Guest post: falafel in India!

Thanks very much to Laura for this review.
Chill Out Hostel Hampi Falafel Hanoi

Having tried and failed to review Australian falafel I have to say I was not optimistic of success in India. How wrong I was.Here in Hampi it seems there is not a menu without an Israeli section offering the delights of falafel.

87a015fb646bd9408395164290f1d701.0

Where’s the sauce?!?

Well what you see is what I got exactly as the menu said: falafel, salad, chips, humus, pita. Crunchy, uncomplicated and in the eating uncompromising. The chips were a real highlight perhaps with a touch of turmeric for that authentic Indian touch. The humus was fine if non-descript but the pita was lovely and fluffy though somewhat redundant on a side plate. The falafel itself was tasty and crunchy, did I say crunchy, very crunchy. The biggest disappointment for me was the salad which was just cucumber and tomato. Afterwards I tentatively suggested the addition of onion and mentioned something about chilli.

Pluses: Good service, great music, unbeatable location. Marks out of 5 = 2.5.

PS will try to try some more Hampi falafel when I have fully recovered from my non falafel related food poisoning!

Advertisements

Chick Re-visited : a Brexit Special

Chick Falafel, Brent Cross Shopping Centre: North London 

We have reviewed this particular eatery before, but we at ratemyfalafel.com are nothing if not thorough – we welcome new insights and perspectives. Thanks to this weeks guest contributor for this gem: Marie @planteatingposts (insta)

image3
Well, just because the entire country has taken leave of its senses doesn’t mean I’m going to miss lunch. And I’ve found a very fresh and highly recommendable falafel chain called Chick, in an unlikely place – the middle of Brent Cross shopping mall. I’d gone there to blank out the political insanity and to try to buy a coat in the sales. But oh Falafel community! These are difficult and uncertain times, particularly those of us who like our food international. This week – in and out of the UK parliament – businesses and commentators have raised the likelihood of dire Brexit-related food shortages. Meaty fast food chains like KFC, who experienced a chicken shortage only last year, and Macdonalds, have written to the Prime Minister, begging not to crash out of Europe. A third of UK food comes from elsewhere. Non meat eaters are not immune. Lettuce and other hothouse-grown salad ingredients  will apparently be at a premium. Responses to these warnings have ranged from stiff upper lips types on TV news vox pops, telling us that going without will ”do us good after so much plenty” – to one Unionist Northern Irish DUP politician being overheard by the Green MP sniggering “let them eat chips”. ( The irony that chips are potatoes and his island has a certain history with having food withheld, and shortages, evidently lost on him).

image1

So what about falafel? Against the tide, I’m optimistic. Today’s pitta ( choice of white or brown bread – or a box with no bread ) was full of carrot and red cabbage, raw onions, plus pickles. Now I’m pretty sure we grow all that here – so that’s fine. Mine had a tad too much tahini sauce but it was served with plentiful crunch and a smile. The falafel were hot, freshly fried and – delicious. The ingredients for those and the hummus – chick peas, are imported from India and Turkey. So I think we’re covered for non-EU
sources there,  if we keep our wits about us. We could start stockpiling too,  as dried chick peas and sesame (tahini) keep for ages.

image2
All in all, it’s a good little outfit and very welcome in the grimness of shopping in Brent Cross. As I caught the bus home, I allowed myself two crumbs of optimism in this lunatic week; firstly that healthy falafels are surviving as a relatively cheap and popular none-meat fast food concession, which might even steal some custom from KFC and Maccas, and secondly, such is the unique combination of ingredients in a falafel, that not even their hardest and most insane efforts, will stop the tories ruining my lunch.

Chick Falafel, Brent Cross Shopping Centre: North London
NW4 3FP Hendon, Barnet, United Kingdom.

https://www.facebook.com/chickfalafelbrentcross/

Price- £6.50 for a giant pitta falafel with salad and pickles – pricey but huge and easily feeds two people.
Customer Service – Nice people.

(Anti) Fascist falafel?

 

So. We moved to Italy. We were travelling around Italy for our honeymoon, seeing all sorts of beautiful things and it seemed like as good as any place to rest our heads. We were a bit tired of moving around all the time and having to re-pack the f**king car every 5 minutes. So, Nettuno it was. A lovely sea side town not too far from Rome. The apartment we rented (3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, sea view) was cheaper than what we were paying in Bristol for literally a shoe box, and my partner was able to find a job teaching English in a nearby town of Latina almost instantly. Everything was going swimmingly, and in fact I was swimming in the sea most days.

