Listen to a Londoner: Esnayder Cuartas

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Esnayder Cuartas
(Photo by Pablo Salgado)

Esnayder is the manager at Latin American restaurant, Sabor, in N1, with six months travelling the length and breadth of South America (all but Paraguay). After growing up in Colombia, he has now spent nearly two decades in London.

LLO: How long have you lived in London, where are you from originally and what brought you here?
EC: I have been living in London for 18 years. I come from a town called Quinchia in the coffee region of Colombia. I came initially to London to learn English and subsequently business studies. I chose London, instead of going to the US to learn English there, as I thought that the culture is very interesting. It is a cosmopolitan city and due its geographic position is a good base to explore Europe.

LLO: Tell us why we should immediately book a table at your North London restaurant, Sabor?
EC: Sabor is a South American restaurant that offers nuevo latino food, which combines the traditional cuisine of South America with modern gastronomic techniques. Sabor shows a contemporary Latin American culture, in a modern and fun space, where the warmth of its people, smooth latin rhythms in the background, imaginative cocktails and freshly cooked latin flavours make all your senses travel though South American in the heart of Islington.

LLO: What sort of atmosphere can we expect?
EC: Fun, cool and mellow, very friendly. That is latin for you.

LLO:What top three dishes would you recommend?
EC: Empanadas are a Latin American staple. These cornmeal patties are light and crispy with fillings like beef and potato, chorizo and plantains and fish.  They are served with aji which is a spicy tomato relish.  Ceviches are one the classic dishes of South American food. They are fresh fish ‘cooked’ in a citrus marinade and finished with chilli and coriander. This is full of flavour and very light for those trying to watch what they eat.  Aji de Gallina is a chicken breast that is marinated with Aji Amarillo, a  smoked Peruvian chilli, that has enough heat to get you taste buds going but leaves you able to taste the other flavours, such as tumeric.

LLO:And to drink?
EC: We do the classic latin cocktails like mojitos, cahipirhinas, margaritas, pisco sour, but we also like to showcase latin flavours, so we have our own cocktails such as passion fruits margaritas, mora (the south American blackberry) cahipirhinas and much more. Our wine list is mainly South American, and we have a list of latin beers too.

LLO:Besides the food, where else in London do you go when you’re craving a bit of Colombian culture?
EC: For Colombian culture, I particularly look forward to Autumn when Colombiage, a London-based team who promote contemporary Colombian culture in the UK organise a series of events, such as films, literary talks, art exhibitions, etc. Sometimes I go to Elephant and Castle Shopping centre to buy some Colombian snacks and get a feel of the more mainstream Latin culture.

LLO: What’s your favourite London discovery?
EC: The South Bank Centre. Since my early days, I used to go there between schools at midday and get a free concert. All year round it’s full of cultural activities. The recent festival about Brazil was amazing. I love the view from the Royal Festival Hall at sunset all year round.

LLO:Biggest challenge you’ve faced as an expat in London?
EC: The biggest challenge was learning the language. Once you can communicate, you discover that there is so much that you can do in London that never ends.

LLO: What’s the best part about living in your postcode?
EC: I live in E14. The best thing is the river and the canals. It feels that you are in a different london – people greet each other while they are walking by the canal. It’s that mixture of old and new architecture, nature and the sound of the water.

LLO: Tell us about a favourite London memory that could only have happened in London.
EC: Had a champagne tasting in Bermondsey, follow by a coffee at Bar Italia, then went to see Jose Feliciano, a huge latin star, at Ronnie Scots, followed by a Lebanese meal in Soho all in one night. That is London – the city where you are spoiled for choice. Every time that I’m flying over London, I feel at home.

http://www.sabor.co.uk

Thanks Esnayder!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

 

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Project Morrinho

Over a decade ago, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a 14-year-old boy did what a lot of boys do at that age. He gathered up some of his fathers materials used in his construction job – like bricks and paint – and he started to build and create.

Nelcirlan Souza de Oliveira had just moved to the city and was fascinated by the favelas that rose up across the city. Some of the other boys in the area joined in on his project and, in 2001, they were spotted by Fábio Gavião and Markão Oliveira, a couple of filmmakers who kicked off Project Morrinho (which means “little favela” in Portuguese) with the boys.

It has since grown into a brilliant way to reach out around the world to educate people about life in favelas. Pop over to Southbank anytime until September to check out the London version as part of the Festival Brazil. Like Brazil’s favelas, London’s council estates often have a bad reputation for poverty and drug-related crimes. The project helps to show that positive things can come out of favelas and council estates; it’s not all negative.

Teenagers from London’s Stockwell Park Estate teamed up with Southern Rio’s Pereira da Silva favela to create this fun and fascinating Southbank favela.

