I have been all aflutter these past few weeks. I’ve been to London to visit the Food and it’s just so full of glorious food and food creativity that it’s enough to set a foodie on fire. I have put off writing this blog for a few weeks in order to try and present a more balanced perspective (with fewer of those exclamation marks I am so fond of) but still I feel the butterflies.
Eating Health Itself
So what did I/we see, do and eat? First and foremost we ate lunch at Saf, a raw foods, vegan organic restaurant on Curtain Street – what those cooks can do with vegetables is simply mind blowing. We started with a glorious bright zingy sea weed salad, a will-die-for Laksa (one of the two cooked items on the menu) parsnip rice sushi and a divine cashew nut cheesecake washed down with a lavender mule and a green energy shake. It felt like eating health itself in a delicious cloak of flavour with hints of far off places. It’s a life-style thing as well with yoga, cookery courses and enthusiastic wait staff. Please go visit and back it back to The Hague NOW please! http://www.safrestaurant.co.uk
After pumping for information from all the foodies/bloggers I met at the bread-making and middle eastern cookery courses I attended – a gloriously sunny and friendly Belzise Park bread-making class with Maria – http://www.bakewithmaria.webs.com/apps/testimonials and a delicious Cordon Vert Fragrant Lebanese course http://www.cordonvert.co.uk) – the name Ottolenghi came up again and again. Other tidbits emerged as well including Ginger & White in Hampstead, To a Tea for afternoon tea at 14 Farringdon St, the Antipodean style casual Flat White in Berwick Street in Soho, Haberdashery in Crouch End, Vanilla Black, the Ally Pally farmer’s market and Borough market in the city to name a few. I visited as many as possible in the time allowed and have arrived back convinced many would work well here.
After joining the hordes gaping at the decadently drop dead gorgeous Harrods Food Hall ( a must for any traveller to London) and on our way to one of the only Michelin starred Thai restaurants in Northern Europe http://www.halkin.como.bz/eat-and-drink/nahm (where I ate a banana flower for the very first time – tastes like Aubergine) we literally fell over a superb gem of sheer food heaven. Decorated with only ruby red peppers and dark velvet aubergines it was none other than the fabled Ottolenghi. It was small, white, simple and stunnnnnnnnnnnning!
Now it may be that I was reminded of various Sydney eateries and of the Rocket Kitchen in Ponsonby Road, Auckland or that I was so impressed with the window dressing but Ottolenghi felt like home to me. I was sorely tempted to get their cookbooks there and then (and a sample of every glorious thing displayed) but I reminded myself of the jars of pomergranate paste I had just purchased and the deadliness of the ezyjet scales) so decided to get one via amazon. Now, I have started to delve into Chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes and have just made the most delicious tart I have ever tasted – his carmelised garlic tart from the Plenty cookbook. Lisa ate it too,so ask her if you don’t believe me. It was seriously yummy.
We also heard about the tremendously popular Nitrogen Ice-Cream store at Camden Lock where they make the ice-cream as it is ordered. One chatty foodologist takes you through the process while the other adds on your choice of cardamon pistachio or berry flavour toffee etc. Made with a reduced amount of fat and sugar due to the instant nitrogen blast, it was very good indeed. The kids liked the swings outside where you sit to eat your ice-cream as well. Great fun – www.chinchinlabs.com. I also learned a heap of stuff including the supremacy of cummin from Iran plus 7 delicious Lebananese recipes care of Chico Francesco our extraordinarily entertaining and able Cordon Vert tutor and one heck of a lot about kneading. Please do contact me to ask about the courses I took (I can thoroughly recommend both).
I also heard of the underground market and restaurant movement in London where people are invited to go to private houses to dine. I love it! And if you are interested in starting a small daytime cafe with the best deli food around, family friendly and with space for workshops email us – who knows what a group of like-minded foodies could do for this city! I leave you with an image or two from London town…