NOPI is an amazing place, but would you expect anything less from Yotam Ottolenghi? Yes, I’m one of many enthusiasts of his food, his cookbooks and his culinary philosophy. Tons of vegetables, phenomenal mixtures of flavours, skilful use of herbs and spices, all with hints of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Sounds like a perfect meal for me.
Ottolenghi has several places in London. So far, I’ve only been to this one, but there’s no way I’m stopping here. The restaurant has two levels - the upper floor is a bit more elegant, the downstairs - more casual and cosy. I don’t like thick tablecloth and uncomfortable chairs, so, just in case, I booked a place downstairs, at the common table and facing the open kitchen. But the upstairs looked very friendly as well, it’s a dose of elegance that even I could handle. The interiors are fairly simple, filled with warm light, flowers and golden details.
A fairly large section of the menu consists of small dishes, perfect as starters for one or even more perfect for sharing. I love composing a feast of small dishes, that way you get to try more. And I wanted to try pretty much everything at NOPI.
Making decisions was tough, but it had to be done eventually. My friend and I started with burrata with blood orange and coriander seeds. It’s safe to say that it was the best burrata I’ve ever had, creamy and perfect. We loved scallops with apple and yuzu puree, sweet potatoes with feta, tangy roasted eggplant and the okra salad. The venison with blackberries was spectacular: tender, seared to perfection and flavourful. The menu changes according to the seasons, so the dishes may differ, but I’m sure everything they ever serve is perfect. And burrata, one of the signature dish created by Ramael Scully, is always there.
I’m being overly enthusiastic, but it really is a delightful place with delicious food, stellar service and convivial atmosphere. Perfect for an evening of wining, dining and talking. So try it out yourselves whenever you have a chance! Not surprisingly, NOPI is rather popular with hungry Londoners, so make sure you have a reservation.
Over 120 types of cereal that you can combine with 30 varieties of milk and 20 different toppings. Even if you're not a fan of the whole cereal for breakfast thing, you have to admit that cereal cafe is an interesting idea.
London's Cereal Killer Cafe offers a wide variety of American and British cereal, as well as morning delicacies from France, Spain, Australia and Argentina. Apart from cow's milk (whole, semi or skimmed) there's a handful of plant milks options (soya, oat, rice, coconut, almond and hazelnut), all of which you can combine with different syrups, including bubble gum, peanut butter and mint.
Most people get pretty confused with endless cereal possibilities (or at least I did), so the Cereal Cocktails section can be a lifesaver. I know nothing about cereal, so I went for "Double Rainbow" and was very pleased (it was colourful and sweet, what else can a girl need?). Good thing the Cereal Killer Cafe is a regular cafe too, as I really needed a strong espresso after all that sugar.
Borough Market is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London. London Bridge attracted traders since the 11th century. Borough Market was a very popular place to buy and sell gran, fish, vegetables and livestock. In fact, it was so popular that in 1755 it was closed by Parliament, due to enourmous traffic congestion it was causing. However, a group of locals raised enough money to buy a patch of land, once the churchyard of St Margaret’s, and reopened the market in 1756.
Today the market is a popular foodie destination, frequented by chefs, amatour cooks and all types of gluttons, such as myself. It has everything, from variety of vegetables and cheeses to kangaroo burgers and scallops with bacon. Some of my favourite stalls sell seafood paella, fresh oysters, new potatoes with melted raclette cheese and freshly squeezed juices in all coulours of the rainbow.
Oysters and beer? Some might find it rebellious and disrespectful, but it's not even a new idea. The tradition of pairing dark beer and oysters comes from 18th century, when oysters were a cheap and popular snack in taverns, mainly eaten by the working class. In the early 20th century, most of oyster beds were destroyed. The scarsity increased prices and oysters became an expensive delicacy, served with a glass of champagne instead of a pint of beer.
London’s Oyster & Porter House serves both oysters and beer. It is situated right next to the Borough Market, so the culinary competition is enormous. It’s a proper oyster bar, with a selection from France and Ireland, as well as Spain, Japan and New Orleans. The food menu changes daily, depending on availability of fresh fish and seafood. You can try Cornish crab, shell-on Atlantic prawns or a delicious beef, Guinness and oyster pie. The traditionalists, who only pair oysters with bubbles, shouldn't be disappointed - there's a wine and champagne list available.
I can now officially confirm that dark beer and oysters are a match made in heaven, especially if it’s an oyster stout we’re talking about. Some modern oyster stouts are simply beers that go well with oysters, but some breweries remain faithful to the tradition and actually add a handful of oysters to the barrel.
A half dozen of oysters and a glass of stout always make a perfect lunch.
The Breakfast Club is by far one of the most popular brunch spots in London. Every Saturday and Sunday morning (ok, early afternoon) you will see hungry Londoneers, craving coffee, Mimosas, poached eggs and maple pancakes and queuing in front of each of six locations of the restaurant. The wait is at least half an hour, but, personally, I don't mind waiting for food (unless it's in a heavy rain, which is not that uncommon in London). You could always try and outsmart the system and come for a midweek breakfast or lunch. But that would be spoiling the fun, wouldn't it?
Pancakes and berries, with maple syrup and vanilla cream
Huevos al Benny: poached eggs, chorizo, roast peppers, avocado, fresh chillies, spicy hollandaise on toasted English Muffin