Eastern Mediterranean Food With Aphrodite's

TOAST talks street food with Dixie

Street food star Aphrodite’s has been taking the UK by storm this summer, serving up a selection of mouth watering eastern Mediterranean food from their beautiful blue vintage van. TOAST caught up with Aphrodite herself to talk about her fabulous food, entertaining tips, and that pomegranate ketchup.

You may have caught Dixie Fingal-Rock Innes on Channel 4’s cookery contest The Taste, when she made it through to the hugely competitive finals. These days, together with her partner Will Powell, Dixie (whose real name is in fact Aphrodite) run – you guessed it - Aphrodite’s - a cheerful blue vintage van serving up a slice of the eastern Med wherever it goes.

‘We started off with a wood-fired oven on a trailer! But now we have our very own, very beautiful 1963 Citroen - it actually used to be a police horsebox!’ explains Dixie.

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‘I grew up in the family deli in Monmouth, South Wales, surrounded by spices and different flavours. I then discovered eastern Mediterranean food when I first started cooking professionally in London, and I loved the flavours! Aubergines and courgettes will be my favourite vegetables forever, and the Turks have so many different ways of preparing them. And then there are all the delicious marinades and dips…’

Dixie’s enthusiasm for fresh flavoursome food shines through in Aphrodite’s mouth-watering menu; pillow-soft fresh pitas filled with marinated meat, vegetables and cheeses accompanied by a knock out selection of fresh handmade dips, sauces, pickles and salads all feature. And in addition to all this, Dixie loves to keep inventing and trying new out new recipes and ingredients.

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‘At the moment I am experimenting with kibbeh, which are Lebanese bulghur wheat balls with pine nuts, served in pitta. Recently I made them with Jerusalem artichoke, feta and walnuts. I also love crispy potatoes tossed in za’atar and of course…pomegranate ketchup’

Ahh yes. The famous pomegranate ketchup - Aphrodite’s latest hit creation.

It’s a bit of a joke that we are calling it ketchup because as a child I was absolutely phobic about commercial ketchup! I still won’t even have it in the fridge, to my partner’s Will’s sorrow’ laughs Dixie. 

‘One day I was making a bacon and egg sandwich and I added some pomegranate molasses.  It was delicious, but I thought it could be even better so I came up with my very own mixture.  And it’s just that: it’s not a relish, it’s not a sauce, it’s a ketchup, made with eastern spices and tomatoes as well as pomegranate juice to give it that sweet sour kick’

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This seriously moreish ketchup goes well with just about anything…but Dixie recommends that it should be eaten with sausages (especially venison ones) and strong cheeses.

‘It’s also delicious spooned over fried eggs topped with yoghurt and melted butter in the Turkish style. I like it on our pitta bread and or as a marinade for barbecued chicken or even better - duck, stirred into a stew such as the Iranian faisinjan which is made with duck and walnuts,' adds Dixie.

Dixie has kindly shared the secrets of this Iranian dish Fenejan with TOAST, so you can give it a go yourself, and if you’re longing to get your hands on some pomegranate ketchup, the good news is that it is now available to buy in Selfridges.

Fenejan Recipe Aphrodites Edited 1 (1)

As well as at various trendy street food markets and festivals, Aphrodite’s van can also bring a taste of the eastern Med to weddings, birthdays, and pretty much any private party or function. Whatever kind of event you’re hosting – Dixie believes the van is perfect for any occasion.

‘The type of food we sell from the van is ideal for parties – this summer we are doing a wedding and we’ll be handing out mini-pittas stuffed with spicy titbits from the truck. Fillings may include Balik Ekmek, which is a Turkish fish sandwich with fried mackerel with red onion, fresh herb and sumac Salad, charred charleton pepper, fresh lemon and pomegranate molasses. Our best seller is usually the slow roasted chicken cooked with sumac and our pomegranate ketçhup, served with crispy chicken skin and green tahini yoghurt and aubergine saksuka with manouri cheese and garlic yoghurt! I think party food should be about the kind of simple fresh flavours we love - it doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be fun and delicious.’

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And when Dixie isn’t busy cruising around the country in her big blue van, like TOAST she just loves to entertain.

‘I always just put a big pot of whatever we’re eating in the middle of the table and get people to help themselves! I like rustic food, which looks colourful and has bright distinct flavours.  Some pretty pottery helps and you must have good bread - I like to have lots of dips and flavoured yoghurts on the side’ Dixie explains.  

‘For example one of my favourite dishes called Turlu Turlu of Turkish/Greek origin, literally means ‘all sorts’ – it’s a kind of rustic ratatouille, but can be made with whatever veg you have lying around, bound together with tomato and lots of garlic. Served with buttery chickpea rice and garlic yoghurt - it is delicious!'

If all this has left you wanting more (I know I do) then head over to the Edit for Aphrodite's mouth watering recipe for Turlu Turlu With Chickpea Rice for you to try at home. Enjoy!

Event costs tend to vary so if you'd like to book Aphrodite's get in touch. 



Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 22 August 2016

  street food

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