Updated: May 18
by Rachael David
Valentines Day is the worst. Am I right? It's a commercialised shopping event that promotes a damaging singular hetero-normative narrative about relationships. The problem is that if your other half buys into it, you kind of have to as well. And this year it was clear that I would be buying in. On the 14th my boyfriend took me to see Inua Ellams' play, Three Sisters at the National Theatre, which was spectacular. The play was an adaptation of the Chehkov play by the same name but set in the South East Nigeria at the time of the Biafran War. Afterwards we went to The Parrot, a bar in Aldwych of which Idris Elba is one of the owners. That too was really nice, they serve pretty cocktails and have live music in a really intimate setting (I'm not exaggerating when I say intimate; it has about 40 seats in total).
For my beloved, I bought a card from Kitsch Noir, selected because the first time we met he took me to get jollof rice, and since then it's become something akin to our love language. A few days after Valentine's Day we tried a new restaurant on Old Kent Road called Talking Drum. Our food came out lightening fast by typical Nigerian restaurant standards and, they made really nice cocktails. Living in Southeast London, I am so spoilt for choice when it comes to Nigerian restaurants a number of which can deliver to my door. I know people who send cabs to collect Nigerian food from their favourite restaurants if they're not within the delivery zone. Nigerian restaurants seem to be one of the most popular black-owned hospitality businesses in London, many of which have those charmingly traditional characteristics (nonchalant customer service, long wait times and home-style decor). But there are an increasing number of concept Nigerian restaurants that are shaking up this perception. These include Ikoyi, which I've already raved about, Chuku's Nigerian Tapas which just opened its first permanent location in Tottenham and I Go Chop, known for their jollof rice filled burritos. These restaurants serve traditional flavours and ingredients in novel ways.
Valentine's Day had also provided an occasion for me to try chocolate from Dark Sugars, which sources its cocoa from the founder's family farm in Ghana. I recently discovered a second branch of its 'Cocoa House' had opened not too far from me in Greenwich - the original one is on Brick Lane. I don't know if I should be embarrassed about how many tasters I ate or that I got a hot chocolate covered in dark chocolate 'shavings' (read: massive shards of chocolate) but I am pleased that it lived up to the hype. I remembered why I was there and got a small (and I mean small) gift box of truffles for the bae - it was really quite expensive when I think about it but making extravagant demonstrations of affection is literally the whole point of Valentine's Day isn't it?