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  • Mallorca, Part II

    mallorca 1

    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.

    mallorca 2

    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? 

    mallorca 3


    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! 

    mallorca 4

  • 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.

    corsica 1



    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. 

    corsica 2

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • Arianna Occhipinti

    vineyards (1)

    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. 



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