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  • Elisabetta Foradori

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    Nowadays considered one of the natural wine movement’s stars, Elisabetta's quest for real and
    authentic wines wasn't always easy.

    Saving Teroldego

    Born in the small village of Mezzolombardo - "among the vines" as she says - Elisabetta took over
    the family estate at the young age of 20. At that time, local wines were consumed by local people
    in the local bars. The quality of most winemaking in the region was industrial, commercial and so
    low that it didn’t leave the Dolomite mountains. Her first years were hard and it was only when
    she decided that a radical change was needed that her real connection to the land began. Elisabetta
    replanted a large part of the vineyard with a naturally selected clone of the local Teroldego
    Rotaliano and concentrated on producing wines with a strong sense of place.

    Going natural

    In 2000, even after almost singlehandedly recovering the Teroldego Rotaliano from extinction,
    Elisabetta still felt that something was missing. Her quest for that something led her to the
    philosophies and biodynamic agriculture of Rudolph Steiner, who inspired her to convert all her
    vineyards to biodynamic agriculture. Ten years on, with ICEA and Demeter certification, she is
    extremely pleased with the results and feels that her wines now preserve the true character of the
    grape and reflect the land of their origin.

    The identity of a vineyard

    In 2009, after years of observing and listening to the land, Elisabetta decided to bottle her best
    vineyards seperately:

    “Sgarzo” - where the cooler climate gives Terlodego grapes an unusual freshness

    “Fontanasanta” where the indigenous white varietal Nosiola is grown on poor soils and higher
    altitude.

    In order to preserve the vineyards authenticity Elisabetta went on a journey to the origin of
    winemaking and its very first techniques: the use of traditional clay amphoraes. First used in
    Georgia (thought by many to be the birthplace of wine) in around 6'000 BC and unchanged over
    the centuries, the use of clay amphoraes is now revived by a handful of artisan winemakers. The
    shape and porosity of the clay allows the wine to stay on its skins for a long time so that the grapes
    can reveal their character with extreme purity. The 8 months both the Teroldego "Sgarzon" and the
    Nosiola "Fontanasanta" spend on their skins in an amphorae helps them retain and amplify their
    distinctiveness.

    The Teroldego "Sgarzon" and the Nosiola "Fontanasanta", both produced in very small quantities,
    are now available as individual bottles or as part of the Foradori Trio.



  • Gonzalo Gonzalo - the new Spain

    Gonzalo Gonzalo's love story with wine started like so many others have done so before. Born in
    Logroño, Spain, he grew up among his parents vineyards' in Fuenmayor, Rioja Alta. Following the
    family tradition, he studied oenology at the university of Rioja before completing his oenologist
    training in a big industrial winery. The first turning point for Gonzalo came, however, when he
    went off travelling through France and Italy where he met small vine-growers and winemakers
    whose natural winemaking practices were about to change his life. Returning from his travels he left
    a commercial winemaking career behind to set up his own estate. Respect to the land and natural
    winemaking were at the heart of the estate's philosophy from day one.

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    The second major turning point in Gonzalo’s journey towards sustainable viticulture and
    winemaking was the illness of his father, caused by years of daily exposure to chemical fertilizers
    and herbicides while tending their vineyards in the 1970s. This influenced him profoundly
    and spurred him on to fight the battle his father had lost. His first objective was to restore the
    biodiversity in the vineyard lost due to chemical treatment. Rejecting modern chemical treatment,
    Gonzalo has instead sought out his own methods with respect for the land, his vineyards, and the
    traditions of his forefathers.

    In the weeks prior to the bottling of Gran Cerdo's first vintage, young Gonzalo naively approached
    the local bank for some financial help to launch the new wine. To his surprise the application was
    declined on the basis that “wine is not a seizable asset”. Gonzalo eventually managed to launch
    the wine without the bank's support but did not forget. Ironically named Gran Cerdo (‘big pig’ in
    Spanish) the wine's back label tells his amusing take on the matter (see below).

