Food writer, stylist and scrummy mummy, Georgina Hayden may be a native North Londoner, but her her passion for travel and her proud Greek Cypriot heritage have flavoured her passion for cookery from a young age. Whether helping her Yia-yia (Grandma) prepare dishes at their Tufnell Park taverna or icing fairy cakes with her mum as a child, each food memory led Georgina to pen her acclaimed first book ‘Stirring Slowly’ showcasing a set of recipes designed to revive, restore and rejuvenate the soul. Georgie’s latest book – ‘Taverna: Recipes from a Cypriot Kitchen‘ is delicious nod to her Greek-Cypriot roots laden with traditional recipes evoking memories of sun-kissed Mediterranean holidays, including cinnamon-infused stews and orange-blossom scented pastries.
Between road-testing recipes and raising her gorgeous daughter, Persephone, we caught up for a quick chat to see where Georgie loves to quaff coffee with her little one and which fellow mamas would be joining her for a dreamy dinner…
1. I’d like a table for…
3 in the mahjong rooms in Xu, China Town please. The main restaurant is small and probably not great with a baby/ kids, but the mahjong rooms are a hidden gem. They can sea 2 adults with 1 or 2 kids, are private – set back from the main room, and can be shut off with your own curtain. This makes it wonderful with a baby – you wont feel self conscious if feeding or if the baby is fussing. The food is Taiwanese and phenomenal. The staff are kind and patient. And the cocktails are potent.
2. Early-birds catch the coffee at…
Monmouth in Borough market. I’m not a fan of milky coffee but they do the best cafe au lait. I’d get there when they open at 7.30, and pull up a pew with the baby. I’d get the bottomless bread and jam too, we would both love that. Then when we’re finished, a potter around the market before it gets busy. A nap for her, more feasting for me, then a walk back north across London Bridge.
3. Best brunch with kids?
Banners in Crouch End. I’ve been going here since I was a kid and it hasn’t changed. The wellington boots filled with crayons for kids, the posters, music, popcorn machine, its sensory heaven. The brunch menu for adults is brilliant, always has been, before brunch became such a huge thing. And the kids menu has crowd pleasers, as well as slightly more interesting things like a kids meze and bbq chicken with rice’n’peas. But I feel like there is so much on the main menu they would enjoy too.
4. Children’s menu must-visits…
I don’t love the idea of separate menus for kids, I’m trying to encourage Persephone to eat whatever we’re eating (within reason as she is only 8 months old! Ask me again when she is a toddler I am sure I’ll roll my eyes at this comment). But at the moment I adore going to Caravan in Kings Cross with her. Its big, roomy, the menu is varied, and there is so much choice on there for everyone to enjoy. The small plates make it great for kids to try a variety of things, there are pizzas which are always a hit, and they have delicious baked goods too. Even at this age she was able to eat a side of broccoli, a little pizza and some of my fruit. The also have good changing facilities, and granary square is great with children.
5. Where do you grab a bite with mums en masse?
The pub. I live in N21 and there are lots of great coffee shops but the reality is, when there are lots of you, often the pub is one of the only places you can all squeeze into! The Kings Head in Winchmore Hill is always great when we arrive en masse. The food is good, it is light and airy for the kids, and there is a good garden too.
6. Hidden gem for treating tiny ones?
I haven’t done this yet but I am looking forward to afternoon tea with Persephone. I adore Sketch, it’s just fabulous, and afternoon tea in the garden room is lush. It would be wasted on her any time soon, but when she is a little older I am looking forward to taking her. The egg toilets will blow her mind I am sure.
7. Best piece of advice for dining out with kids?
Lots of snacks. Books. Toys. Take a bag filled with the crap from your living room. And even though I dont own one yet I am sure I will need a tablet at some point.
8. Date night – takeaway or take me out?
Take me out! Take away doesn’t feel like a treat anymore, it often feels like a necessity. A night out though… yes please.
9. My earliest food memory…
Sitting on my grandpas shoulders bouncing around our family restaurant, eating whatever my grandma had made – Greek keftethes and stuffed vine leaves. And making fairy cakes with my mum, with red and green glace cherries.
10. Five mums, one table – who’s joining you?
Me, Jools Oliver, Michelle Obama, Claire Alexander-Johnston (jetsetmama) and Gillian Anderson