Grace’s Caribbean Cuisine, SE12

Let me be perfectly clear. We found ourselves at Grace’s Carribean Cuisine (well, on Just Eat’s website) for one thing and one thing only. Goat Curry. Okay… well, we did add things to that ‘one thing’. It is, after all, hard to turn down Jerk Chicken. But we missed out on the Oxtail. It was a close run thing. Adding a chicken patty was a no-brainier, and what did it mean to order it with with coco bread..? Well if we didn’t order, we wouldn’t find out, so we threw that in too.

Which all led to a takeaway that would span the next two and a half meals (not including breakfast). My only regret was getting the coco bread with the patty’s which seemed strangely unnecessary, and we removed the patty’s from the roll they were in. I ate it with another meal… It proved a little hard to hold on to our health as we indulged.

Not being a fan of yam, we requested green banana and hardfood, neither of which I can summon much opinion on. My husband liked the steamed, not so green, but very pale banana, but I found its consistency hard to digest, and the hard food (boiled dumpling, banana and yam – you must see the picture) was intriguing. Apparently we should have saved that one for breakfast. Don’t judge me. I added green salad as a side. I consider this a privelege of takeaway.

Grater cake and Gizzada for dessert were the two other discoveries of the day. Grater cake is like a more textured cocounut ice… right down to the pink and white colouring, and extremely moreish… leading to eating more grater cake than one might have eaten coconut ice, and gizzada is like a coconut treacle tart… with sugar, rather than treacle. Grace’s tart had the most impressive pastry eaten cold from cellophane in a very long time, crispy and butter. Neither lasted long. That wasn’t intentional…

Don’t forget to check out my novel HELEN AND THE GRANDBEES currently running 4.7 stars on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Helen-Grandbees-Alex-Morrall/dp/178955991X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Alex+morrall&qid=1608718842&sr=8-1#customerReviews

The Tapas Room, Deptford – A Tiny Cavern of Delights

Little did we know that it was the end of tier 2, that in fact this tier was set to double, when we enjoyed a day off work to pretend to holiday in Deptford. We sat under the glow of a heater, making up for the tiny well-ventilated room, admiring the bottles, the menu and the counter of delicacies, watching enviously as elegant glasses were carried over to the outside guests who clearly survive lunchtime drinking better than I do.

I think that the pictures of the food here speak for themselves…

The staff were charming, hard working and attentive, and scaled ladders to reach our non-acoholic beers:

We finished with churros, with a gorgeous chocolatey sauce.

For the perfect uplifting read on dark days – set in DEPTFORD… Order my novel HELEN AND THE GRANDBEES, described by the Daily Mail as ‘Engaging and Uplifting’

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Alex+morrall&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

“Mr Whippy it ain’t” – A review of Dark Sugars Chocolate shop in Greenwich

We ended up outside the Dark Sugars Chocolate shop after a lunchtime lockdown walk. I peered in, half desirously but also wincing a little at the open pools of chocolate delights. Ingestion of chocolate isn’t strictly listed as a WHO contamination risk… but just doesn’t sit right with these paranoid times. In the end, it seemed churlish to avoid the treats you ARE allowed, whilst languishing resentfully about the small pleasures we’re currently denied, so we settled on ice cream – blood orange chocolate ice cream, on a freezing cold day. Mostly because it looked pretty seriously chocolatey.

I have ice cream issues. It took me years to understand that the reason that everyone ELSE was raving about ice cream, was because it is quite nice, but my lactose intolerance and sensitive teeth were blocking the ‘nice’ bit for me. After much consideration, I have come to terms with the fact that it’s not shameful to own up to not-actually-liking-ice-cream, with the exception of when its just about to be served at dinner parties. However there is a small space in my heart for very dark rich ice cream which I consider, not ice cream, but dense chocolate and cream mixed together which happens to be cold.

Hence, I agreed with my husband, I would have half a scoop of in a black cone.

The ‘half a scoop’ did seem to cause some contention as watched from outside the shop so as to abide by their COVID rules, watching a slightly annoyed shop assistant. I was surprised, we hadn’t to pay only half the price. Surely this formula was quids-in for them. My husband exited with a cone looking to be about a scoop AND a half.

