On Saturday I spent the morning with Levi Roots at his Caribbean Smokehouse in Westfield Stratford City. I posted a couple of pictures on Facebook and Twitter and oh my goodness I’ve never had so many people ask me about something I’ve done! Let me explain how I came to be there and how you can do it too!
Levi is running a new 2 hour cookery masterclass at his restaurant over the next few weekends in March and April and I was invited along to a sneak preview of what will be on offer. You basically get to watch and learn as Levi cooks some of his signature Caribbean dishes, then try all of the delicious food he’s made. It sounds like a winner, doesn’t it?
The restaurant, no wait, let’s get it right: ‘Rastaurant’ is a lovely wide open space with shanty town shabby chic styling and a cheeky humour that can’t help but put a big smile on your face. If I hadn’t been wearing 3 layers that day I could almost have pretended that I’d just stepped off of a beach in Jamaica.
Levi was absolutely lovely and made the whole experience relaxed and fun. No sooner had we arrived than he appeared and began chatting away to us about the restaurant and his passion for bringing authentic Caribbean cuisine to the UK.
Originally inspired by his grandmother’s home cooking, his latest menu includes gluten free, vegan and veggie friendly options and even an ital dish (authentic Rastafarian vegan). This is in part in thanks to his youngest son whom he had to adapt recipes for to cater to his food allergies.
After enjoying a drink Levi beckoned us to sit around the bar and watch as he got to work, assisted by his second, Greg.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers as it’s really best experienced in person. Instead I’ll give you a few of the highlights of the morning to whet your appetite!
We learned about the classic Caribbean staples including: ackee (a strange fruit with the texture of processed cheese), ochre, all spice (pimento), plantain and scotch bonnet chillies.
Levi jokingly invited us to try a bit of the chilli (the hottest one with flavour on the Scoville scale) and for a reason that Fran is still questioning now she volunteered to eat one. Learn from her mistake people – it’s ferocious stuff!
Here’s the food we saw prepared and then got a chance to eat hot and fresh:
Festivals (otherwise known as Jamaican dumplings) straight from the fryer, cooled down with a tangy tomato sauce…
…slow cooked curry goat…
…jamaican jerk chicken and rice and peas…
…and my favourite dish of all (which was very surprising considering I don’t like banana!): fried plantain.
He even showed us a neat trick for removing the flesh from a mango using nothing more than a knife and a glass.
The session was both fun and inspiring and I really want to have a go at making rice and peas now – Levi’s version was made with coconut milk and was so good that I could have cried happy tears!
The masterclasses are taking place from 9.30am to 11.30 am on the following dates:
Saturday 19th March 2016
Saturday 26th March 2016
Saturday 9th April 2016
Saturday 16th April 2016
Tickets are available to book here: eventbrite.co.uk/levi-roots-caribbean-masterclass-tickets and cost only £15, which I find exceptionally good value for such an entertaining and unique 2 hour experience (plus lots of delicious food!).
Levi Roots’ Caribbean Smokehouse – 103 The Street, Westfield Stratford City Montfichet Road, London E20 1EN, United Kingdom.
Enter my giveaway below for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the 9th April session.
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