Represent your hood and be proud of your area. How do you do this? When a shop or restaurant opens up, go and check them out and let your fellow neighbours know how good or bad they are.
Nickel on Crouch Hill has been around for around a year now. I first found out about Nickel, when the legend that is Max from Max's Sandwich shop mentioned this restaurant on social media. From here I knew it was one I needed to visit.
Nickel located in Crouch End, a great neighbourhood spot for food and wine. Wine list from Borough Wines, Cheese from La Fromagerie and Cornish Native Oysters at the weekends.
Walking past this restaurant you see the buzz and vibe of a exciting neighbourhood joint. From people sat along the window front, to diners around the bar, Nickel has one of those FOMO vibes. The Fear of Missing Out, was a valid reason for visiting Nickel.
After a trip to the cinema and a not too hungry belly, I knew that Nickel would provide what i needed. Good small bites and a happy, friendly vibe.
This friendly vibe was noticed immediately once we stepped into the restaurant on a busy Thursday night. Music was being played, diners moved to helped accommodate us and people were singing and dancing by the bar. Good start!
The menu is not that extensive, but it gives you a bit of everything at the same time. Vegetarian dishes, Meat dishes, light snacks, desserts and a good use of cooking techniques too.
What we ordered on a not so hungry night was:
Bruschetta, Asparagus, Duck Salad and Affogato.
All dishes did there job of satisfying our tastes buds as well as our stomachs. Each dish is well portioned for two people, with just that bit extra so that you don't have to worry about who eats what.
The food here is a fusion and that is what works so well here. The asparagus came with a great salsa which had Mediterranean flavours with it. The duck salad with fennel was simple but delightful, the tang on the bruschetta brought about a moreish flavour which meant Laura and I had a brief debate about who would have the last bite.
I wasn't expecting a dessert on this lovely day/night off work. However, when my pregnant wife asks for a sweet treat, she gets what she wants.
This was my first experience of an Affogato. Affogato itself means 'drowned' and here vanilla ice cream is drowned in coffee. The waitress brought over the ice cream in a glass and then doused it in warm coffee. Oh My! That was some good theatre. We started off very civilized by using our spoons, by as the amazing sweetness and coffee flavour took over, we started to just drink the melted ice cream. It was like an espresso martini without the liquor. Sensible.
GOOD TIMES: A friendly neighbourhood restaurant with great small plates - be prepared to sing
WATCH OUT: Small restaurant, so get there early to avoid not getting a seat.
OMG: That Affogato, deffo order it.
It is always good to see your friends doing what they love. For this edition, I had the pleasure to interview a college friend, Jason Ferguson.
I have seen Jason's work via social media channels and I had the pleasure of having Jason film me during my Burger Challenge. With his new film Ties of the Ribbon coming out soon, it felt like a good time to do an interview.
Jason Ferguson has had a passion for the creative industry from a young age, musically gifted he naturally fell into the UK music industry where he worked for 5 years working with artist’s such as Amy Winehouse and Jay Z.
He also had a strong passion for visual story-telling and bought his first camera at 6 to take photos in his spare time, for the first year he carried the camera around everywhere with him in his bag learning and honing his craft.
He taught himself how to Edit, Colour Correct, Shoot and compose a scene, all the while learning and honing his skills.
After a chance conversation in a Soho edit suite, he met an animator that inspired and gave him the courage to follow his dreams and produce content.
Now after a year studying under some amazing DOP/Directors on commercials and Short films, Jason is ready to show the world how far he has come and excite them on where he is going.
Not many people from his background make it to the big screen but Jason aims to break these restrictions and show his talent and passion to a wider audience.
Who inspired you towards Film and your own company?
So for me I really admire the discipline of cinematography, Christopher Nolan, Danny Boyle and Tony Kaye to name a few are great inspirations to me. They really are able to marry a creative visual to an amazing narrative. The business of film is a very hard industry, it's not for the faint of spirit. To have my own production company allows me to create projects and work on content that showcases both my ambitions and the creativity of the production team behind the scenes.
What makes a great Film?
This is such a subjective question for me; what makes a great film is not knowing it is a film, when the film draws you in and provokes a conversation beyond the confines of the cinema. A dramatic hollywood blockbuster is for escapism, I don't need to have a deep psychological connection with the audience, I want to escape for that short period be thrilled. On the other hand it's also a place where if you are doing a compelling story it's very important that the visuals marry with the narrative.
When did you get into Film?
I can tell you the year I fell in love with the lens, It was 2008 when I got my first DSLR camera. I carried it around in my backpack for a year everyday from work and taught myself how to shoot by walking through the park everyday. Since then i have taken my craft very seriously and progress into working with the moving image from TV , Film and Weddings.
Where has been your favourite place to Film?
My best project to far has been my first short film, Ties of the Ribbon, it's definitely a labour of love and I just the love the journey!
Why Ties of the Ribbon?
