London eating: Burger and Lobster

•February 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

revisiting a great place

The Cocktail Hour

By Kim Newman-Wood

A late lunch on a Saturday afternoon in London is always one of life’s great pleasures. Particularly if you are lunching with the lovely Ellie. So, having put the world to rights over a glass of champagne or two, we never quite made the shopping that we had originally intended – oh well.

The Cocktail Hour's Ellie - ever excellent at having lunch. The Cocktail Hour’s Ellie – ever excellent at having lunch.

Our main mission was to try out the much feted Burger and Lobster restaurant in Soho. There are three restaurants now, as this interesting concept is clearly doing extremely well. Their premise is very simple: come up with a few things that you cook brilliantly and price it reasonably – and that’s exactly what they’ve done. In other words, don’t go there unless you love either burgers or lobster!

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Hot stuff, try my cider apple and chilli jelly

•September 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment

It’s that time of year when my love/hate relationship with my apple tree definitely swings towards hate. Why? Because it has so many **** apples! Despite pleading emails to the whole neighbourhood to come and help themselves, the only ones who are really excited are the wasps and I am definitely NOT excited about them.

So, I decided to make my world famous (well in my road, anyway!) chilli jelly.  This jelly lasts for ages and is wonderful on top of cream cheese as a dip, or used as a glaze on chicken or pork, or simply served on the side of anything that requires a bit of zing.Chilli Jam 3

Now you can just go out and buy the apple juice if you like, or just use cider, but because of my plethora of apples, I did it the hard way. At this stage you don’t have to worry about weighing anything, so I chopped up the apples, added 6 chopped up lemons for a bit of extra pectin, a bit of root ginger, because I had some left in the fridge and placed them in a large saucepan.Chilli Jam 1 I added half and half vinegar and cider until they were just covered and simmered them on low for about an hour or until they have gone satisfyingly pulpy.

Hot Cakes – the recipes and the novel – try a taste of both…

•June 13, 2013 • 3 Comments

Kim cupcakes 1

I’ve been away a long, long time…but now I’m back and yes, I’m still baking!

The exciting news is that my latest novel is now available on Amazon both for Kindle and as a hardback.  HOT CAKES – A novel with recipes by Kim Newman-Wood, does exactly what it says – delivers a light-hearted story about baking cupcakes, but most importantly for this blog, gives you some great recipes. I’m also very pleased that it’s the recommended summer read for Baking Heaven magazine (yes, ok it’s not the Guardian, but it’s a start!)Book Cover - Front onlyBelow is one of the recipes in the book:

Kim cupcakes 3

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes


For the cakes

6 ozs/180g unsalted butter, at room temperature

6ozs/180g caster sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

Half teaspoon vanilla extract

6ozs/115g self-raising flour

2 strawberries chopped very small

Optional: 2 teaspoons red food colouring

For the topping

200g/7oz cream cheese or mascarpone

Small carton double cream

65g/2oz caster sugar

12-16 fresh strawberries

2 crushed digestive biscuits

Optional: edible pink glitter or freeze dried strawberrries


For the cakes:

  • Pre-heat oven to gas Mark 3, 170oC or 150oC for a fan oven
  • By hand or in a food processor, or using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until it is white and fluffy
  • Add the eggs, vanilla, food colouring (if you want to use it) and flour
  • Stir chopped strawberries in to the mixture
  • Divide the mixture between either 24 small or 12 large paper cases
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until each cake is golden and springy to touch
  • Allow to cool.

For the icing:

  • By hand, in a food processor or with a hand beater whip the cream until stiff
  • Beat in the cream cheese and the caster sugar – you can add a little food colouring if you wish
  • Either using an icing bag or just with a teaspoon, pile the mixture on top of the cooled cakes
  • Dust with a small amount of crushed digestive biscuits
  • Top with sliced strawberries and dust with edible glitter or freeze dried strawberries if you wish.

These cakes are best eaten on the same day as the fresh strawberries won’t last and go a bit soggy, but they are so lovely that they won’t last long anyway!

You can substitute strawberries for raspberries or any other soft fruit – I used blue colouring and put blueberries and blue edible glitter once and they looked amazing if a little surreal!

