Thursday, 29 August 2013

Update: Catford Broadway Market and Supperclub

After hosting a Guest Post all about Catford's new foodie hotspot, Catford Broadway Market and Supperclub here at Snig's Kitchen, I received a request for more details about the other great goings on which are coming to the Nation of Catford.

You can read that original post here:

You see, Catford is a great place to live, but in the past it has felt a little unloved and neglected. It is only recently that it is being regenerated in part by the local council, by businesses coming to the area and by locals. Working together, I can already see the changes and improvements in my local area, which is great, because I love this culturally diverse and vibrant place!

When I first moved here, it had a feel of a place where people didn't stop. People moved here, lived for a while, and then moved on to somewhere else. It would be that "somewhere else" where they would put down their roots; Forest Hill, Dulwich, Blackheath. But those areas are increasingly out of reach, and I think people realising they are here to stay means they are beginning to view the area as "home" and subsequently treating it as such.

Regeneration work outside Town Hall
Resurfacing work, Catford Broadway
So, my anonymous source has brought me the following "intel" about what will be happening in the local area:

1. A Catford Cinema Club
We lost our cinema some years ago when the company running it decided it was no longer profitable. The site was then bought by a church group who have used it as a place of worship and for other activities. This has left the Borough of Lewisham without a cinema.

A Catford Cinema Club is planned, which will be launched and take place at the Catford Broadway Theatre, part of the Town Hall complex. The Theatre itself is a very lovely Art Deco building, which was extensively restored. I have actually been to see a show inside the main theatre, and it is a great environment for staging shows. I am sure it will be great for films too!

2. A Catford Food Bank
There is currently a local food bank in Forest Hill, which I have personally donated food to. However, it is not conveniently located for people in Catford who need assistance. It is sad that more and more people are finding the cost of food so difficult to cope with. 

The Catford Food Bank will be launched this Autumn at the Monthly Catford Broadway Market as a way for local people to help their fellow Catfordians.

3. The Catford Ambassador Group
Improvement in a local area are always easier to achieve with an organised and pro-active group of people within the community. Lewisham Council who run Catford Broadway Market cannot themselves run an Ambassador Group, but are keen to help local people to do so. As a result, there will be a meeting of anyone interested in being an Ambassador on 1st September at the next Catford Broadway Market. Views on future regeneration will be taken there.

The next Catford Broadway Supperclub will be run by Capo Caccia (, who I have been told will be serving the following: a platter selection with mustela and salami and coppa plus pecorino selection, pumpkin ravioli in sage, butter sauce and shaved Parmesan, squid ink lasagna with zucchini & king prawns, ending with gelato and dried ricotta. Places can be booked via

I have had a comment from a reader who said that the most recent Market was a disappointment. The organisers of the Catford Broadway Monthly Market do their best to obtain a good range of traders, but as with all things, Summer and early Autumn are often quieter than other periods of the year as people tend to take holidays then. This would explain why the August Market may have been disappointing for that particular reader, and of course, the school holidays will still be ongoing for the September date. It is hoped that more traders will be available from October onwards and that things will pick up as we get towards Christmas.

If you're a Catfordite or Rushey Greener, it would be great to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch on twitter! I am @snigskitchen!


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

August 2013 Favourites List

August is synonymous with the school holidays. Everything quietens down. The traffic, the courts, business... We find ourselves in the "Silly Season" newswise, where stories about dogs which can recite the alphabet or kooky animal pictures get whole page spreads. 

It's a lovely month, and I hope that one day we will become more like the French and "allez en vacances"; the cities, particularly Paris, almost close down for the month and everybody goes away to enjoy themselves before "la rentrée" in September.

I've been kept busy this month with various work tasks. One has been updating three chapters of an employment law textbook written with some of my colleagues. Employment law has a good side and a bad side. The good side is that it is exciting and fast changing.... which also happens to be its bad side! So I've been getting my small brain around various important judgements and new legislation.

I hope you have been enjoying the Summer, and that you have either had, or will have a nice break at some point. 

This month's pictures are of me and some gorgeous looking birds.


