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  • VANITY AND SHAME at NOPI

    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.

  • Nopi, Aug 27th, 2013

    An often-asked question by our guests is whether we get to try all the food we serve.
    The answer is always yes- as Scully, our executive chef, is always sure to excitedly dish out a new creation of his. What we do not do, however, is eat pork belly with yuzu puree and twice-cooked whole chickens for lunch every day with a glass of Pinot blanc...

    Our staff meals are more familial affairs that evoke those lovely memories of Sundays at your nana’s dinner table. Big pots of hearty stews, a fresh tomato salad, roasted potatoes- Proper sustenance for a hard night's work.

    At Nopi, we are trying for a new tradition, “the good staff meal”. As hospitality veterans, the staff here has a collection of past horror stories (brought over from past-workplaces) that tell of burnt toast, pork surprise (don’t ask), soggy eggs…

    I believe this is the reason behind the flavour and generosity of our daily meals. Every morning at 10:30 and every afternoon at 4:00, if you drop by Warwick st, you will surely witness a banquet downstairs: A stack of plates, pots of rice, fig and yellow bean salad, tomatoes, roasted chickens or beef curry and loud talking as we all pour over food that will keep us going well into dinner service.

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  • Arianna Occhipinti

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    Nestled in the south-eastern corner of Sicily, 25km east of Ragusa, the city of Vittoria is home to Arianna Occhipinti's vineyards. Founded in 1607, Vittoria was surrounded by some of Sicily's best vineyards, where the local Nero d'Avola and Frapato grapes made for some of the Island's finest wines. . The commercialization of Sicilian wines over the years, however, lead to the region’s wine being sold in bulk and exported as cheap blending wine. It was only in the 1980s when Arianna's uncle, Guisto Occhipinti, set up the bespoke COS winery that the region's modern wines begun to restore the glorious reputation of the wines which first made Vittoria’s name.

    Arianna's first memory of wine is of her visit to VinItaly (the annual Italian wine fair in Verona) as a teenager to help her uncle. She vividly remembers the energy in the air and how excited and adventurous she felt with each new wine she tried and winemaker that she met. A couple of years later, aged only 18, she enrolled in a winemaking school in Milan. While at first focussing on the conventional and technical aspects of winemaking, Arianna soon became quite vocal about an alternative and natural approach to winemaking. Upon graduation she moved back South to produce natural wines from the local varietals of the land she loved so much.

    Arianna & Kevin

    Back in Vitoria Arianna started working a tiny vineyard plot around her house and in 2004, aged just 21, her first vintage was born. The 4000 bottles made from the local Nero d'Avola and Frapato grapes were an instant success and sold out within months. Arianna hasn’t looked back: working around the clock she's a one woman band now producing today around 70'000 bottles which all, in their own way, capture the essence of Vitoria in a bottle. When not in the vineyards Arianna is busy travelling the world, meeting fellow natural winemakers and spreading the word and love for Sicilian wine around.

    With 8 vintages now under her belt her wines are original, intriguing, mysterious and elegant. “Wines full of energy and emotions”, in Arianna’s own words.

    WIWHT001010_A SP68 bianco, Arianna Occhipinti '11, £17.85

     

    WIRED001013_A SP68 rosso, Arianna Occhipinti '10, £18.45
  • Think Pink!

    For food and wine lovers like us, England is the near perfect place to be. With beautiful food, delicious wines from all over the world and a culinary scene so vibrant it changes by the day, it makes a perfect home for the keen foodie. Then there's the weather. Despite making a great small-talk topic, there's usually much more to chat about than to actually enjoy. Luckily, when the sun does finally appears and the temperature rises, we all unwillingly put a smile on our faces.

    But that's not all. Our wine fuelled research shows that sunny weather affects the colour of the wines we drink. It turns out that beautiful weather is complimented best by a glass of refreshingly fruity and crisp rose. The reasons are still mostly unknown. It might be the picnic park mood, the rose thirst quenching qualities or simply the beautiful colour but one things for sure: there's nothing quite like a glass of pink to celebrate a glorious sunny day.

    A rose wine is quite simply a white wine made from red grapes. While most of the winemaking process is similar to white winemaking, the most noticeable difference is short period of time the (red) grapes spend on their skin. This is how the pink/copper/peach colour (AKA rose) is born . Most rose are not aged in oak and the winemaker's challenge is to preserve as much of the gapes natural crisp and fruity flavours as possible. While some rose's can be more “serious” (concentrated rich or complex) than others (light, crisp and fruity), they all share a joyful liveliness in the glass.

