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  • SPICE UP YOUR COOKING!

    Sami Tamimi

    We ask Sami for his all-time favourite spices and how he likes to use them.

    Sumac

    “This features heavily in my cooking, giving a sharp and citrusy burst of flavour to all sorts of chicken, seafood and vegetable dishes”.

    Dukkah

    “I find it hard to eat any hummus-type spread without a sprinkle of this Egyptian aromatic seed and nut mixture. It’s also great on leafy salads or roasted veg”.

    Baharat

    “There is no one exact version of baharat – the word means “spices” in Arabic and everyone has their own recipe – but it’s a warm spice mix of ground black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cinnamon, cloves, allspice , cumin, cardamom and nutmeg which I love”.

    Za'atar

    “This is the taste of my childhood. It’s a blend of sumac, sesame seeds, thyme and hyssop which can be sprinkled on hummus, labneh, fried eggs or roast meat. It’s lovely also mixed with some olive oil to brush over warm pitta bread, fresh from the oven”.

    Aleppo

    “I love the taste and look of this – it’s a medium strength chilli with a sweet aroma whose burgundy colour looks magic when sprinkled on top of poached or fried eggs or when added to melted butter to finish off a dish”.

    Nigella

    “Like the Aleppo flakes, these both taste great and look stunning. They have a sharpness which pairs well with sweet roasted vegetables and look brilliant sprinkled on top of white rice or couscous”.

    Allspice

    This spice has a flavour character that is like a really mellow combination of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg which I love to add to slow-cooked lamb or meatballs”.

    Aniseed

    “It’s not all ouzo and raki, you know! This is a really distinctive spice, close friend to fennel and liquorice, which is a really interesting addition to all sorts of sweet cakes and cookies. It’s also wonderful toasted, lightly crushed and sprinkled on a salad of confit trout, golden beetroot and ricotta”.

    Cardamom

    “This is also one of Yotam’s favourites. It’s a versatile spice with lots of things going on at once: it’s floral but pungent, fruity but citrusy. It brings something very special to a range of dishes, from a delicate set milk pudding to a robust tray of roasted root veg”.

  • Q&A Summer Wines

     

    What makes a summer wine a summer wine? Are there any chilled reds which are just made to be drunk with fish? What are the rules about which sort of glasses we should be drinking from or, indeed, are there any rules at all?
    Our in-house wine expert Heidi and Yotam (who've been known to raise a glass or two together over the years) share their thoughts. . .

    What’s the difference between a summer wine and a winter wine?

    Heidi: I associate summer wine with lightness, sun and balmy evenings! A wine that can be enjoyed with grilled foods, preferably outdoors, or without food to cool you down in the sun on a picnic. A winter wine for me is a hearty wine that can stand up to stews, bakes and roasts.
    Yotam: Heidi’s hit the spot. A summer wine needs to be easy to drink, not in a bland Pinot-Grigio kind of way but in a way the keeps you keen and curious well into a long summer evening, with food or without it.

    Your perfect summer lunch wine: red, white or rose?

    Heidi: Depends on what we are having for lunch! If we are eating cheese and baguette in the park, a nice rosé from Provence like Bandol Rosé, La Suffrene ‘13 would be great.
    If you are taking me out for tapas on a terrace somewhere in the sun, I would drink lots of ice-cold Manzanilla sherry.
    For fish and chips by the seaside I would love to drink Lambrusco.
    Yotam: Red, orange or white. Heidi is still working on my ridiculously baseless bias against rose. I am waiting to be converted.

    What’s your take on chilled reds? Are there any stand-outs you’d recommend?

    Heidi: I love chilled reds. Choose lighter bodied reds with soft tannins if you would like to enjoy them chilled. These two work particularly well: Brezo Tinto, Bodegas Mengoba '10 and Le Clocher Pour Une Poignee de Bouteilles.
    Yotam: Chilled reds are at the top of my list at the moment. I find it hard to stop drinking them; in the same way I carry on drinking a good cider without noticing I’m on to my third little bottle. This Pulled pork sandwich with pomegranate salad is a fantastic partner to both Heidi’s suggestions.

