Falafel not Fracking!

I was standing in what can be best described as ‘pissing rain’, in the middle of Preston new road, wearing a ‘one size fits all’ incontinence nappy. But why? Had I taken a job as a traffic conductor or was I on a mandatory work scheme from the job centre? No. I was there to help block the road to prevent access to the fracking site, that Cuadrilla were still insisting on trying to use, despite literally having no support from anyone. Except from the government of course, and some big businesses, like banks. Anyone with children or like, hope for the future didn’t seem too pleased with the idea that they would soon have no drinking water and would suffer from earthquakes.

I suppose the nappy needs some explanation too, but we’ll get there, eventually.

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I admit I was a little disappointed. I’d gone up to the anti fracking camp to show my solidarity with the protectors up there, some of whom had been there for months, fearlessly stopping the convoys getting in by all means necessary. You’d think, however, that a fully functioning vegan kitchen would have some sort of falafel on offer for hardworking protesters, but shamefully, there was not even a whiff in sight. Not a trace!

My mind racing, tired from the travel up, I wracked my brains to think of an alternative way of accessing a falafel. I hadn’t brought any with me, assuming the situation would deal with itself. It was with this in mind that I offered my services as an ‘arrest-able’. You see, my friend had told me about this time that she got arrested in a group once and when she was released, she was presented with a hot, tasty falafel by the lovely activists of the Green and Black Cross. I’d be lying if i said that this tale didn’t influence my decision a little bit, to rise at 5am, don an adult nappy and ready myself to block the road- ‘locking on’ in arm tubes. (Hence the nappy, it can take hours to get cut off).

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a truck surfer – badass individuals who jump – or ‘surf’ onto a truck and just stay there for days, thus preventing the truck from entering the site!

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, the plan changed as plans do and I was left waddling around in it all day, drenched to the skin from ludicrously insistent rain as I helped out others who had done the deed. This meant stopping them from being run over, and mainly being called a wanker by furious commuters who were so angry by the 30 second delay to their journeys, that revving up to potentially run us over seemed reasonabe. I did consider using the nappy (cos I could) at one point but I thought the novelty would soon wear off and I would lose the only part of my body not soaking wet.

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So I resisted the temptation to piss myself. And despite my best efforts, I didn’t get arrested either, thus eliminating the second potential falafel option. Must try harder next time!

New words learnt –  1 (Truck Surfer, very cool)

Falafels consumed- 0 (v disappointing)

Lorry’s stopped going in – dunno, but lots

Good news – L M T transport pulled out of working for Cuadrilla on ethical grounds

Bad news – scummy Cuadrilla snuck in a convoy in the middle of the night, illegally.

For some actual information on whats going on, see Reclaim the Power and Rising Up on Facebook and Twitter!

#WesaidNo #RollingResistance

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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!

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!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

CHICK CHICK BOOM!

Many thanks to our guest reviewer this week:  Jonny!

by @falafelboys

Brent Cross shopping centre is known for its shops. There are loads of them. 120 to be precise. There’s even a pop up beach in the summer, where literally 350 tonnes of sand and 100 palm trees are plonked into the North West London car park.

More importantly, since its opening last month, it’s now home to CHICK ‘falafel bar’.

Healthy (ish) fast food, CHICK sell German and Middle Eastern foods. Brilliantly simple, their menu is split into pittas and salads, and there are six items, starting from £5.60. See the full menu below – including a great selection of extras and vegetarian options.

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note from editor – why would you add a boiled egg???

Luring you in, you smell the waft of CHICK’s fresh falafel before you reach it, and it’s really good. Unlike it’s restaurant on Leather Lane though, this branch (number two) is more of a kiosk than a sit-down restaurant, but there is a small seating area for eight people.

Whilst queuing we glanced at the menu but knew what we were going for. The falafel in pita, a classic. The first bite was everything we expected and more. The pita was soft and fluffy (they offer white and brown pita), and the falafel was hot, crunchy on the outside, and soft inside. They were SO fresh, they must have literally been out the fryer for less than 60 seconds before being slipped into the pita. Green in colour, and flavoursome, the pita was filled to the brim with six balls. Unlike some falafels, CHICK succeeded by not having a soggy bottom. Even with two spoonful’s of smooth hummus, tahini and salad it pretty much held together. We experienced a minor hummus leak, but it didn’t fall apart and there was no grease. Whole chickpeas as part of the salad was a nice surprise too, and along with the couscous added texture and extra flavour.

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The eating experience and atmosphere is busy, but in all honesty what do you expect when you’re in the middle of a shopping centre? Having said that, it’s not hectic at all, the queue for the food went down very quickly and the staff are friendly. There wasn’t anything negative about the visit other than a limited selection of drink options, but as it’s only their first month perhaps there will be more to come.

Most importantly, the falafel was unbelievably fresh and much like their strap line ‘Simple. Honest. Delicious’, we agree. Word on the street is there may be more branches opening soon, so watch this space…

Check it out, or should that be CHICK it out!