Kim cupcakes 2And just for fun …

Book Cover - Front only

Here’s an extract from Hot Cakes – a novel with recipes, if you like it and want to read the rest you can buy either the hard copy or get it on your kindle from Amazon.

Prologue – January 2009


Somewhere in Birmingham…

It had never been a beautiful store, but then this particular Birmingham suburb was never going to make it in to the UK’s prettiest town contest.  The ravages of the last few days had left it looking like the survivor of a major hurricane.  Empty shelves, litter on the floor and a random scatter of pick ‘n’ mix as far as the eye could see.  It was carnage.

A few forlorn customers were wandering around, poking at the remnants and trying to find a final bargain, but there was an overwhelming sense of sadness in the air.  Walworth’s had been a major player on the British High Street for nearly a hundred years; reliable, cheap and homely, you could always count on finding the item you were looking for on a shelf somewhere.  The bankrupting of Walworth’s had the feeling of a national disaster on a grand scale; it was a bit like when Concorde had crashed or when Diana had died – for some strange reason it felt personal.

Enid, supervisor of the homeware area and known to her friends as “Bunny”, had just returned from a quick cigarette break.

‘Look what those buggers have done to my novelty fruit candles!’

Indeed, some kids had been in and arranged the banana and apple shapes into a colourful penis arrangement.

‘Does it matter, Bunny?’ her long-time best friend and colleague, Diana, sighed.

‘It’s all over now, isn’t it?  What are we going to do?’

Bunny was not one to dwell on the nostalgia.

‘We’re going to go to the boozer early and get rat arsed; that’s what we’re going to do, lady.’

She was interrupted by the dulcet tones of Marie, the store manager’s personal assistant, over the intercom system.

‘The store will be closing at 12 o’ clock lunchtime today for the final time…  And God bless you all!’

Marie’s voice wobbled precariously at the end of the announcement and loud audible sobs could be heard as, with the emotion of the situation, she had clearly forgotten to take the intercom off the air when she had finished.

‘Oh, Mr Taylor, what am I going to do?  Will I ever find another job?’

‘Don’t worry, little cuddle kitten.  I’ll look after you.’  The deep tones of the store manager responded along with some loud rustling noises and rather worrying grunting.

The employees on the shop floor were enthralled.  All these years of suspecting and now they knew it was true.  Old Man Taylor really was bonking his assistant!

Blissfully unaware of their audience below, upstairs in the office, the store manager and Marie, his faithful personal assistant of 10 years standing, had opened a bottle of sweet sherry.  They wanted to mark the occasion of the final closing down and to lament the possible end of their long liaison with one last tryst.

‘But Fluffy, will we ever get to see each other?  You know how I love to play with your joy stick…  Hold on, someone’s knocking at the door!’

‘Go away, I’m in a conference!’ Robin Taylor intoned manfully.

‘It’s Irene, Mr Taylor,’ called a muffled voice.  ‘I really think you should let me in.’

The seventy-five shop floor employees were enjoying possibly the most entertaining moment of their working careers at Walworth’s and were calling out general encouragement

‘Don’t let her in!’

‘Have a last shag!’

The sound of loud rustling and then the door opening came across clearly on the intercom and everyone booed loudly.

‘What’s going on, Irene?  I told you I wasn’t to be disturbed.’

‘But Mr Taylor…’

‘What’s that noise?  What are all those layabouts doing down there?’

The clapping and shouting from the shop floor had increased to crescendo levels heard even from the first floor.

‘Who are you calling a bloody layabout?’ called a loud voice.

‘Mr Taylor!’ Irene’s voice could be heard getting more insistent.  ‘You haven’t turned off the…’

‘Oh, fuck.  Quick, Marie!’

And the show was over.

Bunny and Diana were hugging each other, with tears of laughter running down their faces.

‘The old bugger, who’d have known it?’

The boys in electrical were doing an energetic conga, and the pick ‘n’ mix girls were throwing cola twists at them.

It was chaos.

A red-faced Robin Taylor emerged onto the shop floor to loud clapping and cheering from the entire staff.

