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Monthly Archives: July 2011

  • Nopi, Jul 30th, 2011


    30/7: Scully’s special is getting everybody ecstatic and Basia finds it hard to share. Ceps on sourdough with bone marrow and veal jus. What is this, St John’s?

  • Nopi, Jul 21st, 2011


    20/7: kitchen and floor on break - Petros, Sylvia, Scully, Kinga and Ludwig. Well deserved breath of fresh air, bar the cigarette smoke.

  • West coast, part III

    Now it’s LA and what a change from modest San Francisco! It’s sunny, it’s flat and it’s massive. Joans on Third is the first stop and Joan gives me a reception of a lifetime, with enough food, actually, to last at least a lifetime or two. And if that isn’t enough, she brings some more goodie bags to dinner later on, just in case I am still hungry. Joan’s popular cafe/deli is a bit of a stars’ Mecca. But it is also pretty good! Joan’s pickles and short rib sandwich are heartachingly good. Here’s Joan, on the right, with Lucy Lean, author, blogger, expert of all LA and food related topics and the worthy organiser of most of my LA engagements. Dinner is at Animal, where chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo do the honourable thing and turn their meaty joint (think St John’s, but grungier) into a righteous vegetarian temple. They do it with style and grace and with no complaints. The dishes – perfectly executed – are all from Plenty and I have to pay the price and individually personalise 150 copies. Ouch! On the last day in LA I get to meet Jeff Cerciello at his Farmshop in Santa Monica and sample some of his delectable breakfast dishes. How can you feel so full at 11am, I ask myself. Dinner is another Plenty event, this time at Soho House. With the help of Nikki and Max (actually, those two lovely people do everything, I just window dress), we serve 60 diners butternut, fennel and other veggies. But what I get most excited about is the design and layout of this member’s club, occupying the 2 top floors of 14 storey building on Sunset Blvd. Surreptitiously (photography isn’t allowed), I manage to take some pictures of the space and views. As Americans say, it’s awesome. My last day in San Francisco I spend with Heidi Swanson, a venerated cookbook author and one of the first and most popular food bloggers. She’s also generous, kind, knowledgeable and a total pleasure to be with. Together we visit Big Daddys Antiques and then Rainbow Foods, a quirky food co-op that couldn’t possibly exist anywhere but in California, with 6 types of organic peanut butter sold from barrels, hundreds of grains in jars and about a hectare worth of weird vitamins Lastly, Heidi and her partner Wayne treat me to a delicious goodbye from America at NOPA, the chefs’ hangout and centre of pure comfort. I think I’ll be back.
  • West coast, part II

    Breakfast on day two was a morning bun at the legendary Tartine bakery in San Francisco’s Mission. It is out of my scope to describe the deliciousness of the morning pastries at Tartine. The infamous queue – always there, all times of the day – speaks for itself. It’s worth it though. Everything, absolutely everything, is wonderfully buttery and sweet and soothing. I also happened to stumble across so some wonderful graffiti on Clarion, a few blocks away from Tartine. Having used the term legendary once here, how can I describe the next stop at Berkley’s Chez Panisse? I guess that in the case of Alice Waters, whom I have had the honour to meet briefly, no fancy adjectives are really needed. The visit was inspiring on all fronts, including a brief meeting with another hero, David Tanis. My lunch at the cafe with the team from Chronicle was just fantastic. As expected, the ingredients did most of the talking. We had, among other things, pizza with figs, pancetta and rocket, a Tunisian spicy chickpea soup, a superb fattoush and chicken with plum sauce and fried whole spring onions. The best thing, though, was bowl of Santa Rosa plums. I have never tasted such plums before. Later I was taken to Chez Panisse’s Edible Schoolyard, an organic garden and kitchen where young students from the local school learn how to grow fruit and veg, how to cook and how to engage with the world and with each other with food at the centre. The whole day seemed so be about abundance and generosity. After Chez Panisse David from Cronichle took me to Berkeley Bowl West supermarket, probably the place with largest variety of carrots and radishes on the planet. I was beet-red with envy for the quantity and choice. Yes, I know, we are fortunate enough in England to have great local and European produce all year round but this is something else. To top it all the day ended with the warmest and most welcoming dinner at Camino in Oakland, where Russ and Allison hosted a Plenty inspired dinner for 120 guests that were spoilt rotten by their hearty food and hospitality. The place looked stunning, the food astounding and I believe I was slightly intoxicated by all the love.    
  • West coast, part I

    I am in the west coast of the US promoting Plenty, with a very (!) full schedule kindly provided by the adorable people at Chronicle, my American publisher. Cramming in one short day enough eating to last anyone else half a lifetime is my form of art. And so far, I have kept my standards pretty high. Upon landing, literally, I was taken by childhood friend Yoni to Mission Chinese Food, a kind of grubby pop-up restaurant that has seemed to have turned permanent with a cult following of immense magnitude. By 7pm there were at least 20 people queuing outside, and more to arrive shortly. They don’t take bookings so queuing is the only way. And it is well worth it. Despite the too-cool-for-school style of chefs, servers and many diners, the food is dead serious. Our most loved were the pork belly with soy cured eggs and cucumber, the tea-smoked eel rolls with pulled ham hock and the lamb and fresh noodle soup in a tingly broth. The flavours are massive (!) and that’s a lot, coming for me, but almost always perfectly-balanced. I would have tried everything on the menu, if I only could, but, alas, stomach capacity and jet-lag were creeping up on me, slowly but very surely. Yesterday, Tuesday, was my first day of proper working (well, at least I call it work). Interview at Il Cane Rosso in the ferry building was over an egg sandwich, but not any old egg sandwich. I am talking a sumptuous take on the theme with a warm salad made with anchovy butter and capers, served on a very crunchy bread slice. Next was a selection of macaroons from [link https://www.miette.com/ Miette], also in the ferry building. These were not the fancy French style of Pierre Herme and Laduree, but more naturally looking and tasting. The hazelnut and chocolate won a resounding yes. Dinner was hosted by the charming Elan and Brett Emerson at their Contigo restaurant, a mega-popular place that is talked about all over town for its perfectly executed Barcelona inspired tapas. Elan and Brett were too good natured to stand up to the relentless pressures from Celia Sack of Omnivore Books, the most charming book shop I have ever seen, who took it upon herself to force me on all the best restaurants in town. So they hosted a most delicious meal inspired by Plenty. Such an honour! Thank you Celia, Thank you Brett, Thank you Elan - And what a night! Here’s just a few of the highlights: Wood oven roasted Monterey sardine and avocado toast with pickled onion and smoked salt Smashed corn on sourdough toast with La Quercia speck, Idiazbal cheese and peimentos de padron Local king salmon baked on a fig leaf with summer beans, samphire, mustard seeds, tarragon and allioli Must I continue?  
  • Nopi, Jul 6th, 2011

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    6/7: It was a very happy front of house staff meeting. And a chance to introduce some of them. In the outdoors picture you’ve got in front (from left): Jordi, Sam, Sarah, Matteo, Fabio, Charlie and Athanasios; At the back: Niall, Honami, Jamie, Bec, Ludwig, Raquel and Basia. They’re all lovely, promise.

  • Nopi, Jul 4th, 2011


    4/7: In the making: cured trout with wasabi fish roe and some delish seasonal veg. Excuse the pink cloth.

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