Review

The Wasteless diaries #2

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As the dust settles I am finally getting to reflect on the Wasteless Cardiff suppers journey so far. I planned to write a blog for each Wasteless supper we delivered in March 2018 but surprises such as the heavy snow really threw us. The Wasteless team had to work hard and seamlessly to deliver the events against all odds.

For those of you who might not have heard about Wasteless in Cardiff it is a collaborative platform which involves more than one food businesses in the delivery of a pop-up feast using food surplus, food that would have been wasted and food that is produced in a less wasteful manner. I have been running it for the last ten months with Rebecca Clark from Green City Events. It is our brainchild as Ruth Molaski recently wrote in her Western Mail article. Wasteless has taken most of my ‘food work’ time in 2018. And we both really care about it.

We held our pilot Wasteless in October 2017. And in March we got together to deliver two additional events partly supported by the Sainsbury Waste Less Save More fund. The talented Jane of Hungry City Hippy wrote a fantastic review about the early March event too.

Who is Wasteless for?

Bringing new businesses to the table to inspire and be inspired by them in taking a wasteless approach remains one of the key objectives of Wasteless suppers trials. We wanted and continue to aim to showcase our local chefs and food businesses, and how they do ‘wasteless’ food.

Wasteless also aims to bring crowds to the table educating them about the potential of food they may waste and informing them about ways to be savvier at home. The events are much more than a meal, with guests really engaging in discussions about their footprint and impact, leaving more empowered after having shared knowledge and ideas on their journey to becoming wasteless.

Our choice to go from potential food waste to fine dining is deliberate. I am very keen that we make the point that a menu you are likely to have paid two or three times the price of a Wasteless supper ticket can be actually made from ingredients that we as consumers and the retail process most commonly waste. I hope this stark antithesis between food destined for the bin turning into gourmet dishes really sticks with our guests and those who read about Wasteless.

Our choice to do Wasteless and yours to attend the events also sends an important message to food retailers, who can see that we care more about what may perish – they are willing to work with all of us and they are listening. They have people like you and me working for them who care as much about reducing food waste. This has been one of the most encouraging messages of the project. We are in it together!

How many?

To date three Wasteless suppers have taken place in the Welsh capital of Cardiff.  The WasteLess suppers preserved, pickled, cooked and served around 261 kilos[1] of the food collected in the weeks leading to the events.  The food was then safely handled, stored, distributed and cooked by the participating chefs/businesses to offer five-course feasts.

There were eighteen participating food businesses with different practices and business models, who prepared and donated food, and hosted the suppers – a number that has by far exceeded our expectations. In fact, when we wrote our project plan we thought we might attract around fifty people to our table at this stage of the process. But the food collected ended up feeding 135 guests (and another twenty people who volunteered to help deliver the events).

What was served at Wasteless…

The creativity of the chefs we have worked with is humbling.  Dishes such as sourdough flavoured ice cream from Cocorico Patisserie who then used the bread again to make tartelettes for the canapes serving the cheese donated by the Cheese Pantry were a massive hit. Laurian’s recipes were conceived during the heavy snowfall when bread and vegetable was in shortage, and many of our guests had already started to think about food as a precious commodity. The fact that we already had over 80 kg food collected at that time propelled us into action to ensure that Wasteless supper happened regardless of the snow. The response was amazing and most of our guests turned up on the evening – many quite hungry for vegetable and bread at the time.

Also for Wasteless supper #2, our preservation master, the beloved Eira of Inner City Pickle created a delicious aubergine, tomato and chilli relish and a banana jam which we used in our menu. The amazing Laura of Tidy Kitchen company laboriously sliced and minced different cuts of chicken and pork to make scotch eggs and terrines for our guests. Laura came on the team just ten days before the event. And she blew our guests away with her dishes’s presentation as well as the flavour. You must give her food a try and support her newly established independent business.

At Wasteless #3 Chef Jan’s (Anna Loka) recipe of mixed vegetable rostis with a butternut squash sauce and crisp fried greens (a great use for wilted greens) inspired a lot of our diners to go home and look at their vegetable draw twice before clearing it. Melissa’s (Penylan Pantry) starter balls mixing various vegetable, fish and meat into delicious bites showed people you don’t need much to create an impressive party platter. Beca Lyne Pirkis’s trio dessert using tens of kilos of bananas, mandarins and frozen berries in a sticky mandarin cake, jam doughnuts and the most delicious banana fool I have ever tasted was spectacular and gave us ideas on how to use ripened fruit.

Beca, who is one of the baker’s dozen in the 4th series of The Great British Bake Off and now cook, food writer and TV presenter, said, “The issue of food waste is something that concerns me, and helping to raise awareness around it by being part of Wasteless is one way of inspiring others to make better use of leftovers as well as drawing attention to the volume of surplus food that happens weekly in Cardiff. I’m honoured to be asked to play a small part in helping the cause.”

Phil’s (Dusty Knuckle) mushroom ketchup, pickled apples, daikon slaw and slow cooked meat was a dish that required much labour and ingenuity in using everything that was made available to him – it had so many layers of flavour and texture and nothing was wasted. And I hope that my own new-found, personal obsession with dehydration, pickles and pickling methods from around the globe gave people at our table more ideas on how to make the most of seasonal resources.

