New Palestinian/Lebanese cafe-bar on Stoke Newington High St, Tatreez Cafe, is airy, friendly and already popular with locals seeking filling, healthy and flavourful food (see fool above), unusual craft beer (see Lebanese Brew above) and delicious Lebanese and Palestinian wine. Good coffee too.

188 Stoke Newington High St

Stocks Farms still needs your support

Last Saturday the heavens were not kind and cried a river over Stoke Newington Farmers market, dampening the previous enthusiasm of local fans for queuing to buy beautifully delicious and sustainably-produced, high welfare meat from the boys of Stocks Farm.

Chris and Ian Learmonth have been overwhelmed by the response to their call for help when it looked like rising food prices and low sales were going to put these dedicated small-scale farmers out of business.

Sales picked up and offers of help came flooding in. But as Chris and Ian say “the extra sales are helping, but we still have quite a long way to go”.

To boost business, the brothers are setting up an online order system so you can order your meat through the week to pickup at their weekend market stalls in Stoke Newington and Queens Park. There are plans for a home delivery service, too. At the markets they’ll have a text ordering service - so you can text what you want when you join the queue and it should be ready by the time you get to the front!

But costs still need to be cut, so the Learmonths have decided to stop being certified by the Soil Association. Though they’ll continue to farm in the same way, organically, they won’t be able to call their products organic. However, they are joining the Wholesome Food Association, whose members pledge to farm organically and operate an open-gate policy so customers can keep an eye on how their food is being produced – and taste it (Iain’s thinking Open Day barbecues!).

So keep buying from Chris and Iain if you can, safe in the knowledge that their meat is what is says it is, and has been produced in a sustainable way that is “good for the environment and animal welfare”.

stocksfarmfood.co.uk

Now go eat that Voodoo that they do so well

Not sure why you’d want your slice spiced by an ancient Beninian religion, but if you can get over the gratuitous appropriation of a cultural meme, Voodoo Ray’s in Dalston (related to the Dalston Superstore, so it’s all haircuts and music turned up to 11 even when there’s no one in there, but hey) is well worth a visit for monster slices of 22-inch pizza that taste of magic – black or otherwise.

The thin bases pick up tasty stone-browned patches in an American Garland baker’s oven, and are topped with intense, flavour-packed sauces. My Chili Slice (£4.20) had a thin but rich layer of chilli con carne, red onion, generous slices of jalapeño, mozzarella and sour cream. Eat folded in half with two hands, meaty juices dripping down your arms. That’s the kind of voodoo ritual I like.

Voodoo Ray’s, 95 Kingsland High St, E8. Open 6pm-1am Sun-Thurs, 4pm-3am Fri & Sat. facebook.com/VoodooRays

24 hours and 40 storeys

My birthday lunch was consumed high above London, higher than the gherkin, here, and I wondered how we managed to stay afloat so high under the weight of the City guy egos surrounding us.

The food also did its best to bring us back down to earth, not always in a bad way. It was heavy on pig, but the slices of porky head were thin and mouth-melty; rich ox cheek shreds were enwombed by spongey doughnut casing; dainty pea arancini came with a forest-floory dip.

Trouble was, too much of this tasty stuff was smothered in heavy dustings of smoked paprika. Love it, but it gave the impression the menu was designed to compete for attention from bankers whose minds are more on comparing sizes of each other’s expense accounts (the wine list gives ample opportunity for conspicuous consumption) than subtle signals from the palate.

Go? Yes, at 2am (it’s open 24 hours, drinks licence 8-3am), surrounded by the City’s nighttime jetsam, for a glass of English fizz and a bag of deep fried pigs ears, and watch London twinkle like a dirty star below.

Found this in our bag of delicious shrimp from Tom Disson at George’s Plaice on the Roman Road.

Another surprise to add to the delight of finding this, “the last old fish shop in the East End”. This description comes from the Gentle Author, who tells the tale of Tom and his stall so much better than I ever could, here.

Our haul also included the tastiest whelks I’ve ever had and a plump pickled herring with sweet, sweet onions.

Get down there and take some time to chat with Tom, while you decide between the crab, cockles and jellied eels. He’s got over thirty years’ worth of fishmongering stories to tell you…

George’s Plaice, 486 Roman Road, London E3 5LU

Giving Dalston finger-lickers an ethical alternative

Challenging the chick-pizz hegemony, a group of idealistic chicken lovers want to give Dalston finger-lickers an ethical alternative for their fried chick-dins by establishing the first free-range fried chicken shop in the UK.

In their own words “We are here to serve people who love fried chicken but hate how and what it’s made from.” As well as cruelty-free, free-range fried chicken, they’ll be dishing up alternatives to fries, such as mash and rice.

I think it’s a great idea and hopefully will encourage locals to think more about eating a bit more healthily and with more consideration for how what they eat is made and where it comes from.

They’ll be offering at-cost school’s out specials to catch the kids on their way home, train local youth to work in the shop and offer them mentoring if they want a catering career, plus they’ll give a portion of profits to local youth charities.

A ten quid donation here gives you a free chicken dinner that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy rather than greasy and queasy. Bargain.

http://www.peoplefund.it/the-chicken-shop/

Visited Charcuterie & Company at the South Bank last Sunday. Perhaps a mistake to go on the last day, but I was disappointed. There were a few charcuterie stalls selling their wares from Poland, Austria, Britain and Spain, but diluted with cake stalls, chopping boards and other stuff. I wanted more information, education and interaction.

I did catch the end of the ham-off in the event tent, which pitched noir de bigorre, culatello and jamon iberico against each other. A great opportunity to taste some delicious products but a travesty of a vote which gave the win to the culatello! Nothing compares to jamon iberico and anyway, these three cured hams were totally different in texture and flavour - quite incomparable.

Still, I did come away with some superb jamon iberico de bellota from Flavours of Spain, which I had for breakfast on pa amb tomaquet, made with the last of my homegrown tomatoes - sweet grushovkas from the Real Seed company. Try planting them next year. They’re early and easy growers.

Mealworms with yoghurt and bee vomit (aka honey) from Stefan Gates’ Extraordinary Snack Box at the Experimental Food Society event last weekend.

Also in his box were: lambs testicles (delicious), gilded sausages, jellyfish salad (nice but I’ve had it before), and space dust. Fun, interesting, tasty and educational. As I was hoping the rest of the event would be - but sadly, no. Cue big farty Family Fortunes wrong answer noise.

Stefan’s lunchbox was easily the best thing in a rather disappointing event. It should have been renamed the Spectacular Sugar Sculpture society, cos that’s what most of the displays were. I wanted more tastings, more activites, and more variety, please!

Only a fiver for a ticket but I still felt rather ripped off.

Mealworms were delish, though. Kind of sesame seedy.

They’re pretty hard to find if you want to try them for yourself and aren’t happy eating birdfood. I’ve found a couple of sites that sell ‘human-grade’ BBQ flavour mealworms - they might go better with, say, yoghurt and maple syrup or a savoury creamy dip.

Try here or here.

Very excited

After many, many years of searching, I’ve finally found somewhere that serves bienenstich.

That’s beesting cake, a german sponge with cream or custard and honeyed almonds.

I grew up in Chester in the 70s and 80s. The true star of the city, for me, was not its Roman walls, famous racecourse or the Rows, but its Weinholts bakery, owned by a family of German heritage. Their bienenstich had the softest brioche and a filling of vanilla custard AND cream. It comforted me through my teenage years and I’ve been looking for it ever since leaving home.

Well now I’ve found it. At the new Beyond Retro in Dalston, of all places.

The cavernous shop has a cafe that manages to be cosy despite its industrial setting, with friendly helpful staff who are very good at persuading you to have cake, especially when you’re staring at it as if it’s a long lost love. Coffee’s good too, but I don’t like the fact they only have disposable cups. Hmmm. There are cutesy kitschy cups dotted around filled with sugar and twizzle sticks, so how about putting coffee in them?

Beyond Retro Café

92 -100 Stoke Newington Road
London , N16 7XB

02079232277

Mon-Wed 10:00 - 19:00 
Thurs 10:00 - 20:00 
Fri-Sat 10:00 - 19:00
Sun 11:30 - 18:00