Blogs Worth Following:

A cooking and baking blog written by Janice Pattie from her Scottish farm home:

Tara O'Brady's fantastic photos, recipes and storytelling:

The My Life Runs On Food blog:

Family friendly blog about how to get families to eat together:


Sour, tangy, spicy, refreshing.... Jal Jeera is great in the sunshine. It's strange stuff, but overcome your initial impressions and you'll love it too!

One for the school holidays - make your own popcorn:

Snack time! Roasted chick peas:

Bengali Mutton (Mangsho) Curry... this is almost "like my mamma used to make"!

Arancini take their name from their colour and shape - like oranges. They are delightful fried balls of cooked risotto rice. You can make them with leftover rice if you want, but here they are made from scratch.

Summery salads are great this time of year. Here's one with peaches, mozzarella and quinoa. I reckon you could substitute the white balsamic vinegar for sherry or cider vinegar if you can't get hold of it.

Muffins suitable for vegans (eggless & can be milkless):

Summer pasta with broad beans, mascarpone and thyme:

Indian flavours in this meringue dessert by The Meringue Girls (cardamom, mango and sugared fennel seeds):

Herby Summer salad with raw beetroot, caraway, lemon balm and mint:

Inspired by the lemons of Ischia, Linguine with prawns and lemon:

Possible accompaniment to grilled meats or for a Sunday roast - spicy (waxy) potatoes:

Articles/Know How:

Do you have children who dislike veggies and healthy foods? The Sneaky Chef has lots of ideas on dealing with these small problems:

Recipes are like storytelling... and the best cook books, like those by Lindsey Bareham or Elizabeth David are always readable. Here's an interesting book review with thoughts on reading recipes through the ages.

Where do Indian/2nd generation Indian foodies go to get their fix of Indian food? Find out here:

Funny or Silly Stuff:

Some food fun, the hilarious Rappers & Cereal. Fancy any Snoop Loops? Or maybe some Luda Crisp?

Choosing a restaurant name is a tricky business. Tell me, would you eat at BAD Sushi (Best and Delicious)?


Confessions (Japanese language film)


Luther, Series 3


Lucy Rose - Like I Used To

Johnny Marr  - The Messenger

Atoms For Peace - AMOK

Thom Yorke - The Eraser

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A Hidden Gem in Hong Kong: Dim Sum at Maxim's

Hong Kong is a big, wonderful, bewildering place of many contradictions. During its time under English rule, the population resolutely stuck to their own language, eschewing English. Yet today, the English road names prevail. The modern buildings have the latest technology, but in a quiet corner you will find a hidden shrine for ancestor worship. The ultra-new luxury cars on the road make way for the old "Ding Ding" trams, ferrying people around for peanuts. It hustles and bustles most of the day, but if you've seen Chungking Express, it can still be a place of heartbreaking loneliness and isolation, where you are surrounded by people, yet know no-one.

When I visited China, I promised myself a few days in Hong Kong. It was one of those places that fascinated me as a child, and was close to the top of my "bucket list". I've been obsessed by films and books showing different elements of its psyche from the martial arts classics, Le Carre's The Honourable Schoolboy to the Infernal Affairs trilogy. 

Hong Kong is a great place for good food. Mainly inhabited by people who are ethically Cantonese, it is a place to dig into this sophisticated cuisine. There are many excellent places to eat, some of which are Michelin starred, proving that their contribution to international gastronomy is recognised worldwide. 

Food is always an important part of any experience of travelling abroad. For me and Him Indoors, it becomes a great quest of finding the best food we can, across all possible levels; street food, bars, informal places, and the more august "fine dining". We ask for recommendations, search blogs and scour guidebooks or restaurant guides for the best intelligence we can get our hands on.

I have already confessed to a deep love of Dim Sum. To me, it is a brunch made in heaven. So one treat I was banking on having was lots of lovely little parcels of joy in my time in Hong Kong! But where was I going to go to have these delectable bijou treats? 

I was very fortunate to get a special tip from my future brother in law. He worked out in Hong Kong for a time. He is a keen cook and a food fan whose adventurous streak and refined palate makes his recommendations incredibly reliable. He told me to make sure I went to Maxim's for Dim Sum, that it was located in the City Hall and then came the ominous follow up words "...and make sure you get there as soon as they open."