    Do you stick to the red-with-meat and white-with-fish tradition? If not, is there a white you’d recommend with meat and, vice versa, a red wine that goes with fish?

    Heidi: Now that the category of orange wines has been thrown into the mix, things have really become interesting! What I love about many orange wines (white wines that have been made like red wines) is that they can be enjoyed both with your starter and main, meat, fish and salads. They are incredibly versatile – this Georgian gem of a wine would be perfect for a barbecue where you would have both meat, fish and veg on the grill. But no, I don’t adhere to traditions – I could happily enjoy a bottle of rich, white wine with meat just as I could easily enjoy a bottle of Nebbiolo, Valpolicella or any other light red with fish or chicken – this would be beautiful with most lighter dishes: Ar Pe Pe Rosso Di Valtellina 2011
    Yotam: : I am not a stickler to tradition on any front, particularly when it comes to old ideas about matching food with wine. Okay, a hearty venison and pancetta stew wouldn’t exactly go hand-in-hand with this light Palestinian white, which I absolutely adore, but there is way more grey than black-and-white when it comes to food and wine. Look at these Polenta crisps with avocado and yoghurt , or even the Roast chicken with dates, olives and capers: what is “right” here? Light red? Orange? White? As far as I am concerned, they’re all good.

    Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or spritzer? Which one would you choose and are there any varieties which particularly excite you?

    Heidi: I love cloudy “old-school” style prosecco’s – these two are particularly good: Prosecco Sottoriva Malibran and Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, Casa Coste Piane. But my favourite sparkling wine, this time of the year is Lambrusco – nothing beats a cold glass of dry, frothy Lambrusco on a hot summer’s day! Forget about the sugary stuff you normally find in the super markets -these two are outstanding: Lambrusco di Sorbara Radice Paltrinieri and  Ferrando, Quarticello '13.
    Yotam: : I am not very good with sparkling wine, so I will have to pass on this one.

    If you could take one summer white wine to a supper party, what would it be?

    Heidi: I would bring a bottle of Aphros Loureiro, Vinho Verde, ‘13. This is a real best-seller at our Nopi restaurant! It is a fresh and mineral Vinho Verde. Not particularly complex or layered, but incredibly easy to drink and super refreshing so would be perfect as an aperitif or as a palette cleanser!
    Yotam: : Excuse me but I’d rather take this Manzanilla sherry. As dry as it gets and the perfect match to anything I’d want to eat: savoury pastries, oily fish, grilled white meat and most desserts.

    If a summer wine is lighter and fresher than a winter wine, does that mean you drink twice as much?

    Heidi: I’m afraid the answer is yes.
    Yotam: : With the risk of sounding like Heidi’s alcoholic older brother, yes, and yes again.

    Do you like to drink your wine from a classic wine glass or the stemless French Picardie tumblers. Do you think it makes a difference?

    Heidi: I think there’s a time and place for both – some of the nicest wines I have had from plastic cups in my friend’s garden.
    Yotam: :Wine from a plastic cup, excuse me Heidi, definitely not. Otherwise, I am pretty happy with most glass-made receptacles.

  • Yotam is visiting Good Food Month in Australia

    Yotam Ottolenghi

    For all Yotam's Australian fans, these are the dates when he will attend Good Food Month 2014:

    Sydney events: October 28th and 29th
    Brisbane event: October 30th
    Melbourne events: October 31st and November 1st

    More details can be found on Good Food's website: www.goodfoodmonth.com

    Sign up to the Good Food newsletter here, to be the first to be advised as event details are released and tickets go on sale.

  • Celebrate The Longest Day Of The Year With Yotam's Sweetest Summer Salad

    summer-salad-1-_NL Photo: Colin Campbell

    Celebrate the longest day of the year with one of Yotam’s shortest and sweetest summer salads. Plus some delicious drinks and snack ideas for all Wimbledon and World Cup watching. 