Clare Williams of Penylan Preserves who created three different relishes for Wasteless supper #3 says, “I am extremely humbled to be part of the #Wastelesssupper team. Preserving is a great way of ‘keeping food’ for longer and I couldn’t believe how good the food was that was going to be thrown out!! I am a great believer in using my senses on when food needs to be thrown NOT a best before date on the packaging!”

The Purple Poppadom team transformed frozen chicken, most of it a by-product of the Wasted suppers at Selfridges last year into a delicious curry produced to us by the fantastic Illtud of Charcutier. ‘We are great believers in the work of the Wasteless team. Chef is very excited to have contributed a Purple Poppadom Nadan Kozhi chicken curry, showing how ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away too early, can be so tasty.’

The future is bright for Wasteless food events. As well as being a finalist for the Cardiff Life Awards in the first six months of its life, it has received much attention from the public and media platforms.

The question we keep getting is, ‘When is the next Wasteless happening?’ With the encouragement and support we have received from all of you and businesses in Cardiff and across Wales wanting to be part of Wasteless, there is a lot more that we can do to spread the message by inviting people to a wasteless table, and maybe a more wasteless lifestyle.

We would like to thank all the volunteers who have worked hard to make Wasteless happen. Most notably Dai Tilbert (Punk Bikes Cardiff), Laura Sorvala (Auralab) and Dan Barnett worked tirelessly on the events through collections, deliveries, preparation and on the night.

Great thanks go to Oasis Cardiff, the refugee charity who let us use their fridges and freezers for the vast amount of food that we used for Wasteless. Any fresh or frozen food we did not use was left at Oasis for the use of their daily lunches.

The fantastic businesses which contributed to WasteLess include Penylan Pantry, a sustainable café and grocery store which implements the low-waste approach in its practices; Mezza Luna, an award winning, independent, Middle Eastern restaurant; Anna Loka, the first 100% vegan café in Cardiff; the Tidy Kitchen Company, a dynamic, fine dining catering company run by chef Laura Graham; Dusty Knuckle, the best UK pizzeria according to the Guardian, a promoter of slow food and Wasteless menus; the award winning Purple Poppadom;  the Cheese Pantry; Cocorico Patisserie and deliciously creative dishes; Penylan Preserves and Inner City Pickle chutneys, relishes and jams; the talented Beca Lyne Pirkis; Oriel Jones’s fine Welsh mutton meat. Wasteless Suppers have been hosted by the Little Man Coffee company, an ethical coffee shop which is a hub of community activity; Illtud of Charcutier who has been involved in WastED at Selfridges and is a talented food businessman in Wales; Caffi Sio, the sister company of Chapter Arts in Cardiff Bay and The Old Library Milk & Sugar.

Lia Moutselou of  Lia’s Kitchen and Rebecca Clark from Green City Events co-design and co-run Wasteless. Our partnership on food waste and ethical ventures is well established. Over the three years we joined forces to deliver a series of food waste projects and initiatives in Cardiff, in collaboration with Love Food Hate Waste campaigns and other local organisations and businesses. From community cook ups with food destined for the bin, to roadshows, school lunch clubs and pop up street food stalls, we have inspired, engaged and educated to encourage action and behaviour change relating to food waste.

Lia’s Kitchen is an ethical food venture inspired by sustainability, Greek cuisine and world flavours: www.liaskitchen.com. Green City is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company based in Cardiff, hosting a range of exciting and inspiring environmental and sustainability events and workshops: www.greencityevent.co.uk

Special thank to Suzie Larke Photography for covering our Wasteless #3 supper and to Dan Green Photography for covering Wasteless #1. The rest of the phots are from Green City Events and Lia’s Kitchen. 

Follow the links to view the menus of Wasteless #1,Wasteless #2 and Wasteless #3

Wasteless 2018 smaller size

Wasteless has received some queries about why this food waste was not used for the homeless and charitable purposes. Both Lia’s Kitchen, Green City events and many of the businesses we worked give support in kind and otherwise to many projects supporting charitable causes. In fact the profits of the pilot Wasteless supported the Cystic Fibrosis Better Life Appeal at Llandough Hospital. However, using food surplus to feed the homeless is not the purpose of Wasteless. For those concerned please rest assured that there is plenty of food waste at the disposal of charities, organisations and projects to support the homeless or otherwise less fortunate – Wasteless collected from just one supermarket location in Cardiff and we are sure many retail outlets would be happy to partner with charities. We are happy to share our experience if this helps anyone wanting to set up a project. The positive experience our supermarket retailer is having with Wasteless may provide them and other retailers with reassurance which might facilitate more agreements and projects in the future. Through our previous food waste reduction work we have facilitated partnerships. But often the limited resources of charities or such projects and the hard work required for the collections has been an obstacle to their long-term sustainability. Nonetheless there are fantastic projects in Cardiff, elsewhere in Wales and all around the UK that do charitable and stellar community work successfully either through their own collections or a subscription to Fairshare and we are sure that many more will continue to flourish.

