Guest Blog – Ich Bin Ein Berliner

19718742_1109141535852999_1860807209_o.jpgIt was my last night in Berlin and falafel was needed to celebrate the end of….Let’s say a trying week. Trying to work on a budget I had booked myself an airbnb for my 7 nights holiday. I lasted only 4. This airbnb housed a child who threw epic tantrums at 6am that DROVE ME MAD. I was tired. Grumpy. Tearful. I was Over It-  and this was by day 3. After being woken up again by the sound of harmonicas being played (really?) screaming, vacuuming and more screaming, I had had enough. I scoured booking.com for the cheapest deal (I wasn’t going to put my trust into airbnb a second time). Here I landed in, according to wikipedia, the most famous avenue in Berlin: Kufurstendamm. I was surrounded by wealth. My hotel greeted me with a chandelier and had its very own haagen-daz restuarant (no use to a vegan, but I appreciated the luxury). The day before I had spotted FalafelMe from the other side of the road. It looked bright and friendly and its sign boldly stated it was vegetarian.

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It was decided then that for my last night I would go there! All day I had rehearsed how I would ask if it was vegan and for them to omit the cucumber (keine gurke!!!). As I walked for what felt like forever (15 minutes) past all the designer shops my self esteem slightly diminishing with every display of wealth and beauty I finally spotted the bright welcoming signage! They had a number of sauces to choose from. I naturally went for the one named vegan and successfully conveyed my distaste for cucumber. The service was fast and before I knew it I had a bulging falafel pita sandwich. The falafel was crisp and rich and the salad was colourful and crisp. There was even a chilli on top and some bright purple thing that tasted of nothing but made it look great. Unfortunately there were no seats and I was forced to walk past the high end shops, the likes of Chanel, Gucci and bvlgari with bits of lettuce falling down my top and sauce getting in my hair. I managed to find a nice small park to devour the falafel. And it was goooood! )

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Falafel – 4/5 (to be honest I’m pretty new to the falafel game so my references are few)

Brot- 4/5

Salat- 4/5

Level of intoxication- 0/5

Many Thanks to Lil J, our social media organiser and today’s Guest reviewer!

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Freedom Falafel

As I bit into into Biblos’s ‘Veggie Challenge’ with a sigh of satisfaction on Friday,  I couldn’t help but ruminate on the last ‘meal’ I had had.

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Let me set the scene.  24 hours previous to the falafel I was waiting for my prison issue food. Yes, I’d been nicked, again. This time for the hideous crime of ‘chalking on the pavement’, which was almost as ridiculous as the time before when I had been arrested for standing near the police whilst owning a mobile phone.

I was starving. I’d eaten one crumpet with olive oil (the only food in the house) at 8 am,  after which I had worked on my essay for an hour, briefly attended a protest against Barclays (who fund fracking) and then been unnecessarily arrested in the process. Apparently writing in chalk in front of a bank is enough to get you manhandled by 3 cops and detained for 10 hours.

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it took 3 of them to take me away

Naturally, I was very hungry when they eventually gave us some food at 6.30pm. “It couldn’t be worse than the Spanish prison food” I’d thought, as I remembered that particular delight. I seem to remember a weird mushy green ‘energy’ bar and some dry crackers, 3 times a day. This time I was given the choice, ‘veggie chili’ or ‘beans, wedges and mushrooms’. I considered the question for a while then pumped for the beans, thinking that even prisons can’t get beans too badly wrong. Veggie chili has too many variables.

It was the most exciting thing that had happened in hours, having spent all bloody day in a cell with nothing to do and no-one to talk to and no food. It’s lucky I can see the funny side of things otherwise I would have been FURIOUS.

The ‘food’ was delivered to me through the slot without a word and I took it eagerly (minus points for service). I took my time, looking at it from various sides and taking it all in (there was really nothing else to do). The beans and ‘wedges’ came stacked up in 2 separate trays, served straight from the microwave. Nestled either side were 2 cereal bars. I opened up one of the trays, shaking slightly from the low blood sugar and poked around with the wooden cutlery to see what I could make out. A singular mushroom bobbed up at me and I lunged at it with a spoon, savouring the weird rubbery texture. “Probably one of my five a day there” I guessed and got stuck in to the rest of it, reluctantly sampling the wedges first and then finally the beans. The wedges were soggy as they had been boiled up with the beans, but at least the beans were OK. You really can’t mess up beans.

Other highlights from the day included when one of the policeman took my camera away and photographed his own crotch, and getting moved into a cell that didn’t have poo in the sink.

