London

Around the World (almost) in 80 Days

I have slacked in my posting because I have been traveling like a freak.

Dublin:

Best food is good pub food. Best pub food is at The Black Sheep. Best pub is known as the Gravedigger’s.  Its official name is John Kavanagh’s.  It is worth the taxi, and I won’t say any more. Just go. Best whiskey: Yellow Spot (I know, the name is very, very, silly).

London:

Things I never imagined saying:

  1. Food in London is amazing.
  2. Forget the rest of the list. Did you read #1?

Ottolenghi alone is reason to visit my new “one of my favourite cities” city.

Who could resist salads that are the perfect balance of fresh and satisfying, and fresh, delicious baked goods? I have never managed to taste a main dish at the Ottolengi stores, since I cannot resist the veggies and desserts, but they look yummy.

IMG_0745

IMG_0928

Lunch at Nopi turned into an all-afternoon affair, followed by a nap. It just doesn’t get better than that!

Oh, where do I start?

Sumac Martini, Rooibos Old Fashioned…how can anything be bad?

Twice cooked chicken with lemon myrtle salt, chili sauce

Twice cooked chicken with lemon myrtle salt, chili sauce

Burrata, Miyagawa, fennel and coriander seeds

Burrata, Miyagawa, fennel and coriander seeds

Sticky rice, brown coconut jam, carmelized banana

Sticky rice, brown coconut jam, carmelized banana

Haute Indian at Amaya was delicious, but the service was…weird. Go, but wear clothes you don’t mind getting smelly, and ignore the cold wait-staff.

I never knew Chinese food could be as delicate and perfect as it is, table after table, at Hakkasan. Go – you will be happy. Make sure to have the tofu with crunchy bits – I can’t remember exactly what it is called, but it is a favourite there.

IMG_1092

The Clove Club was a great find in Shoreditch, the best area for street art in the city.  A fried chicken amuse-bouche was nestled on fir branches, dusted with ground fir… yummy. Inventive and delicious. They have a great collection of cookbooks, and for sure they use Tartine – the bread was perfect.

IMG_0944 IMG_0945 IMG_0952 IMG_0955

Tel Aviv:

Young and fun staff, fresh flavours, great wines at HaShulchan (The Table). Be sure to order a bottle of Sphera wine – it is really surprising.

Zepra and Messa are both delicious, but expensive (as in, really). The people watching is also excellent.

Durham, North Carolina:

The Q Shack may make the best barbeque sauce I have ever tasted. Ditto the baked beans, and mac and cheese.  Everything, actually.

Back home, we finally tried Dinette Triple Crown. What a concept!  The 7 seats at the counter are ok, but the fun thing to do is get a picnic basket (complete with table cloth and lantern at night), and (weather permitting) sit in the park across the street.  I am still drooling thinking of the brisket sandwich. The big nasty is…oh, try it. They do baskets for pickup all winter…and they deliver!

IMG_1212

Advertisements

So WHAT if I promised myself not to buy any more cookbooks? Clearly, this doesn’t count!

“Jerusalem by” Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi is FINALLY available. I’ve made almost every recipe in “Plenty”, Ottolenghi’s vegetarian book, and have been eagerly awaiting this new collection of yum.

Image

Ottolenghi and his partner (in food, not life, well, you know what I mean – food is life but anyhow) , return to their native city of Jerusalem and its unique culinary identity and roots to explore and expand on the magic that makes their recipes so revolutionary.

Jewish Ottolenghi and Palestinian Tamimi  shared a city but didn’t know each other until they met in London.   After they each (independently) left Jerusalem and lived in Tel Aviv for a bit,In 1997, both men moved to London—again, independently. Ottolenghi was planning to pursue a Ph.D., but before enrolling at university, he signed up for a course at Le Cordon Bleu just to prove to himself that he wasn’t cut out life as a chef.  He found a job as a pastry chef at Baker & Spice, where he met Tamimi. Tamimi was making a name for himself by adding a Middle Eastern spin to English standards. Perhaps it was their mutual ‘huh” over bland, beige food that helped them bond, but whatever it was, THANK YOU!

I had the pleasure of eating at Nopi, the fabulous Ottolenghi restaurant in London and delight in recreating some of the flavour profiles at home.

“Plenty” has been my favourite book for a while. It is rare that a few days go by without my flipping through the book and either craving something, or getting serious inspiration.

“Jerusalem” captures that city’s colours, smells and tastes. It features 120 recipes from their cross-cultural perspectives.

Image

From lamb-stuffed quince with pomegranate and cilantro to tonight’s dinner featuring swiss chard with tahini, yogourt and buttered pine nuts and sweet potatoes with fresh figs IT LOOKS GREAT and I can’t wait to work my way through it!

Image
Sweet Potatoes with Fresh Figs

This is Sami’s mom’s Fattouch recipe – enjoy!

Image

Na’ama’s Fattoush

SERVES 6

scant 1 cup / 200 g Greek yogurt and ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp / 200 ml whole milk, or 1 2/3 cups / 400 ml buttermilk (replacing both yogurt and milk)

2 large stale Turkish flatbread or naan (9 oz /250 g in total)

3 large tomatoes (13 oz /380 g in total), cut into 2/3-inch / 1.5cm dice

3 oz / 100 g radishes, thinly sliced

3 Lebanese or mini cucumbers (9 oz / 250 g in total), peeled and chopped into 2/3-inch / 1.5cm dice

2 green onions, thinly sliced

½ oz / 15 g fresh mint

scant 1 oz / 25 g flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp dried mint

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup / 60 ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

2 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar

¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sumac or more to taste, to garnish

Arab salad, chopped salad, Israeli salad—whatever you choose to call it, there is no escaping it. Wherever you go in the city, at any time of the day, a Jerusalemite is most likely to have a plate of freshly chopped vegetables—tomato, cucumber, and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice—served next to whatever else they are having. It’s a local affliction, quite seriously. Friends visiting us in London always complain of feeling they ate “unhealthily” because there wasn’t a fresh salad served with every meal.

There are plenty of unique variations on the chopped salad but one of the most popular is fattoush, an Arab salad that uses grilled or fried leftover pita. Other possible additions include peppers, radishes, lettuce, chile, mint, parsley, cilantro, allspice, cinnamon, and sumac. Each cook, each family, each community has their own variation. A small bone of contention is the size of the dice. Some advocate the tiniest of pieces, only inch / 3 mm wide, others like them coarser, up to ¾ inch / 2 cm wide. The one thing that there is no arguing over is that the key lies in the quality of the vegetables. They must be fresh, ripe, and flavorsome, with many hours in the sun behind them.

This fabulous salad is probably Sami’s mother’s creation; Sami can’t recall anyone else in the neighborhood making it. She called it fattoush, which is only true to the extent that it includes chopped vegetables and bread. She added a kind of homemade buttermilk and didn’t fry her bread, which makes it terribly comforting.

Try to get small cucumbers for this as for any other fresh salad. They are worlds apart from the large ones we normally get in most supermarkets. You can skip the fermentation stage and use only buttermilk instead of the combination of milk and yogurt.

If using yogurt and milk, start at least 3 hours and up to a day in advance by placing both in a bowl. Whisk well and leave in a cool place or in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface. What you get is a kind of homemade buttermilk, but less sour.

Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add your fermented yogurt mixture or commercial buttermilk, followed by the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and leave for 10 minutes for all the flavors to combine.

Spoon the fattoush into serving bowls, drizzle with some olive oil, and garnish generously with sumac.

Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi; Hardcover, 320 pages. Ten Speed Press (October 16, 2012),

ISBN-10: 1607743949.