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The WasteLess Diaries #1

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On 14 October 2017 the first and pilot WasteLess dinner took place in the heart of Cardiff at LittleMan Coffee Company Café. It was fun, it was epic, it was inspiring and most importantly it was tasty! But what is WasteLess and why am I telling you about it?

Book your seat on Wasteless 2018 here now!

WasteLess is a collaborative pop-up event which involves more than one food businesses in the delivery of a feast using food surplus, food that would have been wasted and food that is produced in a less wasteful manner. The pilot WasteLess feast collected over forty kilos of food that would have been wasted in the week leading up to the event. The food was then safely handled, stored, distributed and cooked by the participating chefs/businesses and volunteers to offer a five-course feast presenting eleven dishes. All participating chefs and cooks contributed ideas to the menu as collections went along. WasteLess tapped into their culinary culture, business practices and the creativity of their teams to bring a wonderful menu together .

I co-run WasteLess with Rebecca Clark from Green City Events. And after years of working together on food waste reduction projects through community cook ups with food destined for the bin, roadshows, school lunch clubs and pop up street food stalls, we wanted to set up a platform that helps local businesses tap into their creative and sustainable practices and to showcase elements of Cardiff’s existing and emerging ‘wasteless’ food movement. There are many fantastic businesses already doing great things and many more who could be supported to do more. We want to bring new businesses to the table and to inspire and assist them in taking a wasteless approach.

The fantastic businesses which contributed to the first WasteLess event include Penylan Pantry, a sustainable café and grocery store which implements the low-waste approach in its practices; Mezza Luna, an award winning, independent, Middle Eastern restaurant; the Little Man Coffee company, an ethical coffee shop which is a hub of community activity and of course, moi, Lia’s Kitchen. Many more were involved in other ways. The Cheese Pantry donated cheese close to its use by date. TOAST Ale provided the event with beers and ales brewed from bread that would have been wasted, The Bottle Shop Cardiff advised on the sourcing of ethical wines and Get Wonky Juices, donated their delicious juices made from ‘scrap’ fruit and veg.

‘Food waste is bad business practice- akin to throwing money in the bin. It’s unsustainable for future generations, and breeds bad habits in an already throwaway society’, says Melissa from the Penylan Pantry. ‘Being part of Cardiff’s first Wasteless dinner was a huge honour and a very exciting prospect, working with others to help raise awareness, offer support and encourage businesses, and the public to think differently about food waste.’

Anna and Zac from Mezza Luna said, ‘As a food business, we at Mezza Luna believe it is our social responsibility to be at the forefront of the fight against food waste.And by doing so encourage people to have better awareness of food and the environment. Middle Eastern cuisine is a great example of the WasteLess approach. For example, all parts of an animal are used for cooking in different dishes. We strongly believe in this approach and we aim to encourage greater respect for food.’

It is not just the businesses that we worked with that really believe in what we do.

Celine Anouilh from the Chartered Institute of Waste Management in Wales said, ‘ I much enjoyed this first WasteLess dinner raising awareness of food waste. Lia and Rebecca used of the right ingredients to produce a taste meal and an inspiring event: a partnership between enthusiastic and ethical businesses, forgotten food from super markets shelves, great cooking skills, creativity and passion! I ate a delicious meal, met wonderful people. CIWM Cymru wishes every success to this fantastic project and look forward to attending the next dinner’.

The October event was just a test to see if our WasteLess vision is truly possible. We are now ready for the next step. Partly supported by Sainsbury’s Waste Less Save More fund Green City Events and Lia’s Kitchen will help deliver more WasteLess events in 2018.

The first WasteLess dinner entertained thirty guests and raised over £600 for Cystic Fibrosis in memory of Tom Woollam (Better Life Appeal Llandough Hospital).

We would like to thank all businesses who donated prizes to a charity raffle: John Lewis, Snact, Get Wonky, HangFire Southern Kitchen, Milgi Cardiff, Penylan Preserves, Colourfiled, Twin Made, Nelly’s Treasures, Ellicopter Hoops and Sustainable Studio.

Lia Moutselou, Lia’s Kitchen and Rebecca Clark from Green City Events co-design and co-run WasteLess. Our partnership on food waste and ethical ventures is well established. Over the three years we joined forces to deliver a series of food waste projects and initiatives in Cardiff, in collaboration with Love Food Hate Waste campaigns and other local organisations and businesses. From community cook ups with food destined for the bin, to roadshows, school lunch clubs and pop up street food stalls, we have inspired, engaged and educated to encourage action and behaviour change relating to food waste.

Lia’s Kitchen is an ethical food venture inspired by sustainability, Greek cuisine and world flavours: www.liaskitchen.com. Green City is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company based in Cardiff, hosting a range of exciting and inspiring environmental and sustainability events and workshops: www.greencityevent.co.uk

 Sign up to our mailing list for future WasteLess events or email liaskitchen@gmail.com.

