The World Cup of Flavours (Part 1)
Words: Harry McMullen
As the FIFA 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia, we divert our eyes away from the all action on the pitch to the action in the kitchen. Leeds is a real melting pot of cultures and the city’s restaurants act as a perfect exemplar. The World Cup of Flavours showcases an array of cuisines that can be found in restaurants around the city. 16 nations will battle it out. This week sees games 1-4, with games 5-8 succeeding next week. Who will reign supreme and who will be doing the dishes?
Game one –
Portugal (Nando’s) v Italy (Jamie’s Italian)
Flying the flag for Portugal is the illustrious Nando’s. First arriving in Britain in the early 90’s, the high street mavericks now have almost 400 operating restaurants. Nando’s infuse grilled chicken with their trademark ‘Peri Peri’ sauce in order to concoct a menu that is rich in flavour, as well as spice. The authentic decor of the restaurants mirrors that of a Portuguese villa: clayed walls, worn oak furniture with the appeasing sound of samba playing over the music system. Nando’s is reasonably cheap making the meal excellent value for money. Portugal may look good on paper but will they be able to mambo their way in to the next round?
Jamie’s Italian is the jewel in the crown of Jamie Oliver’s culinary empire. The chain of restaurants prides itself in cooking with fresh produce under a harmonious workforce. Jamie’s is one of the very few restaurants in Leeds that produces its own pasta in house and the restaurant actually runs pasta workshops on weekday evenings. The menu sees traditional Italian dishes meet a contemporary shake up, the Squid Ink Ravioli is a prime exemplar. The restaurant is very open and light giving diners a real sense of space to sit, chat and most importantly, enjoy a beautiful meal together. The Italians are looking strong.
Game two – Jamaica (Turtle Bay) v China (Tattu)
Jamaica may be home to the fastest man on the planet, but we don’t think they will Jamaican a making a speedy exit from this tournament with Turtle Bay at the helm. Turtle Bay is a Caribbean chain that serves the finest selection of Jamaican cuisine. From Reggae dishes to rum cocktails, the Bay prides itself on good food and more so, a good atmosphere. Leeds has a huge West Indian community and Turtle Bay emulates this sense of community with their homely portions, basking in the chilled out ambience of the Caribbean. Jamaica are definitely a dark horse in the competition!
The Chinese may be responsible for the production of many of the plates we eat on, but their infamous cuisine gives them a real chance of going far in the World Cup of Flavours. Tattu is seated firmly in the heart of Leeds’ growing financial district, offering diners a taste of China with a contemporary twist. The food at Tattu is renowned for its exquisite presentation and taste, and the interior design of the restaurant is award-winning. The Chinese have an attention to detail and this is mirrored throughout Tattu. Tattu contrasts with Turtle Bay on many levels, but there are no rules on how to eat or cook!
Game three – USA (Red’s True BBQ) vs Brazil (Cabana)
In BBQ we trust! The Americans may well be the self-proclaimed Barbecue champions of the world – so it is very fitting that Red’s True Barbecue has been chosen to fly the red, white and blue for the land of the free. Red’s have two restaurants in Leeds and offer a wide range of smoked and barbecued meats to suit all taste buds. From burgers to brisket, Red’s is the church of true barbecue. Diners can enjoy the real smokehouse experience without travelling all the way to Houston.
The Brazilians may be aces on the field of play, but do their kitchen tactics live up to the nations footballing achievements? Representing the Brazilians in the competition is Cabana, a barbecue restaurant nestled in the city’s Trinity Centre. Cabana offer a sumptuous range of spicy, chargrilled chicken, bringing a little taste of Rio to the tables of Leeds. The restaurant strives to bring the customer a ‘real taste’ of Brazil but will it be enough to topple the American’s? It’s the battle of the BBQ’s in Game 3!
Game four: Mexico v France
Mexico is famous for three things: Sombrero’s, the Aztecs and most importantly, Burritos! The latino nation will be represented in the competition by Trinity’s very own Cielo Blanco, a restaurant that prides itself on creating a social environment where food, drink and la familia intertwine. Cielo Blanco’s menu contains the Mexican classics: Fajitas, Nachos, Enchiladas and all dishes are cooked with a latin passion. Diners are able to enjoy their meal on a relaxed terrace and the restaurant is a great place to catch up with friends or even for a more formal occasion. Sometimes it’s not always about what’s on the table, it’s about what’s around the table. Cielo Blanco and the Mexicans are tipped to go far in The World of Flavours.
Foodies owe a lot to the French and their cuisine. They are pioneers in fine dining, masters of bread, wine connoisseurs and have the tenacity to add certain amphibians to their menus. Sous le Nez En Ville does not strictly translate as ‘we are going to win this goddamn competition’, but the restaurant does give France a very strong chance. The restaurant is a subterranean eatery that offers diners refuge from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The restaurant prides itself in offering guests high quality and consistent food, as well as a fine selection of wines. The menu is reflection of France, prompting classic French dishes such as Pigeon Breast and pan-seared Lamb’s Liver. The location and the food concoct to create a real intimate experience for the diner. Do not write the French off in this competition….
Well that’s all folks, be sure to tune in again as we have some mouthwatering ‘food-fixtures’ coming up. In the next round we see: Britain take on Japan, Greece take on Ethiopia, India take on Cuba and finally Thailand take on Spain. Adios Amigos!