CHICK, Lower mall, Brent Cross Shopping Centre, NW4 3FP

Love Falafel? Love complaining/ prone to hyperbole? Give us an email and submit your ideas on the ‘About’ page.

Mr Falafel

London. The Big Smoke. Mr Falafel.

After a grueling couple of hours in the Science Museum, where we had seen Tim Peake’s actual space craft (v. disappointing) and learnt that scientists do lots of weird shit to mice, enough was enough. None of this learning and ‘culture’ malarky. We needed to get down to it. It was time for a falafel. Mr Falafel, of Shepherd’s Bush had been on the ‘list for years’, according to one of my esteemed colleagues, who had joined me for a jaunt in our nations capital. So we pottered along to Shepherds Bush, ruthlessly ignoring 2 other falafel stalls as we went (sorry Falafel King and Abu’s Falafel, maybe next time). On arrival, we were greeted with this sign:

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“we speak falafel fluently”- a welcome relief for tired falafel reviewers

Not only was it a Palestinian run cafe, it was Vegan society approved, multi-lingual in all things falafel. Inside, the cafe/takeaway was pleasantly understated with metal chairs and tables, but with brightly coloured walls which matched the Palestinian flag. Kitsch, retro even- but in a humble, not trying too hard sort of a way. “Authentic- for London” one friend commented.

The Menu contained an alarmingly varied selection of falafel wraps – 11 in total. This meant we spent a good 10 mins worrying about which one to get, as to be quite frank, they all looked amazing. We opted for 3 different ones so we could maximise the reviewing process. W went for the classic falafel wrap. Q went for the Falafel and Makdoos Wrap- which contained spicy walnuts as well as pickled aubergines. I, myself chose the Falafel and Ful Medames Wrap, which has seasoned broad beans in it in addition to the hummus and aubergine and salads.

On to the review. Each falafel came with a decorative jalepeno on the side, which we all agreed was A- a nice touch and B- surprisingly tasty and fresh. Some comments during the rapid eating process:

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the wrapped article

W: I Love It.

Q: It was Thrilling/Filling

C: Mmmmmn.

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the classic falafel wrap

W: You can  really taste the parsley.

Q: It’s bursting with flavour!

C: It’s really big.

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the makdoos

I’ll be quite honest here. This was possibly the best falafel I had ever had in my long career of falafel review, and that is considering mine was a little bit drippy and messy. I think this was because mine had more sauce in in from the ful medames dressing. However, we all agreed that the falafels were amazing, that we would definitely come back and try everything on the menu. We even bragged to the friendly staff that we would get the XL next time- though the mediums really were enormous anyway. The aubergine which made an appearance in all the falafels was delicious, and it is not often that you find both fried aubergine and hummus in  a ‘classic falafel wrap’.

Starting at a price of £4.50, for London I would say that it is very good value for money.

Intoxication Levels – 0/5

Dressings- 5/5

Bread- (Standard, 3.5/5)

Falafel -(5/5)

Extras – (5/5)

Over all a near perfect score. Well done Mr Falafel. You can visit their website at http://www.mrfalafel.co.uk for more info.

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Review- London Town

Mermaid Fish Bar :

189 Lower Clapton Road
London E5 8EG

Hackney Downs

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It was Wednesday evening. We had spent it pleasantly watching ‘noise’ in an old church in Hackney. As we tiredly trudged home, almost deaf after the intense wall of noise we had experienced, hunger rumbled in our bellies and I decided to pop into my local and treat my visiting Bristolians to some falafel and chips. I’d had falafel from here before but it was quite a while ago, when my brain had been swamped by the intense anxiety of the capitalist working world, and so my memory of how it was had been clouded in a haze of worry and lack of clarity. Time to try once more.

The falafel came with a range of salad and sauces. I went for all salad and just the chilli sauce (the guy seemed highly dismayed that I wouldn’t take the garlic sauce – clearly a good choice for the non-vegans out there?) The falafel themselves were cooked to perfection, crispy on the outside and soft and flavoursome inside, and were wrapped up in a thin flatbread with humous, chilli sauce and all the salads.

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Positives : Definitely the tastiest falafel wrap I’ve had in a while, served to me by a smiley and jovial guy who seemed to be constantly winking and laughing.
Negatives – It was £5. Oh and the extremely tasty chilli sauce sadly caused my wrap to leak all over me, despite the paper wrapping. Maybe I wasn’t eating it fast enough.

Portions of chips were huge (a small was £1.50) and got the thumbs up from my Bristolian chums.
Innibriation rating: 0 (due to being on antibiotics)
All in all a shining, but slightly highly priced, 4/5

*Many Thanks to our guest blogger ‘Quaid’ for this submission. If any other falafel lovers out there want to write in, contact me and I’ll post it up. There is only so much falafel I can physically eat, TBH.