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  • February's Wine of the month

     wine of the monthThis is a light and refreshing wine, produced by the Salesian Cremisan monastery, perfect for a fresh and clean start to the year. The monastery is located in the beautiful hills of Beit Jala, 5 kilometres from Bethlehem and 12 kilometres from Jerusalem. 


    The wine is made from two indigenous Palestinian varietals, the Hamdani and Jandali grapes. Located at an altitude of 800 metres, the monastery enjoys a cooler microclimate. At the winery, the grapes are gently pressed then left to ferment on their lees. The wine ages briefly in stainless steel vats until it is ready for bottling.


    Cremisan is a Salesian monastery which has been producing wine since 1855. In later years, the winery's focus turned to local indigenous varietals, organic practices and the introduction of modern winemaking technique. The legendary Italian Riccardo Cotarella – nicknamed “the wizard” – is the current winemaking consultant for Cremisan.


  • Ottolenghi Christmas 2013

    Thank you, all the fantastic staff at Ottolenghi and NOPI, for the efforts during the Christmas period

    and just for being so great. . . .

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  • Sardinia, Part III

    Following on from my ‘Mediterranean Feasts’, I’m in the midst of exploring, filming, eating and cooking my way around Sardinia, Corsica, Mallorca and Crete. The series will be aired on More4 later this year. It’s hugely inspiring to travel the islands and be reminded of how integral food is to the daily life of the locals. Islands are a great place to examine concentrated food culture: for centuries they have battled outside influences to maintain their sense of identity and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the food. The produce is amazing, the people are wonderful, the place is beautiful, the history is fascinating and I just might have to not come home.  

    sardinia 1


    The Sardinian coastline is rightly known for its seafood. The bar was set high by my first meal at Marbrouk restaurant, in Algerho. A plate of delicate and soft skate served cold in a traditional Sardinian tomato sauce made no concessions to the tourist palate and whetted my appetite for all the coastline treats in store.
    Sticking to the seaside theme, I jumped on board with father-and-son-team Angelo and Gino, local lobster fishermen in Bosa, about 40 kilometres south of Alghero on the north western coast. The sun beat down as Angelo told tales of the day he caught so many lobsters he might as well have been harvesting potatoes. The city boy in me rose to the challenge of pulling in the 1 kilometre fishing net and, thankfully, the lobsters had performed for the camera. I watched as Angelo and Gino cooked up our freshly caught lobsters in a fire of dried reeds on a deserted Sardinian cove. It was a timeless scene.

    sardinia 2


    Heading inland, the dominant ingredients changed from seafood to cheese, along with roasted and cured meats. Pasta was ubiquitous across the island but, again, the hyper-locality of ingredients and recipes means that one town’s pasta is completely different to the next. The obligation to try every variation needed, clearly, no further justification. In the town of Nouru, I watched the fascinating and talented Signora Paola as she made Filindeus, a pasta resulting from hand-stretching a single piece of pasta dough into over 250 super-fine strands. She is one of just ten people on the island who can do this. Another local pasta – Macarones de busa – is made in the Oliena area by rolling pasta around a knitting needle. The time, care and dedication that goes into producing these local foods is remarkable: the importance of process and identity bound up in food is part of what makes it so intriguing. I was told that certain types of traditional pasta can take up to 12 hours to make a single kilo. There are few shortcuts here and certainly, to date, no sighting of any Imperia electric pasta machines. . .

    Up into the mountains to explore and cook with ricotta, one of my favourite cheeses. Rising at dawn to help milk the goats with shepherd Michele, followed by a breakfast of freshly-made ricotta, was a great life moment.

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    Family ties are strong on the island and Michele took me to meet his mother Signora Assunta, who introduced me to Sardinian sweets and gave me the opportunity to experiment cooking with the incredible ricotta.
    My time in Sardinia was rounded off by Franco Mula, the welcoming farmer who introduced me to the very Sardinian tradition of meat roasted on an open fire. I spent the day with his family, as Mula cooked his milk-fed lamb and suckling pig. It was melt-in-the-mouth incredible. Hopefully the dish I made in return –  Mula's lamb with figs, chicory and radicchio – went some way towards thanking them for their wonderful hospitality.

