Forza Win Spring Chickens, Peckham

It’s fun discovering great things on your doorstep and in Peckham it happens most weekends. A few weeks ago, with a group of friends, I found a foodie event unlike any other…

Forza Win aims to create “awesome Italian cuisine using seasonal British ingredients”. The company has been around for a few years, touring London using disused but atmospheric spaces and serving up flavoursome seasonal food. The pop-ups have a celebratory vibe, with long communal tables and everyone together in one sitting. The banquets are accompanied by organic wines, flavoursome cocktails and a soundtrack of lively music. The mood is convivial as fellow diners fight over the sharing plates and bond over a love of good grub!

Last month the team came back to their Peckham with a new concept: Spring Chickens. For £35 a head you will get a five course feast, featuring the ‘100 day chicken’.

All produce is sourced from the UK and is cooked over wood, to accentuate the flavour. I was impressed with the venue, which has been transformed into a stylish ‘industrial’ dining room. We huddled on the benches, sipping our blood orange Bellinis and anticipating the meal ahead.

The dishes were rustic and simple with bold flavours made from the finest ingredients. Sizzling chickens were delivered systematically round the room, tender with a crispy skin and served with soft roast new potatoes. Silence fell over our group as we gorged on the feast.

Forza Win is a Peckham pop-up not to miss, the best of British, cooked to perfection and served up with a smile. And now every Wednesday they are offering a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine for £10. You don’t need a ticket, just turn up and eat.

Continues until Saturday 23 May. More information and book tickets here.

Ganapati, Peckham

Everyone who lives in Peckham knows Ganapati. It is the place to go for comforting home-cooked curries and fragrant thalis. This characterful little local Indian restaurant, recently celebrated its 10th birthday. It is found on Holly Grove, close to the popular Bellenden Road. Inside the decor is simple with basic wooden tables and chairs, the focus here is on the food. In summer, guests can enjoy the small terrace outside.

Ganapati is run by Claire Fisher, who came back from Southern India inspired by the evocative scents and flavours of the canteens and street food stalls. Her restaurant is now known across London for serving up some of the best South Indian food on offer in the UK. I was a novice of the cuisine when I visited, and was surprised by the similarities to Thai cooking: the curries are most often coconut-based and use a great deal of fresh herbs to create the often floral taste.

As you can see from the photo above, I was too busy devouring my food to take many snaps. We enjoyed a selection of dishes from the innovative menu. Poppadoms and pickles are much more than you would expect, vibrant homemade chutneys and deliciously punchy sauces, a far cry from the supermarket condiments I am used to. Vegetarian street snacks is a plate of delectable treats, the spicy mouthfuls feel indulgent even though they are not at all oily. Kottoor Quail is a must, wonderfully aromatic meat marinated in Kashmiri chilli and Indian shallots and quickly pan-fried to give an irresistibly crispy edge.

It was a challenge to pick from the list of intriguing curries, which include unusual ingredients like beetroot and fennel. We chose to share the Cashewandi Kozhi curry, a mild dish with free-range chicken cooked in cashew nut and coconut masala with a touch of green chilli and tomato. It was blissfully light and full of zesty flavour, big chunks of juicy tomato added a summery freshness. We ordered one of the highly regarded Kerala paratha, a perfectly flaky flatbread cooked on the griddle, and a portion of coconut rice to soak up the sauce.

I can’t comment on dessert as we didn’t try one but they looked equally inventive and exciting with ingredients such as saffron, cardamon and pistachio. And now for the best news? Ganapati offer takeaway and delivery, so you can enjoy the spectacular flavours without even moving from the sofa.

More information here: www.ganapatirestaurant.com

Pedler, Peckham

Pedler opened a mere month ago and already tables are scarce and seats at the bar highly sought after. Peckham is a hotspot for new eateries and bars – in a neighbourhood full of enthusiastic foodies, this new venue, run by locals and intended for locals, is bound to do well.

Pedler has a cosy, homely feel with eclectic mismatched vintage patterns, hanging lights and exposed brickwork. At night the lively bar has a buzzy feel, whilst in the mornings, the white painted tables and abundance of natural light create a cool summery brunch vibe. The restaurant is run by Tim Moore and Taskin Muzaffer, who are also the dream team behind boutique distillery Little Bird Gin. In the kitchen executive chef Gareth Crosby creates bold dishes emphasising the freshness and quality of the British produce.

The menu lists twelve dishes which change daily depending on the seasonal ingredients available. Loosely split into starter and main sizes, they advise two plates each, one from each category. First start with some salty lad-y-dahs, generously sized pork scratchings that arrive packaged up in an old-fashioned stripy sweet bag, the perfect nibble while you sip your cocktail. We tasted the girly raspberry Clover girl and the citrusy Strong gimlet. Priced between £6 and £8, the cocktails are both reasonable and tasty. If you want something simpler, opt for a delicious G&T.

The dishes came individually, which certainly prevented us from gobbling, and prolonged the meal nicely so we could chat and assess each plate. The Pumpkin and chive arancini were plump and wonderfully crispy, with a firm rice centre, served with a dollop of sweet balsamic mayo. Lamb kofte was a favourite: juicy meatballs, perfectly seasoned served with hummous and charred baby gem. Beetroot tarte tatin is an original vegetarian option, a filling and comforting dish. The pastry was incredibly flaky topped with unusual yellow beetroot slices and a side of pepper leaf and an exquisite herby rosemary aioli, that I craved more of all night.

Eating slowly definitely fills you up, and we found two dishes each was too much for the three of us. Frizzle chicken has already become a speciality at Pedler. It is a dish which harks back to Peckham’s food history, a sophisticated remake of the cheap fried chicken they used to sell here. It was lightly breadcrumbed, crisped up and served on a bed of steaming hot polenta, parmesan and attitude sauce (which has plenty of fiery chilli) – a brilliant recipe which apparently took chef Gareth weeks to perfect. Wild ‘shroom pancake with leeks and ricotta is a delight, a thick spongy pancake hiding a mess of cheesy leeks and mushrooms. For a more indulgent treat Pan roast guinea fowl with truffled roots and chives is a rich main course – tender game with a wonderful crispy skin, a sweet silky smooth root vegetable puree with a tangy hint of truffle. Sides were the only disappointment – soggy kale soaked in cream and beef dripping chips that tasted like they’d been cooked from frozen.

We couldn’t fit in dessert, though Valrhona chocolate parfait with white chocolate and pomegranate sounded very tempting. Instead we ended with a pot of fresh mint tea, and wandered home, delighted to have discovered a new Peckham hotspot. Pedler is worth travelling for, but lucky for me I don’t have to… next time, I’m going to try the popular brunch menu.

More information and book a table here: www.pedlerpeckhamrye.com