23 May 2011

Challah baking and shawarmas in Golders Green

Sunday is the day I dedicate to exploring London, and despite living most of my adult years in the city there are still corners of the city I have yet to visit.Yesterday, I ventured to Golders Green in North London to meet my riend Gemma, to go to Gefiltefest, London's Jewish Food Festival. 

When I first read a blog post at about Gefiltefest - all I saw were the words 'food' and 'festival'.  So when I arrived expecting the Jewish version of the Taste Festivals I was greeted with an altogether more humbling affair.  A group of four tables, ahem stalls including Steve's Ices and Spice Carvan.  With neither of those stalls taking my fancy.  This would have spelt disaster for a foodie, if it were not for the fabulous menu of  talks, tastings and demonstrations, covering everything from Challah baking, discussions on the ethics of food to Jewpanese (Jewified Japanese food).  Sadly, the festival has a no photography policy, so I haven't been able to capture me making my first ever Challah, which consequently thanks to some rather active fresh yeast imploded in the container I took it home in.

A North London institution:  Solly's on Golders Green Road
I could have easily spent the whole day working my way through the schedule, sadly the lack of  things to eat, meant the call of hunger was too strong.  So, quicker than you can say  "mazel tov" we were on Golders Green Road eyeing up a fantastic selection of pastries and cakes in Carmelli's and eating shawarmas at Solly's.

Lamb shwarma covered in a fresh tomato and chilli sauce
What lies beneath the sauce: delicious cuts of lamb shawarma

A North London institution, Solly's is the Jewish equivalent of a  Turkish kebab shop.  Except, it's slightly more up market.  The Isareli-style grill has a restaurant and take away counter with dated mahogany interior giving the impression of a funeral parlour.  The restaurant itself was empty, but the takeaway was bustling and full of people getting their Solly's fix.

I went with the lamb shawarma in a pitta (£7.50): slices of  crispy but succulent meat cut from a spit, served in a soft, fluffy white pitta.  I chose to fill my pitta with selection of salads and sauces from one of the most appetising and abundant salad bars I've ever seen in a take away counter.  It included everything from a cabbage salad to tahini and hummus.  The fresh ingredients made the whole experience of eating a kebab feel less gluttonous, but also rather difficult to eat as I'd stuffed a bit of everything into my pitta.

Chicken shawarma
Gemma on the other hand went for the chicken shawarma (£7.50), and being an experienced regular she smartly chose to fill her's with just hummus and pickle.  Not that her advice would have headed any caution as the salad bar was just too good not to fill up on, and if you go to Solly's you'll know what I mean. 

Verdict:  I wouldn't say the shawarma was the best I've ever tasted but it was certainly good.  They don't skimp on quality here, which explains the higher price point.  Solly's isn't a destination place, but if you happen to be in Golders drop by, you won't be disappointed.   

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