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Lamb Wrap at F M Mangal, Camberwell

30 Aug

Adana Wrap

LOCATION: 54 Camberwell Church St, London SE5 8QZ [map].

PRICE: £6.00 – £7.50.

BREAD: A very large, thin flatbread, the like of which I have not seen elsewhere.

FILLING: Lamb, salad (carrot, onion, lettuce, peppers), garlic yoghurt sauce, chilli sauce.

PROS & CONS: F M Mangal is very close to my house and I have long since stopped eating in. I’ve discovered the way to do things properly, which is to order the wraps, embellish with a Turkish salad and flamingo tarama (if going all out) and then just get on with life. Straying into the wider menu is for idiots and the uninitiated. You’ll notice that I have titled this post ‘lamb wrap’ as I couldn’t decide between the lamb shish and the adana. We often order both, then halve them and share. The lamb shish should be eaten first, while the chunks of lamb are springy and hot from the grill; they bounce between the teeth, just cooked in the centre, smoke infused. They’re as juicy as a tense plum, and the not-quite-bloody flavours and fats combine inside with the thin garlic yoghurt, chilli sauce and salad. This is why you get the wrap; this magical cauldron of tasty will not bubble if things are presented just so on a plate.

The adana, conversely, is better when slightly cooled; at least, it can take it, unlike the lamb shish, which has a tendency to taste livery if not still jumping from the heat. These lengthy pucks of minced meat and spice ooze fat and glory. My one complaint is that they do turn up the odd nugget of gristle but this adds to the spit, smoke and flame-licked animal appeal of it all. The key to making a good adana that stays on the skewer lies in the kneading of the meat mixture beforehand, which increases the density of the kebab and stops it flopping off into the coals. This is a good, solid but juicy example that they bash out consistently like a sewing machine hammers fabric. Confident and relentless.

SCORE: 9/10

Lamb Kebab Wrap at Asian Takeaway, Peckham

30 Apr

Babbage

LOCATION: ‘Asian Takeaway’, opposite the station on Rye Lane, next to Ali Baba fruit n veg.

PRICE: Can’t remember. A few quid? Not much, anyway. 

BREAD: Naan.

FILLING: Minced lamb kebab, cucumber, lettuce, yoghurt sauce, chilli sauce.

PROS: This sandwich is a lesson in the value of simplicity and freshness. Who would’ve thought we’d be so lucky that a bunch of firecrackers would set up a tandoor in what is basically a shack tucked away off Peckham’s main drag, Rye Lane? A man works next to the sweaty heat of the oven rolling balls of dough, one under each palm in opposite directions, simultaneously. Wax on, wax off. These are shaped and hand-slapped into the tandoor, to order. He wears gloves. Long, skewered kebabs are speared in and out too, then hung from the roof to cool once cooked.

What’s particularly impressive about this kebab is the spicing. So often too many spices muddle together making the overall flavour flat and oddly, very bland. These guys know when to stop. There’s a whacking great measure of green chilli though, which brings searing freshness as well as, obviously, hefty poke.

The salad is as juicily spanking as everything else, and the cucumber is cut lengthways, so that it actually lies flat in the wrap and doesn’t fall out. Finally. Someone. I can never get one of these wraps into my face quite fast enough actually, and then I always have to be talked out of getting another. I don’t let go of this idea usually until I get way down past Maccy D’s and almost around the corner to the High Street, by which point it just means really that I can’t be arsed to walk back.

CONS: So I have lived in Peckham for like, quite a lot of years now and I never knew this place existed. The first time I went there I asked the guy why he didn’t have a sign, to which he responded by pointing at the sign. It’s kinda hard to see but actually once you…okay I’m just a massive doofus.

SCORE: 7/10

 

 

Classic Falafel Wrap at Mr. Falafel, Shepherd’s Bush

18 Jun

LOCATION: Mr. Falafel, Units T4 – T5, New Shepherd’s Bush Market, Uxbridge Road, W12 8LH [map]

PRICE: £5.00 (for the XL size)

BREAD: Hollyland flatbread

FILLING: Five falafels, hummus, fried aubergine slices, pickled cucumbers, pickled turnips, lettuce, tomato, green chilli sauce, red chilli sauce, tahini sauce, parsley. Phew.

PROS: I am forever chasing the perfect falafel. I thought I’d found it once, unexpectedly, at um, Bestival, in um, some year or other I can’t remember, they blur into one. Festival food in general is rubbish and expensive as I’m sure you know but this falafel wrap…sigh. I probably hadn’t eaten in a while, granted and it was the middle of the night in the middle of a field but it was just so perfect at that point in time, not to mention restorative. Mr. Falafel is also very good, but I fear he does live somewhat in the shadow of Festival Falafel. Unfortunate really because it can’t possibly have been all that.

