OK so I know I said that my place wouldn’t have something different – well maybe that’s not quite true. The area that I really think we can standout will be the food and in particular bringing street food from around the world into the mix.
Street Food is a bit of a buzz word at the moment, and with the rise of this style of food appearing at festivals, parks, beaches and even festivals dedicated to it, this style of simple, un-fussy, eat with your hands kind of food, is becoming more and more popular.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the coffee shop will have some staples – croissants oozing with melted cheese, bagels slathered with cream cheese and loaded with smoked salmon. I love sandwiches so hoping to have a great range including – rare roast beef, with strong horseradish and rocket on rye, smoked chicken with salad and lemon mayo on white, cheese and pickle on chunky brown bread, pulled pork rolls with bbq sauce and slaw and many, many more delicious combinations.
We will also have some lovely homemade cakes & treats (hopefully supplied by my Sister-in-Law Jac – hands down the best home baker I know!)
But my plan is to go beyond this and hopefully offer up some specials for both eating in and taking away for making all your colleagues envious when you tuck in at the office!
I will be trying my hand at making as much as possible and I am planning on using the inspirations from the various trips and travels I have made over the last few years, as well as closer to home, to hopefully make this a great destination for different and delicious food from across the world.
As my love of food has grown over the past few years, so have our holidays become more of a food odyssey than a holiday! In the past few years I have been lucky enough to visit some amazing places such as India, Vietnam, Mexico, Belize, New York, Dubai, Spain, Ireland, France, Devon and Cornwall , and all of these fantastic places have given me some great inspiration and ideas for cooking.
There’s a lot to talk about here, so I am going to Split this into 3 areas and cover each one in a separate post – Asia, The America’s, Europe.
So first up are the exotic, spicy flavours of Asia:
The Vietnamese Banh Mi
I truly hope you have tried these but if not – find yourself one as soon as you can! These sandwiches brings together the beautiful South East Asian flavours with classic French bakery to create a culinary combo for the senses! In the simplest terms Banh Mi’s are white baguette sandwiches.
First up is a spread of pork pate on the bottom, then you layer on the meat – usually pork and traditionally done with cold-cuts – what a way to use up your left over Sunday Roast Pork! This is then topped with refreshing shredded carrots, cucumber and chills and finished off with a handful of coriander! I have sampled a few of these in my time, including a delicious Cambodian version in New York (very similar although the pork was BBQ’d and they threw in some Sriracha just for good measure!).
These are without doubt one of the greatest sandwiches in the world, the juicy, fatty pork with the crunchy refreshing veggies and then a nice hit of chilli they are just delicious. I’m thinking these could become a staple and the opportunities for fillings are endless. One of these bad boys, stuffed with some pork belly, a bit of crackling on top to add some crunch and then some chilli sauce for good measure – sounds pretty damn good to me!
Indian Street Food
In India, Street Food is everywhere and we sampled a lot! For me there were 2 dishes (both deep fried) that we tried and which I will be trying to replicate back home:
Pakora is an Indian snack, you take vegetables (any combination is fine) from the likes of spring onions, onions, potatoes, cauliflower, chillis, aubergine, tomatoes etc. Chop them up roughly, mix them up in a bowl, then you take handfuls of the veg mix, batter them up in some spiced batter and drop them into boiling oil. Hopefully they combine together in the oil to create a Pakora.
I have done this at home and they came out well – despite causing a serious mess in the kitchen and 1st degree burns on my arms – but they tasted great. The recipe I tried is here – Pakora Recipe
Samosa’s are a staple in the UK so don’t need to tell you what they are, we ate them from the street in India, freshly fried in a huge cauldron of oil and then served in newspaper. It was only ever Veggie ones where we were, but the Lamb ones can be equally good.
I hope to serve some fresh Indian Pakora with a nice crunchy salad and raita on the side for a fantastic lunch – or how about some deep fried veggie samosas with Mango Chutney instead of a bag of crisps.
It was also back home in Tooting ,with all the wonderful Indian restaurants that I discovered 2 other Indian classics that I will be looking to sell. In Mirch Massala (the best Indian in London) they serve up an astounding Onion Bhaji to beat all others. Not your normal measly ball of onion, this was a plate, piled high with slices of deep fried perfectly spiced onion served with a cucumber raita and a spicy chilli dip. An absolute classic, but done slightly differently.
Another thing that I discovered was the humble Dosa, these are Indian Pancakes filled with veg or potato (spiced obviously). they are thin but incredibly filling, and we could get them in Tooting for next to nothing. Great as a starter, light lunch or just a snack, something slightly more unusual, but tasty nonetheless.
Lots of options to bring a little taste of India to leafy Surrey!
Middle Eastern Shawarma
I have talked quite a bit already about the Middle East and how it has inspired me and this is no different when it comes to ‘Street Food’. The Ma’nousheh will hopefully be a staple in the coffee shop, as will Meze. But there is 1 other thing that I want to try and get in (somehow!) and this is Schwarma. Brought into the spotlight by the scene at the end of the Avengers movie
Schwarma is a Middle Eastern wrap filled with chicken or beef – sliced off those kebab sticks that look like an Elephant’s leg. This is sliced, put into Lebanese bread along with garlic mayo (called toumaia) some chips and pickles (cucumber & gherkins) and wrapped up, placed under a press for a few seconds and then served. It’s basically a kebab, but they somehow don’t feel as wrong (or as studenty) as a doner kebab! I am averaging a couple of week at the moment (not helping my waistline!) but I just can’t get enough of them.
I don’t think I can justify a full schawarma station, but am thinking I could produce some nice grilled chicken wraps served with garlic mayo and pickles – kind of a poor mans schawarma – all I know is if I can get them half as tasty as they are out here, I could be on to a winner.
This is just a sample of the kind of things I want to bring to the little coffee shop with a difference, and hope these will help us stand out against the competition.