IMG_0415

IMG_0407IMG_0409IMG_0406IMG_0419In between shoppers seeking out bargains in the many retro clothing stores.IMG_0408

And my favourite wet fish stall that introduced me to many an exotic species over the years was even open on a Sunday!IMG_0425

But back to dumplings, it was extremely hard to choose between all the bounty on offer but dumplings have my heart, and alerted by the red pompoms,  we stayed to eat.IMG_0391

The small shop also serves steamed dim sum,, noodles and  noodle soups but forget those and go for the Happy Dumplings – steamed fried or in soup.
IMG_0399I had steamed beef, which were delicately 5 spiced and came on a plate of fresh cucumber with choice of soy or rice vinegar to dip them in.  My husband had pork ones which were equally fine and the kids had an interesting dish of fried ‘prawns wrapped in chips’ which were wrapped like mummies in a kind of potato noodle that I have not come across before. They loved them.IMG_0400

All washed down with jasmine tea and the friendliest of staff.IMG_0394

A perfect little lunch and well worth a re-visit.

One of the unprepossessing entrances to Brixton Market's Alladin' s Cave of foodie wonders.

One of the unprepossessing entrances to Brixton Market’s Alladin’ s Cave of foodie wonders.


Moretonhampstead Food Festival Round Up

My friend Amanda said, “It was the best day out I’ve had on Dartmoor for a decade” and despite a short downpour of rain, the town was packed. Well, you can’t get a better comment than that?  It was fun. The kitchen jumble was heaving and the variety of food stalls was magnificent. There was a great feeling of spontaneity and joy in the air and lots of live music to keep up the jolly tempo. I videoed (in the rain, someone kindly held an umbrella over me) ‘With Nell and I’ as they sang in the street, a moment that was caught by BBC Radio Devon and broadcast the next day. Here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M7gXy0E5yU.     Street food abounded, here’s a few favourites:

Yes, for lunch, (see last post) I did have El Goucho’s beef “churrasco” style on a spit roast over a charcoal and oak BBQ.   They serve it in a fresh roll with ”chimmichuri” sauce which is made from finely chopped parsley, garlic and crushed tomato with oil, lemon, salt and pepper. The sauce made the dish, it was fantastic and they sold out.

 El Gaucho

El Gaucho

Of course, that was just a preamble to much more.

Bennett's Seafood Sandwiches

Bennett’s Seafood Sandwiches

Bennett’s Seafood Sandwiches were excellent. Pollock Goujons in a roll!

Sole and pollock in a roll

Sole and pollock in a roll

The hog roast was….IMG_0441

eaten to the bone.IMG_0461

Janice was on fine form with her Caribbean treats.IMG_0430I did try Oke’s Indian Curries which were the real home-made wonders.  Fresh, and full of flavour you only get when you make curry from scratch (sadly rare in these days of processed catering sauces slopped onto poor quality meat and sent out as authentic).IMG_0446

Oke's curries

Oke’s curries

Lots for Vegetarians
IMG_0462Really excellent coffee, and I am very fussyIMG_0435

but it had to be washed down with Paul’s beer, small-scale produced in Devon and delicious. IMG_0436and not forgetting Ron’s Brimblecombe ciderIMG_0425Cider produced in the ancient way on a 350 year old press

Brimblecombe Cider - still pressing the cider apples on a 350 year old press.

Brimblecombe Cider – still pressing the cider apples on a 350 year old press.

It was a great day out.

Crowds on Court street

Crowds on Court street by Spencer Cobby Photography for Moretonhampstead Festival




Street Food for lunch at Moretonhampstead Festival this Saturday 9th March

IMG_0650Talking of Street Food, as I did on my last post, there will be an abundance of the stuff at the free Moretonhampstead Food Festival:

Some ideas.

Dan the Fish Man has many a story to tell, so go and seek him out at the festival and heDan of Clovelly Fish may crack open a lovely oyster for to you to try. Personally, I love his kipper and marmalade sandwiches – what better breakfast, in fact, that is what I am going to have when I arrive! Watch him in this video cooking lobster. He sells wet fish for every budget, in addition to piscine pate, and oysters and mussels from Torridge.

Caribbean Food – Here’s a video (click on the blue words) I took at the Powderham Food festival of ‘Fancy That’ home-made Caribbean food. It is extremely difficult to find Caribbean food in Devon so if you want a little tropical spice at lunchtime find her stall.  Janice makes everything herself and I can recommend her goat curry.