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all cops are idiots

So, as I sank my teeth into a real meal on Friday, the falafel flavoursome and warming, I couldn’t help but think to myself “this is what freedom tastes like”.

For more information  and a hilarious video see this Bristol Post article http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/three-arrested-after-four-hour-44459

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cafe Revival

It had been a weird day and it was only 3pm. I had woken up early to get some work done on the millions of essays I had to give in (6 actually) but got instantly distracted by checking our Twitter. I was disappointed to see that our high of 65 followers had dwindled to 59 – what did we do??? Just as I was about to log off and begin work in earnest, I found out that none other than Theresa May, our gracious (and fashionable) ruler, was to come to Bristol for a ‘rally’. Maybe Twitter does have a purpose after all! Well, the next few hours were spent trying to find out where exactly she would be, but it was really well hidden. I gave up, faffed around, then got ready to give away my blood.

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Not in a weird ritual for May Day or anything, just the local blood drive thing had come to town and I had made an appointment years (felt like) before to donate some of my lovely healthy falafel fuelled blood. After waiting for AGES, they took a little sample to check my iron levels (I failed that particular test last time I tried) and this time I made it! My iron levels are fine. Take that, vegan critics! And I take no supplements, just in case you were wondering. Ha.

Anyway, to cut the monologue short, I waited for hours more (felt like) and eventually got sat in the chair. But to my horror, 3 professionals failed to find a decent vein! One of my arms has like, no veins apparently and the other one was ‘far too small’. The nurse said ‘normally we suggest you try again in a few years but, in your case, there’s really no point.’ I felt dejected, and as usual, hungry.

Falafel beckoned to me. It was 3pm. I needed to do some uni work really (an MSc don’t write itself) so I headed off to a cafe I knew on Corn Street, checking in the windows of all the posher hotels on the way just in case Theresa May was hiding in one of them, but no cigar. All I wanted was to wish her well, pay my respects, see what she was wearing…alas.

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The good thing about Cafe Revival is that it has what is known as a ‘snug’. This is a little alcove at the top with sofas and stuff. Hardly anyone goes in there, this time the only other person was a furious looking woman eating some sort of nut. When my falafel came I thought it looked presentable, with a little side salad and mustardy dressing. The bread was impressive, toasted pitta but with some sort of herbs and tomato in it, a nice change from your typical standard falafel bread. I was alarmed when biting in to find courgettes in it. Then I remembered that it was a falafel with roasted vegetables, which made much more sense. The hummus was plentiful and the roasted vegetables very nice with aubergines and peppers, but the falafel itself was bland. It was even bland in colour – had they forgotten the parsley or coriander? It was like, pale beige. The texture was soft and lacked the crispiness we prefer. It was also quite dry despite the hummus, and the author suggests some chilli sauce could have improved this falafel.

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I got a bit bored of eating it half way through to be quite honest but valiantly struggled on to the end. On the whole though, it was big and it filled a hole, and considering I was planning to stay there for hours to do my essay a £4.75 price wasn’t that bad. However, I didn’t stay there, growing distracted by the spelling mistakes in the snug – its book swap not swop! Was it intentional? A joke? If so, I don’t get it.

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Bread – 5/5

Falafel- 2/5

Intoxication – 0/5

Service – 3/5

Salad – 3/5 (no olives)

On returning from town, I found out where Theresa May had holed up for the afternoon, but it was far too late. Damn my smartphone-less life. Next time, T. Or should I say Mummy?

ASDA Vs “Second House Products”

Times are tough in the ratemyfalafel.com household. How were we to know that not paying our council tax bill since October would result in us having to pay a massive amount all at once? We had to tighten our belts. It was packet bought, value falafel for us.

We decided to have a falafel off, a taste comparison between #ASDA* value frozen oven baked falafel (18 for £1.50) and a packet ‘just add water’ malarkey (also priced at £1.50).

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Initially the idea was to have a simple wrap with a bit of hummus and the falafel, plus chili sauce. However, as more guests turned up for what was initially going to be a casual affair, more effort was put in and we made an elaborate salad. Possibly the best salad I have ever had! It had walnuts and the like- guests provided the salad ingredients, we are, as previously mentioned, very poor.

salad prepared

But first, to the falafel. We were horrified to read on the pack ‘just add water’ type that it required an oven temperature of 380 degrees Fahrenheit, almost double what our oven reached. After much deliberation, and discussion over frying them instead, we just chucked them in with the ASDA ones which had much clearer instructions.

