I made another quinoa dish on Sunday night, with a home-made, rather than shop-bought, tzatziki.
With that burbling away on the stove, I grabbed the carrot tzatziki recipe I’d ripped from the pages of the Sunday Times Style mag, belonging to my dad’s local pub, earlier that morning.
I barely looked at the instructions, just started chopping away at cucumber, upended half a tub of Greek yoghurt into a dish, threw in the cucs, added a clove of minced garlic – as per instructions, swooshed in 2bsp of extra virg, ripped leaves from Mandy the mint plant and started shredding them in…
Then I seasoned with salt and pepper, mixed and tasted. Boooo. It tasted more like a garlic dip than the fresh, cool, almost bland taste you want from a tzatziki. But then I wasn’t following a recipe for a cucumber tzatziki, damn it, I had forgotten myself. Alas, I was all undone.
This cavalier approach also resulted in me forgetting to roast the tomatoes for the quinoa.
“Ah well,” I thought, still feeling a little Lorraine Pascale: “I will just use non-roasted tomatoes and chuck them in with my vinegary dressing.” I also chucked in chunks of pretend feta. Sainso’s Be Good To Yourself ‘light greek salad cheese’ (?) to be precise.
And it was… okay… but probably all just a bit too garlicky and acidic. The tzatziki would have been much better without the clove of garlic and the quinoa needed sweet roasted tomatoes to balance the vinegar and onion dressing. Listen to me, I’m Greg Wallace. It was a lesson learnt though and I seem to have the quino down at least.
The kitchen was due a breather.
So on Monday, a group of us (J, sister Tash, and my uncles) went to Banners in Crouch End.
Banners is a legend on the north London foodie scene. Based on Park Road and regularly name-checked by celeb fans, it does big, big tasty portions of Caribbean and fusion food. It’s always packed to the knick-knacked rafters and the atmos and exotic playlist are as just as tasty. I had Jamaican prawn roti, with rice and peas, and homemade coleslaw. J had jerk chicken (for a change) with massive side salad and chips.
My uncle had a jerk chicken salad – a salad in name only. Frank had a lamb burger and T had the veggie chilli.
Banners isn’t cheap. Mains sway around the £13-£16 mark, which for a Monday night can feel like an extravagance – but you massively get what you pay for.
Our little tribe was happy. Banners was happy. And the kitchen back home was happy.