Results tagged Ottolenghi from David Lebovitz

Eating Around London

London Beef

I never really “got” London. It was always this hulking city that I struggled to navigate, overwhelmingly large, with a subway system that seemed like a tangle of routes and directions that I just couldn’t unravel. But part of it is my fault as I never really spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. I just accepted defeat early on. So this time, I decided to walk from one side of the city to the other, to get a feel for it. And I have a London-sized callous on my foot, but it was worth it. I got to see the neighborhoods and the districts while I wandered and stopped in cafes and coffee shops, and just sat and watched snippets of everyday life in London. And now, I “get” it. London is pretty fun – and delicious.

Spending nearly a week there gave me some time to make a few discoveries – finding some new places, and revisiting some old favorites. Such as the pastries at Ottolenghi in Islington and a trip to Neal’s Yard (where they happily hand out samples, which – of course, makes you powerless to resist buying slabs of – well, everything), all accompanied by a pleasant friendliness and efficiency.

pear cakes at Ottolenghi

And I even mastered the Tube (subway) and managed not to get lost during the entire time that I was there, which is a first for me. All of it is – as the French like to say are (although they should probably tweak it a bit, to comply with grammatical rules) – “So British!”, such as black cab drivers opening the door for you with a peppy greeting, and getting dairy delivered in glass bottles for a spot of milk in your morning coffee.

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Orange Syrup Cake with Candied Oranges

orange cake zest

I bought my trusty zester in 1983, back when no one had heard of rasp-type zesters, which are now a lot more popular than their old-fangled counterparts. I got mine in 1983 when I started working at Chez Panisse and the cook training me on my first shift told me that I needed four essential items; a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a bread knife, and a zester.

candied orange recipe

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Shakshuka

Shakshuka

I’ve been meaning to get into the Shakshuka groove ever since I had it for breakfast at Nopi in London, and on my trip to Israel, where this North African dish wowed me – and my taste buds – every morning. Although various versions abound, the most widely known Shakshuka involves eggs softly cooked in a hot skillet of spiced tomato sauce. I’ve had plenty of spicy foods in my life, but the complex seasoning in the sauces that I’ve tasted in the ones I had lingered with me for months afterward, and I had no choice but to make it at home. (Or move to London – or North Africa.)

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Nopi, in London

scone and doughnut

I was a big fan of Ottolenghi even before I stepped into one of their restaurants. When I got a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s first book, I was blown away by the photographs of gorgeous dishes, heaped with generous amounts of fresh chopped herbs, irregularly cut vegetables often seared and caramelized, and roasted, juicy meats accented with citrus or unexpected spices, usually with a Middle Eastern bent. The bold, big flavors came bounding through the pages and appealed to me as both a diner and a cook.

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Merce and the Muse, and Mary

brocolli salad straws

One of the curious things that’s happening right now in the Paris food scene is a spate of what I consider ‘anglo’-style caf├ęs opening up in various smaller neighborhoods. There are a few that have been around for a while. But in the past year, casual restaurants that sell leafy salads, made with just-cooked fresh vegetables and greens, house made soups, hand-held desserts like individual carrot cakes and les muffins, fresh fruit juices, and coffee made with care and attention, have been giving the normal lunch of choice for harried Parisians, les sandwiches—including the good ones from the local bakeries, as well as those from the unfortunately popular Subway sandwich shops that are rapidly invading France—a run for their money.

sandwich merce muse

Places like Bob’s Juice Bar, Cococook, Bread and Roses, and Rose Bakery are all packed at lunchtime not with homesick Brits or Americans, but Parisians.

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Six New Cookbooks I’ve Just Got to Have

Prior to my trip back to the states this week, I just put in my order for some new cookbooks to schlep back with me. Because of limited space chez David, I have to be somewhat selective about which books I get, since there’s only so many things I can squeeze in around here.

These are the six that made the cut, although I’ll probably see a few more that I can’t resist.

God help the baggage handlers, if I do.

platteroffigs.jpg

1. This is the book that so many, including me, have been waiting for: A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes, the new book by David Tanis. For those of you who don’t know him, David was and is a chef at Chez Panisse, and was there when I started way-back-when.

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Chocolate-Dipped Florentine Recipe

chocolate-dipped florentines

Living in Paris, it isn’t always very interesting watching television, which I sometimes like to do during dinner. Sure there’s some great French channels, but I’m kinda lazy when I’m eating and prefer the English-language ones, which usually means CNN International. It’s not bad, but they often repeat the same story over and over and over again, tweaking it ever-so-slightly each time they report it.

(Although one story they haven’t reported on, oddly, is their reporter who got caught in Central Park with a knot—and more, in his knickers.)

So I often find myself flipping through cookbooks while I eat, glazing over the text and scanning the glossy photos. But when I came across this one, for Florentines, I stopped and bookmarked it right away.

I’m always attracted to anything nutty, crispy, salty, or caramelized, and this recipe had them all.

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