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380 degrees. horrifying.

They both tasted crap, but to a varying degree. The packet stuff was really hard, like, rock hard- imagine if we had turned the oven up even higher? Something not right there, think we.  And, on carrying out some quick investigative journalism, we discovered that “second house” are a company from Lebanon, specializing in Mediterranean foods! Why wasn’t it better designed? BUT, it had a bit more flavour than the Asda ones, which were softer but really quite bland. What can you expect really, from ASDA? I don’t think I have ever had anything from that beast of a multinational corporation that didn’t taste like total shit. Even the Linda McCartney sausages that must be same in every shop, taste wrong when bought from ASDA. It’s like their lack of morals and total bastard-ary leak into all the food, sucking up all that is good in the world and spits it out again. Luckily the delicious salad and homemade hummus disguised the taste.

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making the mush

ASDA* AKA WALMART

Texture – 2/5

Flavour – 1/5

Ethics –  minus points x million

 

Second House Packaged Stuffed

Texture – 1/5

Flavour- 2/5

Ethics- unsure of this company. the little fruit and veg shop we bought it from are lovely tho- 3/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My pitta overfloweth (and not in a good way)

It was a grey Wednesday morning as I woke blearily on the floor of the squat I had been kipping on for the past few nights. The previous night, as I stood rather uselessly watching people impressively craft a bar out of doors that had been acquired from around the building, my friends words had rung through my head – “Apparently it’s the best falafel place in the city. Every lunch time there are queues down the street.” My belly had rumbled at the thought and I reflected on how glad I was that I had taken her up on the idea of trialling such a tempting offer. It was with this in mind I found myself commuting across London at lunch time to meet said friend and head over to try possibly ‘the best falafel in the city.’

As we wandered through the curving little streets near Blackfriars station, right in the heart of belly of the urban beast, we talked at length about previously good falafels we’d had.

I’m not sure I would ever rate anything I’ve eaten 5 out 5,” my friend mused “I would have to know that nothing could ever be better and I’m not sure I could ever know that.”

It was a fair point indeed.

We continued to chat about the best things we’d ever eaten and concluded that really it had a lot to do with the time, the place and what you were actually craving. Wracking our brains back we decided that maybe pizza from a big fast food chain, a chocolate bar and pasta at a central London restaurant had to be the top things on our list for hitting the spot…but here we were, falafel on the brain and hungry rumbling stomachs, were things about to change?

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Falafel House (http://www.falafel-house.co.uk/) was a small little deli with a few high chairs to sit on at the window. We were faced with the choice of falafel in pitta (£4.50) or a falafel salad box (£6.25) – which I suppose isn’t that expensive for the centre of our capital city but still made me wince slightly. Naturally we both went for falafel in pitta and I decided to splash out the extra £1 and get fried aubergines in mine too. The woman serving me did not seem happy with the world today, glowering somewhat at me, but none-the-less filled the pitta up with the multitude of salads they had on offer behind the counter and squeezed a generous amount of chilli sauce over the top.

The first thing I noticed when I unwrapped my falafel from its neat little bag was that the “pitta” it was in looked nothing like any pitta I’d had before. My friend assured me that it was definitely fluffy but still a pitta – I had felt maybe I had just been fobbed off with a large bread roll. The “pitta” was full to the brim and successfully held its consistency and large amount of filling right to the last bite, which is something I feel I can rarely say these days. The falafel, which was actually hard to taste among the multitude of different salads and smotherings of sauce, was fresh and tasty. The salad, of which there was a huge and varied amount, took up most of the wrap and completely swamped the fried aubergine I had paid that extra £1 for (why do I bother?). I feel my friend made the right decision when she opted to not have the bean or lentil salad in hers, I on the other hand had just eagerly nodded when the sullen server had asked if I wanted all salad.

All in all this was definitely not your traditional falafel in pitta but certainly filled us up and left us with a pleasant taste in our mouths. The huge variety of salad, ranging from tabouleh and grated carrot to mixed bean salad to green lentils, would probably have been better appreciated in a salad box and if I go back I’ll definitely be more selective with my choice. Despite not living up to being ‘the best falafel in the city’ it certainly seemed to be the most popular falafel place in the city as a hefty crowd of suits swarmed in and out of the place throughout our stay and I felt very lucky that we’d managed to quickly bag ourselves one of the 4 chairs in the place to munch our lunch. 

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Now here comes the stats!

