I awoke in a daze.
It was the morning after 14th February, and I knew I had done something very wrong. Something shameful, and sinful. Something the beau could not forgive. The air was thick with the scent of wine, grease, secret spices, and shame. On the bedroom floor, an empty cardboard box lay open.
The plan had been to spend Valentine’s night alone, as the beau was booked to play folk music for the baying crowds of Kent. He had foisted gifts of chocolate, Prosecco and a sonnet upon me that morning (I had delivered beer and dark chocolate digestives in an Asda carrier bag as a token of my love), and had left for work, not to return for many hours.
It was a rare Friday night in alone, and I had been weak. I had turned to an old vice: chicken. Fried chicken. The kind of chicken that doesn’t have a phone number – just a card in a phone box. It wants the money up front and you’ll need to see a doctor in the morning.
Following a swift rehearsal with the Canterbury Players I scuttled into a Chicken Cottage, my face covered by a cowl, and placed my order. On the plus side, they cooked my chicken fresh to order. On the down side, the branch has ridiculously large and bright front window so that everyoneoutside can see you waiting for your bucket of solitude and potato wedges of loneliness.
Goods acquired, I spent the evening at home quaffing sparkling wine and gnawing on dead bird while imagining the bass-playing beau being flanked by lovely Valentines ladies at this gig of his*. The chicken was crisp and slutty and unstoppable. I didn’t think about the consequences, I was drunk and stupid.
The next morning, I woke up convinced that Ragnorok had happened in my mouth. Tis the way of MSG, my friends – a few moments of hedonism will lacerate your taste buds and leave your tongue as parched as a burnt forest. I needed to redress this folly and repent my sins.
KITCH is a fairly new addition to Canterbury’s main thoroughfare. A wholefood café that prides itself on healthy food that don’t compromise on taste, it sits primly amongst the historic buildings of St Peter’s Street in a calming wash of blue, white and grey.
Owner Emily details her foodie principals on the KITCH website – use only all natural, wholegrain and seasonal ingredients. Sugar, sweeteners, processed foods and trans-fats are not needed. (Admit it, you don’t need them, you just pretend you do because you want more lard bacon cake).
But there is more to KITCH than the café; Emily also runs her My Deliciously Healthy Kitchen cookery classes on site, offers outside catering, and can fill your fridge and freezer with up to three weeks’ worth of healthy meals with her special detox packages. The café also hosts private events; I realised too late that while I was covered in fried chicken on V Day, KITCH was hosting an Asian-fusion supper club with Godmersham’s Portable Pantry. I grew up in Godermsham!!! I don’t know why that’s important right now!!!
So I enlisted fellow thespian Sarah to sample their delights for lunch on Saturday, once I’d burned all evidence of my chicken frenzy so my boyfriend would love me again. Sarah had already bagged a window table when I arrived so we could people watch. Looking at their cake display, it was tempting to order a pile of sweet treats and tea, and devour them while flicking V signs at the foodless passers-by through the window. But that would be mean. Brilliant, but mean.
Instead, Sarah and I opt for more substantial food. I had been lusting after the advertised banana and almond pancakes, but I arrived well after breakfast had finished. Another day, mayhap. Instead I opted for the roasted root veg hash with poached egg (£7), while Sarah ordered a smoked salmon sandwich on sourdough with seasonal leaves (£5.50). She shockingly turned down the salsa verde dressing with her salmon, as she is no fan of capers. I beat her mercilessly for it later.
The dish was exactly what I needed to quell the previous night’s sins – tasty, healthy and nicely portioned. The root vegetables were well spiced, and the egg poached to perfection on a thick slice of sourdough. Sarah’s sandwich was also laden with pert salmon. My only quibble with the meal is that £2 for a very small glass of pear juice is pushing it.
Alas we could not stay to sample the full range of their cakes – Sarah and I had only limited time and needed wine (KITCH will be serving bubbles soon, I hear) – but I still bagged a couple of their almond peanut butter cookies for the road. They go very well with a nice Chilean sauvignon blanc, I later discovered.
What attracted me to KITCH was that it is more than just another ever-so-twee coffee shop in Canterbury, as it makes the effort to offer the whole healthy package. It is less about piety on a plate, and more about sharing and teaching. The website for the cookery classes is resplendent with tips on how to eat well, from portion size to what to keep in your larder, and I applaud eschewing processed trickery in favour of natural goodness. I do the same at home where possible….but bear in mind that I am Irish and I need to have access to certain processed carbs every so often or the universe will explode.
Whether you are a wholefood convert or you just need a healthy pick me up, KITCH is on hand and, I suspect, will love you no matter what.
4 St-Peters St, Canterbury, Kent. CT1 2AT
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.30pm, Saturday 9am-5.30pm, Sunday 10am-4pm
Find KITCH and Emily on Facebook and Twitter
*Apparently the beau’s only piece of action was from an older drunk woman who staggered up to him and said “You look mad! I’m mad too, are you mad like me?!” I can’t compete with that level of wit.