Blaencamel Farm’s Cima di Rapa & greens in coconut sauce

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Cima di rapa is a star ingredient grown organically in our very own patch by the fantastic Blaencamel Farm this January. It is a broccoli sprouting (Broccoli raab/Rapini) loved in Southern Italian/Puglian cooking, typically in anchovy and butter sauce combinations and served with orecchiette pasta. Together with the other greens offered in Blaencamel vegetable boxes and at farmers’ markets this January, Cima di Rapa has inspired a Lia’s Kitchen dish that takes me back to my Greek – greens – loving roots but also uses coconut milk, an ingredient I have come to love through my travels in India and Cambodia. Good and ample sea salt is essential for your recipe, as Cima di rapa loves a salty kick.

Ingredients (4 portions)

  • 700g mixed Blaencamel farm greens, such as 2 bunches of Cima di Rapa, half a bag of spinach and half a bag of winter sproutings
  • 5-10g peeled ginger (size of the top of your thumb)
  • 1 big peeled garlic clove
  • 1.5 cups of coconut milk for drinks OR 1 tin of coconut milk for cooking (400ml)
  • 4 tbsp. coconut oil, if using coconut milk for drinks OR 1 tbsp. coconut oil, if using tinned coconut milk for cooking
  • 1 heaped tsp. Oliveology’s truffle salt or Pembrokeshire Beach company Seaweed Salt
  • 1 heaped tsp sea salt
  • A pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp Pembrokeshire Beach Company Kelp Seaweed (optional)

* You can source Pembrokeshire Beach Company products at Penylan Pantry.

Preparation (20 minutes)

  1. Wash all the greens really well. To ensure all dirt is removed leave the greens in a bowl or basin for around 10 minutes after the first wash.
  2. In a big pot add enough boiling water to cover the greens (stalks included) and boil for around 10-15 minutes on low heat, or until the stalks are cooked.
  3. Whilst the greens are cooking, heat the coconut oil and fry the ginger and garlic for a few minutes (roughly chopped in 2-3 three chunks each).
  4. Then add the coconut milk of your choice, the specialty salt and the kelp seaweed salt and chilli flakes if you are using.
  5. Lower the heat and simmer the coconut sauce for 5-10 minutes or until the greens are cooked.
  6. When the greens are ready, drain them keeping the liquid from the boiling process. You can use the liquid to boil pasta or noodles in it (if that’s a serving preference) and you might need a little bit of the liquid to thin the sauce of the dish, particularly if you are using tinned coconut milk.
  7. Return the greens in your big pot and pour the thin coconut sauce over them, simmering for another couple of minutes.
  8. If the coconut sauce has thickened use some of the liquid (kept after draining) to thin it. This is a dish for which you should have a runny, thin sauce to serve the greens in. The end result should be something between a thin soup and a stir fry.
  9. Cool down for 5 minutes and serve with bread or noodles to enjoy the flavoursome and nourishing sauce.

The story of my August dinner

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My pop-up dinner at Cardiff’s Street Food Circus in August 2016 showcased one of my most favourite menus to date. Food inspired by my homes of Greece and Wales was served under a canvas tent and the leafy trees of Sophia Gardens, in the green heart of the city centre at a pop-up restaurant operated by Milgi Cardiff.

I cannot think of a menu that sums up the Lia’s Kitchen approach to cooking and dishes better. It’s based on how I eat and my adventures in food. I am always on the look-out for fantastic, local and sustainable produce and products from my Greek and Welsh homes to integrate in my cooking. And I always try to showcase  producers, flavours and ingredients that you might not have heard or savoured, like for example salepi, the wild orchid powder that flavoured my yoghurt ice-cream desert.

And here’s one other very important thing. I work with people I like and whose business I respect. Their produce/product is as good as their business and working ethos. I love what they do and how they do it. And this is why I believe I should tell you about them. They provide me with daily inspiration and nourishment, and they are or are becoming good friends in the most beautiful, unrushed, organic way.

1.Tom Frost and Blaencamel Farm work tirelessly through the seasons in a fertile valley of West Wales, between river and coastline, and grow vegetable using organic, biodynamic methods. Their land is unadulterated and pristine. The food is nourishing and full of unique flavours. For my August menu I used organic aubergines, tomatoes, chard, cucumbers, beetroot grown and summer salad leaves grown in Wales. Their vegetable is the perfect match for my recipes and some of the great Greek products I have sourced.

2. Marianna and Oliveology are based in London Borough market. She sources her olive products from a small, organic farm in Sparta, Greece. She also sources other organic and wild, foraged goods from the Peloponnese. I swear this is not a sales pitch, they are not paying me – I urge you to try their products for your taste buds’ happiness and your soul’s nourishment! Together with their organic grape molasses and their fantastic Agiorgitiko grape balsamic vinegar, I used their 18 degrees organic, extra virgin olive oil (so aromatic but delicate at the same time) to dress Tom’s fresh salad leaves. I also used their white balsamic vinegar with Greek honey and Oliveology’s flavoured extra virgin olive oil (rosemary, purslane, walnut, oregano) – another product on my menu exceptionally high in Omega 3 – to dress a summer vegetable slaw, made mostly with Tom’s vegetable too. The success of Oliveology’s products is that their quality will not let you down and their flavours are distinct but well balanced. As my one of my diners said: ‘You can taste every single flavour but it doesn’t punch you in the face’. I think Oliveology’s products are an experience you should not miss.