Most tourists are not about to venture to the City Hall for sightseeing. The Harbour, Star Ferry, the Lantau Island Buddha and Mid-Level Travelators are the places of interest. So I didn't know what to make of his caution. But, having relied on his advice before, I decided to go along with it....

We arrived at 11am, just as they opened the doors. We got shown straight away to a table. There were a few people, but no hordes. We wondered about the advice we were given. Putting it momentarily out of our minds, we focussed on the main objective; dim sum!

We were brought a steaming hot pot of green tea, the traditional accompaniment to a Dim Sum brunch. The ritual of enjoying Dim Sum with tea as a brunch is referred to by the locals as "Yum Cha". At the risk of using a corny turn of phrase, I certainly think it's "Yum"!

We then started thinking about what to eat. The menu listed a number of delights.... But really, you don't come here to peruse the menu. That is besides the point.

So why is Maxim's a hidden gem? Well, to begin with, it's the old school approach to serving up. No order taking, delay and then your food arriving on a tray. Here we have the legendary old style Trolley service! 

Trollies containing only a few varieties of Dim Sum emerge from the kitchens. There are several trollies, each carrying different specialities. They are all insulated to keep the goodies warm, and carefully wend their way around the gargantuan dining space. 

Not sure what to have? Dim Sum novice? Ask the kindly servers and they'll show you the delights the trolley bears, removing the steamer lids with a small flourish. Voila! - har kau! Voila - steamed buns! Want it? Take it! Don't want it? Never mind, back goes the lid, and back to the warm confines of the trolley. Someone will devour them soon enough!

When you've picked something, the server will stamp a little stamper for the relevant dish onto a little card on your table; like playing Dim Sum bingo. 

This is the baked puff pastry buns stuffed with Char Siu pork and topped with sesame seeds. The pastry is fluffy and crumbles as you bite to give way to sticky, spicy, sweet and slightly chewy pork. 

These are Chiu Chow style dumplings, stuffed with vegetables and peanuts. The dumpling skin is thin and perfectly balanced against the content and texture of the filling. The peanuts give a special flavour and bite to the filling.

I recommend these Shanghai style dumplings to anyone who may not have tried them before. They are clever little things. A stock broth is jellified, and put into the loosely wrapped dumpling along with the regular filling. It is steamed, and the application of the heat causes the jelly to melt. What you then have is a dumpling which can’t be eaten immediately (or you may scald your tongue!), but when you do chomp into its interior, you get dumpling skin, meaty filling and soup all in one massive flavour hit!

After our first couple of treats, which we ate in rapt concentration, hardly looking up from our table, we looked around the restaurant. Half past 11 and the place was full. By midday, there were queues of people waiting for a table. Local neighbourhood workers, family groups, City Hall workers, people who've made the journey especially, all waiting patiently to sample the simple joy of these little bites. 

These are the famous chicken's feet. They are steamed in sauce, skin and all. There isn't a whole lot of meat on chicken's feet; you are eating them for their texture, the fun of the chewy skin and crunchy gristle. Like a black bean flavoured chewing gum. I like them and have had them in London before, but they are not everyone's cup of cha. 

This is the Cheong Fun which is a rice flour tube (like Italian cannelloni) which is stuffed with prawns and steamed. It is then served with a hot pour on sauce made of watered down soy sauce mixed with sugar and a little sesame oil. Other fillings such as scallop or pork are common. A lovely dish to share, although it can be difficult to cut into bite sized pieces which you can lift with your chopsticks.

Maxim's isn't going to win any awards for decor. The huge room is lit with large chandeliers and a somewhat bland decor reminiscent of a hotel restaurant or ballroom. But it is clean, comfortable, and well run. It is the diners and friendly trolley pushers who create the atmosphere here. All the dining parties seem to share their dishes between themselves, and chat with ease until it is time to settle up and throw themselves back into hectic Hong Kong life after a short respite.

Maxim's Palace Chinese Restaurant

3/F, City Hall, 5-7 Edinburgh Place, Central, Hong Kong

This post is my entry for the Tuscany Now "Hidden Gems" blogger competition.

Tuscany Now are an Italian and Tuscan villa hire company. The competition entry must be about a "Hidden Gem" found on holiday, anywhere in the world.

The prize is a week’s stay at the spectacular Villa Cignano for up to six people including return flights for two.

Details of the competition can be found here: