Rainforest Creations, London

Rainforest Creations is a stall found on certain days at Old Spitalfields Market, as well as at stalls in the Chelsea, Hammersmith and Alexandra Palace markets. They also recently opened permanent spot in North Kensington. They specialize in organic, raw, vegetarian (and I think vegan) food, with Caribbean flavours.

Rainforest Creations

Rainforest Creations

Rainforest Creations - side view

Rainforest Creations - side view

I ordered a £5 Rainbow Box, which was stuffed with a selction of Tropical Coleslaw, Caribbean Sunrise, Red Quinoa, Wild Rice, Mung beans and Lentils, Chickpeas,  Angel Kale and Avocado salads, as well as sprouted hummus, an Akashe Ball (kind of like a falafel), and dressing. Everything was placed in a take out box, and served with a little wooden fork.

Rainbow Box

Rainbow Box

It was a little hard to pick out the flavours of all the individual salads as they were all in close quarters, but everything tasted fresh and crisp, with some salads having a mild curry flavour and some salads having some satisfying crunch. The box was quite large too, and could easily feed two people (or one very hungry person). This is the kind of meal that you’d love to have on a hot day. I loved that it was good value, as well as being healthy and tasty.

Rainforest Creations
www.rainforestcreations.co.uk

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Culina Highlands, Edmonton

For Mother’s Day, I treated my mom to a brunch at Culina Highlands. I’ve been wanting to try this place for a while now, and unfortunately never did make it there when the location was a previous restaurant named Bacon. Having been to Culina Mill Creek before, however, I knew that I could expect some good quality food.

Like their sister Mill Creek location, Culina Highlands is a small venue. It’s quite warm and comfortable, and with the sun shining through the large windows the place was nicely lit up. Many people ate out back since it was such a nice day.

tea and water

tea and water

For drinks we were served water in a wine bottle, just like they do in Culina Mill Creek. I ordered a pineapple, coconut and rooibos tea from local store Cally’s Teas, and my mom was given a complimentary Prosecco mimosa. The mimosa was very tasty and had a good balance of wine and orange juice. The tea wasn’t bad; you could taste a hint of coconut and fruitiness but otherwise it didn’t stand out to me compared to other teas I’ve had in the past.

Prosecco mimosa

Prosecco mimosa

Mom had a very filling tofu scramble with spicy tomato sauce, mushrooms, quinoa, chickpeas and cashew cheese served with vegan toast. The quinoa gave the scramble a nice texture and the whole mix tasted vaguely of curry. The toast was slightly crisp and was very light.

tofu scramble

tofu scramble

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Moroccan spiced chickpea soup

Everyone I’ve ever told about this recipe have raved about its taste. It’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s easy to make, only uses one pot and it tastes damn good. I discovered it one day when watching Good Deal with Dave Lieberman on TV.

“Wow, that looks simple and delicious,” I thought. And so I immediately went looking for the recipe on the US Food Network website. I’ve made it enough times now that I’ve adjusted some ingredients to fit my own personal taste.

Moroccan spiced chickpea soup

Moroccan spiced chickpea soup

Moroccan spiced chickpea soup
Adapted from Good Deal with Dave Lieberman
Makes approximately 4-6 large servings.

Ingredients
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 large onion, roughly diced
6 to 8 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (original recipe asks for just 1 tsp but I like the additional cinnamon taste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you want heat)
1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
1 can chopped tomatoes (796 mL/28 oz, original recipe used half of this amount though)
2 cans chickpeas (540 mL/19 oz per can), rinsed and drained
1 carton (900 mL) reduced-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth… or use your own stock of course)
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pre-washed baby spinach

Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onions begin to turn translucent (lower the heat if browning starts to occur). Add all your spices spices and sauté for a minute. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, broth and sugar. Add a pinch of salt and approximately 10 grinds of fresh pepper.

Don’t forget to stir as you add each ingredient. The chickpeas should be just covered with liquid; if you don’t have enough liquid add some water.

Bring the soup to a simmer, then lower heat to low and gently simmer for approximately 45 minutes. Basically, you want the chickpeas to soften enough so that there is no bite.

Remove the soup from the heat and use a potato masher to mash up some of the chickpeas (but not all of them) right there in the pot. Spoon out your soup and add plenty of spinach to each bowl, stirring until the heat just starts to wilt the leaves. If you’re serving the entire pot, go ahead and add your spinach to the pot instead of into individual bowls. Add additional salt and pepper if necessary, and serve the soup lightly drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.

Mexico Lindo, Edmonton

One of my Easter meals was a dinner with friends at Mexico Lindo. I had heard a lot about this place, so I was excited to give it a try.

The restaurant is quite small, and was full when we arrived. After waiting for a short time, we were seated. Surprisingly, the later it got, the more empty the restaurant became. So if you want a table on a Saturday night, come at 7:30 p.m. Service was extremely friendly and even a little entertaining. The food also arrived relatively quickly.

To start, we ordered a jug of agua de Jamaica (Jamaica water). This is cold iced tea made from hibiscus flowers. And it tastes like liquid haw flakes (a.k.a. Chinese candy that is addictive like crack).

agua de Jamaica

agua de Jamaica

To start, I decided to go with the sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup). Soup is served at this restaurant in two parts. First, I was given a bowl of tortilla chips, cheese and avocado.

Sopa de tortilla without broth

Sopa de tortilla without broth

Then, they poured on the soup! Yum. Everyone at the table tasted it and thought it was good. Continue reading