“I think that she thought I was a controlling husband who was trying to keep my fat wife’s weight down” my husband said soulfully as he came out. “That’s the look she gave me when I ordered” It needs to be noted (as if my blogging was not evidence of this) that ‘controlling’ could be an hysterically laughable IRONIC nickname for my husband, who is marvellously supportive and lets me steal his jokes when my blogs just ain’t shining. Also, I have a perfectly healthy BMI, thank you very much.

On the other hand, I can’t say that the over-sized ice cream, when I had done every effort on my part to be good, was something that I could hold against Dark Sugars. It was delicious. It did disappear very quickly. And it was the source of no food guilt whatsover. If that ice cream made me put on 2 pounds of weight, then it was worth the hard work to lose it.

NB. They appear to be delivering: https://www.darksugars.co.uk I suspect this does not include the ice cream.

Don’t forget to purchase your copy of HELEN AND THE GRANDBEES – “Engaging & Uplifting” (Daily Mail) HERE:

“The sausage and fried egg bap, went beyond the promise of its name” A review of Heaps Sausages Greenwich SE10


Three whole years I’ve been cycling past Heap’s Sausages, saying I’d pay a visit, and it’s taken lockdown2 to actually make it. I’d noticed it’s lockdown friendly approach, with a large number of polite people standing by waiting for their order.

There were surprises. The first surprise was that choosing from the menu was much like choosing from a classier looking greasy spoon menu. I had anticipated choosing the sausage type. However this did not lower my expectations.

The second surprise was the quality of the simple cake selection. I apologise for sounding like cake is my raison d’etre, but like, basically it is, and had I realised how good the cake selection would be… Heaps and I would have been acquainted much sooner. 

My husband and I ate our wares in the (extremely) nearby Greenwich Park, kind of relieved that eating in the park is allowed in lockdown2.

Hotdogs, like waffles on Parisian streets are one of those things that for most vendors, give homage to great food, whilst usually failing to deliver great food. Good news… Heap’s ain’t one of them. The Heaps hotdog was phenomenal. The mulled wine side was delicious. The sausage and fried egg bap, went beyond the promise of its name.

Hot dog from Heaps Sausages

Heaps and I should have fallen out. There was no room after the sausage delicacies for the small brownie that I had purchased. And eating when full is really not good. However, I remembered my blogging duty, mindfully located my dessert stomach, and gently nibbled the chocolate crumbs, the mixed chips, the things that make a brownie great. 

Yes. It was worth it. 

Have you ordered my debut novel, HELEN AND THE GRANDBEES yet? Described by the Daily Mail as ‘Engaging and Uplifting’ its the perfect read for an autumn lockdown.

https://uk.bookshop.org/books/helen-and-the-grandbees/9781789559910?aid=820

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/178955991X?pf_rd_r=6MDB18K0G9JNTM391227&pf_rd_p=e632fea2-678f-4848-9a97-bcecda59cb4e

Some walks from Oxleas Woods SE18

Have you ordered my debut novel, HELEN AND THE GRANDBEES yet? Described by the Daily Mail as ‘Engaging and Uplifting’ its the perfect read for an autumn lockdown.

In stock at all major bookstores, but this link will support local bookshops: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/helen-and-the-grandbees/9781789559910?aid=820

Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/178955991X?pf_rd_r=6MDB18K0G9JNTM391227&pf_rd_p=e632fea2-678f-4848-9a97-bcecda59cb4e

“If a treat is available it should be indulged,” Pre-lockdown Boulangerie Jade review

So many places in blackheath have been so good at their social distancing that we decided to do the ‘trip before lockdown’ experience, so long as we could be sure it was safe.

