After work on Friday I hopped on a train, armed with 4 slices of cake, and made my way down to London for...what I can only describe as...a weekend of food, friends, and laughs. It was my first real trip back to London since we moved up here, and I realised that there are a few things I really do miss about the city...and a heck of a lot of things that I don't...but in the short time I was there I managed to visit a few favourite haunts and discover one or two newbies.
I won't bore you with all the details...but highlights include Lebanese dinner at Meza Restaurant in Tooting Bec (highly recommend...you must book ahead), a not so relaxing wander around Borough Market with a chorizo sandwich and still cider, a 45 minute queue for Monmouth Coffee, homemade cottage pie (thank you Hannah), a posh night out in Putney, battling the Arsenal fans at Highbury & Islington station, buying veg at Newington Green Fruit and Veg...and finally an incredible lunch at Ottolenghi Islington.
Those of you have been following for a while will know (and appreciate) my total obsession with Ottolenghi's food...making it at home and devouring it as take away or in the restaurant. There is something just so magical about the platters of gorgeous salads and equally hypnotising cakes displayed in huge piles in the windows. How could you NOT stop in?
Imagine standing in a queue for an hour with this within easy reach? I am surprised I didn't clammer over the servers and start my feeding frenzy! I did manage to control myself and mentally prepare all the different combinations of possible meals...once seated I was able to really focus on the task at hand and select the ultimate salad combination...
If you haven't been to Ottolenghi before there are basically 4 options for a sit down meal...3 or 4 salads or 2 or 3 salads with a main. The portions are totally generous (I had been watching with my eagle eyes while in line remember) and with an amazing selection of desserts 3 salads is my ultimate option. I've had a main before...and while they are totally yummy and offer a meat option...I prefer to gorge myself on aubergines and tahini and squash and lentils and cheeses and all those amazing ingredients...plus...did I mention the desserts??
Roasted Butternut Squash with figs and feta, aubergine with tahini (to.die.for) and a red cabbage, beetroot and apple slaw...really hard to decide the best of the three. In most cases aubergine wins hands down every time, just because it is something that I find really hard to get just right at home...but in this case I think the butternut squash and figs came out on top...figs are a total budget blowing treat!
Dessert was my all time favourite flour-less lemon polenta cake...for which the recipe is a closely guarded secret! This cake is amazing, and I have sung its praises before...moist, pistachio filled and so lemony...perfectly teamed with a latte.
Dearest Yotam...please oh please come up to Edinburgh and open a restaurant...it would be welcome with open arms, eyes, tummies and mouths!
For those of you in London, or passing through...if you haven't experienced Ottolenghi yet...just do it! But be prepared to queue (it is totally worth it)! For now I am saving my pennies for my next trip...they have recently opened a Brasserie off of Regent Street called Nopi and from the menus on line it looks like I will be breaking into the piggy bank!