Anyway, Mr.F is serving really good and proper Palestinian falafel, definitely some of the best I’ve had in London. The place is a little hut, really, right on the end of Shepherd’s Bush Market. There are a few shabby tables and an incredibly lovely, friendly man cooking. I watched as he used his nifty little scooper thing to mould balls of chickpea mix and pop them out into the fryer. Five of those in the XL size wrap, really light (as falafels should be) with lots of flavour from good quality chickpeas. This means they’re not over-spiced to compensate. The hummus is as smooth as Marvin Gaye dressed in silk stroking a baby’s bottom. Eww. Sorry. Mr. Falafel also spoils us with not one kind of pickle but two, cucumber and turnip; as a pickle fiend this pleases me. Also, everything is just so damn FRESH. We just can’t stop banging on about how flippin fresh tasting the whole thing is, me and my mate and believe me, the word fresh can really make a mess if spoken repeatedly through mouthfuls of mashed up chickpea. The tahini sauce is good too, not bullying and cloying as it can be. The fried aubergine slices are obviously a stroke of genius and a generous gesture, I think, considering this is the standard wrap and it’s massive. The liberal use of fresh parsley is a nice touch and something I now consider essential; it really does make the whole thing rather um…rifles through list of adjectives…oh fuck it, fresh.

CONS: I used to live in Shepherd’s Bush and yet I never discovered this place (actually I used to live in West Kensington but I never came to terms with that so I always lied and said I lived in Shepherd’s Bush, partly due to the fact I was terrified I’d end up calling it ‘West Ken’ like a massive tosser). Yesterday it took me an hour and a half to get there from Peckham, although I did discover that the Hammersmith and City line genuinely exists as part of the tube network. All this is not Mr. Falafel’s fault of course, I’m just having a moan. His hot chilli sauce isn’t hot however. I asked for this first but then decided I had to have both hot and mild, yet still picked up barely a prickle. Next time I’ll ask Mr. Falafel (he has a real name I’m sure and I wonder if he is this man) to put one of the pickled chillies that come as garnish inside the wrap. He’d do that, because he’s very nice. I know this from his general demeanour and the fact that he invited me behind the counter so I could more easily take the picture you see above. ‘Wasn’t he nice?’ We kept saying, me and my mate. ‘Wasn’t he a lovely nice friendly man?’ It took him a good, what, 7 minutes or so to make the sandwich, what with it being all so erm, fresh and all, and in that 7 minutes he really made an impression on us. He just had the air of someone who is a genuinely happy person and it made the whole experience even more enjoyable. He wished us a good day and he meant it. Awesome guy,  kick ass falafel.

SCORE: 8/10 

Chargrilled Caulifower Wrap at Mike and Ollie, Brockley

28 Jan

Yes, a wrap is a sandwich. Read my FAQ to find out why.

LOCATION: Brockley Market, Lewisham College Car Park, Lewisham Way, SE4 1UT [map]

PRICE: £5.50

BREAD: Home made flatbread with a touch of orange blossom water.

FILLING: Chargrilled caulifower with crispy garlic and cumin; hummus; red cabbage; rose hip molasses; home made yoghurt; Turkish chilli; toasted seeds; coriander; a little rocket.

PROS: I don’t know where to start because this wrap was just outstanding. The cauliflower was lovely and smoky from char grilling and was packed with garlic and spice. The whole wrap brimmed with wonderful contrasts; silky cooling yoghurt mixed with mild Turkish chilli heat; creamy soft hummus against bits of charred cauli, toasted seeds and sweet molasses. Cabbage added crunch. Coriander, freshness. It’s like a flavour explosion, barely contained within that beautiful home made flat bread, faintly fragrant with orange blossom, warmed through on a hot pan. Mike and Ollie are two chefs who wanted to do something different; they make everything themselves, going so far as foraging for rose hips, fruits, nuts, whatever is in season locally. From what I can tell, Ollie is the behind the scenes foraging guy, while Mike does the cooking and selling. Bloody nice bloke he is, too.

There are meat and fish options available. I tried the spanking fresh mackerel (pictured below) with beetroot puree; crisp apple (fab with the fish); caramelised red onion and rosemary; rocket; home made yoghurt; toasted seeds. This was also brilliant but eclipsed by the cauli.

CONS: I can’t think of any. So why does this get 9 and not 10/10? I suppose the best answer I can give is that, although this tastes INCREDIBLE, it didn’t make me start dancing on the nearest table. I’m not sure any sandwich can ever get a 10 but then, that’s the challenge I have set for myself. It might just be out there, waiting. One day. In the meantime, get your chops around one of these wraps.

SCORE: 9/10