3. Benni Thomas and Cig Lodor Meat are a butcher business based in Carmarthenshire Wales. I eat meat once a week (or less than that) and it is mostly if not exclusively from Benni who supplies both Riverside Farmers’ Markets in Cardiff. Benni supplies me with Dexter Beef which is what I used for my Moussaka main dish. Not only does the grass fed beef taste like no other, it is also contains almost as high Omega 3 as oily fish (for example mackerel). It has a rich and moreish flavour that complements creamy béchamel dishes, a tomato sauce with hints of cinnamon and loves to be cooked with the meaty aubergine! I use it in burgers and stews, and everything I cook really. With such low carbon footprint this beef should satisfy the most environmentally conscious person. So if you live in Wales and you have not tried Benni’s products I think you should definitely put it on your to-eat list.

4.  Jacque and CocoCaravan make delicious raw chocolate and hot chocolate drinks. I use the vanilla and cinnamon cocoa powder every day and for my August menu I sprinkled it amply on the Greek yoghurt ice cream served for the last course. I also coated my homemade pasteli (Greek Sesame and pistachio energy bar) in melted CocoCaravan’s raw, dark chocolate. Jacque’s chocolates, which he started making in Wales a few years ago, are creamy and melt in your mouth, their flavour is subtle and the digest incredibly easily (compared to other chocolates) in my opinion. His products are just incredible.

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Jacques’ CocoCaran Raw Dark Chocolate and Vanilla and CInnamon Raw Cacao5.
5. Yannos, Stefanos and Maltby and Greek Wines, were introduced to me by Marianna when I was looking for a Greek supplier of two of my favourite grapes of wine Xinomavro and Malagouzia. Not only did they provide me with wine from a great vineyard but they were able to recommend the better wine for my menu. The Xinomavro and Syrah sweeter grape mix they recommended was a much better pairing for the moreish flavours of the menu. For their professionalism and support at a very hard personal time for them I give them ten out of ten – they are so professional and helpful. It is so easy to order their wines online and they don’t let you down. Try shopping from them and you will see what I mean.

6. Mel, Jo and the Penylan Pantry are a sustainable, local corner store/cafe/deli a stone throw’s away from my Cardiff home. These days I only change Blaencamel as my vegetable supplier for the Penylan Pantry, who source organic vegetable ethically from around Wales, UK and Europe. The stepped in to source additional vegetable for the menu as part of their weekly vegetable box scheme. They also have one of the biggest selections of delicious British cheeses I have found in a place in Cardiff and I just love them. And their home is one of the brightest, cosiest cafés in Cardiff. If you have not lounged and shopped there yet, do it soon!

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Mel and Jo of the Penylan Pantry

Lia’s Kitchen’s  next event is on 8 October 2016 at Slow Food South East Wales’s Dunraven Bay festival. We will be serving Greek pies made with organic chard and foraged nettles from Bleancamel Farm

Ten good eats in Berlin

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As far as cities go Berlin has got it sorted. Easy access and transport, great pedestrian and cycling routes, a bustling multicultural vibe, music, art, performance and delicious, good quality food from all over the globe. If you are planning to visit it, it comes highly recommended.

Before I tuck into your ten-course food adventure some non-food related destinations are worth a mention. Ballhaus Berlin one of Berlin’s many ballrooms (near the Museum of Natural History Ubahn stop) hosts the fantastic Omniversal Orkestra every Monday – don’t miss it if you are there. For a relaxing day I recommend a midday or evening visit to the Neukölln City baths for a swim and sauna in a beautifully opulent setting – the baths are open till 10pm. Next to it is an art space/café called Prachtwerk which showcases great art work on its vast walls, and offers good coffee and food, as well as events such as an open stage night. And finally, make time for bars which Berlin does in one of the best ways a city can – I recommend tracing down independent small bars such as Art + Weisse bar but also the ZigZag Jazz bar which offers amazing music from well known artist from around the world for a free entry.

Most of the places mentioned below are in the Kreuzberg-Neukölln areas where I would return to stay without hesitation because of their relaxed city vibe. The link through the bold text (name of the place) take you to a google map so that you can trace them easily. Enjoy your trip!

  1. Café Blume, Fontanestrasse 32, 12045, closest U-Bahn stop Boddinstrasse, http://cafe-blume-berlin.de/

Next to the Volks Hassenheide park, in fact next to one of its entrances, is Café Blume. Simple and unpretentious, with great sunshine on a springtime afternoon bathing its outdoor sitting area, this café offers delicious cakes as well as a satisfactory selection of food. I had the best vegan banana and peanut ‘cheesecake’ there. Then have a stroll to watch the beautiful Berlin sky sunset colours amongst the leafy trees in Hasseinheide park. Bliss… Recommended for families as it has a large indoor playing area.