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    And the wine? Made from younger Tempranillo vines, this declassified Rioja is packed with
    crushed cherries, strawberries and a pleasant softness. This vibrant and juicy little natural wine is
    phenomenal value and turned out to be an international success. But Gonzallo just can't sit still.
    Seen by many as Rioja's "Bad Boy", Gonzalo keeps on pushing winemaking limits and is nowadays
    busy forging relationships with other artistic forms such as painting, music, fashion or architecture,
    in order to stimulate joint creative talent.

  • Orange wine time

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    Didn’t wine drinking use to be simple, back in the day? There was white wine, red wine and, if
    you were feeling risqué, a drop of rose. White worked with fish, red with meat and rose was for
    that rare summers-day moment. Then came postmodernism, bringing with it the rule of reason:
    pair light wine with simple food, heavier and more complex wines with richer dishes.And then, just
    when we though we’d got it all settled, orange wines burst onto the scene and all hell broke loose.So what are they, really? Orange wines are made from white grapes vinified just like red ones. This
    means that the whole grape is used (skin and flesh) during the winemaking process, and as opposed
    to traditional white wine-making the skins macerate with the juice. This results in a wine with a
    rich, more complex and sometime tannic taste which is, also, orange in colour. They are great with
    fish, fantastic with meat and make for the perfect winter-warming drink. There are no certainties
    any more: how things have changed!

    Orange wines have, however, been around much longer than we might think. In the region of
    Kakheti, Eastern Georgia (AKA the oldest wine region in the world), the monks of the Alaverdi
    Monastery Cellar have been making it for thousands of years. The modern era of orange wine
    started in 2000 when an eccentric wine producer in northern Italy, named Josko Gravner, adopted
    the ancient Georgian wine-making techniques to produce Italy's first orange wine.

    In 2002 Elena Pantaleoni, owner and winemaker at La Stoppa in Emilia Romana, decided to
    produce a very special wine, named after the founder of the estate, Mr Ageno. She soon discovered
    that the local Malvasia di Candia and Urtrugo grapes were especially suited for orange wine-making
    and yielded wines of great complexity and elegance. Now, in its 5th vintage, the Ageno from La
    Stoppa is Italy's benchmark orange wine, sold in the world’s best restaurants and appreciated by
    wine-lovers worldwide.

    One of the latest additions to the world of orange wine is the Baccabianca from Tenuta Grillo. Made
    by a husband and wife team, they use only organically-grown Cortese grapes (normally used the
    produce Gavi di Gavi) from low yielding vines. The juice is then left to macerate with the skins for
    45 days to create an unusual wine that combines an intense fruity flavour with spice and a touch of
    tannins.

    Whilst dividing opinions and all very different in taste, there is little doubt that orange wines are
    one of the most exciting wine trends of recent years. If you’re after a wine to challenge your taste
    buds and warm your wintery nights then it’s time to have some orange wine fun.

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  • Wine against mafia

     

    For the foodies amongst us, Sicily is a food haven. Thanks to its warm, Mediterranean climate some of the world's best tomatoes, artichokes, olives, citrus fruits, apricots and aubergines are grown here. The island's surrounding coastlines are abundant and famous for their local tuna, sea bream, sea bass, cuttlefish, swordfish and sardines. Being Italy's third largest wine producer, Sicilian wines are also some of the world's favourites. For most local farmers, however, these fertile lands carry a dark history. During the many decades of the Cosa Nostra rule, the Mafia bosses took control over a lot of Sicily's best and most fertile plots of lands. For many years, locals have been reluctant to put their feet on what was considered ‘sacred territory’.

    With the decline of the Sicilian Mafia in the early 90's, some of the estates of now imprisoned mafia bosses have been seized. But it was not until 1996 that state legislation allowed these confiscated lands and properties, said to be worth many millions of euros, to be used for the benefit of the people. Centopassi winery is a merger of three local co-operatives fighting together to resurrect the land's dignity.

    Located on a plateau at the Upper Belice Corleonese, Centopassi cultivates vineyards originally confiscated from ‘boss of bosses’, Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina, who is serving multiple life sentences for crimes including ordering the assassination of judge Giovanni Falcone. Benefiting from a high altitude and the cooling effect from the nearby Mediterranean sea, this special terroir proved to be particularly suited to the production of quality wines. All the grapes are organically grown, as Centopassi believes that organic viticulture can, literally, cleanse the soil of its sinister past.

