Pink pleated skirts spattered with icy rain drops, rose gold court shoes sludging through muddy puddles, the skies clouded over with inky darkness. Red buses trudging through a network of cars, red and white underground trains zipping through narrow tunnels, a sequin bolero jacket draped over the lady in pink’s shoulders, it shimmers brightly. Passengers bustling on and off trains, the tip tap of flat shoes on uneven pavements, the grating of a broken heel scraping the floor. But despite the topsy turviness, despite the weather’s best intentions, and despite the momentous journey that she needed to take, the lady in pink would go anywhere where food was involved, breathing in the spices, textures and colours that were woven together like a precious elixir, she drank it in one drop. She was sated temporarily by the vividness of her imagination, eating her way through manna that rained upon her dreams. But even her imagination couldn’t compete with the reality, Grenadian stew on her tongue, bliss. For it was her first foray into Clapham’s culinary kingdom, where the gastronomical geniuses at Three Little Birds HQ would work their sumptuous magic and cast a spell on us all. Welcomed into their intimate fold, the sense of community spirit was palpable, customers and staff alike engaged in lively conversation, peals of laughter echoing throughout the venue. Smiling mouths, parched lips, cocktails jostled down parched throats, the room was alive with raucous energy, it was infectious. We drifted into the tranquil waters of the Caribbean, the golden, silky sand embalming our toes, the golden sun bathing us in a golden light, sipping rum punch on the beaches that engulfed us in their Mermaidean daydreams. But this was no ordinary restaurant, for we had wandered into Taino Supperclub territory, where Vanessa Bolosier and April Jackson, would welcome us into their vegan paradise, a feast fit for the senses.
We entered on the cusp of Veganuary, the 28th January, the month of love nearly upon us, as fresh welcome drinks laced with coconut cream and a dazzling of rum, crept into our waiting tables, smooth on the palette and even better to taste. Rolling coconut clusters on our lolling tongues, the drink was sweet but not cloying, as we drank generously, and ate with the same delirious accord. But nothing could have prepared us for the announcement of our Vegan ‘Caribbean Inspired Vegan Supper Club’ being an 8 course affair, twined with oodles of passion, craftsmanship and a sprinkling of love, with a cherry on top. To begin with the lady in pink and her newly found friends slurped on Grenadian Stew, woven with breadfruit, spinach, onions, scotch bonnet peppers, celery and dumplings. Interlaced with the right amount of tangible spice, each sip felt like a reward, as the stew tantalizingly slipped down our greedy throats, our stomachs gurgling with impatient anticipation. We craved the recipe to this secret dish but alas mouths were kept firmly shut, as we sat and pondered as to how we too might recreate this sublime concoction, staving away the chill of winter snow. Our next courses came in a flurry of activity, the concept of the Vegan Supper Club being derived from ‘sharing platters’ family style, a fact we are all too happy to succumb to, as we eyed the food hungrily.
Callaloo Croquettes dancing among fried okra were sensual, textured and utterly irresistible, although the okra was not to my taste, allowing the friend opposite me to give them a loving home, preferring the fluid taste of the callaloo as it caressed my mouth in sensuous harmony. Breaded, but not soggy, the croquettes were a welcome appetizer after the Grenadian stew, a polyrhythmic riot of sensations that paired well with Three Little Bird’s infamous punch. Infused with plenty of rum, the punch was as the name suggests ‘punchy’ best enjoyed slowly, as the liquid seeps into your stomach ever so delightfully. Sweet with an edge of tartness, we sipped with languorous glee, drink trickling down our raspy throats with the finesse of a ballet dancer. A rumba of mains cascaded voluptuously across our table, as Vegan curry, coconut slaw and fried polenta with spicy vegan mayo crept into our hearts, our stomachs swelling with epicurean food. The curry, despite it’s connotations was more mild than spicy, but paired with jerk spiced cauliflower and spicy bean rice, balanced out the other spices in the meal ever so wonderfully. And oh how glorious it was in our mouths, a high energy dish that craved public attention, parading itself, swathed in bean infused rice. The vegan curry, mixed with spiced jerk cauliflower, bean rice and polenta was even more sumptuous the next day drizzled in sweet chilli mango sauce from Tropical Sun, but for now we ravished our meals with delirious hunger, swept into a Vegan Caribbean fantasy that captured the essence of Rastafarian living.
Nourished by the power of plants, we sank into the most deepest of food comas, entranced into their gastronomic world, where the sea lapped at callused feet, and the sun coated our meal in symbiotic joy. But there was one more gorgeous treat in store, as dessert pleaded with our full up tummies to make room for one more dish, while caramelized pineapple made love to coconut sorbet covered in rum sauce. The coconut sorbet was a welcome palette cleanser, infused with just enough rum to compliment the caramelization of the pineapple, offsetting the stickiness of the caramel with the refreshing sorbet. And while our drinks had disappeared down the watering hole, as we licked our lips, we felt sated at last, rubbing our stomachs with primal satisfaction. We were the last ones standing and our train fairy awaited our clonking shoes, so at last we bid farewell to a vegan supper club that toyed with our senses, dreaming of a stew that would be in infinite supply in our cozy kitchens. And when we closed our eyes, we dreamed that we were eating once more, as curry danced on a bed of rice and croquettes twirled around coconut rum.
Have You Ever Tried Vegan Caribbean Food Before?
Please note we were provided a complimentary vegan supper club ticket in exchange for content but this does not affect my opinions and all words are my own.