  1. Zitröne, Diffenbach Strasse 56 (corner of Diffenbach and Grafestrasse), 10967, U-Bahn Stop SchonleinStrasse, http://www.zitrone-restaurant.de

Spacious, comfortable and elegant, Zitröne café offered us a relaxing space to eat, read and chat without a rush. With ample seating it is a good option for busy brunch days, although I can only imagine it being even more popular than the Thursday lunchtime when we came across it. The menu offerings are great and range from well-thought breakfast choices, to hearty omelettes, daily lunch and dinner specials and attractive pasta dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed the vegetarian Bauernomelette, a German specialty with potatoes, filled with vegetables and served with soft cheese, salad and warm baguette. Dan also enjoyed a German sausage and mash dish, with a thin sausage, creamy mash and sauerkraut. I definitely recommend the comfortable environment Zitrone has to offer, set in an old German building restored tastefully whilst retaining a fuss-free, classic elegance.

  1. Floor’s Cafe, Schonleinstrasse very close to the U-Bahn Stop SchonleinStrasse, https://www.facebook.com/floorsberlin

I have not been drinking coffee for a long while now but at Floor’s I broke my rule. They simply make a wicked and creamy cappuccino, which was a delight to sip. This small cafe is buzzing with calm and welcoming energy. We enjoyed delicious smoked salmon scrambled eggs served with nice bread. We also tasted another wonderful breakfast platter with a selection of cheeses and cured hams – a breakfast which seems to be quite the norm in Berlin on most menus. Their croissants where generously filled with chocolate spread and freshly baked. Aim for a spot by the window to watch the world go by on Schonleinstrasse, a passage to many destinations.

  1. The Sudanese Café, corner or Reuterstrasse (56) and Weserstrasse, U-Bahn Stop Hermanplatz

There are a lot of Sudanese places to eat at in Berlin, possible evidence of its growing Sudanese population perhaps? This eatery is simple with tasty and filling offerings, which are great value for money. Try one of the affordable kofte or chicken or veggie platters which come with falafel, grilled halloumi, salad and Arabic bread all drizzled with a delicious peanut butter and tahini sauce. Even cheaper are their falafel and haloumi sandwiches. We are so pleased Yoli took us there.

  1. Chay Village Vietnamese Vegatarian and Vegan Café, Niederbarnimstraße 10, 10249, closest U-Bahn Stop Samariterstrase (U1), but also in Kreuzberg Eisenacher Straße 40, 10781

This is another place that was recommended to us by our friend Gareth. We sought out the place in Friedrichstein because we wanted to walk around a different neighbourhood. Niederbarnimstraße where you can find Chay Village is full of eateries inspired by Asia (Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese) and there is a nice atmosphere there too. The food is absolutely wonderful. You feel it is healing and nurturing you with every bite you take. I tasted the Dau Phu Nam dish (No.30 on the menu) and its lemongrass and coconut notes were so well-balanced I did not want my dish to finish. The food is mostly vegan and it will change the mind of even the most hardcore carnivore. Just try it please. I really wish that we had a place like this in Cardiff. Authentic Vietnamese food that offers healthy eating that dazzles your taste buds!

  1. Berlin Food Markets

Mauerpark Sunday Market, Bernauer Straße 63, 10435, U-Bahn Station Eberwor. Strasse (U2)

The largest flea market in Berlin with the feel of a small festival is open every Sunday from 9am to 6pm. There are numerous food stalls and excellent choice which extends to delicious vegan offerings such as the mustard flavour vegan quiche we had from a South American food stall. There are also stalls offering Japanese, Uruguayan, British, Greek and so many other foods. And the flea market stalls are worth a visit too if you are in a shopping mood. Shop to the soundtrack of great music from the various buskers and performers.

The Turkish Market, Maybachufer street 1099 by the Landwehr Canal, closest U-Bahn stop Schönlein Strasse (U8)

This market is open 11am-8pm on Fridays and Tuesdays and it anything but just Turkish. There is a great range of food to eat and shop on offer as well as various shopping stalls with jewellery, clothes and antiques. On a sunny day it is heaving. Grab your food of choice and head to the riverside. It is also a great place to shop for a nice picnic or stay at home dinner with a selection of cheeses, wurzte and salumi and a nice bottle of Riesling wine.  

 Marheineke Markthalle, Marheineke Platz, 10961, closest U-Bahn stop Gneisen. Strasse (U7), http://meine-markthalle.de/

A more conventional, covered market hall with a fantastic selection of produce and much organic choice (which seems to be the norm in Berlin!). There is a great selection of eateries in periphery of the market stalls too (inside the building). It all seems good and interesting but I would discourage you from the Breton Gallette stall for the rudeness and unwillingness to replace one ingredient with another. The finished item was not that great either so I would recommend you spend your euros somewhere else.

Markthalle Neun, Eisenbahnstrasse 42/43, 10997 Berlin-Kreuzberg, closest U-Bahn stop Görlitzer (U1), https://markthalleneun.de/street-food-thursday/

Part of the hip street food market worldwide phenomenon this market will not disappoint you if you like that kind of thing as it throws a street food Thursday event with different food stall holders every week. It reminded my very much of a smaller version of the Papiroen Island market in Kopenhagen but it was too packed on the Thursday that we visited. The food offerings are very interesting and will cater for everyone’s taste but I personally preferred the smaller markets where I have more space to stand or even sit down. Apart from Thursdays the market canteen is also open for breakfast and lunch every day, with longer opening hours on Saturday and Sunday. Worth a visit.

  1. The Three Sisters restaurant at Künstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997, U-Bahn Stop Kottbuser TOR, Gorlitzer Bahnhoff (U1), http://3schwestern-berlin.de/ and for a visit to the art centre see http://www.kunstraumkreuzberg.de/

Inside this old nunnery, currently an exhibition/ artist studio/creative space, hides a wonderful restaurant with the best atmosphere of all the places we visited this time, called the Three Sisters (3 Schwestern). The lighting, the music, the temperature of this large old building are all faultless. The positive experience starts as soon as you walk in. The service was professional and immaculate. The menu offered us well-executed, authentic German cuisine with a modern twist in generous and tasty portions. I recommend going there with friends so you can share different dishes from the menu as we did. My favourite starters were the Homemade Leberkaes, a pork and sesame loaf and the Alpine onion tart, and the Hazelnut cheese tart. From the mains I was particularly impressed by the Pork Roast of organic “Havelland Apple Pig” with Bavarian Style Coleslaw and Bread Dumplings, which I could not finish due to its size (!) and the Beef main with capers and lemon butter. As we could not stomach much more we all shared the most wonderful Strudel we tried in Berlin with homemade real vanilla cream. This was our most expensive meal in Berlin at around 40 EUROS a person including a delightful bottle of Riesling. But I would return there tomorrow if I could and I think there is something everyone would enjoy on this menu. It did German cuisine very proud. The restaurant is very close to the Street Food market so you can go there if there is no place for you to stand or sit at the Street Food event. And it is at the end of Marianenstrasse which is full with interesting cafes and bars to also stop at. In the summer it hosts an open air cinema.

  1. PiuTrentaNove, Mockenstrasse 73A, 10965, http://www.piu39.de

Right across one of the entrances of Viktoria Park (on the top of which you have a wonderful view of Berlin to take in), and close to Meirheineke Markthalle, we found PiuTrentaNove. It was a sunny afternoon and we felt a bit peckish after another long walk. In true Italian fashion we parked ourselves in the sun facing the park, and ordered apperitivos and one of the most authentic, tasty pizza margeritas I have eaten outside southern Italy. The perfect crustiness of its thin rim, firm and perfect thickness of its main body topped with a generous but not heavy serving of melted mozzarella made it just perfect for me. There I made one of my favourite memories in Berlin, in the sun, with a perfect drink (in the way that only Italians know how to do it) and the perfect pizza. It was only when we peaked inside that we realised this is one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Berlin and its pizza has been voted the best for many years. So if you are planning to eat there I would recommend you book a table.

  1. La Femme Breakfast & Lunch, Kottbusser Damm 77, 10967, U-Bahn Stop, Kottbusser Damm, http://www.lafemmebreakfast.de

The place is always packed with Turkish people enjoying one of the most impressive breakfast and lunch menus I have seen. There are over ten Turkish scrambled eggs options to choose from, savoury pastry pies, crumbly shortbread biscuits with nuts and warming Turkish tea. We savoured the delectable Menemen eggs with sucuk (a spicy Turkish sausage) and Simit (or Koulouri as we call in in the north of Greece, a sesame bread ring). I strongly recommend you make time for this. It will keep you going for at least your dinner and with many locations of this mini chain across Berlin you have no excuse to miss it. And you will join one of the strongest communities in Berlin, the Turkish, in one of its favourite pastimes.

  1. The Turkish bakeries on Kottbusser Damm and all around Neukolln

When we arrived the first thing that caught my eye was the availability of Koulouri (Simit), a sesame bread ring that is sold in the streets of Thessaloniki. Every other shop on KarlMarx Strasse and Kottbusse Damm seemed to be a Turkish bakery that offered Koulouri and savoury pastries. Then I noticed the abundance of Touloumpakia, mini deep-fried doughnuts with a crunchy exterior and a spongy interior dipped in thick syrup, another specialty sold in Thessaloniki. Testament to the hybridity of some of the Greek/Turkish cuisine one of the bakeries I stocked up on supplies for my return is called Senguloglu with a mystery Greek mobile phone number of the card. Delicious offerings that you should definitely not miss out on as there is so much good quality from those bakeries on offer. Save time to make your purchases before you have to go back to the airport. The savoury pies were so great to eat on the way back to Bristol and Cardiff.

Lia’s Kitchen meets Riverside Market Garden

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Lia and Poppy

About a month ago I started visiting the people who grow delicious food locally. It was a good reminder that the food we put on our plates and which many times is grown organically, is a hard labour of love. I walked and talked with Tom from Bleancamel Market and then Poppy and Debby from Riverside Market Garden.

Alongside with discussions I had last autumn with Poppy Nicol working with Riverside Market Garden these visits became the inspiration for a pop-up pie shop at Roath Farmers’ Market on 23 May 2015. This was a true collaboration with hardworking growers. The Greek pies we offered people used fresh ingredients from Riverside Market Garden, either picked or foraged from the farm a couple of days before the event. Blaencamel Farm also supplied some of their delightful rainbow chard.