‘Now stop that!’ he shouted.

There was an immediate silence.  Despite his newly-confirmed dalliance, he had been a good manager, fair and supportive to all of them but with a wicked temper when things had gone wrong.  They all needed a good reference at a time like this if they were to stand any hope of getting a decent job.

Robin looked around them all, going slowly from face to face.

They were terrified.

‘I just want to say…  Marie, bring that bloody sherry down here, boys go and buy some beer and wine, get everyone a drink…  You’ve been the best bloody workers in the world and I love you all.’

‘What, even me?’ Evan, the 17-year-old tearaway from the DVD section, constantly late and in trouble with the police piped up.

‘Yes, even you, you bugger,’ Robin said. ‘Now let’s have a few drinks and see the old place out in style – now – get rid of the customers!’

With a whoop of delight, any non-employees were unceremoniously ushered out of the main doors, which Robin locked behind them with a flourish.

‘One hour to go!’ he said, waving a can of beer and making a few rather uncalled for “V” signs to the passing shoppers who were looking inquisitively through the windows.

‘Sir, won’t we get in to trouble drinking at 11 in the morning inside the shop?’ asked Irene worriedly.

Robin laughed; he was 58 and knew he would never work again.

‘What are they going to do, sack us?’

Diana and Bunny ensconced themselves on some unsold lime-green scatter cushions, with a bottle of white wine, in front of the last remaining television set in the shop, watching one of the morning TV shows.

‘Seriously, Bun – how are we going to manage?’

‘Don’t know, Di.’  In an effort to avoid the conversation that was definitely going to get uncomfortably emotional, she looked more closely at the screen.  ‘Blimey, he’s still really fit – I’d definitely give the Silver Fox one, wouldn’t you?’

‘Oh yes, him and that nice Eamonn – a bit podgy but definitely worth a round or two; I do wish I had a chest like that lovely Polly.  Shame about Fern getting so thin, though, isn’t it, she didn’t make feel nearly as bad about my boobs?’

Her gamble had paid off; Diana was easily distracted and Bunny let her rattle on whilst her mind was working overtime.

What was she going to do?  The family relied on her wages and staff discount to help them survive.  Thank God, they had bought their council house when it had been offered to them some years back and her Clive had still been in work, many of them on the estate hadn’t done it and now lived to regret it.  It was a different situation now, she had a husband who had been laid off from Rover after 30 years, one daughter who was a single mum and lived at home with her baby, another daughter who was god-knows-where, and a no-good son who seemed determined to avoid working at all costs.  This was not the fruition of her childhood dreams.

‘Oooh, look at those, Bunny.  They look nice.’

The Silver Fox and Polly were admiring some rather fancy-looking cakes on the television.

Bunny took a deep slug of her white wine to help her forget the stress that was lurking, and then sat bolt upright.

‘Turn it up, Di!’

‘The volume, do you mean?’

Yes, you dozy cow – turn it up, now!’

On screen, a beautifully turned out brunette in cashmere and pearls was speaking earnestly to the two presenters whilst holding out a plate of exotically decorated cupcakes.

‘You see, Polly, at the Eco Conscious Cupcake Company we believe in the finest of organic materials; we even have an optional vegan and gluten-free range.  After all, we only want the best for our children, don’t we?’

Holly, who clearly hadn’t been able to resist, had a mouth full of cupcake and her co-presenter took over smoothly.

‘Well, Bex, they certainly are delicious; but what makes this a cupcake and not a fairy cake? ‘

Bex smiled sweetly at him, clearly prepared for the question.

‘It goes back to the recipe’s American roots, when women abandoned measuring – like us busy women of today, they didn’t have time for that, and so they started using cups instead.  They’re a sort of symbol of our liberation – and, of course, theirs are bigger than ours’

The Silver Fox couldn’t resist this.

‘So, cup size really matters?’

Bex looked snooty and ignored him.

‘And, of course, at my local Women’s Association in Shoreditch, we uphold those principles…’

Looking naughtily at his co-presenter’s chest, the Silver Fox could not resist one final quip.

‘..and I think Polly can attest to that.’