    As a courtesy to the last few sunny days, and we the hope they last longer than we think they will, we are happy to share with you two of our favourite rose:

    louis_154Madregale Rosato, Cantina Tollo 12' - Abruzzo, Italy

    Elegant fruit meets charming freshness.
    With grapes grown on a unique terroir, between the Apennines mountains and the Adriatic Sea, this must be one of Italy's best bargains.

    mas_roseMas Nicot Rose 11' - Languedoc, France

    Juicy, fruity and soft
    A rose that is not only soft and fruity but also bone-dry and with lots of personality too. 

     

     

  • To ottoleng - the verb

    Gobsmacked to get such an incredible compliment from Tim Hayward in his recent FT magazine article. Read his entertaining observations about ‘cook book colossi’ and the ‘dinner party circuit’ here

  • RAW summary

    Last month we teamed up with Isabelle Legeron MW (AKA “that crazy French Woman” and founder of RAW) to set up the first ever Ottolenghi pop-up wine shop at RAW - the artisan wine fair. Now that the dust has settled, they’ve finally found the time to sit back, relax and tell us the story of these two very exciting days:

    ‘We've always been big fans of RAW. Unlike any other wine fair, RAW offers a healthy and accessible approach to wine, bringing thousands of wine lovers to east London to taste, discuss and drink some of the world's finest natural wines. When we first pondered to partner with RAW, we were attracted to Isabelle's zero-fuss approach to wine. But it was only when we first met Isabelle and her team for a quick wine tasting that we felt this could just be the perfect match. We decided not only to participate but to host RAW's official fair wine shop both at the show itself and from our on-line store on the 19th and the 20th of May.

    On-line we offered around 30 wines made by growers who attended the fair, but the real deal was the setup, from scratch, of the pop-up wine shop in less than a day. With more than 90 wines to display from all over the world, this proved to be quite a challenge. Our goal was to create an Ottolenghi styled wine shop, with us ready to give the most professional advice, complimented with lots of Ottolenghi goodies. We aimed to create a knowledgeable yet welcoming and relaxed wine atmosphere.

    The early hours of Sunday morning, just before the official kick off, was both stressful and exciting. By 6AM hundreds of bottles, 25 wooden wine boxes, 5kg of grissini, 3Kg of salted caramel brittles, one hugely impressive flower arrangement and other bits and pieces were waiting to be assembled into our little wine shop. After pulling through some last-minute glitches, things took shape and by 9am the Ottolenghi Wine Shop was, magically (and according to plan) born and ready for business.
    The fair itself? Everything happened so fast but we enjoyed every minute. Busy from our first sale early on Sunday until the last bottle was sold late on Monday afternoon, our shop turned out to be an ideal meeting place. Fair goers came not only to buy a bottle to take back home but also to talk about wine, ask for advice, open a bottle for a quick lunch outdoors or even just to munch some grissini and brittles. We met old and new friends from all over the world, including growers, sommeliers, wine importers and wine lovers and even found the time to taste some of the most exciting wines we’ve ever had.

    Finally for all you figure lovers out there, here's a breakdown of how RAW unfolded:

    200 growers and their vineyard representatives showing the wines of 169 vineyards
    1 cider producer
    1 importer of proper sake
    1 London brewery
    1 natural tea tasting bar
    923 visits by consumers/wine amateurs/drinkers
    1996 visits by trade individuals
    153 press visitors from around the world

    We will let you know about the 2014 dates as soon as they are set, just to make sure you don’t miss the most exciting wine event of 2014.

    Gal Zohar, Ottolenghi sommelier

  • The online store moving next door!

    There have been many happy months of test kitchen-online store symbiosis. All sharing a space under one of the arches in Camden, Yotam, Sarah and Tara – developing and testing recipes – have had the most receptive tasters and discerning critics in Maria, Saga and purchasing manager Myles. A dumb waiter will now need to be installed between the test kitchen and the online store arches as the latter have (due to their growing business rather than their growing tummies) moved to their very own space next door.

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    Saga is on the ground floor fulfilling the increasing number of orders being received as our product list grows and establishes itself. Maria is upstairs, keeping on top of the all-new website and making sure that all brownie batches pass the quality control test.  The test kitchen, meanwhile, is (though missing their happy guineapigs) luxuriating in its newfound space with many plans afoot as to how best to use area which has newly opened up.