Now, a ‘Trip Before Lockdown’ is a very special occasion and should not be undertaken lightly. If a treat is available it should be indulged, because THIS IS THE LAST TIME FOR A MONTH, WHO KNOWS, MAYBE MORE…

That’s right, we visited Boulangerie Jade at the Blackheath Standard and nothing was off the table. Nothing…

So I had a vegetarian breakfast. You know, I never give this credit until it turns up, absolutely bursting with vegetables, slow cooked mixed baked beans, veggie sausages and poached eggs. It’s a real diversion from the same old greasy plate.

Always go vegetarian on this menu.

Treat-dom really kicks in on the dessert front at Jade. I don’t mean a pastry (brekkie) I don’t mean a florentine or nut-cracker (biscuit for your coffee), I mean cream, and maybe sponge or outer-pastry, pastry on the outside only (or submerged in cream) which led me to the rare treat for me of… The Jade Chocolate Moussy Thing (anglicised version of the true name… ah, say it in a fake french accent if that really offends you…)

The Boulangerie Jade Chocolate Moussy Thing

I mean, after that pic, do you really need me to talk about how rich and chocolates it is, how those milk flakes scattered around the dark tempered chocolate…?

Have you ordered my debut novel, HELEN AND THE GRANDBEES yet? Described by the Daily Mail as ‘Engaging and Uplifting’ its the perfect read for an autumn lockdown

In stock at all major bookstores, but this link will support local bookshops: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/helen-and-the-grandbees/9781789559910?aid=820

pic courtesy of book_club_mumma

Review of Wisley Gardens… and environs


In June, we discovered the RHS gardens. Can’t remember why. Think I saw it on someone’s instagram. We packed fake fizz and I made an artichoke and thyme pizza and apple cake and we ventured out into the newly unlocked world, wondering if the toilets would be closed and what we would do if they were. We started with Hyde Hall, and worked our way down to Wisley. We came home with crates of roses and tomatoes fully enamoured of the place, having had the nicest day since lockdown. Readers, we joined their membership. 

Scenes from Wisley Gardens (RHS)… No… that is not me taking a dive…

We’ve since discovered that Wisley gardens are slightly closer, and have been venturing out on Thursday afternoons to enjoy this pretty corner of the South East. The social distancing booking rules actually probably work out in a slightly nicer experience, even though this also means that you have to book in advance and we have had more than one grey rainy day (proving the perfect excuse to show off my rain coat.) and hence we have had quite an opportunity to sample the local pubs and coffee shops and restaurants. 

It began with the Anchor. There are two in Ripley. We’d agreed to meet friends at the first only to find it locked, but ogled the AA rosette menu and committed to coming back (even if our friends did not show). This resulted in a gorgeous meal of scallops, beef tartare and hake. My husband had dessert and I watched. It was Tonka bean creme brûlée, I had one mouthful and it was divine. Then I googled tonka beans. I highly recommend googling tonka beans before indulging in them. We might not for a while. (Note… there is more than one Anchor Pub in Ripley. This was the one not on the canal)


Tonka bean creme brûlée at the Anchor in Ripley

The White Hart in Pirbright was were we ended up after this. I recognised this menu. I recognised the menu from Birmingham. This would have been fine, the menu was nicer than your bog standard so called gastro pub (read burgers, fish and chips) but only just. And most disappointingly the fabulous looking drinks listed in headlines across the menu really weren’t all that fantastic. Great ingredients, too much watering down.  Passed the time, this menu, but was a pleasant environment.

Creme Brûlée in a cup (my husband really likes Creme Brûlée)

More recently was our opportunity to eat at Stovell’s in Chobham. We’d seen this come up before in tripadvisor, but weren’t able to get in. This time we booked in advance… which we seriously reconsidered after thunder and lightening in Wisley raining us off, but leaving us with a gap between downpour and dinner. We hence arrived earlier, resulting in much merriment on the part of the maitre de, who thought it was just that we did not want to leave the car, whilst outside was a pure block of rain. This was unfair. 

The meal at the warming Tudor building of Stovell’s was amazing. The portions were small but filling, this being the shared sea bass (which arrives the same size as it would on the tasting menu) and the alcohol free gin. Scattered with botanicals, this was the best we tasted.