Polly interrupted as her co-presenter was incapable of speech for laughing.

‘Well, thank you, Bex – and good luck.  These are certainly the most fashionable things to have for your party in London at the moment and, of course, the WA is becoming so fashionable again, not all Jam and Jerusalem?’

‘We are the new face of the WA, Polly.’

‘And the recipe, Bex, is that on our website?’

‘Certainly not!  It’s my great grandmother’s secret recipe; I don’t even share that with my WA Sisters!’

‘Yes, Bex – a bit like the Colonel with KFC, maybe?’

The Silver Fox choked audibly on his cupcake again.

Polly continued as he chortled helplessly in the background.

‘Anyway, viewers, contact details of how to order these delicious cupcakes are on our website and, I must say, they’re certainly very popular with us.  Thanks to you again, Bex Mason-Smythe.’

And the interview was over.

Bunny was momentarily speechless.  She felt like she had been hit with a truck full of ice, as countless emotions washed over her, leaving her numb with shock.

‘Bex Mason bloody Smythe my arse!’

‘Wasn’t that your Becky?’ Di said in wonder.

Quite a crowd had gathered now.

‘Blimey, I remember her when she was a nice bottle blonde,’ called out one of the boys from electrical.

‘That’s enough of that,’ said Robin, who also remembered the young Becky very well, when she’d regularly shoplifted from the Pick ‘n’ Mix.

‘When did she get that posh, Bunny?  And that thin?’ asked Di.

Bunny didn’t answer straight away.  So that’s where the la-di-dah ungrateful little bitch had ended up, and what’s more she was making money out of Nana’s old recipe.  Well if bloody Becky Mason or whatever she called herself these days could do it then she, Bunny, was going to do it too.


Hope you enjoyed it….it’s so good to be back!

Tangerine dream – a marmalade with star anise quality

•January 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment

DSC09120Now you all know how I hate waste and post-Christmas we are left with all the things that I bought just becuse they look pretty, such as the lovely tangerines, which I had displayed in the kitchen in a Ferrero Rocher style pyramid. The problem is that everyone’s gone now and frankly the tangerines are a wee bit past their best, so what do I do with them??

Marmalade of course! But let’s do something different and add a little aromatic spice, in this case I chose star anise.

This could just as easily be done with left-over clementines or satsumas, or of course oranges. Basically weight the fruit, when it is uncooked and then use double the amount of sugar – easy!

Leftover fruitI used :

  • Tangerines, plus one random lime that was also in the fruit bowl –  mine weighed just under 500g
  • 1kg jam sugar with pectin (as these don’t have many seeds in them, you can’t rely on the natural pectin). If you don’t have the sugar with pectin, use the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 to 2 star anise depending on how strong you like the flavour


  • DSC09099
  • Wash the fruit and remove any stalks and place in a  saucepan, just cover them with cold water (should be about 2 pints) with the start anise
  • Bring to the boil
  • Reduce to a really low simmer and leave for about 1 1/2 hours until the skin of the fruit is really soft
  • DSC09112
  • Leave to cool completely and remove the fruit, keeping the liquid
  • DSC09113
  • Chop up finely according to taste – I like mine chunky – or maybe I’m just lazy…
  • Put a small plate in the freezer so that you can check the marmalade to see if it’s set
  • DSC09114
  • If there are any pips in the fruit, throw them back in the liquid and bring to the boil to get the maximum pectin out of them, then remove them with a slotted spoon.
  • Remove the star anise
  • DSC09116
  • Add all the lovely chopped fruit and bring to the boil
  • Add the sugar and reduce the heat, stirring gently until it has all dissolved.
  • DSC09118
  • Now bring the mixture to a “rolling boil” – this means a really good, rollicking boil not just a gentle simmer – for about 20 minutes
  • DSC09119
  • Check if it’s set, by placing a teaspoon of the mixture on the plate you’ve removed from the freezer -when you push it with your finger it should wrinkle
  • Give it a good stir and decant in to hot jam jars

This made 2 large jars and 1 and a bit small jars of marmalade which I think is the perfect amount – 2 to eat and 2 to give away.

