Posts Tagged ‘Ottolenghi’

Famous Food

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

I didn’t have time in London to put my previous ‘train-journey-written’ posts up so you will have to imagine some sort of magical time difference between this and the following stories. I am currently under the sea (Under the sea… under the sea… doo doo di doo doo doo doo) in a train in a tunnel. I learnt in the Eurostar magazine just a few minutes ago that I’m not actually currently surrounded by water, but the tunnel passes through the seabed. This is extremely disappointing. I like the idea of being merely metres away from fish, but sadly I am not. I’m probably metres away from seabed living worms or algae. I guess I’ll have to make do with this fact. I am less than 10 centimetres from a snoring woman who was going to steal my window seat and became grumpy when I insisted on having it. Within three minutes of departure she was snoring. It would have been a wasted window.

My day in London was a food-bonanza and on a high-profile scale. I appear to have turned into a food snob and only like eating at places run by famous chefs. That’s ok with me, I am willing to accept this status. My morning started with coffee and a piece of chocolate and almond torte at Princi bakery. It is an up-market Italian bakery/pizzeria that does very tasty food at ridiculous prices. It is one of the hip-and-cool places in the middle of Soho that you go to because it’s Princi. My chocolate torte was good but was certainly more almond than chocolate. It was a bit flavourless and could have done with more chocolate but that is probably just my own personal preference for chocolate-based cakes. If it is going to have chocolate in it, make it lots and make it dark. The coffee was very good and wasn’t over priced which was a relief. The café is beautifully laid out with a water fountain running down one wall, lots of large communal tables and a great window looking out into Soho. It was a nice experience but I think you can get just as good cake for half the price (eg. Forge Bakehouse.)

Fancy cakes

Fancy cakes

After using up some time visiting the Queen, a large clock tower called Ben and going future-husband spotting in the fancy-cars-and-houses area towards Kensington, it was time for lunch. For a few years now I have been in love with a Yotam Ottolenghi, a chef whose cookbooks and restaurants have redefined vegetables. I have been wanting to eat at one of his London-based restaurants and made it my mission to do so this trip. His Belgravia café is more a take away venue but I managed to get a seat at the one communal table. You can choose from huge piles of delicious salads with amazing combinations of ingredients, as well as pizzas, quiches and soups.

Mmm... salads.

Mmm… salads.

I had eggplant with goats cheese curd; a red quinoa, rice, dried fruit and spices salad; and roasted carrots with chilli, herbs and a magical mix of spices.

So colourful and so delicious

So colourful and so delicious

It was all so good but again, I was paying for the experience to eat Ottolenghi’s recipes and £11 for a smallish plate of salad was quite a lot. But I’m glad I did it. Next time I will make sure to have room to try one of his desserts but I was feeling guilty from my morning tea and aware that I was going out for dinner so I resisted.

I think I deserve a medal for resisting these.

I think I deserve a medal for resisting these.

So that brings me to dinner. I was staying with my friends Angela and James who are soon heading back to Perth to join together in holy matrimony. As I won’t be at their wedding, I wanted to take them out for dinner to celebrate and Angela booked a table at the York and Albany hotel – one of Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants. They have a special set menu on weeknights if you eat between 6-7pm, which is exceptionally good value at three courses for £22. The food was very, very good – I had a celeriac soup with truffle and parmesan croutons (very creamy and delicious); beef with horseradish mash (tasty although a little chewy); and a chocolate fondant with honeycomb ice cream. The fondant was good – not too sweet and the honeycomb added a nice flavour combination. It was a very tasty meal and exceptional for that price. I would definitely go back.

It was romantically dark in the restaurant.

It was romantically dark in the restaurant.

And so concluded my day of famous food. The value and standard of Mr Ramsey’s meal out performed the others but I can’t say I ate anything that disappointed me. Thumbs up all around to London foodies.