Falafel -3/5 – Good fresh tasting falafel but nothing to write home about

Bread- 2.5/5 – We both concluded that falafel is best served in a wrap

Salad – 3/5 – The salad selection was vast and expansive (probably would have been good if we had wanted a falafel salad box – but who wants that?) however there were too many different flavours for one wrap. 

Sauce – 3/5 – The chilli sauce had a good amount of spice but could very well have been any big brand sauce from the supermarket

Have you had a good falafel? Or a disgusting one? We need to know! Email us at ratemyfalafel@gmail.com

Many thanks to angel_girl for this excellent summary of  Falafel House!

 

 

a note from our sponsor…

As social media manager of rate my falafel.com I have a confession to make. I’ve only ever had falafel from a supermarket. So instead of continuing somewhat fraudulently in my new job I decided I would have FALAFEL! From somewhere that wasn’t Tesco’s!

Lucky for me I had already arranged to try out the new vegan (to)fish and chip shop Matter Fast Foods in Bristol with my parents. My poor mother had been away abroad on business and apparently where she was, FISH (eww), is a vegetable! So we needed to get her somewhere vegan ASAP.

And they had falafel!

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As I approached the shop I realised this was the place to be in Bristol. The small shop was filled to the brim with hungry people! There was a queue which gave me slight anxiety (as someone who is non-British born) but it moved quickly and the service was friendly and the atmosphere was great!

Now having read and reread the reviews on ratemyfalafel.com I had expected the falafel to come wrapped in things like bread and hummus. But no….I got three falafels in a bag.

 

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3 FALAFEL IN BAG

I was confused.

But I was not deterred!

So i made my way back to the car and tucked in!
The falafel was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and it was beautifully spiced … overall it was a good falafel.

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I did however feel that I had failed in my attempt to have a full on falafel experience. No hummus or bread to rate. I wasn’t drunk because I don’t drink. I felt somewhat disheartened that I couldn’t deliver a review to the usual ratemyfalafel.com standard.

Next time I’ll stick to slowly building our social media empire!

And on that note… If you don’t already. Follow us on twitter. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on instagram. We need to be validated!

A note from the editor – rumour has it that Matter Foods Fish n Chips is very nice indeed- so don’t judge them just by their slightly lacking falafel!

 

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Maybe if I had been drunk, it would have been better

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But I’d only had one beer. And it wasn’t. Let me set the scene. I had made the unusual move of going out (and on a Wednesday, no less). The Canteen, on trendy Stokes Croft where we found ourselves, was teeming with drunken youths, some of whom (well, one) asked for our advice on places to go out because we looked ‘cool’. Riding high on that smug feeling, we stayed at least an hour before yawning our way home. Remembering in fury that our cooker is STILL bloody broken, we popped in to Big Bite, a Stokes Croft take away that I usually use for their iconic free cash point. I strode in and ordered a falafel wrap. While waiting for our food to be prepared, we hung about outside with the youths who were littering the porch way, strumming guitar and wailing to the Beatles classic ‘Because’, and swigging glasses of red wine. Opposite, we could see the Telepathic Heights ex-squat, scene of the 2011 riots – the hated Tesco Express lay just a few doors down. Settling onto the cold floor we sang along, the smell of weed wafting in the March air.

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After a while I grew bored and wandered inside, to observe the making of the falafel. I was distracted slightly by seeing a man wrapping up his bloody hand in a bandage in the kitchen out the back. Pushing this out of my mind, I focussed on the falafel. “Which sauce would you like?” questioned the friendly staff member. “Chili please. And hummus, of course” I laughed. “I will have to charge you extra for THAT” he shook his head. I made a very slight protest at which point they agreed to give it to me for no extra cost- they really didn’t put up much of a fight. After choosing from a disappointing array of salad (no olives, for example) they handed me a large wrap, comparable to some sort of baton.

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Plus points-friendly staff, good location, large wrap, free hummus (though it really should be free anyway) Other comments include “salty- in a good way” and “tasty falafel”. This, unfortunately, is where the positives end. The bread was standard, wrapped haphazardly. The onion was overpowering, but despite having both chili sauce AND hummus, the falafel wrap remained ACHINGLY dry. Half way through what felt like a bit of a slog towards the end, the wrap totally fell apart.

Bread – 1/5

Salad – 2/5

Falafel – 3/5

Service – 3/5 (minus for the bleeding)

Intoxication – 1/5

UPDATE!!! Since writing this post, it has come to my attention (thanks angel_girl322) that Big Bite do a vegan pizza with vegan cheese and topping, 12 inch for £7! Got one whilst drunk recently, was great!