Island on the Rise, Caribbean restaurant

Our favourite local Caribbean restaurant Island on the Rise on Station Terrace, NW10 (020 8969 0405) lured in our Cornershop Cuisine columnist, fresh from a Barbados trip…

‘What? Queens Park now has a Caribbean restaurant?’ you cry. Actually, no. That’s Queens Park, Barbados where my winter getaway offered an easy headline and the opportunity to cross-check the quality of local Caribbean food. ‘Whaat? Kensal Rise has a new Caribbean restaurant?’ you shout even louder. Certainly does. Calm down and I’ll spill the rice and beans on Island on the Rise.

Much selfless research of Bajian street stalls, sunset bars, shacks and backstreet eateries revealed a couple of key ingredients in those Caribbean greats – so let’s see how Island on the Rise stacks up…

Traditional family favourites served up bustin’ with flavours? Rich curried goat, just-made dumplings and patties, crispy fried chicken, barely-charred jerk pork that slaps and tickles the tastebuds… Yup, they’re all there, fresh as can be and made from scratch.

And this is hearty stuff, so resist any post-Crimbo temptations to be all January detoxy and play it healthy with a salad. You need to have that creamy coleslaw with your order, you’ve got to have spicy gravy drowning them rice and peas, and mac & cheese counts as a side here. Oh yeah, IotR got dishes licked. And if you only fancy a quick snack to go, the chicken, beef and vegetable patties (pictured below), £2.50, are alone worth dropping in for.

The other authentic ingredient in Barbados? The warmest of welcomes. ‘Friendly’ just doesn’t do the locals justice and none of it’s forced. OK, some might argue this ain’t necessarily so across all the Caribbean islands, but it’s certainly the attitude taken to heart at Island on the Rise.

This Kensal Rise restaurant is a proper family joint: Beverly (pictured, above left) is the affable owner and chef; you’ll often find her mother in the kitchen helping cook, her daughter is regularly at the front serving, and chances are one of Beverly’s siblings are there mucking in too.

Indeed, Island on the Rise is a place that welcomes everyone with open arms and a totally genuine smile. Just strike up a conversation and see where it takes you. So how’s about you put down those Christmas and New year’s leftovers, switch off that re-run and cram some sunshine into your pie hole…

Take your appetites to the Caribbean by way of a trip to Island on the Rise: you’ll thank us.

Island on the Rise: open Tuesday to Wednesday 9am–8pm, Thursday to Saturday 9am–11pm, Sunday 12pm–6pm. Free delivery on orders over £12 within three miles. Opposite Kensal Rise overland train station.

William IV’s Tapas & Wine Wednesdays

Meaballs and stuffed peppers

Resident foodie, and the chap behind Park Life’s cult Cornershop Cuisine column, pays a visit to the William IV on Harrow Road for the launch of the pub’s Wine & Tapas evenings. (Wednesdays, 7.30pm ; tickets £15. William IV is at 786 Harrow Road, London NW10 5JX; 020 8969 5955)

Sardine and salt cod

It’s been a while since I paid William IV a visit. Back in the day it was just William. Literally the only place to be for miles around, with a slightly naughty, grubby, friendly cliquey feel. More recently the Rise has shined and now we’re spoiled for choice, right on our doorsteps.  There’s a boutique cinema, delis, gastropubs galore – so what could tempt me back to dear ol’ WIV? Last week, it was the offer of tapas the evening before a flight to Spain – an unusual opportunity to compare a local take with the originals, separated by just a ‘few’ short hours. Hmm…

At the IV, traditional dishes are handled with a care and lightness of touch often missing from trad tapas. Bacalao con miel proved fluffy and fantastic, the usually overpowering salt cod subtle and perfectly partnered with honey and rosemary. It’s a similar story with the juicy albondigas (meatballs), which easily juggle rich, meaty and fresh at the same time. If you’re looking for something richer, the chicken livers with pancetta, tiny pickled onions and sherry, have an earthly depth and clean finish.

Airport food

Other dishes show off the quality of ingredients. Manchego and membrillo, boquerones and stuffed peppers too were all top notch. Special mention should also be made of the reds and whites provided by the excellent Heritage Wine Company. Staff on hand had paired the dishes brilliantly and dispatched nuggets of info with each refill. The William IV stocks a selection of their bottles or you can head directly to their website.

Tapas in Mallorca

So, how did the experience compare with the Spanish equivalent?
I’m happy to report that W the Fourth won hands-down thanks not only due to the awesome food, but also the staff and the setting. Also, as our French cousins decided to cheat the results and go on strike, my flight plans to Spain were spoiled forcing me to pick at airport lounge cack (above right) from 9 in the morning until 11 at night. Still, some of the best padron peppers awaited me in Mallorca (left), but nonetheless I heartily recommend the far shorter journey to the William IV.

Head Chef Alfonso joined William IV earlier this year to reinstate an authentic tapas menu at the boutique boozer. Wine Expert Toby Mason works with Alfonso to complement the menu perfectly with his selection of Heritage Wines.

The Tapas & Wine evenings cost £15 and are ticket-only events held in William IV’s upstairs function room upstairs. William IV is also on Facebook.

Cornershop Cuisine… In Tokyo

Jon tries – and fails – to inspire us with ingredients picked up from a far-flung foray…

Hello! It’s been ages, hasn’t it? Where have I been? Funny you should ask; mainly losing my mind on prescription medicine in Tokyo hotel rooms. Seriously. For days on end. I think I might have developed a split personality. Don’t laugh at me like that! Thankfully my mental state hasn’t diminished the desire to poke a finger at the world of celebrity cuisine, as seen through my TV. Let me share. I accidentally managed to catch the final (on repeat I think) of one of those ‘Great British Menus’. Honestly, I thought the stuff about cooking for royalty was a sham. Turns out it was for Prince Charles and Camilla, so make your own mind up on that.

After hours upon hours marvelling at how unhealthy chefs can look cooking good quality food, and listening to them bang on in regional accents about seasonal lamb, you know what Chuck had to say about the lovingly prepared, locally sourced, four course banquet? The pastry on the rabbit sausage roll was nice. That was it. [Insert comedy ‘Carry On…’ style deflation sound effect, here.] God knows how underwhelmed he’d be by my efforts.

I’d like to say let’s bring it back to real local cooking, but in the hope of distracting my mind from eating itself in Japan I wandered around Tokyo cornershops anticipating our next little get together. Turned out to be a thankless, not to say pointless task. Every five yards you stumble across a convenience store which sells anything but food you actually cook. They’ve practically gobbled up regular stores. Anyway, I did find a little supermarket, which was about the right size to qualify. What I thought I’d found were imaginative yet simple ingredients to whip up Sesame Marinated Steaks with some Chili-Dusted Shiitake on the side. You’d see from the pictures (if I remembered to take any), that what I actually discovered was that pictures of juicy cuts of flesh on a tin actually equate to the leather usually found in archaeological digs. Seriously, type ‘oldest shoes ever’ found into your search engine.

I did try and turn the mess into a meal, but when you’re wondering if bacteria would even be able to digest your dinner; it’s time to give up. So I did. There we have it, our first Cornershop Cuisine failure. Sack me.

Next time, I want to remark on what TV food is doing to the simple man as illustrated by ‘Come Dine With Me‘. I’ll have to make a note to remind my selves. In the meantime I’m off to LA. Hope I don’t lose it and come back with a recipe for Twinkies Stuffed with Fried Cheese…

Cornershop cuisine… Hangover helper, part 2: Choc mayo cake

So, if you’ve satisfied your savoury cravings on the mornings after the night before with my Breakfast Pasty recipe and that still leaves an itch asking to be scratched, try that Blue Peter classic the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake… Try it, you might like it. I did say might.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda and salt. Cream together the sugar, mayonnaise, water and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture; stir until well blended. Pour batter into greased and floured layer cake pans (or a 9 x 13 inch pan). Bake at 350°F. for about 25 minutes.

I went for cupcakes and made an espresso topping

  • Cream 125g of softened butter with 250g of sifted icing sugar.
  • Add 30g of melted chocolate or a couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder and finally a double espresso.
  • Mixture should be nice and thick. Use loads to ice each cake.
  • Sit back wait for the caffeine and sugar to course through your veins. Happy hangovering, folks.

Cornershop cuisine… Hangover helper, part 1: Breakfast Pasty

Shouts out for comments on the first blog. Nice to know model of a chef Sophie Dahl is a keen follower. All lies of course, still she is a local. (Hello Sophie, if you’re reading.) Without your say, no one read my first Cornershop Cuisine coloumn as far as I know. Feel like I’m in a vacuum pack. (By the way, who decided Sophie could be the new Nigella? Are we meant to trust someone cooking herself skinny with ‘yummy’ food? Sorry, Sophie, if you are indeed reading.) While I’m venting, what’s with Heston Losingcred? Push boundaries by all means; cite every period of history/literature as your most exciting ever; make things wrong first so you can solve your own problems later; but get a grip on those guests – by the throat. We’re meant to trust the tastebuds of gushing gezza Tim Lovejoy? Pleeease. Can he even spell truffle? Ironic that someone who turns science into art is being done by his show’s formula.

Rant over and I’m back in the blog. Keeping true to my rule about no themes, I’ve got another theme. Hangover cooking. After dragging my sorry arse in at stoopid o’clock, later that afternoon I need fried food followed by some kind of sugar intake. My original thinking was some kind of breakfast pie – which I’m sure you’ll agree ticks most hangover boxes. Then it hit me: what you need is a fry-up that doesn’t require the handling of tricky cutlery. Thus I bring you…

The Breakfast Cornish Pasty. (Note time, date and location, in order to say that you were there.) The short crust pastry is a cinch, just remember half the amount of butter to flour. Sift 300g plain flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Dice 150g of cold butter and rub into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add a little cold water until you end up with dough that isn’t sticky. Form it into a ball, cover in cling film and pop in the fridge.

Next fry a small amount of whatever breakfast stuff you can lay your hands on. I got bacon from Nash (Okehampton Road, Kings Parade, London, NW10) over the road and it was actually very good. Also used some left over sausages. Chorizo would work really well and I believe Runners** have some. You’re looking to add colour and therefore flavour to your meat. Don’t over-cook. Mix meat mix into a tin of baked beans and you’re ready to put this baby together.

Roll the pastry on a floured surface to a width of about 3mm, which is about the width of an old LP or one of those green charity tokens from Waitrose. Grab a plate somewhere between the diameter of side and main size (this pasty works best big) and use it to cut around. Now load filling into the centre, make a well and crack an egg in. Quick as you can fold into a half moon. The idea is to keep as much egg as poss inside, but don’t worry too much about spillage.

Seal edge gently with a fork or fingers using a little water if necessary, then brush the outside with beaten egg. I also like to sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Bake on a tray in a hot oven around 200ºC. After about 20 minutes the pasty should be golden and filling should be oozing slightly.

Serve with cup of tea and Soccer AM. Amazing they’ve been going for 15 years. Do not serve with Something for the Weekend. Shocking that show has lasted 15 mins.

Other options for your breakfast pasty could include throwing in last night’s curry. Yum, yum, yum. I’d keep the beans, but add half a teaspoon of turmeric into the flour for the pastry. If you’re looking for something for her in bed make mini pasties filled with strawberry jam or marmalade.

Later in the day you’ll require a proper sugar hit… How about trying Blue Peter classic the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake? Stay tuned for my next episode, later in the week…

Now go out there and work on those hangovers, people. And if anyone really is reading this how about sending in your pasty filling suggestions or morning after munchies? Or if you really can’t be bothered with any of this just head to the Chamberlayne and scoff six oysters with a pint of ale and a macaroni cheese chaser. You’ll thank me for it.

Introducing… Cornershop Cuisine

Each month, in his new CC column, Jon shows you how to make gourmet meals from the shizzle at your local. First installment: COOKING WITH SODA POP AND BREWING YOUR OWN.

Shop: Runners 19 Chamberlayne Road, NW10; corner of Wrentham Avenue.
Ingredients:
Coke, cabbage, apples, eggs, bacon, ginger, bottle of Coke…
Cost: Around a fiver.

Let me make something clear: I am not a ‘foodie’. I’d rather eat pig gristle than wear a foodie badge. In fact, I ate fried pig’s gristle a couple of days ago at The Harwood Arms in Fulham. Ramblings? Perhaps, but the point I’m making is that I’m a food snob. I go out of my way to source quality, seasonal ingredients from shops dotted around town. Trouble is I work, when I can’t avoid it, and often don’t have time to hunt around. So, I’ve cooked up a challenge. Create acceptable grub from odds and ends languishing on corner shop shelves. If this were TV land there’d be rules, like only spend a fiver, or no pinching recipes off the internet, or each week must have a theme. But this blog has no rules. It’s a mash-up.

Actually, this week has a theme, so we’re breaking rules about no rules already. Anarchy. We’re cooking with pop. And making some. I could have gone straight to Minkie’s or L’Angolo’s, both of which are very decent, but both keep regular hours and offer less challenge, so armed with some vague ideas on the little known art of cooking with cola I headed down to Runners. The result?

SWEET AND SOUR CABBAGE WITH BACON, ROSTI POTATOES AND A POACHED EGG
The basic recipe for the cabbage and a load of other nonsense can be found on the Coke website. Ignore bacon drippings in the recipe and cut up a pack of unsmoked back bacon and fry while the cabbage cooks, then stick it in at the end. The idea is to get extra flavour into the bacon by browning. Also, use cooking apples not eating ones or it’ll be too sweet. I used cider vinegar from Runners, but the caraway seeds came from my cupboard. Yes, I’m a cheat. Whatever. Keep a handful for the end and sprinkle to finish.

The rosti was kept simple.
Grated potato was squeezed of starch juice.
Salt, pepper and chives were added, then thin cakes were pressed into a hot pan.
Turn down the heat once on to make sure they cook through without burning.
Poached eggs? Current trends tell you not to bother with any special process. I add vinegar to deep, simmering water and create a whirl pool. Pah, to your current trends.

What to wash this creation down with?

Why, GINGER ALE of course.
Take an empty two-litre bottle of pop, add a cup of sugar and a ¼ teaspoon yeast. Shake to combine.
Next, mix 1 ½ tablespoons of finely grated ginger with the juice of one lemon and add to the bottle.
Fill almost to the top with water and shake to mix.
Check everything but the ginger has dissolved, then keep in a warm pace for 24–48 hours. It’s ready when you squeeze the bottle and it’s doesn’t dent. Oh, and it might explode so take some precautions if you can think of them. I’m not an expert in this area.

I’d give the results three Michael Winner Stars, since his show and subsequent system are as ridiculous as this meal.