Sunday, 22 April 2018


Yesterday afternoon, we headed over to Headingley to take part in some market research for new business venture Vital. We were met by the lovely James and Laura, who gave us lots of information about the ethos behind the business, a bit of background about the dishes, and some extra bits of interesting information.

The dishes we tried were Caribbean inspired, and James explained that he has family from Jamaica - and further back in the family history there is some Indian influence. They also told us about the Rastari notion of Ital (which is incorporated into their brand name), which is about eating pure, natural food. This all combined to make for some really interesting dishes.

(I will warn you now, the pictures aren't very good as we were downstairs with no natural light - but you'll hopefully get the idea at least.)

Unfortunately there were a couple of dishes on the menu that were unavailable, due to a personal emergency for the third person that was due to host the event with James and Laura, but I think we tried enough to get the idea!

Green Juice
First on the menu was the traditional Ackee and Saltfish. I've never had this dish before, so had no idea what to expect but what we were given was very tasty. The "fish" was made of jackfruit, giving it the flaky texture you would expect from a fish dish. The ackee (a fruit) was cooked in such a way that it resembled scrambled egg, making a pretty convincing egg fried rice. In fact, I enjoyed the ackee so much that I'm going to try to find some to try at home!

Ackee and Saltfish
Next up came a Patty filled with lentil dahl. This was very tasty but the pastry was pretty crumbly - not sure if that was down to the spelt flour or just the nature of the pastry. A tasty choice either way!

After this we had Plantain Stew with Egg Fried Rice, which I completely forgot to photograph! I've never had plantain before and wasn't sure what to expect, but it was almost potato-like in texture. I'd definitely have it again. Again, the egg fried rice was made with ackee and was very tasty.

Next we had some straight up Jerk Jackfruit, which was tasty. It was quite a dry spice, so I think this would pair well with something contrasting. I imagine it would usually be served with rice, which would provide this contrast.

Jerk Jackfruit
While we ate the Jerk Jackfruit, James disappeared to prepare the next dish - BBQ Thighs. It's been a long time since I ate meat, and I'm not sure if I've ever had something like a drumstick, so I really had no basis for comparison for this dish. However, I really enjoyed it - this was one of my favourites of the evening. The "skin" was made from pancake style wraps (think Chinese duck pancakes) and the "meat" was jackfruit again. The texture combinations here were great, and the crispy bits on the "skin" were perfect. This was served with a little dollop of tamarind sauce (which I love) - a great compliment to the flavours of the "thigh".

BBQ Thigh
At the end of the session, we even got a pudding! This was labelled as a donut, but to me it felt more like a pudding (e.g. sticky toffee pudding style), as it was pretty dense and sticky. It tasted great though and when it is served as a full sized dish, you will get three of these little donuts, topped with ice cream or cream - which sounds great! The use of coconut sugar gave it a rich, caramel-like flavour.

James and Laura are both nutritionists and are incorporating that into their meals, without compromising on flavour. I am very excited to see where this venture goes, and look forward to trying some full blown meals in the future.

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