Brazilian style BBQ – El Gaucho is a family run, South American style BBQ catering business based in Devon.  I haven’t tried them yet but how can you go wrong cooking wonderful meat “churrasco” style on spit roast over a charcoal and oak BBQ?  They serve it in a fresh roll with “chimmichuri” sauce which is made from finely chopped parsley, garlic and crushed tomato with oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Mmmmm.

IndianOke’s Kitchen  is cooked fresh on site in massive Indian kadais (or woks) and,IMG_4374 would you believe it,  a full-sized charcoal-fired tandoori oven – barely portable but well worth the effort. I look forward to tasting their wares.

Fish Soup – Cockleshell Deli make a mean crab sandwich, see it on this video I took, plus yummy pies and a famously good fish soup, just the ticket on a cold day.

josh_cockleshell pies4391Or you could always make up a picnic from the many other food stalls-  sourdough bread, charcuterie, some fresh oozy cheese…..

More Food & Drink to Take Away

Cobley Farm Free Range Eggs and Pasties

Homemade pasties and sausage rolls made using a family recipe.
Fresh Free range eggs with happy hens.


Original handmade churros with handmade sauces.


Beanbug Organic Espresso Tricycle sells triple certified barista coffees using freshly ground coffee and local organic milk. Our manual lever espresso machine really makes the best coffee!

Express Catering

SAFARI GRILL – offering burgers from around the world – including crocodile, kangaroo, venison, wild boar, alpaca and Aberdeen Angus.


Our chefs have carefully developed our pies with the emphasis on quality and taste, avoiding artificial additives, preservatives and processed ingredients.  This is real, honest, flavoursome food.

Lemon Jelli

Quirky French van serving origin coffee, clipper tea and crepes using local products.


Authentic homemade Egyptian/Mediterranean food cooked to order on our griddle/flame grill. Falafel, shish twook, shwerma, kofta, Turkish coffee. Beautiful food trailer decorated in and Egyptian theme.

Peradon Organic Farm

Award winning organic burgers from our farm. Free-range sausages and bacon served with a choice of bread and organic salad. Award-winning, Free-Range & Natural.

Pizza Buono

Pizza Buono is a wood fired authentic pizza oven, providing delicious, crispy Italian style 9” pizzas in 90 seconds. A choice of toppings including pepperoni, olives, chillies all to tempt you.

Red Earth Kitchen

A range of delicious ready meals, deli foods, and baked goods.  Hot soup, wraps and tagines to eat now, plus cold goodies to eat later.  All made by hand using local, free range meat and eggs.

Thai Delight

Home made Thai red and green curry and stir fry pad Thai noodles. Sauces also on sale for stir fry at home. Chilli tomato and chilli ginger.

Tom’s Pies

Award winning pies, handmade in Devon.

The Pancake Bar

Freshly made pancakes with a choice of sweet or savoury fillings using fresh local produce. Our entire menu is also available on gluten free pancakes.

Two Bridges Hotel

Two Bridges Hotel will be offering an array of delights from our scrumptious afternoon teas to delicious home baked cakes. Enter our competitions while feasting.

Wessex Pantry

Producers of award winning savoury pies.

The White Hart Hotel

The White Hart Hotel will be serving ready made at their stall.

At last, the Street Food Revolution hits Exeter, we hope.

Street Food in Exeter used to mean a flaccid greasy burger, kebab or, if you were lucky, an exotic crepe. While a tasty revolution of fabulous festival-inspired street food has been taking over many city centres, Exeter was still devoid of anything more exciting than the fudge stall on the high street. Hopefully, all that is about to change as I read that the Guildhall has opened up their outdoor space to new food stalls, starting this weekend. Watch this space for my review. However, it won’t be this weekend of course, as I will be at the Moretonhampstead Food Festival, see you there.


Chicken burgers with cardamom and mint

Chicken burgers

Chicken burgers

These burgers are flavoured with interesting spices notably cardamom and allspice and are great with a salad, the kids had them in a wrap.  You can replace the cardamom seeds with ground cumin if you prefer.

Ingredients, makes 4

500 g minced chicken
1 Medium potato, peeled and finely grated
50 g spring onions, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp each chopped fresh mint and coriander leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp each ground cardamom (or cumin) and ground allspice
2 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

For the sauce
45 g parsley leaves, washed and dried
90 g sour cream
1/2 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Put a heavy frying pan on high heat and preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F/gas mark 6. In a bowl, mix all the burger ingredients with a wooden spoon. Make four burgers with your hands then wash them.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by whizzing all its ingredients in a food processor. 

