Monthly Archives: December 2014

Parissi – new cafe/bar in Brixton

A cute little cafe has opened recently in Brixton on Atlantic Road, a few steps down from the Kaff Bar. How convenient – so close to me!! 😉

I am meeting my friend Mak for an overdue catch up. Mak had been there before and she knows how much I like my cafes and food. So she suggests we check out this new place Parissi and as soon as we walk in I know this won’t be the last time I will be coming here. Spyros Parissis, the owner, was just making some coffees when we got in. The space is cosy and snug with some seating by the window (love window seats!!) and tucked away at the back of the room. A long table for a group of perhaps eight stood in front of the kitchen, which is separated from the main room by a little window opening.

The menu looks promising. There are some breakfast options including smoked salmon with a hard boiled egg and avocado for a reasonable £7.20 and I also see Shakshuka, an eggs-for-dinner dish, which has made it on most good brunch menus now in London. Again, the baked eggs in spicy tomato sauce topped with melted Pecorino cheese costs a very reasonable £6.80.

Further down the menu I see Mezze! As passionate grazers Mak and I go for their home-made baba ganoush with tahini paste and baked feta cheese with sourdough bread! Yummi! I order an infused peppermint tea and Mak has a pretty good coffee, with beans from Allpress Espresso made in a La Marzocco machine. Spyros clearly did his homework, considering those two brands are extremely popular with coffee shop owners at the moment. Sorry if this minor detail bores you but I have been doing a lot of research on coffee machines and coffee roaster/suppliers over the past few months and the choice of beans and machine says a lot about the quality of the coffee shop. So I am always on the look out! 😉

Anyway, so the food is lovely – really good baba ganoush! Parissi also has a nicely stocked bar inviting for a glass of wine or cocktails, which I would have definitely taken advantage of if Yoga was not waiting for me now…

Btw..I have heard the Brownies are pretty good too!! 😉 See you there!

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The World of Pop Ups

As many of you know I am launching my all-day brunch concept in the New Year and the best way to get started and test my ideas and concept without committing to any long leases are POP UPS.

So I researched a bit…

I have been to a number of pop up events ranging from fine dining to back-to-the-roots suppers in a tipi tent.

But what is actually a pop up?

Pop ups can be anything, anywhere and anytime (i.e. pop up markets, cinemas, fairs, cocktail bars, shops, etc). By my definition, pop ups use empty or under-used spaces, are temporary with clear start and end dates, can be easily dissembled and transferred to a different site and are in some way special and exciting.

Pop up restaurants or supper clubs typically mix food, art, design and/or entertainment to create very special dining experiences around a theme. They can be operated anywhere, whether in your own home, in an old tube wagon, factories, under water, in a prison, the list is endless.

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The world of pop up restaurants is diverse, playful and adventurous. They attract the explorers and experience seekers, those who want to get to know new people and mingle. If you prefer to go to the same place every time because the Spaghetti Bolognese is so good, this might just not be your thing I am afraid.

The beginnings

Although pop up restaurants have been around for a long time, I’d say the first mainstream supper club idea came up with the appearance of ’Come dine with me’ in 2005. The TV show encouraged hobby chefs to entertain and share their passion with like-minded foodies – friends, family and strangers – from their own home. Brilliant!

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Since then, a lot has happened and the pop up market has gained momentum. With the emergence and increased use of social media, pop ups found a perfect platform to create fellowship and bring themselves out there. There was no holding back anymore when the idea of crowd funding was launched that offered the short-term capital needed to fund start-up costs.

Notable entrepreneurs, chefs, and restaurateurs have also started to open pop-up restaurants now and I am going to try my luck too! 😉

 

Business Model

One of the defining differences between a pop-up and a more conventional restaurant is permanence. Generally, pop ups move around and are used to test new ideas. In terms of space and rents, from a freeholder point of view it is riskier to offer premises on a short-term lease than on a long-term lease. Hence, to mitigate financial risk, rents are typically higher for pop ups over a given period of time than for businesses on long leases. But this is nothing new and other examples include mobile phone contracts (18 months vs 24 months) and energy contracts (12 months vs 36 months).