    Now recognised by Italy's leading wine guides, L'Espresso and Gambero Rosso, the wines of Centopassi are original, full of character and aim to express their land of origin. We are proud to sell them and support their efforts and worthy cause.

  • RAW - the artisan wine fair

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    We are absolutely delighted to announce our partnership with RAW - the artisan wine fair. RAW is a two-day celebration of some of the best wine talent in the world. Featuring more than 150 growers, RAW is one of the most exciting collections of fine, natural wine artisans ever to come together in the capital. Their wines are pure, kind to the planet, very possibly better for your health and, best of all, absolutely delicious. The official RAW Wine shop has just launched on the Ottolenghi on-line store and will run to the end of May. Giving wine fans a preview of what’s on offer at the show, the online store stocks a selection of approximately 30 wines from the show’s exhibitors. For those who like to try before they buy, we will be hosting the RAW wine shop at the fair, stocking even more wines than the online store and giving visitors the chance to purchase new discoveries and favourites they’ve tasted at the show.
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    Feel free to browse through these exciting wines and producers and make sure you mark the 19th and 20th of May in you diaries so you can pop in to say hi. Our take on natural wines? Here are some of Yotam's thoughts on RAW, natural wines and why they're so delicious: "My love of food goes hand in hand with an admiration for great wine. The RAW online shop focuses on artisan producers, local grape varieties and wine made in the most natural way. Made by environmentally-committed producers they give a strong sense of place – geographically,historically, culturally. These are also, crucially, wines that we simply love to drink – and we're quite good at that! We are delighted and honoured to be working with Isabelle Legeron MW and her team at RAW, the only artisan wine fair. This partnership feels very natural indeed." Yotam Ottolenghi
  • Vinegars

    Two divine vinegars we’d love to share with you: more intense and nutty than other wine vinegars, Valdespino sherry vinegar adds a real depth and piquancy to meat, soups and salads. This cask-aged vinegar, produced in Jerez, Andalucia, is a carefully-balanced blend of older and younger vinegars. The result is a naturally sweet and complex product, both rich and mature and fruity and fresh all at once. As with many good things, a small amount goes a very long way here. Next up is one of Switzerland’s long-and-very-well-kept secrets: Kressi Essig. Those ‘in the know’ about this fresh and light white wine vinegar are evangelical about the almost-magical contribution it makes to salad dressings and marinades. Naturally flavoured with herbs and spices, one use of this low-acid and delightfully delicate vinegar will secure the knowing cook’s place in the ‘you’ve never heard of – oh you must try – the Kressi Essig’ club! Our three other vinegar offerings are also a necessary presence (or make for a lovely present!) in the discerning cook’s kitchen. It’s so easy to default to the reliable balsamic-cider-white wine vinegar favourites that we can miss out on a whole world of exciting flavours being bottled up and just awaiting discovery. Again, we urge you to try something new for this brand-new-clean-slate-of-a-year! The merlot – an intense and aromatic vinegar, with hints of vanilla, liquorice, red currants and berries – makes for a stunning alternative to sherry vinegar. The sweet, deep, lightly-acidic and rich flavour of the moscatel vinegar works like a dream when combined with creamy cheese in, for example, the Castellucio Lentils with tomatoes and Gorgonzola salad featured in Plenty. Third up on our pantry shelf is the elegant and fruity Riesling vinegar whose unique grapey flavour can be used where cider vinegar is traditionally called for. Try it in this recipe miso chicken with grapes and walnuts (hyperlink inserted here).
  • BLACK CARDAMOM

    If we can encourage you to try one new ingredient for this cold-snap of a month, it’s black cardamom. If green cardamom is the mellow Queen of Spices then this is her bold and brash, yet heart-warming, cousin. Whilst both sharing minty and uplifting ginger notes, black cardamom – which is dried over an open fire – has a smoky aroma so perfect for warming winter cooking. Add a few pods to soups or stews or slow-cooked meats to impart a flavour subtly reminiscent of bacon.
  • MAPLE SYRUP