Sea Bass at Stovells

The staff enthused about the piñata dessert, but the Tudor rose ice cream with chocolate mousse seemed more tempting (to the disappointment of the waitress), and on arrival I think I had the better choice, the brightly coloured piñata containing a little too much meringue (or a little too little fruit) to balance the meal. I’m still daydreaming about that mousse.

Piñata dessert at Stovells Chobham

The waitress seemed a little disappointed to be giving us the bill after only 90 minutes. ”I just want to keep you here, she said,” and she praised us for our honesty about the meal. (We weren’t too sure what this referred to. Pointing out that the dessert menu was actually not the dessert menu perhaps? This took little honesty.) however the good news was she seemed to be one of those people who really meant all the gushing things she said, so we went home feeling wholly appreciated.

I have a few places yet to add to this list… Thai, English cuisine, a lovely coffee shop in Ripley so I’ll update this page as they go…

Have you ordered my debut novel, HELEN AND THE GRANDBEES yet? Described by the Daily Mail as ‘Engaging and Uplifting’ its the perfect read for an autumn lockdown.

In stock at all major bookstores, but this link will support local bookshops: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/helen-and-the-grandbees/9781789559910?aid=820

Helen and the Grandbees, Alex Morrall

The Homestead Cafe at Beckenham Place

Beckenham Place (which I have for some reason consistently been referring to as a Palace… c’mon, it has an outdoor swimming lake – that’s palatial) has stolen my heart with a paper cup.

I recklessly ordered a midday mulled wine with my pizza, breaking my ‘lunchtime drinking‘ rule, and my ‘sweet drinks with savoury food‘ rule in one rebellious stroke. The cashier was unfazed and patiently taught us how to collect food and drink in a COVID-appropriate fashion, also instinctively providing my husband with two forks for our Guinness cake – smart man!

I like their queuing system in which your name is called, and there is no one wondering off with your skinny-latte-that’s-so-bespoke how could anyone else think it’s theirs. But most of all I liked what arrived.

(all of this was occurring outside in the open air and so we could have met with four people outside of our household – but we didn’t)

If food blogging was not just a hobby for me, and I was like an influencer, like… I’d have done my nails for this shot. But there we go. I don’t get paid enough.

Do you see that… do you sea the crusting of brown sugar ON A PAPER CUP, and orange trimming. It was utterly delicious as we sipped it in the autumnal sunlight of the courtyard. I finished mine long before we were buzzed for pizzas…

…which I have to say were also really pretty good. According to Homestead’s website these are hand made daily on the premises.

The Guinness cake was gorgeous and moist. Could have been heavier in the cream cheese icing stakes, but not bad. I would have a piccy for you, but it somehow disappeared before I had a moment (like I said, hobbiest, not influencer. I owe no one nothing) My only regret was not also buying a peanut butter brownie.

Don’t forget to order a copy of Helen and the Grandbees based in SE London (use the other sellers option, because Amazon has run out of stock.)

“Engaging and Uplifting” – The Daily Mail

Breathtaking and moving’ Awais Khan, author

Book Cover for Helen and the Grandbees

“Helen and the Grandbees” – ‘Engaging and Uplifting’ – the Daily Mail

Buy Helen and the Grandbees here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Alex+morrall&ref=nb_sb_noss

A little diversion for the blog today as my my novel “Helen and the Grandbees” based in south east London has just hit publication date…

It’s a different type of wrtiting from the reviews you’ve been enjoying at blackheath.london. It’s still got the same humour, but it tackles some more serious issues: 

‘Breathtaking and moving, Helen and the Grandbees is a novel that bravely explores themes of familial discord, race and love in modern Britain. It is a book that immediately gripped me, compelling me to keep turning the pages well into the night. Morrall writes with confidence, poise, and a sense of humour to match. At times heartbreaking and heartwarming, this is a novel readers won’t soon forget. A riveting debut.’ Awais Khan, author of In the Company of Strangers

Buy Helen and the Grandbees here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Alex+morrall&ref=nb_sb_noss

Forgetting your past is one thing, but living with your present is entirely different.

