Tag Archives: Camden

We Love Chin Chin Labs

12 Sep

Whilst a 99 with a Flake may take you back to days spent on a pebbled beach in your Grandma’s hometown trying not to shiver as you demand an ice cream, these days Mr Whippy just doesn’t quite cut it. In the wake of the molecular gastronomy explosion (teehee) of the last five years, if you’re not using liquid nitrogen then there’s no Michelin star for you mister. It was only a matter of time before molecular gastronomy was condensed enough for us mere mortals to understand, and thanks to the likes of Heston Blumenthal the UK is regularly glued to the telly salivating over white chocolate candle sticks and ‘meat fruit’.

But then came Chin Chin Labs. Chin Chin Labs is said to be Europe’s first and only liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour, allowing customers a glimpse into a world frequented by old French men with lots of letters after their names. Removing all pretentiousness from the equation (so long as you choose to ignore the gaggle of hipsters that wait tables at the restaurant next door), Chin Chin has a simple menu featuring a small handful of flavours that include chocolate and vanilla as well as two specials that change weekly, all for less than a fiver. Tucked away on a cobbled street just off Camden High Street, this tiny cafe with just a few tables and a very friendly team regularly has a line spilling outside.


Brainchild of the husband and wife team Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur and Nyisha Weber, the duo influenced by the likes of Blumenthal and Ferran Adria wanted to open and affordable ice cream parlour that allowed customers to enter into their smoky lab where the ice cream is made in front of your eyes. Using liquid nitrogen at a somewhat chilly -200c freezes the custardy mixture of ingredients quickly and before ice crystals  form, creating a beautifully smooth and dense ice cream. The ice cream itself is full of the most beautiful yet delicate flavours that blend together perfectly and are only further enhanced by the range of toppings available. The menu is carefully crafted and coincide wonderfully with the not only the weather but the atmosphere of the city. The weekend of Notting Hill Carnival boasted a dairy free Honey Mango & Ginger sorbet that brought the fruity spiciness so prevalent in the colourful festival, without forcing us to leave the comfy confines of North London. Similarly, with one of the hottest weekends of the year came the Coconut (Sun) Cream which was designed to taste the way that coconut sun cream smells, taking you immediately to a Caribbean beach with a pina colada in hand. As the back to school season approaches, the current menu is topped with a Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly special. The toppings on range are equally as inventive, ranging from Fleur De Sel caramel to cardamon and pistachio powder to lavender honeycomb. Chin Chin’s also allows customers the option to buy a bag of some of the toppings including a grilled white chocolate and caramelised pretzels, sold in a vacuum sealed bag reminiscent of those containing astronaut food. This is just one of a handful of small tokens that lends itself so ingeniously to the mad scientists lab that is nestled away in the heart (if not the liver) of London.


Coconut (Sun) Cream with Lavender Honeycomb


Honey Mango & Ginger with Cardamon and Pistachio Powder with an adorable medicine spoon







Camden Eats

28 Aug

Bank holiday Monday’s are a beautiful, scared thing. As soon as 5 o’clock hits on Friday afternoon a Prosecco mist descends upon Primrose Hill as ties are collectively loosened and heels kicked off.  The August bank holiday in particular symbolises the colourful Notting Hill Carnival and the last dregs of British sunshine. So of course as the hangover faded and the sun came out on Monday, there was no better way to spend it than eating our way around Camden’s famous market, indulging in everything from the most flavoursome falafel I’ve ever tasted to liquid nitrogen mango and ginger ice cream dusted in cardamon and pistachio. Mention ‘Camden food stalls’ and what springs to mind are rows of interchangable greasy noodles being thrust in your face as you dodge mardy teenagers trying to find their way to Cyber Dog. However slightly lesser know is Camden Lock’s West Yard, a courtyard opening onto the canal filled with elegant, pocket size boutiques and bright, unique cafes. But the best feature of the cobbled courtyard is undoubtably the dozens of world food stalls that range from Peruvian lamb to Argentinian burgers to Polish pierogis…


The trick here is to get as many samples as possible…some stalls are more generous than others but most places will give you a small taster if you ask. We managed to get our paws on everything from ginger fudge to jerk pork, before landing on 2 mains. The prices are very reasonable and a box of food will usually range from £4.50-£6.50, with drinks and desserts starting from £2. Here are my top 5 favourites…

5.   Mama’s Jerk Station Marinated in an authentic secret jerk sauce passed down through generations  of Jamaican women, Mama’s Jerk has some of the most succulent, mouth watering meat (no innuendos please) I’ve ever tasted, each bite soaked in flavour. The fried plantain also looked amazing although I regretfully didn’t try it.


4. Hola Paella The sight of this giant pan of bright paella is one that transports you to a sun drenched Mediterranean terrace surrounded by jugs of chilled sangria and coolly glamorous friends. The paella itself is the perfect level of moisture and boasts aromatic seafood and that crucial hint of saffron.


3. From the (uncertain) powers of deduction, I’ve decided that the Godlike falafel that was generously and repeatedly offered to us by some handsome gentlemen was from Pakistani stand Roti House. I use these powers as the falafel was so mind blowingly good that I momentarily forgot how to use a camera.

2. Turkish Wraps was definitely a big winner of the day. The sausage, cheese and spinach wrapped in flatbread was packed with flavour and prepared right in front of you on a hot plate. The Number 2 (heehee) is the most popular item on the menu (and with good reason), although I would definitely be tempted by the lahmacun.


1. Finally (and perhaps rather unambitiously on my behalf), the winner is the equally unambitiously named Pulled Pork. I am a complete sucker for any succulent, shredded meat and this was no exception. The incredibly tender pork is coated in barbecue sauce and paired with a chunky coleslaw, gherkins and jalapeños all on a soft, seeded bread. The owner didn’t seem one for frivolous pleasantries, but can you blame him when the woman in front of me wanted her meat on the side of the pulled pork SANDWICH she was ordering? Ugh, people.

_MG_8215So if you’re in Camden, take a rain check on the questionable meats slathered in fluorescent sauces available in the main market, and instead get lost in the enticing maze of culinary delights that the West Yard has to offer.


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