Ties of the Ribbon was envisioned over two years ago and has received support from experienced documentary filmmaker Vanessa Van-Yeboah (BBC/Channel 4) and talented colourist Michelle Kort (Ex Machina/The Crown/The King’s Speech).
When writing the script, I really wanted to capture the essence of classic 80/90’s thrillers like Basic Instinct, War of the Roses and Body Heat, but with a modern take on the story. With the film being a short, it was crucial for me to capture key moments while taking the audience through a series of layers.
In order to create a cinematic, visual masterpiece on a short film budget, we have pulled-in favours from our contacts all over the film industry, as well as some very exciting emerging talent, including our Sound Design team that has worked with the likes of Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Wretch 32, Noam Murro, 20th Century Fox, Biscuit Filmworks, Pantene, Universal Music, Tilney, Grey London and Sony Pictures.
Ties of the Ribbon explores the relationship between two men and their unusual connection to a string of disappearances. The film opens with Mr. Violet, who awakes to a flurry of texts from a familiar source. He chooses to ignore the texts throughout the day, leaving the viewer wondering if the sender is a spurned lover, worried spouse, or something worse, creating a tension that lingers throughout as we explore Mr Violet’s relationships.
as it is a food blog:
Which are your five fave restaurants at the moment?
Top 5 in the Big Smoke
Seeing Jason do what he has done over the years has been truly inspiring. He is one of the reasons why I started my blog. Seeing people take their passions into something they do for a living is great.
Keep your eyes peeled for his future work Ties of the Ribbon and his company Aspire Films.
What else does the city with it all need? An all day dim sum tea house is what. Near China town but outside to be unique to its location, Yauatcha in Soho provides elegant little bites for Londoners.
The highlights and lure of Yauatcha are its dim sum and lovely display of desserts. The small parcels of goodness take up almost two pages of the menu and the options are plentiful. The desserts on the other hand are almost what entices you in. Displayed out front, passersby (which I have been on plenty of occasions) witness the colours of sweetness and can not, not want to be inside.
This visit by Laura and I was a bit impromptu. After a few drinks at the Punch Room, located in the London Edition Hotel, we decided to eat out and I wanted to treat my wife to somewhere nice. As well as a place that I wanted to experience. Treat + Want = Visit to Yauatcha.
On a Friday evening in London, we managed to just about get a seat in the restaurant. Not at a table, but in the bar area, with two lovely bar stools, we sat together ready to eat (not feast). We were peckish, not starving.
Saying you are peckish and not ordering a lot is tough. When restaurants section off their menus, you cannot help but want to order from each section. This meant we chose a bit too much. In total, we had three dim sum, one tofu dish, beef noodles and two desserts.
Eyes always bigger than bellies.
Better than the other way, right?
The Dim Sum here is what you should focus on and order. Each dish we ordered was tasty and each parcel filled with flavour. The service here was good, nothing outstanding, but we were well looked after. It would have been good to get a table and sit in the main restaurant, but as a surprise visit the bar seemed fitting.
A good restaurant for Dim Sum and amazing looking desserts. Don't over order as the rest of the menu wasn't that great and therefore stick to China Town for anything else. Make sure you leave space in your belly for the desserts at the end.
GOOD TIMES: Almost two pages worth of Dim Sum, worth the read
WATCH OUT: the noodles not that great and a bit greasy.
OMG: Spectacular looking desserts with tastes to match.
The orginal and most famous Pizza in the world has now come to London. L'Antica Pizzeria de Michele has come from Naples to reside in beautiful Stoke Newington.
Yes, Stoke Newington, i said it. London is a huge foodie town, so when you have a new restaurant and somewhere less expensive than the west end, Stokey may just be the next best thing.
L'Antica has been around for over 100 years and is from the home of the Pizza, Naples.
Pizzas have definitely evolved over the years, some good evolutions to some horrendous ones (ham and pineapple). L'Antica in London sticks to the basics and classics. On the menu there are only two choices:
- A margarita (tomato, mozzarella, a touch of basil)
- A marinara (tomato, oregano, olive oil, garlic).
We had to wait over forty minutes in total to get a seat on a warm Wednesday evening. The buzz was truly alive here and the hype had brought with it many people.
Is the hype justified. Maybe... just about (ish).
The two simple pizzas come out charred and quickly. Cooked in their really hot oven, these Pizzas get a quick and minimal coating of ingredients and then onto your table. The Marinara was my fave of the two, the importance of cheese on a Pizza can not be undervalued. The tomato sauce and garlic too also added extra flavour.
The simplicity of it all made you appreciate and understand why de Michele has legendary status and lasted over 100 years. By introducing two simple pizzas, is a good ploy by the Italians as it helps us Brits concentrate on the basics of pure quality. You get that here and that is all you need; simply good food.
GOOD TIMES: Good Pizzas, simply good food.
WATCH OUT: Not worth the forty minute wait. Too long, sorry.
OMG: There are only two pizzas.
Check out this video of my burger challenge from Aspire Films and Jason Ferguson (more on Jason in the next few weeks).