Project Morrinho - South Bank Favela

Job Centre

Favela Street

London Favela

Motel

Understanding Starts Somewhere

Chelsea FC

Bob Marley Favela

South Bank Favela

Where do you live?

For more info: http://www.morrinho.com

Londoners: Joao

Summer rain. Quick, hard, soothing.

Summer Rain on South Bank

I always seem to meet people while wandering around London. Ducking under the bridge for shelter while the rain passed, I met Joao. He’s from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He’s been here almost two years, studying English in Central London and cleaning offices to pay his bills. He spent some of the time we were sheltered from the storm helping mothers carry their baby buggies down the steps out of the rain.

Joao

Listen to a Londoner: Luiz Hara

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Luiz Hara

Luiz’s London Foodie blog is a well known resource for Londoners looking for a range of delicious meal options, light snacks or unbeatable cocktails. He shares some of his favourites for different occasions for this week’s Listen to a Londoner.

LLO: How long have you lived in London? 
LH:
Since 1992, so 18 very happy years!

LLO: Tell us a bit about your blog – The London Foodie. 
LH:
I started ‘The London Foodie’ in 2009 as a platform to express my gastronomic creativity (much suppressed in my current investment banking role) and my opinions on the London restaurants I visit, but most importantly to get to know and meet other London foodies out there.

It’s been a most rewarding project. Through The London Foodie I learnt about some amazing restaurants and supper clubs I wouldn’t otherwise have visited, met some like-minded people, and started The London Cooking Club at my home.

I eat out a lot and write about these experiences at The London Foodie. Readers can find my reviews by the restaurant index, or by cuisine or location.

My aim is to find restaurants serving outstanding food that will not break the bank, exploiting the full range of nationalities and cooking styles on offer in London.

LLO: How did you become so obsessed with food? 
LH:
Food was always part of our family – my parents were restaurateurs for a while, and my mother had her own Italian restaurant for many years in Brazil after their divorce.

My dad was also an accomplished cook, and would rustle up some fine meals for my three siblings and me when he wasn’t taking us out to some of his favourite restaurants in Sao Paulo. Through my dad I learnt a great deal about Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Syrian and other cuisines from a very early age.

My Japanese grandmother was also a great influence – she lived with us and wound spend her whole day finding the best fish, meat and vegetables in the street markets of Sao Paulo, and cooking the most delicious Japanese-Brazilian meals. When I think of fusion style cuisines I always recall my grandmother.

LLO: You were born in Brazil to Japanese and Italian parents. Where can we find the best Brazilian, Japanese and Italian food in London?
LH: Italian cooking, like Japanese, is all about top quality ingredients and these do not come cheaply. It is impossible to replicate these cuisines in the UK on the cheap, apart from pizza and certain types of pasta. For the best and most affordable pizze in London I would recommend Franco Manca, Rosso Pomodoro and Pizza East. The Riverside Cafe is undoubtedly one of the best Italian restaurants in London but also one of the most expensive.

Other than outstanding Japanese fine dining joints like Nobu and Zuma, an affordable and very authentic Japanese restaurant I love is Asakusa in Mornington Crescent. For top quality sushi without the price tag, Atariya Fishmongers and their small sushi outlet on James Street by Selfridges is also a must.

I have yet to find a good Brazilian restaurant in London. I am however very excited to hear that Jose Barattino of Hotel Emiliano in Sao Paulo will be cooking at Skylon on the Southbank for the Brazilian Festival throughout the summer 2010. The well thought out menu and his cooking showcase the best that Brazil can offer.

LLO: If I only had one night in London and wanted to go off the beaten track, where would you send me to eat and drink?
LH:
There is nothing further from the beaten track than spending an evening eating at one of London’s supper clubs. The opportunity to go into someone’s home, share your table with some interesting Londoners for a fixed donation and bring your own wine is one not to be missed.

There are some amazing supper clubs I would very highly recommend like Fernandez and Leluu in Hackney for great atmosphere and food, Friday Food Club in Blackheath for the best British food in London, Cucina Cinzia in Fulham for really authentic and delicious Tuscan food outside Italy and LexEat! in Shoreditch for their sensational and no-fuss cooking.

LLO: I’m skint, but hungry for something tasty and don’t feel like cooking at home and don’t like chain restaurants. Where should I go?
LH:
There is a misconception that London restaurants are expensive, but due to intense competition and the multitude of cuisines found here, there are some great deals to be had.

I would head to Kingsland Road for some amazing and very affordable Vietnamese food, Song Que and Viet Grill being my favourites.

Along St Giles Street by Centre Point at a place now known as Little Seoul, there is a cluster of excellent value Korean restaurants that will not break the bank. Assa is one of these restaurants, and their lunch special with appetisers, main course and unlimited tea is priced at £5.