DSC09120 marmalade 1

Amazing Cupcakes less than 200 calories and diabetic-friendly – yes, honestly it’s true!

•December 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So if I were to tell you that you could eat a chocolate cheesecake cupcake that was only 130 calories and completely sugar-free that tasted amazing, you would probably point me to the nearest pig flying past and wait for my nose to grow longer. But it’s true! My lovely neighbour Joe of falafel and hoummus fame, is always complaining (not about life in general, just about this!)  because as he is a diabetic, he cannot always enjoy the cupcakes that I make for neighbourhood parties. So he challenged me to make him some sugar-free ones that also tasted good.

Well never one to back down, I took that challenge and this is the result:

Diabetic – Sugar-free Cupcakes – Chocolate Cheesecake flavour

Makes 8 large (195 calories each) or 12 small (130 calories each)DSC09080

For the cakes:

  • 125g /4½ozs self-raising flourDSC09074
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp/ 10g of Granulated Sweetener such as SPLENDA
  • 125g /4½ozs low fat spread (make sure it’s suitable for baking)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp skimmed milk or Buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp Unsweetened cocoa powder

For the icing

  • 200g tub Philadelphia extra light
  • 7 tbsp  of Granulated Sweetener such as SPLENDA
  • 2 tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsps skimmed milk


  • In a muffin tin, place either 8 large muffin cake cases or 12 fairy cake casesDSC09075
  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190ºC/fan 170ºC.
  • Either with an electric whisk in a bowl or in a food processor, beat together the eggs and low-fat spread and vanilla essence (don’t worry if the texture looks a bit odd!)


  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into the mixture and mix in with a spatula – the texture should improve nowDSC09076
  • Stir in the Granulated sweetener and add the milk or buttermilk
  • Spoon into the cake cases and bake for 12–15 minutes if you are making fairy cakes or 15 to 20 minutes for larger cupcakes



  • Allow to cool for before removing from the tin.DSC09078
  • For the icing, mix all the ingredients together until a creamy texture.
  • Either spoon on top of the cakes or pipe using an icing bag



It’s as easy as that!  They do honestly taste good and I will now be experimenting with different flavours.DSC09080

Cranberry Sauce – 3 different ways – get freezing and bottling!

•November 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Christmas is coming and yes, I am getting fat (pre-Christmas diet going horribly wrong) but it also means you should start preparing for Christmas Day!

There are so many things you can do in advance and your cranberry sauce is definitely one of them – don’t go out and buy it – it’s very, very easy to make!! Not only is it easy, but there is a real satisfaction to boiling up these wonderful coloured berries and the aroma will make your house smell amazing.

Fresh cranberries are in the shops now, all in handy 300g packets and it’s up to you whether you want to go super easy, easy or slightly more complicated. Last year I showed how to make an easy cosmopolitan flavoured cranberry sauce ( so this year, here are some variations.

Classic Cranberry and Orange Sauce


  • 150g sugar
  • Juice of 2 oranges (made up to 150 ml with water if not enough)
  • Zest of oranges
  • 300g fresh cranberries
  • Yes, really…that’s all you need!


  • Add the sugar, orange juice and zest to a saucepan
  • Over a low heat, gently dissolve the sugar and simmer for 2-3 minutes until it is clear
  • Add the cranberries and zest and bring to the boil (it looks and smells wonderful!)
  • Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes
  • Remove from the heat, cool and place in a bag in the freezer until the day before you need it.


Spiced Apple and Cranberry Jelly and Puree with Port and Brandy – these are 2 different types – more complicated but worth it – go on, get your jelly bags out!