 

Then. Winter hit. It was suddenly too cold to swim in the sea. And I couldn’t help but notice all the fascist graffiti. It hadn’t been at all obvious with our rose-tinted glasses on when we first moved in, but more and more swastikas and ‘fasci’ symbols appeared as if from nowhere, not so much in Nettuno but in all the neighbouring towns. I took it as a personal mission to ‘correct’ as many as possible with my trusty spray paint and paint pens, that I took to keeping on me at all times. The bizarre thing was that some of it was written in English – ‘support your local fascist crew’ – when Italian fascism is based on ‘Italy for Italians’ – why reach out in English?

support your local fascist crew

The message has now been changed to ‘support your local anti-fascist crew’

Latina, where my partner worked, turned out to be a man-made town built upon drained swamp land, designed by none other than Mussolini himself. In fact, the inhabitants didn’t seem to have a bad word to say about the mass murderer. But we didn’t know this at first.

Hungry, we were in Latina having gone into the nearby mountains for a day with our good friend QUAID who was visiting. Where could we grab a bite to eat? Naturally most places were shut as we were once again not hungry in the designated dining periods, but we managed to find somewhere with lights on and piled into the café. We sat down and waited for the waiter to come to us. Looking around, suddenly I realised that there was a familiar bald looking man staring at us from a bottle of wine on a neighbouring table. It couldn’t be?  I nudged the others. Taking a furtive glance at the walls of this otherwise sparsely decorated café, I realised they were covered in pictures of il Duce himself. There were about 20 photos of Mussolini. Horrified, we scuttled out, taking refuge in a kebab place. Kebab places can’t be fascist, we reasoned. Anyway, I was sick of ‘pizza rossa’ and marinara by this stage and welcomed the idea of a hearty falafel wrap. How had we ended up living in an overwhelmingly fascist area? Apparently, the region where we live, Lazio, is well known to be full of fascists. It would be funny, 2 anti-fascist activists accidently living in the heart of nationalist Italy, if it wasn’t so bloody depressing.

 

Istanbul Pascia Kebap, Latina.

As previously mentioned, falafels in Italy thus far are pretty hit and miss. So, I wasn’t holding out for anything particularly special with this dining experience. I was just happy that the walls were covered in random pictures from all over the world rather than a stern-faced dictator. No Erdogan in sight either (it was a Turkish kebab place). Once again, the falafel had the option of coming with chips inside the wrap, which pleased me and were able to choose from a variety of sauces and salad.

falafel 2

The falafel was fried and had a satisfying green colour when bitten into. It was well wrapped, and was massive. The chili sauce was actually fairly spicy, and the staff were very friendly. Another positive was that it was actually open for business, you were able to order and enjoy food at the disgusting time of 6.30pm. I know, madness. However, all in all, it did lack something. It was OK, but it didn’t have quite what I was looking for. Not a bad falafel, but nothing special. It was also quite expensive – 6 euros for falafel, chips and a drink.

 

[UPDATE] On a second visit, my husband was given a discount for wearing his Kurdish scarf, by another woman working there who was Kurdish herself. Win.

Review

Falafel – 4/5

Bread- 3/5

Salad – 3.5/5

Customer Service – 4.5/5

Intoxication 0/5

 

 

End of the world Falafel

 

Well, that is perhaps a slightly dramatic title. End of Italy, certainly. We had decided to take a trip down to Sicily for Christmas, covering the whole of Southern Italy in just 10 hours. As soon as we crossed the tiny gap from Reggio Calabria to Messina, Sicily (costing us a distressing 75 euros) the weather seemed to jump about 10 degrees. It was like summer again. Maybe that should have been a warning of strange things to come but we happily ignored it and basked in the suns glory. Well, it was night time when we arrived, but we parked the car next to the beach and enjoyed the fact it wasn’t that cold.

 

We slept in the car that night, and woke up to see the beautiful clear waters of the sea- it’s basically paradise, FYI- before heading to Mount Etna first thing in the morning. Etna! What a revelation. I thought I’d seen everything. The scorched black earth, the mad craters. It’s like what I imagine being on the moon might be like. Except less terrifying. I mean, it never erupts, right? We marched up some of the craters, took a million photos and ‘selfies’, and tried to play in the snow. It was fantastic.

 

And then, to Catania.  Now, after a day climbing up mountains you can bet that I was hungry. What did I have a hankering for? You guessed it. Luckily, Sicily is much more multi-cultural than the rest of Italy and just a few steps away from our hotel (after a night in the car we thought we’d treat ourselves) we found exactly what we wanted. Mister Kebab, purveyor of ‘American fast food’, apparently, nestled on the hideously busy main shopping road in Catania. We ordered a falafel wrap each and a portion of chips to share. I had already had some pretty terrible falafels in Italy so far, which in turn made me remember all the appalling falafels in Spain. It really is traumatic. Sometimes it brings me down, you know?