For a pop up it does not always make financial sense to fit out a whole new space from scratch for just a few months. Therefore, a secondary market has been created – a rental market for pop up spaces. Many existing bars and restaurants offer residencies and restaurant owners more and more realise that they can generate additional revenues by hosting pop ups, which create publicity at the same time.

A good website to look for pop up spaces include ‘We are pop up’ and ‘Appear Here . And if you want to advertise your pop up events, there are plenty of options including Grub Club and  ‘London Pop Ups’.

Location location location

For me personally location is important but not a determining factor of whether I should go or not. I am quite happy to travel the extra mile for something exciting off the beaten track. However, I think the location needs to be in line with the concept and close to the target market. The location should really resemble who you are, what your concept and food is all about and what message you want to convey to your target audience.

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But the nice things is, there do not seem to be any rules when it comes to pop ups.

Creativity is what is possible, not what is right!

Following your Passion – no one said it will be easy!

I was afraid to wake up one day and regretting not having tried, not having given it my best shot in realising my dream!

Everyone has dreams. Everyone has different dreams. Dreams can change over time… They give us a sense of direction, perhaps even a meaning in life to be very philosophical.

It took me about two years and a change in my personal life to build up the courage and leave my job to do what I wanted to do for a long time.  My dream has developed in response to me becoming more and more unhappy about where I was heading. I was getting very stressed all the time and I worked long hours in the office. That is not what I wanted. I could not see myself growing old in what I was doing anymore. I started to reassess my priorities and values and I came to the conclusion that I had to go my own way. And so far my journey has been incredible in so many ways. I honestly believe that it does not matter what age you are or what stage in your life you’re at! It is never too late to change course and do what you really want to do. We only live once.

Finding out what you are passionate about is not always that straight forward! For me, it is similar to falling in love. It cannot be forced but you feel it when you found i, you are willing to take risks and put your heart and soul into it.

Being able to set my own goals every day, play with new ideas and live my passion feels incredibly liberating. But building something of your own is also pretty hard work and can be quite a daunting prospect at the same time! No one said it would be easy. I learnt that it requires a lot of initiative, drive and positive mindset! The latter is the hardest in my opinion..Sometimes I wake up and think ‘what am I doing here? I can just about pay my rent, for the rest I am living off my savings and who knows if this is actually going to work?’

But when everything gets a bit too much and the dream seems to crumble because of self-doubt, I talk to people. I share my ideas and I share my worries. I guess my biggest worry is failure… especially knowing the statistics that about 50% of all small business start ups fail in the first couple of years. Well, that is great encouragement, isn’t it? But that is why I go on seminars, attend workshops, ask for help and advice from others who have gone or are going trough the same. It is good to hear that it is ok to be overwhelmed sometimes and to have doubts although you are doing something you love. It is also good to hear that it is ok to take a break from it once in a while. Those of you who know me well, know I work quite hard and I realise now that this is exactly why I fell out of love with what I was doing before. I burnt myself out! I am keen to not make the same mistake again but nurture my passion.  After all, if I cannot enjoy the journey, I will probably not like what I am creating either.

So when the sun is out, like today, I go for a stroll at Brockwell Park or Clapham Common and I realise how lucky I am. I feel I have grown more over the past two months, than I have over the past two years.

 

 

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Business Planning Workshop

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My fellow entrepreneurs at the CREATE programme

 

 

 

 

 

 

I encourage everyone who has found their passion and who has done their homework, to go for it and enjoy the journey. You cannot lose.

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I will soon let you know more about what I have been up to over the past three months, but I can say that much..2015 is going to be super exciting! I am working on a few really cool things and I look forward to sharing those with you in due course.

At this stage, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who believes in me, is part of my journey and let’s me be part of theirs. I am very grateful for all the support and advice I have received and am receiving.

Thank you x

 

 

 

 

Setting up your own business? Look around you!

Today I was part of a great meeting with the Board of Directors of the Lambeth Food Partnership where we aim at creating a more sustainable and healthy food culture in the borough I live in. There was so much energy and great ideas in the room!

