Espresso Library is a brand new addition to the list of Cambridge independent cafés. Well, it’s more than just a café (see my blog post). Apart from their amazing coffee (sourced by The Coffee Officina), rotating art exhibitions (Loukas Morley is currently the featured artist) and bright, functional space complete with Cycloc bike storage… their delicious breakfast and lunch menus are developed in collaboration with Stella Pereira, a very talented lady who approaches cooking and baking with an artist’s eye. Stella has hosted supper clubs and her culinary creations are a feast for the eyes and palate. I was lucky enough to attend her À Mesa Supper Club last year, which you can read about here.
Photo courtesy of Espresso Library
Espresso Library was the perfect venue for Stella’s “Twelve at EL” brunch this past Sunday. Paulo and I were thrilled to be two of the twelve people included in this very first one. It was nice to reconnect with some of the other food bloggers, namely Bone White China’s Alex and Sian, as well as Nazima and Pierre of Franglais Kitchen (with their two adorable kids in tow). I also got to meet Alan, the man behind the voice at Flavour (Cambridge 105’s radio show dedicated to Cambridge food and drink) and his lovely wife Helen. There were other great people there too, all of whom are fans of Stella’s creations, just like me! Some of the dishes included in her four-course brunch menu had a Portuguese twist and all featured tasty seasonal ingredients.
Casa Del Mar is a delightful Mediterranean restaurant located in the centre of Bury St Edmunds. Once known as Café Del Mar, the name change reflects the fact that it’s more than just a café, and rightly so. The menu includes an impressive selection of dishes, including Spanish, Greek, Italian and Moroccan. Owned by the vivacious and talented Maria Broadbent, Casa Del Mar’s ambience is cosy and inviting with friendly and attentive service throughout.
We went to Bury St Edmunds to see a concert at The Apex and were looking for a place to eat nearby that could accommodate the four of us for an early dinner, as the show started at 7:30pm on the dot. The thought of having to resort to a boring chain restaurant wasn’t too appealing so a quick tweet revealed Casa Del Mar as a recommendation. Our friends Peter and Jenni had just returned from a trip to Italy so they were thrilled with the choice, plus it was only a 5-minute walk to the venue. Perfect.
Since I’ve been asked to collaborate with Bim’s Kitchen to develop recipes for their website, I started thinking of other ways I could use their tasty African Chilli Coconut Relish with other ingredients besides prawns. Chicken seemed like a great idea and works well in a stir-fry.
I’ve been following the progress of Espresso Library for quite a while. It’s always exciting when an independent business makes Cambridge their home. When I attended the prelaunch last month, I was really impressed by what John and Malgo created (truly a labour of love). It was definitely worth the wait. The place is quite spacious (a rarity for Cambridge), with ample seating, Cycloc racks for bike storage, and even a rotating art exhibition (photographer Martin Bond of A Cambridge Diary is currently the featured artist).
We’ve been popping in for their amazing coffee and sweet treats, namely the macarons by Fiona Pâtissière, Norfolk Street Bakery’s Portuguese custard tarts and Stella Pereira’s triple chocolate brownies with raspberry and port, topped with handmade chocolate leaves.
I’m not a coffee drinker but Paulo swears they make a mean espresso and cappuccino, largely due to the impressive Slayer espresso machine (custom made in Cambridge blue and only one of 6 machines in the UK, I believe). Their coffee is sourced by The Coffee Officina and the breakfast/lunch menus are developed in collaboration with the super talented Stella Pereira.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Bim’s Kitchen African-inspired sauces and condiments. I met James (Bim) and Nicola last year at Love Food 2014 and was immediately impressed with their products and their passion for African ingredients. I have been singing their praises ever since, stocking up on their various sauces and posting photos of our culinary creations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So I was thrilled when Bim’s Kitchen asked me if I would collaborate with them to develop recipes for their website. It’s great that they have faith in my culinary skills (no pressure then… thank goodness I have Paulo to help me). But on the other hand, their sauces and condiments make it so easy to create dishes that are packed with flavour. Continue reading →