 

Anyway, I wasn’t really expecting much so I was pleasantly surprised when I was actually asked what salad and sauces I wanted (Chili sauce and all the salad) and if I wanted CHIPS inside the wrap (yes!) I took a bite into the wrap and it was actually delicious! It had a curry style sauce which was really tasty and the falafel was freshly fried, the salad was crispy and it had a satisfying crunch to it. No hummus of course, but the sauce kept it from being too dry and I loved the chip addition. I love my fast food to be as fatty as possible and this really felt like it was getting there. This falafel wrap was absolutely huge and I was left feeling full for a very long time. Although, come to think of it, that didn’t stop me from eating an entire take away pizza later that night. It was Christmas, don’t judge.

Anyway, not only did Mount Etna erupt for the first time 10 years just hours after we left it, there were 6 earthquakes in Catania as well (but I was in a food coma so didn’t notice).

 

On to the review

 

Falafel – 4/5 – crispy, fresh but not green, I like it green.

Bread – 3/5 – standard bread.

Salad – 4/5 – no olives

Intoxication – 0/5 

Price – I can’t remember, not expensive. 

Minus points for lack of hummus.

Total 3.75/5 – very good.

Happy New Year from everyone @ratemyfalafel.com

If you want to see your falafel review here in 2019, please send your reviews to ratemyfalafel@gmail.com!

Template coming soon!

Magic Falafel by ANON.

It’s rare to find yourself in Camden Lock market on a weekday unless you work there, are a tourist, or a teenager looking for something illicit. I was just hungry after walking from town. It was sweltering and jammed full, with people lining the sides of the canal, the water bright green with summer algae.  Camden is a place renown for fast, varied, portable international food – much of it vegetarian. It even boasts a Mildred’s. The street food stalls snake around three or four alleyways in the market, with vendors cooking in small box kitchens and vying for passing trade.  They’ve taken to laying out samples on their counters to make their offerings stand out and appeal. But in the heat, it all just looked congealed and fly-blown. Despite its veggie credentials, there was very little fresh food on offer in the market. Lots of basic meat in bread/wrap combinations – tacos, burgers, various Asian specialities wrapped in a takeaway layer of various rice papers or chapatti – but nothing with any crunch.  It’s noticeable in the new laudable hipster love affair with plant-based diets that many of the insta/facebook sites and markets do tend to be of the deep-fried, processed faux meat, highly sugar-laced confectionary type. There’s a lot of cake and baked goods that you’d never look at twice normally, being scoffed in the name of new found vegan life.  It might be a symptom of the difficulty in carting fresh and chopped salad and vegetables in confined street food vendor vans and stalls. It might be nutritional ignorance – or everyone’s having a lot of cheat diet days. Whatever the reason, it’s great to turn Vegan to save the planet, but you have to save yourself too, and only a balanced diet of varied plants will do that.

falafal3

Which is why falafel is such a perfect meal. A falafel wrap just cannot be a falafel wrap unless it contains mountains of crisp salad and pickle.  A truly wonderful falafel – street food or not – always come with that right combination of masses of varied, fresh and crunchy salad, hotly spiced falafel, perfect creamy tahini sauce, sweet/sharp chilli sauce and soft pita. So it took a few forlorn wanders around the market (and even a look into Mildred’s) finally to come across a side alley with the glorious sight of a mountain of fresh carrots, purple cabbage, pickles, tomatoes and grilled aubergines calling to me like a siren to a sailor in the deep fried fog. It’s called Magic Falafel – and not only are they jolly nice people – their falafel roll is a masterpiece of stuffing pita with extraordinary amounts of crunch, bite and creaminess, for six pounds. They do boxed falafel too for those who eschew bread. But the pita comes in a nice tough bag, easy to take away and eat by the canal with a view of the algae and Amy impressionists, and strong enough to take what’s left (it’s huge) home.

falafael 4

 

Magic Falafel. Camden Lock Markets.

Bread – 3/5

Falafel- 4/5

Salad – 4/5

Extras 4/5

Intoxication – 0/5

Many Thanks to our special guest reviewer ANONYMOUS this week!

 

Greek Falafels (Athens Part 2).

Ratemyfalafel.com took a trip to Athens in March to sample the growing number of falafel eateries in the capital city. Well, we went there to volunteer for ECHO refugee library, who provide a library service to migrants/refugees in and around Athens, but the real reason was of course to get falafel. It would be ludicrous to pretend otherwise. It’s taken a very long time to get round to writing about this trip – not because I was traumatised or anything, but because I watched all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones over the long winter…

During my brief 12 day stay, I managed to squeeze in 4 falafels. I would have had more but every time I actually wanted one (like when drunk) they were all shut. 2 of the falafels were bought reluctantly from a trendy hipster-ish place in eXarchia, in which the staff were surly. It was like being home in Bristol – graffiti everywhere, rude staff, over priced – a must have for any Brits/Bristolians feeling homesick. The only difference was that in Athens there are terrifying army and police everywhere, hanging around with massive guns (weapons, not muscles. Though in comparison to UK cops, they are better equipped in that area too).