    We are delighted to have sourced this first-class maple syrup for you, and feel fairly certain that we're the first people to legally sell these tins outside of Canada. It’s in a different league to most supermarket offerings and is one to reach into the fridge for throughout the day. Swirled through yogurt sprinkled with walnuts for breakfast, drizzled over pancakes piled high with bacon or bananas for brunch; used to make a classic vinaigrette or other dressings for lunch and bringing natural sweetness and depth to a host of cooked dishes for the evening meal, this is a very versatile ingredient, in a very cool tin. It's a lovely treat for cooks and food lovers alike, and induces deep feelings of nostalgia in North American ex-pats.
  • FRENCH VERJUICE

    Vert-jus – literally, green juice – is made from semi-ripe and unfermented wine grapes. The taste is a combination of tart and sweet: it has the tartness of lemon juice and the acidity of vinegar without the harshness of either. Use it as you would lemon or vinegar: to heighten other flavours and as a base for sauces and dressings. Try it out in Yotam’s recipe for Brussel sprouts with oyster mushrooms and quail’s eggs. This is a really particular flavour, which we encourage you to try! Continuing the under-used, best-kept-secrets theme, don’t forget to experiment with our grape molasses syrup or kressi essig vinegar. The grape syrup can be mixed with tahini and spread on toast or drizzled on salads or vegetables as you would balsamic vinegar and the kressi essig white wine vinegar is the most subtle and elegant basis for salad dressings and marinades.
  • Mograbieh

    Mograbieh is one of many styles of wheat-based ‘little pasta balls’ that exist in the Levant. The most well known variety is couscous, which seems to have inspired many of the others. Israeli couscous, known as ptitim, has become popular in the West over the last few years crossing the line from a sustainable and cheap way to feed a hungry family into the world of smart fine dining and exorbitant prices. Maftoul, similar to couscous in size and much smaller than Israeli couscous, is the Palestinian version of uneven balls made by hand. See (link to our maftoul). Mograbieh, which literally means ‘from North Africa,’ is the largest of the lot and also has the hardiest texture. It is produced in Lebanon and cooked in boiling water, just like pasta. Run a few under cold water before removing from the heat, just to make sure they are properly cooked (they tend to go hard as they cool down). Mograbieh balls have many uses. They add an interesting “bouncy” texture to soups and stews. We like using them in salads as well. Couscous and mograbieh with oven-dried tomatoes Serves six to eight 16 large ripe plum tomatoes 2 tbsp muscovado sugar 150ml olive oil 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar Coarse sea salt and black pepper 2 onions, peeled and sliced thinly 250g mograbieh (or couscous instead) 250g couscous 400ml chicken or vegetable stock Pinch of saffron Salt and pepper 1 tbsp chopped tarragon 1 tbsp nigella seeds 100g of labneh (or a thick yoghurt) Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Quarter the tomatoes lengthways and arrange on a baking tray, skin side down. Sprinkle with sugar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 2 hours or until the tomatoes have lost most of their moisture. Put the onion with 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Sauté on high heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you get a dark golden colour. Throw the mograbiah into plenty of salted boiling water, same as with pasta. Simmer for 15 minutes, drain and rinse under cold water. Some varieties might take less, so check the cooking instructions. In any case, make sure you don’t cook it too long (it must be soft but retain a bite), or it will go mushy. In a separate pot bring the stock to the boil together with the saffron and a little salt. Place the couscous in a large bowl and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the boiling stock. Cover with cling-film and leave for 10 minutes. Once ready, mix the couscous with a fork or a whisk to get rid on any lumps and to fluff it up. Add the cooked mograbiah, tomatoes and juices, onions and oils, tarragon and half the nigella seeds. Taste and adjust seasoning and oil. It is likely that it will need a fair amount of salt. Allow the dish to come to room temperature. To serve, layer gently on a serving plate, place some labneh on top (balls or spoon-fulls), drizzle with oil and finish with the rest of the nigella seeds.

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