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Last published on April 29th, 2017

Oliver’s Village Cafe is a family-run, independent cafe. It was opened in 2008 to provide a creative outlet for Oliver and an environment for him to learn and work in. Oliver was diagnosed with autism as a child, and has come a long way since – check out his artwork on display! He is also a talented baker and now makes all of their delicious cakes.

Olivers Village Cafe is situated at the heart of NW3 Belsize Lane just off the main square. A sleepy slide road that often went missed by many. Small business’s in today’s world struggle to compete with chains, mass markets and also demand, while at times this was true of Olivers it was never in the market to compete or threaten. It was there to serve the community and a place for the family to come together, thereby complementing our own ethos and bringing Sophie (the owner) & Chef Kim together.

Welcome to Spices in the Spring
Welcoming signage
Chef Kim and Lady B

On the night in question, Chef Kim thought that she would get her unglamorous and ‘slightly’ balding assistant to assist. Let’s just say that with a little help from a mandolin and a sprinkle of clumsiness, I was able to swiftly remove myself from that scene. As a replacement, (as if I was replaceable?), Lady B promptly arrived at the scene, leaving me to do what I do best; look busy!

The spice challenge

Lady B didn’t quite know what she had let herself in for. However, her 6 hour stint in the kitchen quadrupled the time she had previously spent in the kitchen during 2017. While Chef Kim and Lady B busily prepped the deliciousness, the rest of us readied the scene for consuming said deliciousness. Tiny (& the most gorgeous) hand crafted name cards placed, music curated, spice game setup, welcome drink mixed and we were ready.

Oliver's village cafe
handcrafted name cards

With a few guests arriving even before the 19:30 kick off time, we got to show them round the spice game. Proceedings were then well and truly kicked off by our fizzy rose, Bengali lime, and gin cocktail. Guests were encouraged to guess the spices which included, sumac, za’atar, cumin and dried mangosteen to name a few, and complete their entry before the gin kicked in, thereby giving them the best chance of winning the star prize (a hand crafted wooden spice box).

This supper club brought us our youngest ‘diner’, at 7 months, that is going to be a tough one to beat. With everyone (except for one latecomer that will not be named) seated at 20:00, the first course of alphonso mango, mung lentils and homemade paneer salad together with moorish lotus root crisps started to arrive.

Guest enjoying the spice challenge
Guests seated for the first course
Our youngest guest

Empty first course plates collected, second round of wine bottles ordered and voices getting steadily louder can only mean one thing; the happiness quotient was on the rise!

Bowls of moorish lotus root crisps
First course of mango, mung lentil and paneer salad
Poached rhubarb and stem ginger ice cream

Time for the star of the show, an authentic Sindhi* lamb stew served on sourdough, topped with herbs, pomegranate and crispy sev. With the lamb being cooked and spiced for over 8 hours, the bread soaking in all that glorious gravy finished off with something golden and crisp on the top; its hard to not feel like you’ve been hugged by your gran followed immediately by a kiss from your first love – try that image on for size! & you’re welcome.

Sindhi lamb stew

If the lamb stew was the star of the show, the dessert was the act you were secretly waiting to see because you know it could be a whole lot of special. Creaminess, tart, crumbly, sharp, warm, and chilled, all balanced perfectly resulting in happy glows. The rebel, rhubarb, converted the guests into tipsy masterchef-like critics.

Chef Kim was allowed out of the kitchen to bask in some of the lovely feedback, while she assisted a few of the shy ones with the spice game. With the star prize awarded and an inspiration for tomorrow’s cooking gifted, it was already eleven, and we had to remind our 30 guests that although it may feel like a night out in Soho, it was in fact closer to Hampstead Heath.

The gifts, spice pots, included a selection of chilli salt, chai spice, award winning garam masala, and harissa rub, to name a few and were sourced from Spice Kitchen, a family run artisanal spice and tea company run by mother and son team Sanjay & Shashi Aggarwal. Started over the kitchen table on Christmas Day 2012, the business is centered around Shashi’s expertise and knowledge with spices and spice blends and were recently featured on BBC’s Hairy Biker’s comfort food. They source the freshest spices from around the world, hand-blend, hand-roast and hand- grind them to authentic recipes, and send them fresh to customers to order.

Compliments to the Chef
Spice pots from Spice Kitchen
Handcrafted spice box as the star prize

For details of our next supper club, please check our Facebook page.

* Sindhi cuisine refers to the native cuisine of the people from Sindh, Pakistan. Today, Sindhi food is eaten in many countries including India, where a sizeable number of Hindu Sindhis (including our grandparents) migrated following the independence from the British Raj back in 1947.

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Spices in the spring