Once the frying pan is piping hot, spritz a litte oil into the pan and sear the burgers for about 30 seconds on each side. Transfer to a baking tray and roast for 10-20 minutes, until  cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature with the sauce on the side. Alternatively, eat with a wrap filled with plenty of salad (watercress, rocket and radish sprout with a littel Ceasar dressing in this case), sour cream sauce and a dash of chilli sauce.



The Exeter Riddles – Public Art spilling out of the gallery for the public to enjoy.


Photograph by Matt Austin © All rights reserved

Despite the icy weather an audience of over a thousand were awed and astonished by our spectacular FREE outdoor event, The Exeter Riddles Finale, in Belmont Park last Saturday night. For weeks running up to the show, residents of Exeter had been reporting incongruous historical characters turning up in the streets: Romans in John Lewis, Cavemen in the Guildhall Shopping Centre or WW2 land-girls singing for victory, all followed by strange uniformed men from the ‘Ministry Of Historical Defence.’ DSC_0050

These interactions were all part of an imaginative campaign to bring art and performance to the public of Exeter, culminating in a fun and intriguing free event in the park inspired by a specially commissioned story for Animated Exeter by children’s author, Philip Reeve.


Cavemen in the streets in the lead up to the show

In Reeve’s story, the Exeter Heart Stone, an ancient and magical object buried beneath the earth has started to stir, causing the past, present and future to collide with surprising and often dangerous consequences, placing the modern day city on the edge of oblivion. Only water from the well of St Sidwell outside the city wall can repair the time continuum and a boy, Ed Riddle, is given the task of solving the riddle and putting the stone back to rest.

This inspirational story was reinterpreted by interactive performance company, Mischief La Bas, with the help of over 40 local performers and dozens of technical, design and music students from Exeter College and University. ‘The Ministry’ was an invented, secret government department, that sprung into action to stop the time leaks with a HQ in the centre of town and a double bluff website that was set up to look like someone was trying to cover up the story.

Image 9

Collaboration and learning were at the centre of the event which engaged the public on many levels as they became aware of strange things occurring in the streets and the campaign of posters and leaflets enticing them with the slogan “The Ministry of Defence needs YOU!) all over the city.

Ad on bus stop shelter

Ad on bus stop shelter

The local paper, The Express and Echo, colluded with us and ran hoax stories about the history leaks for weeks. This meant that the performance directors, Fin Irwin and Rachel Vowles set up live, costumed interactions every Friday while I followed them with a camera and reported back to the paper every Monday with words from the Ministry. They were stars!

The Express and Echo leak number 1

The Express and Echo leak number 1

However, even with all this publicity visitors still did not know quite what to expect as they entered the park in the dark on Saturday evening. I interviewed a few people during the show –

I felt the vibration first and followed the sounds to the park,” said spectator Alice Prynn, “I noticed people dressed from another time and it was quite spooky being accosted by men in 18th Century militia uniform.  I almost felt like I was going on a ghost train, they created a strange atmosphere, There were booming sounds and big signs warning us that an excavations were in progress.”

Historical characters interacted with the public as the noises of excavation became louder and suddenly a stage lit up and revealed the highlight of the show – the raising of the Exeter heart-stone.  The stone burst into light and streamed with a golden shower of fireworks before becoming a three dimensional screen for a spectacular animated display that depicted time re-winding from the present to the pre-historic past with stunning visual effect.  It finished with St Sidwella calming the stone followed by another round of fabulous fireworks behind the shadows of the trees.

Look at the pictures of the show with this link to Matt Austin’s photographs which include the incredible animations on the heart-stone: http://bit.ly/13kFD3F

“I loved the whole experience,” said local spectator, John Royal, There was so much to see, loads of kids and it was exciting to go out at night, however cold.  Public art should spill out of galleries, it shouldn’t be contained, this was an enriching experience for everyone.  It was sensational.

It was a wonderful project made possible by the hard work of many. Thank you everyone. And special thanks to Val and Susannah for being so original.

Romans drilling in the streets

Romans drilling in the streets

WWII Land-girls discover that the war is over and it's 2013

WWII Land-girls discover that the war is over and it’s 2013

A minister listens for rumblings in the bus station

A minister listens for rumblings in the bus station – I love the faces of the 2 women on the bus!

The Ministry HQ in the Guildhall Mall

The Ministry HQ in the Guildhall Mall

Perplexed by the twenty-first century
Perplexed by the twenty-first century