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  • Mallorca, Part II

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    Week three of my travels and the days are just getting sweeter. With the people that I am meeting, the scenes that I am seeing and, quite literally, with the ingredients I am tasting and cooking with. The oranges, the tomatoes, the ensaïmada pastries: heaven just got sprinkled in sugar!
    First off, the oranges. Forget the man from Del Monte, I’ve met the man from Soller and we all say ‘yes’! Mallorca is famous for its oranges and no more so than Soller. So abundant is the fruit that the surrounding valley is known as the valley of gold; so perfect are the growing conditions for producing the sweetest of oranges that King Louis XIV of France would, it is said, eat no other oranges apart from those of Soller. The trees are laden and ready for harvesting as I visit and I joined brothers Josep and Pere on their orange farm for a traditional breakfast of ham, cheese, sobrassada sausage, tomatoes, olive oil, oranges and, with not an eyebrow raise, a carafe of wine. When in Soller and all that. . . My dish of the day was a fig, orange and feta salad. Sunshine on a plate.

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    Next up on the life-is-sweet front: the tomatoes. Once famous for their vineyards, a late 19th century virus destroyed wine production and the vines were replaced by tomatoes. One surviving Malvasia vine was nursed back to health in the 1980s so now the terraces are doubly sweet with the grapes and tomatoes growing side by side. Ramellet tomatoes are an intriguing and important part of Mallorcan cuisine and unlike any tomato I’ve come across. They store incredibly well and, once strung up in bunches, can be kept from harvest in late July until the following May, providing near year-round fresh tomatoes. The size and consistency of these tomatoes makes them great for rubbing on to bread. Pamboli – with various toppings of cheese, meat and vegetables – is a Mallorcan obsession. Top quality tomatoes, fresh crusty bread, salty white cheese: what more does a meal need? 

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    The sugar-laced trilogy ends with the ubiquitous ensaïmadas: a spiral of pastry with fillings ranging from chocolate to various jams to the savoury option of sobrassada sausage. The secret to their making is a combination of the Mallorcan sea air – connoisseurs say they can taste the difference between a Mallorcan ensaïmadas and those ‘imitators’ from other islands – and the less island-specific (and significantly more artery-clogging) amount of lard used in the cooking. I visited the oldest bakery on the island, Pomar, run today by the fifth generation in the family to do so. The ensaïmadas have, I can confirm after a fair amount of sampling, been perfected! 

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  • Corsica, Part I

    The first thing you notice approaching Corsica by ferry is how green and mountainous it is compared to Sardinia. This difference in landscape influences each island’s produce and the flavour of their food. The most distinct influence on Corsica’s food is from the ‘maquis’: the highly scented wild herb shrubs which grow everywhere. Driving around the island you see beehives dotted amongst trees and pigs, goats and cows all foraging along the hillsides. These all feed on the maquis which, in turn, flavours the honey, cheese and charcuterie the animals produce.

    I spent the day with Patricia and Joelle, two wonderful ladies who let me help them collect honey from their hives. It was, despite my Neil Armstrong-like protective outfit, a fairly intimidating experience. It was fascinating to compare and contrast the taste of honey collected from the same beehive at different stages of the year. Because of the changing flowers from one season to next on the maquis bush, the spring honey was sweet, golden and light and the summer honey was much darker with a consistency like treacle.

    Chestnuts are another ingredient integral to the island’s produce. I spent time with Stephane - a renowned local charcuturie producer – and his uncle Antoine to understand their significance. They treated me to a feast of a traditional chestnut polenta called pulenda – a real revelation – liver sausage, Brocciu cheese and, with no connection to chestnuts at all, the requisite fried egg. It is the chestnuts which Stephane’s pigs eat during the last two months of their life which gives his artisan charcuturie its distinct, nutty and very wonderful flavour.

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    From one idyllic ‘test kitchen’ to another, I found myself the next morning overlooking stunning, lush mountains hand-milking goats with a cheese maker called Lionel. Once they’ve been milked, the goat’s roam free (feeding on the maquis) while Lionel makes cheese. We sampled a range of Lionel’s cheeses – ranging in age from a day old to 6 months – before I cooked my recipe of fried goat’s cheese with a red pepper salsa. 

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  • Late harvest


    Late harvest wines are made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual. Late harvest is usually an indication of a sweet dessert wine. The grapes used for late harvest wines are often more similar to raisins, but have been naturally dehydrated while on the vine.

