For someone who likes thinking about food so much, these weekly overviews of where I’ve been eating and what I’ve been cooking up in my kitchen provides an excellent excuse to think about food even more! But, as I’ve said before, they also allow me to mention those special places I visit regularly more often – like Orsini, their menu above, from which I chose one of their specials when I visited on Sunday.
Tuesday – A Simple Omelette
Tuesday is my book club night and I have to be out of the house early – about 6.15 – so a simple omelette (click here for my thoughts on cooking the perfect omelette) is a favourite supper: quick and easy; light for an early meal. Last Tuesday I gently fried some sliced chestnut mushrooms in butter and olive oil with parsley to fill my omelette. A generous grating of Parmesan went over at the end.
Wednesday – First Trip of the Week into The City
This was the evening I took the District Line from Richmond to Monument in The City of London to meet my friends Robert & Jenny at 1 Lombard Street Brasserie (click here for review). A first visit but liked enough to surely mean another visit sometime.
Thursday – Healthy Meal at Home
I love salmon and have it about once a week, but I also like to eat it for the health benefits we get from eating fatty fish. Of course most salmon is farmed these days and some is not so good to eat – pretty tasteless and full of additives – so I make sure to always buy organic. When wild salmon is in season, that’s a wonderful treat, though quite expensive. I served mine with roasted new potatoes, fennel and cherry vine tomatoes. Delicious!
Friday – An Italian Lunch
My good friend Annie was in Richmond for an appointment late morning and suggested we meet for lunch. We went to Carluccio’s Caffe and ordered one of their Grandioso plates of antipasti to share. This makes a perfect light lunch: a gorgeous selection of cold meats, grilled vegetables, mozzarella, bruschette and focaccia.
Saturday – Return to Monument
Before last Wednesday I can remember only ever going to Monument once before on the Tube – for the Coffee House Tour I did a couple of years ago (click here). This last week has seen me doing the journey twice in 4 days! On Saturday I was heading to Leadenhall Market for an aperitivo evening with the London Italian Language Meetup Group.
Leadenhall Market looked rather splendid in its deserted state as I entered it to make my way to Pizza Rosa, the venue for the aperitivo. The City is a quiet at the weekends; most places closed. An aperitivo is basically early evening drinks with snacks – often complimentary in Italy where you sit down and order a drink around 6.00pm and some food comes too. For the group’s meetup there was a charge of £10 for first drink and plenty of slices of pizza. I’ve been there before and have to say I don’t think their pizza is great (well, I do have the fabulous Ruben’s Refettorio much closer to home!), but I was really there to meet friends, new people – and practise my Italian!
Sunday – Art & Risotto
On Sunday I took a shorter trip along the District Line, going only as far as South Kensington Station. I decided to go to the Victoria & Albert Museum to see their recently opened exhibition: Reimagining Botticelli. It was a bold, wonderful exhibition (see Guardian review – click here). When I came out there was only one place to go for lunch: the lovely Orsini restaurant opposite, an old favourite and where I recently took Lyndsey and Freddie (click here). I had a gorgeous risotto, a special of the week: Risotto al Nero di Seppia – black risotto with prawns, scallops, broccoli and a touch of chilli.
In the evening I wanted something light. I’d bought a wonderful rye & multi grain loaf at Your Bakery the day before so the perfect accompaniment seemed to be smoked salmon. Perhaps a smoked salmon sandwich? However, I then decided to buy gravadlax. I love gravadlax.
I remember a fantastic Swedish restaurant round the corner from my home in Islington over 30 years ago, Anna’s Place, run by the wonderful Anna. Anna’s gravadlax was the first I ever tasted – some say she brought it to London! – and this was years before IKEA arrived. Anyway, on Sunday I had to settle for Waitrose’s – but it was very good.
Monday – A Favourite Easy Pasta Dish
This is so simple and I cook it often: a shallot cooked gently in olive oil, then add 2 large tomatoes chopped small; season well and add a little dried chilli if you like; allow it to cook down until the tomato is breaking up and soft. Get some pasta of your choice cooking. Roast some pine nuts in a pan. At the last moment, add a big handful of spinach leaves to the tomato and turn over until it wilts. Drain the pasta and add to the veg. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle over the pine nuts and dust with a generous grating of Parmesan. Instant food bliss.