Monthly Archives: August 2018

The Trew Era Cafe and the Future

Russell Brand has been working on his latest socially aware venture for over a year, and it has been widely covered by media. This is partly because much of media has been pretty sceptical of Brand’s seemingly out-of-nowhere transformation as a would-be revolutionary.

For a while now, Russell Brand has been campaigning for a social and political upheaval, and making somewhat controversial statements such as announcing that he didn’t vote, and explaining that voting made no difference as all of the parties are practically the same. Last year, he published his book, ‘Revolution’, which discussed many of his views on social and political issues. In the book, he called for a “global revolution involving radical wealth redistribution and spiritualism”, and received pretty mixed reviews and responses from the media as well as the general public in the UK. As well as his ‘Revolution’ book, Brand also runs a YouTube channel, outlining these social and political issues he wishes to change, called ‘The Trews’.

However, his latest project, expanding into social enterprise and business, is arguably his biggest revolutionary venture yet. Russell Brand has (just earlier this week) opened a non-profit, social enterprise café, called The Trew Era Café.

Brand has been planning the café for some time now – during his promotion for ‘Revolution’, he stated that he would use all of the book’s profits to fund a social enterprise to employ former drug addicts, and help them return to work.

Additionally, he has opened the café in the New Era estate in Hackney, East London. This is where he helped give voice to a campaign against eviction of local people in the area last year. On the estate, almost 100 families would have been evicted out of their homes if a development by a US company had been approved. Three women initiated the campaign to stop the development, and in December 2014, the plans were eventually abandoned and the local residents got to keep their homes.

Now, according to Brand, The Trew Era café stands as a permanent victory of the people over corporate interests. He wants the café to be a beacon in the community, and a place where locals can gather for social and political purposes.

True to his word, all of the people currently in employment at the café are in abstinence-based recovery, and runs as a non-profit, fully self-sufficient, social enterprise and business. The work started on the café just a month ago, and it only recently opened earlier this week. Though, presently it’s running sufficiently as a café selling well-priced hot drinks and cakes. It has future plans to build a kitchen, which will then allow the café to sell locally and ethically sourced produce at affordable prices.

So, is all of the widespread media attention onto Russell Brand’s Trew Era café a good thing? As, surely, this will bring attention to the idea of social enterprise and non-profit businesses created for social impact?

There are currently a few social enterprise cafés in the UK – a few of which we have highlighted previously, such as Social Bite and Truly Scrumptious – who all use their business to contribute to their local communities. For example, Social Bite offers a service called ‘Suspended Coffee’, where anyone can order and pay for an item of food or drink as a contribution to a homeless person, who would then receive that purchase.

Travel and Food Do Mix

Did I mention Food?

While the French are right into nouvelle cuisine (in other words, not much for helluva lot) you can be certain that in an eastern European restaurant or cafe one meal and a side salad between two people is more than enough.

I really should have known after our Zagreb experience:

* Great Indian Restaurant – Light meals with rice and wine and beer. Result: Full as a goog for under $AU50

* Croatian Restaurant – Main meal and side dish with water. Result: Full as a goog for under $AU25.

We get into Sofia, Bulgaria and make our way to what appears to be a trendy restaurant and bar. Admittedly, we probably got the wrong meal, but two big plates of cold meat and salad and one bottle of wine (by appointment to the King of somewhere) later, we would have been knocked over by the price. That is, if we were able to get up after cleaning up the plates.

The price of less than $AU16 was a bargain even with the entertainment of the establishment’s owner trying to open the wine, then just about smashing it into the marble table as the cork suddenly decided to part ways with the bottle.

An elementary knowledge of physics would tell any casual observer that when that moment arrived, the corkscrew hand was going to go up and the bottle hand was going to go down. Seeing the bottle hand was near the top of the bottle, there was no way of cushioning the bottom of the bottle from the impact of the marble only 5 centimetres below. As in a train wreck, I knew of the result but was powerless to prevent it happening. They make bottles strong in Bulgaria, as the only breakage to be seen was the composure of the restauranteur. Fortunately, unlike Humpty Dumpty, he was able to put it all back together fairly quickly and we all pretended nothing happened. It had no noticeable effect on the wine which was quite good.

We decided that we would have a good lunch, so headed to the cafe that my wife, Brenda had spotted – mainly because of the cakes on show. It turned out to be an Italian establishment, and, as we later discovered, highly regarded. The only off putting element was the proliferation of what appeared to be mafiosi tucking into – you guessed it – large portions of Italian food. (as we walked around Sofia, we realised that just about all the men looked like gangsters!)

Brenda ordered a meal with a potato side dish, but I, wising up to the very large meals, skipped the side meal and went with the main course. Lucky that. After going through 350 grams of Pork Milanese (they mention the weight of all the foods on the menu – including the salads) in addition to what could be termed old style chips, I could not fit in another thing. Except, of course, the “small” serving of bread which I don’t know the weight of but guessed to be about half a kilo. It was beautiful bread, but I just could not finish the last two bits.

Was going to ask for a doggy bag, but thought it was a bit rich as the swanky place charged us about $AU30 -outrageous!

Now that we are on the train to our eagerly anticipated Turkey leg (no pun originally intended, but why not) of the tour, we have the luxury of a litre of bottled water, a weird looking block of chocolate, two tic tacs (1 orange and 1 mint) and a single piece of pizza the size of Lichtenstein. We are in for a $AU4 feast.

Traditions and Food Tips

What I love most about travelling is the first hand knowledge of other cultures. There is something unique about discovering the traditions, the way of life, the arts & crafts and especially the food. All Countries are fascinating in their own way; however there are places in the world that are richer than others in a way of traditions and history. Morocco is one of them. Not only Morocco sprouts history from every corner with its beautiful architecture and the Medina, which has kept the unspoilt status of old city and seems to guard its hidden secrets, but the traditions are just as evident in everyday life. You just need to visit one of the famous Moroccan markets to see the abundance of their arts and crafts, and if you are lucky enough you might even barter yourself a deal and take home one of the renowned Moroccan rugs or a precious handmade piece of silver jewellery.

Food lovers who travel to Morocco will be able to please their taste buds during their visit to Morocco where traditional food is well known for its succulent Tajine and couscous dishes. Moroccan food is based on meat, usually lamb or chicken, vegetables, couscous and a large selection of bread. Each recipe tends to carry very strong flavours, and will surely provide a wonderful gastronomic experience.

Soups are very popular and often a meal starts with a rich and spicy pulse soup called the Harira. As well as a first course pulse soups are often served for breakfast at cafes. Just like Harira, Bisara is a popular breakfast dish, a rich chickpea soup with fresh olive oil poured over the top. Many cafes specialize in soups and they are usually recognized by the piles of cups on the counter.

The other succulent Moroccan dish is the famous Tajine, which takes its name from the dish – a heavy ceramic covered dish – rather than the food itself. Classic Tajines are usually made with a generous portion of meat in the middle of the dish surrounded by vegetables and fruit. The dish is central to the success of a good Tajine that needs to slow-cook with the lid on. Lamb Tajines are usually cooked with almonds and prunes, while chicken Tajines are made with green olives and lemon. If you happen to be invited for a meal in someone’s house, the Tajine will be in the middle of the table and the custom is to eat the vegetables in front of you accepting the pieces of meat the host offers you.