The falafel on both occasions was sub par.  The first time round I forgot to ask for it to be vegan (I just assumed, I’m that kind of person) so it came with a generous dollop of yoghurt-y sauce (they love yoghurt over there, or so I hear). The second time I asked for it without, and she grimaced at me with raised eyebrows in a ‘fuck you’ kind of snarl. It also could have been ‘cos I was talking English, having not learnt any Greek at all. Apart from thank you, which I think I pronounced badly. Either way, she was unimpressed by me in general. As I was with the falafel. It was dry and hummus free, with a disappointing salad.

20180308_210734

 

Review-

Bread – 4/5 – nothing to complain about here, but not amazing

Falafel – 3/5 – dry

Salad – 2/5 – bland

Intoxication – 3/5

Service – 2/5

The next falafel was made for me by a man living in one of the refugee camps. I’d been volunteering for the library for a week, going to various social centres and camps to bring books and help catalogue the stock, and by the time it got to Friday I was ready for a decent falafel. I believe the falafel- cook was Syrian but I also could be wrong about that. Any way, it was brilliant. Costing just one euro, made in his kitchen in his caravan, he presented it to us with no fuss (and actually no words, neither of us spoke the others language). We communicated by a shared loved of fried chickpeas alone.

20180302_142143

20180302_142758

20180302_142306

I recorded an interview about this particular falafel, made whilst trying not to get falafel all over the books, and trying to entertain very enthusiastic kids. Unfortunately I lost it. It was good.

A final falafel was bought in a very cheap ‘street food’ type place called ‘street souvlaki’ in the centre near all the touristy bits. The price was right at 1.80, it was just big enough (I could have eaten more), but it did have a weird taste to it. A bit like a mixture between an onion baji and a falafel. Which is fine, as I am a bit bored of falafel these days. But still, it wasn’t really what I would call a falafel. And as always, no hummus. In fact, it was very difficult to find ANY hummus in Athens at all. Shocking.

20180311_000544

 

 

WE DO NOT SELL NITROUS OXIDE

Apologies to all the falafel lovers out there. Your falafel stuffed author has been too busy watching TV and complaining about the cold to write any reviews for a while. Life is hard.
Well, we moved to another part of Bristol. One of the primary reasons to move was to appreciate a whole new range of falafel eateries, this time in Easton. Stapleton Road and St Marks Road both boast several places to find falafel, all within a stones throw of our tiny, mouldy flat (complete with infuriating downstairs neighbours).
Let me summarise the falafel thus far
20180127_175924
Al-Waha has it all. Pizza, Indian curry, Afghan food and, falafel. Having sampled most of these foods, I can quite firmly say that all of the food is cheap in taste and in price. The curry is overly greasy with murky vegetables swimming in fat, and the pizza is made with that weird fake cheese that is in all cheap pizza places (which is only edible when drunk). The falafel was equally shit. They didn’t even attempt to contain the ingredients within the so-called ‘wrap’, just letting it slop all over the greasy paper. Far too dry and far too onion-y, the falafel came with a tantalising smudge of hummus which did nothing to relieve the dryness. I was having one of my periodic no drinking spells, which naturally made the falafel even more depressing, along with life in British winter. Why did I decide not to drink? It is one of life’s small pleasures, along with falafel of course (good falafel, not shit falafel). I can’t wait to start drinking again. Anyway…
Bread 2/5 (was standard but the wrapping was terrible)
Falafel 1/5
Salad 1/5 (too onion-y)
Minus points for scant hummus
good points – price (£3 with chips)
Also, very un- pretentious. No frills. I like that.
Baba Ganoush – Stapleton Rd
‘WE DO NOT SELL NITROUS OXIDE HERE’ reads the sign on the door.

Good to know, I mused as we entered into the café with my brother and my niece. Techno was blasting out at lunchtime. The walls seems to be ‘boom town ‘ themed, which was weird, until I realised that the owners had helped set up the festival. Having been to Boom Town Fair many times, this café seemed to be perfect. Rave meets falafel. The seats were comfy. The nervous waitress took our order, seemingly disconcerted to have a 5 year old in tow with us. She was probably high.  We accidentally ordered a too large quantity of food, all mezze dishes, including falafel and hummus.

It was far too much food. It was also very overpriced for lunch.
The food was really tasty, but my niece didn’t agree. I think she probably wanted a cheese sandwich or something.
20170903_152045
price – too much
falafel – 4/5 good
bread- 4/5
Salad – 4/5
In all fairness, I would like to go back there again and just get the falafel wrap for a truly accurate analysis.
stay tuned for my next post – “the proposal”