Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Breakfasts and Lunches - Ottolenghi, Lantana

I'm writing this on the 18th of May. I had previously written a preamble but it was post election and it felt a bit bad taste to be all 'and then I went to Ottolenghi' - even if most of it was on the subject of it being annoying when people assume that wealth = lack of compassion. ANYWAY, it was full of ire and I didn't want to be so publicly ire-y. The last two weeks have been work work work no life or time or play. And now I have time to reflect but nothing to reflect on but work which is exactly what I'm trying not to think about in my 'leisure' time. So let's skip to the food.

Ottolenghi has opened in Spitalfields. The jam is home made. The butter tastes home-churned. I was torn between shakshuka and a delicious bean and sausage stew (stew one). Moreish doesn't begin to cover it. Lunch is spectacular - mountains of deliciously 'I just threw this together except actually it has 21+ ingredients in it' salads. Served with a selection of classic Ottolenghi proteins: sumac with chicken features. It was so big I barely finished half and I think of it often.
Lantana had a menu where I knew exactly what I would have two days before the fact. Sausage patty sold it for me. Oh my god - it tasted like every McDonalds taste to a drunkard's mind. Nestled between two firm but fluffy buns with a rich, sweet sauce. It's not all bad, is it?

Sunday, 10 May 2015


When I started writing this blog, it was on the theme of 'it's like the Cayman Islands never happened!' I think that's come across adequately in the three blogs I've posted since then - and if it hasn't, it's come across well from the fact that it's taken two weeks to get any new material out. Well, anyway, I've been cooking less than I would've liked to but still a reasonable amount. Some highlights, minus the recipes since I never know quantities anyway and now don't have time to make any up.

My first focaccia - one with goats cheese, onion and thyme. The other with olive and parsley. Ottolenghi chargrilled broccoli, spring lamb with peas and anchovies, courgette and mint salad plus several delicious things that the housemates made.

In the Cayman Islands we had more of a mexicana theme - carne asada stuffed potatoes with brussel sprout quesadillas, a new staple. Shredded sprouts, onions, jalapeƱo roasted in an oven. Wrap in a tortilla with spring onion and cheese then fry. 

We also did some more inventive space and time consuming bits. Beer can chicken with potatoes, ponlano peppers and chorizo - make a rub - we went for one with garlic, paprika and cumin. Stick the can inside the chicken, prop upright and put in the oven - roast as you would normally. Chorizo, potato and peppers in the roasting pan all melded together to make a wonderful sauce. Would be delicious with bread.

Then, back in the UK without the explorer, I went back to vegetable land with roasted cauliflower quarters - caramelise the cut sides over a high heat in olive oil. Stick in the oven with a bit of salt for 30 mins to finish cooking. We had this with a hotch potch meal of potato and sea bass.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Review - Gymkhana

Things I don't love about being a grown up:
Having no time or energy 
Having to maintain two versions of self
Being kind of a whiny bitch all the time (esp to the Explorer)
Having to do galleries etc on the weekends when they're really busy and I'm probably hungover and therefore not really doing anything ever
Questioning life choices in all aspects all the time
Feeling too distracted to read
Having nothing to say on here / in general 

Things I love about being a grown up:
Having cocktails before dinner
Having my nails done on the regz
Wooden hangers and knife sharpeners and a coat rack and John Lewis wine glasses (now all broken)
Confidence in expressing opinion because really who has the time or energy to hold onto teenage hang-ups
Laser eye surgery (if ever I just go and book it)
Automatic filtering out of 'friends' I don't naturally feel at ease around
Michelin starred meals once a month - this month's at Gymkhana
Firstly, the cocktails. My red thing came in the loveliest glass and made me understand why people like that slight bitterness of Aperol / Campari. More than the taste itself, the little crystal bits at the bottom of the glass did it for me. On taste, the twisted gin and tonic yellow thing won.
(Photo blurry because it was delicious and I was really, really hungry.) Then came tandoori prawns - so spicy with a hint of smoke from the oven. Oh and it came with a creamy sauce that cooled the whole thing down. The duck dosa was so much fun to crack open and revealed the sweetest jewelled bits of duck inside. The venison keema naan was my favourite and begs the question - why don't we eat everything on flat bread? Mains were even more fun - biryani which came with a pastry top! Buried at the bottom were really dark, rich bits of meat. Tender chops of lamb proving incontrovertibly that no meat should ever be tough. Grilled quail demonstrating successfully that even unexpected meats do really well with a good spicing. And the nicest touches were the achars and sauces - the green chilli one especially.