We are nearing the end of a period called the hungry gap when new crops, such as for example potatoes and carrots, are not there yet or are available in small amounts. Instead of focussing on what we don’t have we looked around us to the delightful and nutritional greens that are available throughout May. This awareness of wild greens’ abundance has also been the result of on-going research into wild foraged greens that I spent my childhood eating and picking with my family. Catalan Chicory, radishes, dandelions, purslane, chard and beetroot leaves have been a staple of the Greek diet for years and indeed many restaurant offer these as a delicacy in inspired recipes with fish, lamp, cuttlefish or in plain refreshing summer salads. In the past year I have been making the connections between what grows in the place I grew up and the place I live. And I have been noticing that  many growers have been cultivating or even introducing some of these feisty crops into our diet.

My choice to make pies is not only because of my love of pie and my mission to make sure that everyone in Britain knows what a good homemade Greek pie tastes like, but also because wild green pies have something special because of their freshness – they always surprise people with the flavour and texture of their ingredients.

On 23 May we sold all our wild green pies and hopefully we helped people reimagine they can do with the food that nature gives them each season.

I have one message to leave you with- support your local growers, visit the markets they attend and order your precious life giving food from them where you can. Remember that fresh and organic also means nutritious and healthy. And of course as ever I would like to say: don’t forget to eat more pie!

Want to learn how to make Greek Pie?Contact Lia’s Kitchen for private cooking lessons, catering orders and bespoke pop-up events & dinners. Email liaskitchen@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Visit www.riversidemarketgarden.co.uk to find out more about your local growers. A weekly vegetable box scheme is delivered in Roath, for more information see here:

Our menu on 23 May included Nettle and green garlic pie, Chard pie, Chard & dandelion pie with chocolate mint and fennel leaves.

What to do with ten kilos of onions

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Have you ever ordered something in a half-asleep kind of way?

A few weeks ago when ordering pie ingredients from Cardiff Market  I ended up with about 10kg of onions in excess even after cooking many caramelised onion pies. In the process of making the order I was wearing my astute-business-woman face, hiding tiredness from a long day at work. And the only thing I heard the helpful man say was ‘very little money for a lot of onions’ to which of course I said ‘yes’. It is unlike me to be imprecise with orders (on food or anything really) but this wonderful mistake gave me the opportunity to experiment cooking with a lot of onions within a short period of time.

Admittedly Dan and I will not have onion soup again for a while. But we gratefully savoured its thyme and wine flavours during a May week when the weather had turned bad, we got ill and the heating came on again.  French onion soup recipes online are plenty but my version is closest to Elise Bauer’s one on Simply Recipes because I also use no butter. And on occasion I choose to leave out the garlic and also make Gruyere cheese toast on granary bread instead of baguette croutons.

The bulk of my excess onions however I turned into a spiced onion chutney. I almost followed a recipe from Allotment Growing Recipes   but did not use as much sugar and added ground pimento berries, bay leaves, port and red wine. The result is a fragrant onion chutney that compliments strong and piquant cheeses competently and also works well with beef burgers.  I converted and amended the recipe below for you.

Ingredients
Make up to 9 medium jars and about 4Kg of Chutney.

5kg onions (peeled and chopped)
800gr dark brown sugar
9 Tbsp olive oil
3 lemons, juiced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground nutmeg
3 tsp ground ginger
6 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp ground cloves
6 tsp salt
3 tsp black pepper and pimento berries ground together
9 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 Tbsp malt vinegar
1 shot of red wine
1-2 shots of port

Preparation and jarring
At least 4 hours

Heat the oil in a 5lt pot, add onions and sauté for at least 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the vinegars, lemon juice and spices and cook for 2 minutes.

Add sugar and then simmer uncovered for at least 3 hours.

Half way through cooking add the wine and port.

The chutney is ready when the liquid is reduced even if not fully evaporated- it will thicken when you stir.

About half an hour before the chutney is done sterilise jars.

Boil clean jars and their lids in bubbling water for 10 minutes.

Whilst doing that preheat the oven at 110 centigrade.

Line a baking tray with a clean towel.

Place the jars upside down on the tray using metal tongs.

Leave in the over for 15 minutes.

Ladle the chutney into hot, sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Label the jars when fully cool.

The chutney should keep for a year.

Lia’s Notes:

  • Be prepared to peel and chop 5 Kg of onions for about hour if you have as small a kitchen as mine.
  • I added the vinegars and lemons half an hour in the cooking process is as I was adding and sautéing onions gradually.
  • Leave the lid off!
  • Keep on low heat and stir regularly. Caramelised is good and burnt is bad.
  • I put 800gr sugar but next time I’ll use less.
  • Keep the jars in the oven if you have to wait a bit longer for the chutney to cook. The jars need to be hot if you are filling with hot chutney.
  • Good instructions for sterilising can be found on Taste.com, an Australian website.
  • The simple rule of jarring is to never add hot chutney to a cold jar and vice versa.