    Read our latest newsletter here

  • Join us in celebrating International Sherry Week 2nd-8th June

    For many years sherry was a much underrated wine but thankfully more and more people are discovering these highly versatile wines, which also offer great value for money. Sherry is a fortified wine made from vineyards in the far south of Spain, where extreme heat is countered by cooling breezes from the Atlantic.

    This week we have some delicious sherries on offer:

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    The Sherry hamper, was £68 NOW £60

    A selection of three versatile sherries to be enjoyed with tapas, cheese and chocolate.

    We have chosen a light Manzanilla from Sanlucar de Barrameda, an Amontillado which is a richer

    and darker style than the Manzanilla and last but by no means least a rich and indulgent PX – Pedro

    Ximenez to enjoy at the end of a meal.

    Oloroso 

    Complex brown-coloured sherries, Olorosos develop in barrel without the protective flor layer, often for many years. The result is a complex, rich, nutty style of sherry with aromas of old furniture and raisins. These wines are dry. Because they’ve seen so much oxidation during development, they are pretty stable and stay in good condition for a while once the bottle is opened.

     

     

     

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    Gobernador Oloroso Emilio Hidalgo, was £20 NOW £17

    An aromatic full-bodied sherry. Excellent with hard or blue cheeses.

    The Gobernador Oloroso has a fresh and elegant bouquet as a result of its long maturation in oak

    casks and the harmonious passage of time.

     

    Manzanilla

    This is a fino-style sherry from the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Because the more humid environment in the bodegas here encourages a thicker flor layer, these wines are typically lighter and even fresher than fino, often with a distinctive salty tang. 

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    Manzanilla Las Medallas, Herederos de Argueso, was £14 NOW £12

    A refreshing sherry for everyday drinking. 

    It is a gold straw colored, very pale sherry. Delicate and elegant.

    Best served chilled – excellent with tapas, roasted nuts or fritters.

     

  • The seaweed mystery

    Until you swim down there with goggles and realise it’s as clean as can be, the bottom of the sea can seem a bit murky. Dried seaweed can have rather than same effect: a bit of a mystery to the uninitiated who think it looks, well, rather too much like something you find at the bottom of the ocean. Using it couldn’t be easier, though, and the results could not be more refreshing, flavour-packed and exciting.

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    We’re really pleased to be stocking a range of seaweeds produced by the London-based company Atlantic Kitchen, who bring wild and Organic seaweed to the UK from some of the purest Ocean waters off the coast of Ireland and France. The seaweed grows naturally and seasonally in the open water and is harvested by hand to preserve the ocean environment and safeguard future growth.

    The idea for Atlantic kitchen was born when Irish-born Dawn moved to London and found she could only buy cultivated Japanese seaweed in the shops. Having grown up eating locally foraged seaweed in Ireland, Dawn – knowing how delicious, healthy and desirable it is – set up the kitchen with her friend Ruth to persuade others to feel the same.

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    Along with miso, soy and black sesame seeds, Yotam is pretty much hooked on Atlantic kitchen’s range of seaweed and builds it into all sorts of salads and various warm dishes. Seaweed loves punchy citrus and sweet dressings, it adores the crunch of peanuts or sesame seeds and it welcomes the crunch of other vegetables – carrots, cucumber and ginger cut in long thin strips, for example. It is most forgiving to heat of a chilli and exceptionally kind to all those want to feel virtuous around the waist line at the same time as loving flavour-packed food. Get those goggles on explore the bottom of the ocean!

    Prepare before you descend by exploring our range of seaweeds and familiarising yourself with the range – mild wakame sea greens, al dente sea spaghetti, smoky sea leaf and the mixed leaf sea salad – and some of the many options and ways it can be built in to your meals. Two of our favourite recent recipes include Yotam’s seaweed and watermelon salad, with a sweet tahini dressing, as well as a dish of crusted tofu with wakame and lime.

  • 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. 

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    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.

    DSCF3495

    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.  

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    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.

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    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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