I also facilitated a networking event last week hosted by Transition Town Brixton, called the Local Entrepreneur Forum – The Warm Up, where we strive at creating a new culture of Community Supported Local Enterprise. It is a great feeling to be part of a community that wants to help each other out and use the resources we have available within our community.

Working with those organisations has and is really influencing my own business ideas in so many ways! I am learning more and more about the food culture and community that surrounds me.

I am sharing this here to encourage anyone else, who is also considering to start up their own business now or in the future, to look around you and get involved with other related projects. Build a network, collaborate, support each other and share experiences! It is helping me enormously in what I want to do and I am sure it will help you too. Bring on 2015!

 

 

Flammkuchen for Two

Join me for breakfast, lunch and dinner with this fantastic quick ‘German’ (not quite but almost!) recipe!

I probably had my first ever Flammkuchen at my best friend’s house when I was a teenager. I loved it straight away. It is easy to make, light and it can be modified to suit any time of the day and occasion.

Flammkuchen or ‘Flame Cake’ or ‘Tarte flambée’ is one of the most famous specialties of the Alsace region in France, which borders with the west bank of the upper Rhine adjacent to Germany and Switzerland. And this recipe is so good that it did not take long until the Germans got wind of it and made sure it is now eaten anywhere across in the country.

Flammkuchen is basically a simple version of bread dough rolled out very very thinly in a rectangle (traditionally) or circle shape, which is then covered with crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and Speck cubes (Eng: lardons).

I have my friend Jamie over for dinner (but I could certainly also have this for Brunch!) and I decide to make the traditional savoury version – Elsässer Flammkuchen, followed by a sweet version à la Noemi 🙂

This is how it goes (for two people) : 30 minutes

Dough

300 grammes of all-purpose flour
125 ml of sparking water
4 table spoons of vegetable or sunflower oil
1 pinch of salt

Savoury Topping

100 grammes of Crème fraîche
150 grammes of Speck (lardons)
1 large onion (I like red onions)
4 large Chestnut Mushrooms (not part of the original recipe, but I add them anyway! Use any mushrooms you like)

Sweet Topping

100 grammes of Crème fraîche
1 large apple (I use Gala Royal, they are sweet and I am just a big fan. The Boskoop Apple is also a really good apple to bake with, but it is more sour)
A hand full of raisins and finely sliced almonds (you can use any other nut, but I quite like the combination of almonds and apple)
Cinnamon and some fair trade brown sugar or Muscat sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to c. 220 degrees Celsius

Mix all the flour, water, oil and salt in a bowl and knead until it becomes a non-sticky dough (add more flour if too sticky)

By the way, the sparkling water makes the dough a bit lighter and more airy than if you were to use normal tap water

Cut the onion and mushrooms into very fine slices and the speck/lardon into small cubes

Roll out half of the dough very thinly onto baking paper and spread the Crème fraiche evenly on top

Add the slices of onion and mushrooms over the Crème fraiche

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Before…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake for 10-15 mins in the oven but I advise to check after 10 minutes as the dough is very thin and burns quickly around the edges (Yep, happens to me ALL THE TIME!)

Add some mixed garden leaves on top and done! We are enjoying this lovely dish with a nice bottle of Merlot and candle light! 🙂

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…After 😉

 

 

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Gone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the main course, I get started on my desert! Yay!! Same dough – different topping! Love this!

Method

Roll out the other half of the dough very thinly onto baking paper and spread the Crème fraiche evenly onto the dough

Add the cinnamon and finely cut apple slices on top of the Crème fraiche

Then sprinkle the raisins, almonds and sugar all over the dough

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…Before!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake for 10-15 mins in the oven at c. 220 degrees Celsius

Similarly to before, check after about 10 minutes as the dough is very thin and burns quickly around the edges (as you can see…)

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…After!

 

 

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Gone as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am an absolute ice cream fan and if I had not finished all my ice cream last night, I would have had some now. Home-made vanilla ice cream goes splendid with this desert

Enjoy this just as much as we did! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

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