For European alternatives, Franco Manca, and its wonderful sourdough base pizza, is also very good value. Also worth a look are the many Turkish and Greek restaurants along Green Lanes with Antepliler being one of the best.

LLO: You just came back from a trip to Vietnam. Where can we get a taste of Vietnamese food in London?
LH:
Kingsland Road, also known as the Pho Mile, would be a good place to start. The best Vietnamese food in London however is not to be found at a restaurant – for a taste of authentic, fine dining Vietnamese cuisine, I would try and secure a space at Fernandez and Leluu for one of their Vietnamese evenings. At £35 for a six-course dinner and BYO, it is also excellent value.

LLO: Best restaurant for vegetarian options in London? 
LH:
My favourite vegetarian restaurant in London is Mildreds on Lexington Street. The quality of ingredients used is always high, it is reasonably priced and with a casual and cosy feel about it which I like very much.

LLO: My boyfriend and I want to go out for a romantic dinner followed by drinks. Where would you send us?
LH:
Skylon, on the first floor of The Royal Festival Hall, is one of the most romantic and glamorous restaurants in London. Chef Jose Barattino is serving 2 & 3 course menus priced at £22 & £25 respectively. The views of the Thames are fantastic and the cocktails second to none.

I would then go for a leisurely stroll along the Southbank towards the Oxo Tower, and up to the top floor for a glass of Champagne at the Oxo Tower Bar.

LLO: What’s the best restaurant in your postcode?
LH:
I live in Islington N1. My favourite restaurant in this neighbourhood is Ottolenghi on Upper Street. I love the style of cooking, a mix of Italian and Palestinian – it is packed with exotic flavours and made from the freshest, best quality ingredients. I also love the big, beautiful platters of food on display, the concept of sharing tables and the opportunity to eat and share many small dishes.

Thanks Luiz!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Elephant Parade 2010: Cako Martin

Bright and cheery ellie Colorful Hope is chillin outside of Harrods in Knightsbridge. I had the opportunity for a little chat with her enthusiastic creator Cako Martin who lives and works in Brazil. His work as been published in Cent Magazine in the UK and many others in the US, Brazil, Germany and Greece.

Read on for a bit about Cako’s elephant painting experience in Elephant & Castle, his participation in the Cow Parade in Sao Paulo and why London feels like a second home.

This is Cako:

And this is the lovely Colorful Hope:

As you can see, it was a teensy bit crowded over near Harrods with all of the weary tourists resting their feet. I went by a few times to get better pictures, but still the same.

Luckily, Cako’s letting me nick one from his website so you can see Colorful Hope more clearly.


(This one was taken by Murphyz on Cako’s site.)

LLO: First of all, tell us about your elephant.
CM: After my last exhibition called Peles/Skins that I used famous faces to compose my art, I’m studying more about it that how your skin can tell me something. In this moment, I composed this lines with maximum colors that I could use. Like my cow in Cow Parade, Brazil 2010, the Colorful Hope is so colorful. When I went to paint in London, it was funny ’cause we painted inside a “store” in a small mall in Elephant & Castle. You can find a thousand of different cultures there. Every day people asking me about my elephant, asking to take pictures. Well, lovely people interested in my work. It’s so nice! I choose the name thinking about this cause. My elephant is colorful and with this event we need to have hope for this elephant. I think Colorful Hope is a lovely name.

LLO: Since this is a London blog, what’s your favourite thing to do or see when you’re in London
CM:
I love London. I feel this place like my second home. I think London breathes fashion, design, history and architecture in every place. It is a big reference to me. Normally my favorite place is the museums. You have a lot of them and I love it.

LLO: You’re also participating in the Cow Parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where you live and work. Your cow has a very similar pattern to your elephant. Give us a bit of insight into the Cow Parade?
CM:
Yeah, my cow and elephant are living in the same world. The purpose of Cow Parade is similar of Elephant Parade – help a cause – but in this case, Cow Parade helps institutions here that take care of children.

LLO: What are you working on now and where can we see more of your work?
CM:
I’ve started my draws about next solo exhibition. It will be the part II of Peles/Skins but now with colors and Cow Parade and Elephant Parade I could show a little bit of. I’m Art Director/Illustrator of Young & Rubicam Brazil. It’s an advertising agency, and I am working in the design team. You can google it (laughs). Normally, I’ve posted my select works on Facebook, MySpace, CargoCollective, Society 6, Flickr and in my website: www.cakomartin.com


(Taken by Murphyz on Cako’s site.)

Location: Knightsbridge, outside Harrods

To read more about the Elephant Parade in London, click here