Ingredients (makes about 3 jars, double up if you want to give as presents)

  • 3 large or 6 small jam jars with lids
  • Jelly bag (available from Lakeland)
  • 500g Bramley apples
  • 500g fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 200ml port
  • 100ml brandy
  • 1 dessert spoon of cloves
  • 2 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise,
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 850ml water
  • Jam sugar, preferably with pectin


  • Chop the apples. Do not peel or core them, but cut away any bruised parts.
  • Put into a large, deep pan with the cranberries, orange juice and water, the port and brandy, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange zest
  • Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes, stirring now and then. Do not crush the cranberries as this will make the jelly cloudy.
  • Carefully pour the mixture into a clean jelly bag (available at Lakeland)  suspended over a very large bowl, and leave to drip through until it stops. ( I did buy their stand/tripod thing but found it so difficult to assemble that I prefer I tie mine with string  on to the the clothers horse and leave overnight.
  • Don’t be tempted to squeeze the bag as this will make the jelly cloudy.
  • Pour the juice in to a measuring jug and measure the volume, keeping the bag containing the pulp aside to use later for another variation on cranberry sauce
  • Weigh out the jam sugar, allowing 450g jam sugar to every 600ml juice, and set aside. ( I got 900ml of juice and used 675g jam sugar)
  • Wash and rinse some jars with lids and sterilise them in the oven at 160°C/fan140°C/gas 4 whilst you’re making the jelly
  • Pour the juice into a large pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes to concentrate the flavour, skimming off any scum as it collects on the surface.
  • Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved, then bring back to the boil and boil rapidly for about 10 minutes (If you are passionate about a very clear jelly, skim off all the scum as you go)
  • After 10 minutes, test the jelly by pouring a little onto the cold saucer If it wrinkles, then it’s ready.
  • Take the pan off the heat, leave to settle and skim off any scum from the surface and after 5 minutes ladle in to hot jars

Cover with waxed discs and lids and keep in the fridge once opened and use within 3 months.  They do look so beautiful they make lovely Christmas presents, very good with Boxing Day leftovers.

…and then there’s more

There are 2 choices here, you can either chuck all the pulp in the bin and just stick with the jelly, but if like me, you hate waste, then you can make a delicious spiced puree which is a lot less sweet than the jelly and some people actually prefer! However, it is time consuming as you will need to push the pulp through a sieve and that can take 15 minutes. So, for the hardier amongst you …..

  1. Push as much of the pulp through the sieve as possible in to a pan until you have a saucepan full of beautiful pink puree

  1. Add 150g of sugar (or more or less dependent on your taste) and return to the heat  and bring to the boil
  2. Reduce the heat and stir for 5 minutes
  3. This won’t set like your lovely jelly and needs to be kept in the fridge and eaten within 3 days, but does also freeze extremely well.

Hooray for Houmous or is it Hummus or Hummous??

•November 15, 2012 • 4 Comments

You have to be impressed by any kind of food that has so many spellings and no-one is completely sure what the correct one is! For the moment, I am going to use Houmous (although Joe uses Hummous). Spelling apart,  I have always bought my Houmous from the supermarket in convenient little tubs, but that was before I knew how incredibly simple it was to make.  I was also impressed that most recipes don’t include any oil other than for garnish, so it was also a lot less fattening than I had thought. So now on to the recipe and who better than our local resident expert on middle eastern cookery to show us? Pictured below with the lovely Helen.

You will need:

  • 1 can of chickpeas (drained and washed,  with a few whole ones reserved for decoration – there is a school of thought that say that you should use soaked, dried chickpeas but canned is just, so convenient!)
  • 1 large or 2 small  cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 2  tablespoons of tahini ( you can buy this at any good supermarket, although Joe does buy some super-special stuff at a speciality store)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (if you like it extra lemony, you could us the zest, too)
  • Water for thinning (approx 1 tablespoon)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • You can add a pinch of cumin if you want a little spiciness
  • Good qaulity olive oil and finely chopped parsley or coriander to decorate


  • Place the drained chickpeas, the lemon juice (and zest if used), garlic and the tahini (and cumin if you are using) in to a food processor and blend really well for a few minutes
  • Test, and if the mixture is still thick, add 1 tablespoon of water and blend further which gives a really smooth, silky texture
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

Joe had a very traditional way of serving it, spread carefully in a round shape on a plate.

He then drizzles virgin olive oil  on it and some finely chopped parsley, he would normally keep a few of the whole chickpeas to decorate with, but we forgot and blitzed them all!   It may also be nice to add some finely chopped red peppers or chillis for a real spicy kick.

This was served with toasted pitta bread and of course, some of Joe’s trademark falafel. Delicious!