    We have selected two delicious late harvest wines to be enjoyed with cheese, chocolate and any other sweet treats:

    Doron Late Harvest Marzemino from Eugenio Rosi is a sweet, spicy and rich wine – it’s the perfect match for chocolate. The grapes are harvested at the end of September and air dried in wooden boxes.
    At the end of January the grapes go into stainless steel tanks for fermentation and then left unfiltered for 24 months in 2 wooden barrels – one made out of oak and one made out of cherry trees.

    doron Marzemino Doron Eugenio Rosi NV, £35


    Calprea Recioto di Soave from Filippo Filippi is a yellow-gold sweet wine made from 100% Garganega. It’s a beautifully balanced wine which is perfect with aged, hard cheeses, fruit pastries and almond biscuits. The grapes are picked at the end of September through the beginning of October. The grapes are put in wooden boxes and left to dry-out on specially made wickerwork shelves and/or suitable small wooden boxes for more than six months. The drying-out process takes place in a locality where it must have complete and constant ventilation, a good quantity of humidity, which favours the growing of the typical and researched noble mould. The dried-out grapes are pressed between the end of March and the beginning of April without the utilization of pumps but by taking advantage of a specially built un-level means of the wine cellar. The must- wine which has an elevated high grade of sugary remains is left to ferment and age in small oak-wood barrels for almost a year. Prior to bottling, only one unique decanting without filtering takes place, thus preferring a natural final decanting. 

    Calprea Recioto di Soave, Filippi, £29 Calprea Recioto di Soave, Filippi, £29


  • JERUSALEM wins OFM 'Best cookbook' Award!

    Yotam and Sami were absolutely thrilled to hear that JERUSALEM won ‘Best Cookbook’ at this year’s Observer Food Monthly Awards. Space had to be made in tummies rather than on the award’s shelf as the trophies themselves were edible! Made by Heston and his team at The Fat Duck, the edibility of the prizes was a first for the award. Hosted by Jay Rayner and Sue Perkins, the food for the evening was devised by Angela Hartnett who created a menu which honoured the ten nominees for the Chef of the Decade prize. We were also delighted to see the ‘Best newcomer in food and drink’ going to our great friends at Honey & Co. For more details on the event, including all the  prize winners over the sixteen categories, read more here.Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi



  • Spread a smile!

    Yotam spent a morning at the beginning of October doing a cooking demonstration for Spread a Smile. Dedicated to brightening children’s days during long hospital stays by providing entertainers, magicians and musicians, Spread a smile is a charity Yotam could not say no to. In front of 40 woman, 1 man and accompanied by Esme, Yotam cooked three dishes which all went down very well.

    Fish cakes with quick pickled lemons and burnt aubergine were snapped up, as were the crispy cous cous saffron cakes dotted with Yotam’s favourite barberries and sour cream. Butterbean puree topped with roasted red pepper strips and sprinkled with dukkah was a simple and delicious side. Smiles all round.



  • Christmas press-event at Nopi

    It's daunting to see 2013 roaring along so fast and the blue skies of summer swiftly overtaken by an autumn chill. It’s not all gloom, however, and we’ve been having lots of fun keeping busy preparing for the festive season.

    Last week NOPI was closed for breakfast to make way for some early Christmas cheer. The lovely ladies behind the Ottolenghi Online store dropped by to showcase our new Christmas products to some lucky journalists. Over-flowing hampers, Ginger and lemon tiles and Christmas tree-shaped shortbread are just some of the new products coming out in time for the festive season. But don’t despair, our old favourites will be available too: gingerbread pigs, mini mince pies, pecan snowballs, the famous Ottolenghi Christmas cake, plus much more.

    All Ottolenghi Christmas goodies will be available to view and pre-order on ottolenghi.co.uk in October.







    Vanity & Shame 18

    An exciting recent acquisition at NOPI was a video installation called VANITY AND SHAME. We adored the large still-life painting of lemons previously filling the space but it was time for something a bit more dynamic. We wanted an interactive piece that did more to connect the formality of the ground floor dining area with the more industrial working atmosphere of the basement, where the open kitchen shares a space with the restaurant’s large, informal, shared-dining table.

    Catherine Anyango, an acclaimed Swedish/Kenyan London-based artist, directs the piece. It lasts just under five minutes so customers will catch the gist of the film’s narrative over the course of an evening, making their one or two trips to the downstairs bathroom. Feedback has been great: it’s sexy, fun, stylish and original and really brings alive what was previously a rather inert space between floors.

    We haven’t acquired any of Anyango’s work before but it was sourced for us by Tot Taylor at Riflemaker Gallery, who knows well the energy we are creating in our restaurant. The video can be seen in its full glory here.

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