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Ottolenghi

  • 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.
  • Mandarin, lemon and bergamot- infused olive oil

    Three naturally-flavoured, single-estate and very special extra virgin oils from the olive groves in the Calabria region of Southern Italy.The herbal qualities and citrus zing of the mandarin oil pairs wonderfully with game, duck or chicken; the clean and fresh lemon-infused oil lifts all dishes and is wonderful for simply dipping with bread and the minty bergamot – the citrus fruit which gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive taste – works particularly well when drizzled on beetroot, walnuts, grapes or dark chocolate!
  • Charcuterie

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    We’re really pleased to be championing some seriously good and locally-produced cured meat. No longer reliant on what the continent can offer, the Picco family – who have been making salami in Italy for the past 80 years – have now set up in North London. Picco Finnichiona is a full-bodied salami flavoured with fennel seeds, wild fennel pollen, rosemary, fresh garlic and red wine. Best sliced thick and eaten straight with bread this is weekend-lunch-with-a-glass-of-wine-heaven-on-a-plate. Try Frappato and Nerello Mascalese, Caruso & Minini, a light, spicy and elegant Sicilian red. Made from two local Sicilian grapes, Frappato and Nerello Mascalese, this wine brings elegance and style back to Sicily. The spices and juicy fruit notes will work well the salami's fennel, rosemary and fresh garlic flavours. Punchier still is the Picco sale pepe: flavoured with Tellicherry black pepper, Jamaican pepper and mulled wine this is a salami best sliced thin and eaten by serious meat lovers. Try it with Carema Classico, Produttori del Carema: perfumed, elegant and mineral. Made in northern Italy, from Nebbiolo grapes planted in high altitude at the foothills of Monte Bianco, the Carema Classico is like a Barolo made out of silk and pure joy to Italian wine lovers. Also exciting on the local artisan movement front is the cold-smoked Dorset mutton sourced by ‘The British Charcuterie Boys’ at Cannon and Cannon. Cured with port and juniper, this ethically-produced, sustainable and first-class charcuterie comes highly recommended. The fresh fruit and soft spices in Gran Cerdo, Gonzalo Gonzalo '10 will work well with the juniper notes and the soft smoky flavours of the cured Dorset mouton. Made from younger Tempranillo vines, this vibrant and juicy little natural wine is packed with crushed cherries, strawberries and offers phenomenal value.
  • Freekeh

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    "Palestinians, like many others in the region, used to harvest some of their wheat while the grains were still green and not completely dry. These were then set on fire in order to burn the chaff and straw. The village women would then get together in large groups to beat the wheat and collect the green grains.

    The result of this process is freekeh, or green wheat, a highly popular cereal with a hint of smokiness. It imparts a brilliant aroma when added to soups or stews but can also be cooked like rice or bulgar.
    Today, freekeh is produced and sold commercially, whole or broken; when broken, it looks like bulgar wheat but is green. We use it for making pilaffs, in salads and for serving with lamb or chicken. (see poached chicken with sweet spiced freekeh, page 182). It’s earthy flavour and slightly coarse texture go particularly well with sweet spices."

    (Jerusalem cookbook, p. 148.)

    In our online store you will find two types of freekeh: whole and broken. Both types can be used in any recipe that calls for freekeh, and it can also substitute rice or bulgur. The broken freekeh is often used in soups, pilafs and stuffing vegetables. Whole freekeh is appropriate for stews and salads.

    See recipe here.

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