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  • Macedonian purees

    All al-fresco eating needs a dip and a spread and we have something to suit all palates, be they smoky, fiery, sweet or smooth.
    Aivar is a delicious Macedonian meze made from sweet roasted pepper and aubergine. Pairing perfectly with salty cheese – pecorino, parmesan, feta – this is great in sandwiches on a picnic or in an omelette at home. It’s great also in a falafel wrap, on a potato rosti or spooned on top of a spinach, potato and egg salad. It has been known, also, to work perfectly well eaten straight from the jar with no more than a spoon.
    For those who like a little kick given to their barbequed meat or summer sandwiches and crisps, Luteniza is the one to try. A spicy blend of roasted red peppers and carrots, ferreroni peppers give this Macedonian mezze its gentle oomph. It’s the foodie equivalent of popping the cork off a bottle. . .
    From red to green peppers and combined with smoked aubergine, Malidzano is a seriously moreish Mediterranean favourite. Similar to Baba Ganoush, but without the tahini or sesame oil, this is both fresh and light and yet intensely flavoursome at once. It’s perfect simply spread on toast – some crumbled feta on top would work well – or served as a dip, for snacks at home or for the picnic basket.
  • How to choose your bubbles

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    Some things never change. Ever since Dom Pérignon perfected his sparkling wine-making techniques in the 17th century, sparkling wine has been the perfect wine with which to celebrate. No matter what the occasion, there's nothing quite as fabulous as a row of elegant long glasses filled with bubbles. It’s time, however, to move on from the often-acidic and underwhelming Champagne offered by many supermarkets and expand our horizons to find something new. Not sure how to distinguish one sparkling wine from another? Let us help you select the right bubbles:Sparkling English wine: only a few years ago, most of our local fizz was quietly patronised by those ‘in the know’.. How fast things have changed! Nowadays, oozing with confidence, accolades pilling up and comparisons to Champagne being made, English sparkling wines are going from strength to strength. Set aside your preconceptions and see out this Jubilee year by filling your glasses with some local pride, bubbles and joy...

    Italian Prosecco: the lighter, softer and less formal option, this is the perfect way to kick off the evening. Light and casual, however, can also mean delicate and delicious. Try to look for the small, independent producers found in specialized wine shops or in our online shop: Coste Piane Prosecco is one of our favourites. Made in the traditional methode Champenoise, this offer a richness and complexity usually associated with Champagne but for a Prosecco price.

    Spanish Cava: not all Cavas are born equal and a lot of the cava we know gives the drink an unfairly bad name. There are, however, a few artisanal producers who still make the real thing: . rich and elegant sparkling wines which age gracefully. A far cry from your supermarket Cava, Josep and Antoni Mata Casanovas from Caves Recaredo produce one of our absolute favourites. Using organic and natural fertilisers only, with no use of irrigation, their Cava is a real gem: gentle and very sophisticated. More than five years old it is rich and complex in style and will surprise all the Cava sceptics out there.

  • A Mediterranean wine feast

    Food and Mediterranean wine share an everlasting love story. The ancient tradition of cuisine based on fresh ingredients and abundance of flavour was always complimented by the local wines, which thanks to the mediterranean climate are such stars in their own right. The warm, dry, sunny summers gives them ripe and spicy fruit flavours, while the mostly mild, wet winter nights retain the vibrant fresh acidity.

    In Classical times, most of the world's wine was produced in regions surrounding this famous sea. Back then - when wine consumption was at its all time high, the soft and fruity wines grown around the Mediterranean sea were kings. It was only many years later, when thin and acidic wines burst into fashion, that vine growing moved further North from the Mediterranean shores and French and German wines rose to fame.

    Nowadays, hundreds of years after their decline, both production and consumption of Mediterranean wines is on the rise again. With Southern France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Israel and Lebanon all involved now in quality winemaking, it's difficult to ignore the innovation, quality and deliciousness these wines now represent.

    As Yotam celebrates his Mediterranean feast, we are happy to compliment it with two of our favourite Mediterranean wines.

    Domaine du Matin Calme was created in 2006 by Anthony Guix and Veronique Souloy. Their tiny 5 hectares of vines are worked organically without any chemical or synthetic products. Only indigenous yeasts are used at the winery and the wine is bottled without filtration or added sulphur. Planted west of Perpignan about 500 metres up in the Pyrenees-Orientales the Grenache & very old vines Carignan benefit from granitic soils which gives the wine a fresh and crisp style.

    Considered by many to be the best natural winemaking co-op in the world, les Vignerons D’ Estézargues also controls some of the best vineyards in southern France where the classic Mediterranean Grenache, Syrah & Carignan grapes are grown. The winemaking philosophy at les Vignerons D’ Estézargues advocates the use of natural yeasts only: no filtering, no fining and no use of enzymes during the winemaking process. The fermentation process is a spontaneous one, with very few sulphites added at bottling.

    More info about our Mediterranean Duo can be found here and you can also browse all our wines here.

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