25 July 2016

The Latina Cook Supperclub, Bunga Bunga

You know when you have a list of places you want to go, but you never seem to be able to tick anything off the list (or is that just me?)? Visiting Bunga Bunga has been on my list since I first moved to London just shy of three years ago.

So when I heard that a Brazilian-themed supperclub was going to be taking place in Cocobananas, the upstairs bar at Bunga Bunga, there was no question about it - I was *there*

The outside is terribly inconspicuous...

NOT. I mean, there's absolutely no way you could miss it. It's loud, tongue-in-cheek (the venue is a tribute to Silvio Berlusconi's legendary 'bunga bunga' parties) and unashamedly fun. Basically, I've never heard of anyone who has been there and not had a good time.

In honour of the Rio Olympics, the venue has teamed up with The Latina Cook Natalie Salmon to create a colourful, delicious and healthy menu. There will be two supperclubs - one to celebrate the opening ceremony (5th August) and one to celebrate the closing (21st August).

I was invited to give the menu a whirl, and have a few caipirinhas whilst I was at it.

Cocobanana's, as a Brazillian-themed bar, is the perfect venue to host the supperclub. Normally food is reserved for the downstairs area only, but for this event they're making a special exception.

Stepping into the bar, I felt a million miles away from Battersea.

We were lead to an intimate table arrangement, with menus handily placed for our perusal. Regardless, having never tried Brazilian food before, I wasn't sure what to expect.

Before proceedings got underway, we were given an introduction by the Latina Cook herself, Natalie Salmon (who is all kinds of gorgeous, by the way, so if I eat what she eats and get to look like her, I'm totally fine with that).

Her main aim of her club, and hence the supperclub, she said, is to raise awareness of the health benefits of South-American and hispanic foods. She also wants to prove that the food can be hearty as well as healthy - two things that don't tend to sit side by side.

And with that, we were presented with our tasting starters.

Chicken hearts, Brazilian pastels (filled with ground meat and mozzarella, heart of palm - a type of vegetable, who knew? - and chicken), and Coxinha (crispy chicken balls).

I didn't try the chicken hearts... I chickened out. But, my plus one was far braver, took the plunge, and actually really liked them. So if you're a little less squeamish than me, and as open-minded as she was, do give them a go!

I was a bigger fan of the pastels - kind of like a chicken version of a sausage roll, but in a lighter, ungreasy pastry, and the crispy chicken balls because, well, I like chicken and batter.

Then came the first part of the main course: fresh fish ceviche, Feijoada (a stew with beans, chorizo and beef) with polenta chips and casava chips on the side.

The casava chips (the lighter hue) weren't for me - they were a bit chewy and I can only liken them to plantain, which can be tricky to get right! The stew was more-ish - the beef was actually better than the chorizo, which was a bit too fatty - and I mopped it up with the polenta chips.

It was the fish ceviche which was the absolute winner for me, however. Normally I cannot deal with raw fish, but this melted in the mouth with just a hint of heat from the chilly and oh man, it was good. I kept going back for more.

The kale broke up the heaviness from the stew, with just a touch of salt from the cheese shavings.

All of a sudden, the lights went down, and we were treated to a samba performance.

The dancers shimmied, shook their hips and invited the audience to help them put on a show.

There were feathers and sequins everywhere, and the beat was infectious. Whether standing up or sitting, no one was able to keep entirely still.

Much later, we were presented with a pizza in typical Bunga Bunga style. i.e. bigger than your face.

Did you know that sweet potatoes are grown in Brazil? I didn't. Along with this, the pizza was covered in goat's cheese, cashew nut cheese, kale and Brazil nuts.

I wanted to like this pizza. I love pizza. But I just couldn't enjoy it, as the goat's cheese and sweet potato made it waaaay too sweet. And kale is never welcome on a pizza, in my opinion. Spinach, just about, but kale? Nope.

It did look impressive though - very colourful and inviting. Just not for me.

I wasn't feeling well that evening, but I hadn't wanted to miss out on the occasion. By 10pm, however, our dessert of avocado ice cream and acai bowls hadn't been served, and I had to admit defeat. So, alas, I have no photos of either... which means you'll just have to experience them yourself, amirite? *wink*

*For more information on The Latina Cook supperclub at Bunga Bunga, head here*
*For more information on the amazing Natalie Salmon, aka, The Latina Cook, click here*

Although not every aspect of the meal floated my boat, it was an interesting insight into Brazilian cuisine. It's also worth pointing out that the supperclub is a reasonable price (£25, plus drinks), so it's only a light investment, and offers you the chance to try something new.

**I was invited to review The Latina Cook's supperclub at Bunga Bunga, but all my opinions are my my own

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