Twenty years ago, Helen is forced to give up her newborn baby, Lily. Now living alone in her small flat, there is a knock at the door and her bee, her Lily, is standing in front of her.

Reuniting means the world to them both, but Lily has questions. Lots of them. Questions that Helen is unwilling to answer. In turn Helen watches helplessly as her headstrong daughter launches from relationship to relationship, from kind Andrew, the father of her daughter, to violent Kingsley who fathers her son.

When it’s clear her grandbees are in danger, tangled up in her daughter’s damaging relationship, Helen must find the courage to step in, confronting the fears that haunt her the most.

Other Endorsements

‘Authentic and tender’ Carmel Harrington

I loved how one Goodreads Reviewer has put it: At its core, this is a sad, heart-wrencher of a story, made even more so as details of Helen’s past are slowly, carefully revealed to us — but what made it such a good read for me was the fact that, at the same time, amidst the ugliness and terror that rule Helen’s life, it’s filled with so much hope and love. Stories like Helen’s, Ingrid/Lily’s, Aisha’s, and Ryan’s often fly under the radar in everyday life, but Morrall gently reminds us of the importance of compassion to others and to oneself.

‘Alex can write; she has a way, a bit like playwright Mike Leigh, of zooming into the tiniest, seemingly mundane physical details of a situation, and in so doing, conveying the complexity, circularity and pattern of relationship and emotion. There is a humanity and a realism about her writing that Is far from commonplace despite the fact that when you read about the people and situations in her storytelling, they are instantly recognisable. Helen and the Grandbees is unbearably sad but because Alex manages the seemingly impossible feat of introducing hope right from the start it is possible to read and read on, with curiosity and enjoyment.’ Dr Kairen Cullen, Writer and Psychologist 

Helen and the Grandbees is a sensitively told exploration of race, mental illness, forgiveness, domestic violence, homelessness, and poverty in 20th/21st century England. Morrall writes from the quirky, stream-of-consciousness perspective of Helen, who I quickly grew to care about, and who must confront her past and her fears when her grandchildren need her most.

Tila Deptford

I’m duty bound to write about Tila.. because despite the food being delicious, there was no one else there… no one to admire the wood fire and the relaxed decor. This is wrong. People are missing out.

There was much to like, the QR code menus, the open kitchens (from which we would have heard if there was a cough…) the wide sunlit windows. – and that menu, oh that menu…. Tila understand flavours… and colours.

My husband chose the pork belly and I had the harrissa chicken, which was a bit of a dieter’s concession, but arrived deeply grilled and flavoured and was perfectly complemented by the quinoa tabbouleh, however inauthentic that may sound.

The only shock was that they were out of miso french toast for dessert. Apparently it ‘flew of the shelves’ the day before… (Friday must have been more busy than Saturday then) which we all accepted on face value and ordered different desserts.

But after the waiter left, it occurred to me that the ingrediants for french toast are hardly rare (neither is miso, either, and sat just there around the corner from the wonderfully diverse ‘world’ shopping options of Deptford, even less so).. so what did Tila not have (bread? eggs?) or did they not trust us with their french toast? Was their french toast chef out? ‘Maybe they are out of caramel?’ suggested my husband. Yep, caramel, that thing that (better cooks than I) make out of sugar. Nope. This was a conspiracy of the foremost kind. Maybe the CIA needed all the french toast in the country (or whatever the french version of the CIA are). Or maybe it was the CIA, and they got confused about France and the UK, because they’re all over there in Europe and generally a bit smaller than the states and so took our toast instead.

Insights welcomed.

We settled for cardamom chocolate slice, which turned out to be a particularly gooey brownie infused with cardamom, like it said one the tin. Extra points for sending this with a jarringly fresh creme fraiche rather than vanilla ice cream or cream.

We left satisfied and surreptitiously checking out everyone else’s plates, you know, for the mysteriously missing french toast.

Don’t forget to order “Helen and the Grandbees” My Deptford based novel https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Alex+morall&ref=nb_sb_noss

“Engaging and Uplifting” – The Daily Mail

Book Cover for Helen and the Grandbees