Saturday, 16 October 2010

My hero Yotam Ottolenghi

Writing a cookery book often means you have hero's. Not the traditional kind rescuing damsels in distress .. .. but the food kind..turning a floret of broccoli in to a dream mouthful. I have been using Ottolenghi The Cookbook for at least a year if not more. It is one of my favorite books. Last week as I finished my meeting at Rococo I headed straight out of the door across the street to Yotam Ottolenghi’s place on Motcom Street. I remember the first time I spotted the food through the window. It was so beautiful I was almost too over awed to walk in. I stood and looked through the window for several minutes before I ventured in. You see .. it’s not just food. It’s art. The way in which it is presented is an absolute feast to your senses. Your eye cast over glorious cakes, meringues and treats. Your nose is filled with the aroma of delicious and trust me the perfection of layers through the food are utterly brilliant.

There is a service area where you can run in and pick up these heavenly creations and dash back to work to devour .. or you can go the single large round white table and site next to whoever is there to eat. I chose to sit in and eat, and found myself in the charming company of a gentleman called David Ross. The salmon I ate was light, fabulously flavored and served with roast carrots and a broccoli salad. Frankly, this man in a genius with vegetables. He uses flavours from all over the world, and manages the intricate balance of sweet, sour, and spice like no other I know. The ingredients are dressed with layers that keep the food natural but refined.. never over powering the main ingredients, the level of taste and attention to balance is just incredible. I finished with a flourless tart. Slight crunch on the outside, melting into a brownie middle. Heavenly. The table was sociable, with directors of a Dutch banking firm opposite, and the charming David to my left. The only criticism - was that we had to crane our next around a stunning, but nevertheless, huge vase of flowers to converse!

As my meal came to an end I found myself wishing to be back at the start. It was the most delicious company. David insisted on paying for my lunch, which was really too kind and for that I made him promise to come to my book launch and to bring his lovely wife Gloria.

The thing with eating Ottolenghi’s food is, that it makes you want to head straight home and recreate it. To me, this is the finest compliment I can give. Fortunately Yottam not only like to share his food .. but his knowledge too. With his second book Plenty tucked under my arm I headed home intent on making this meal again. You know it's good one when there are 72 reviews of it on Amazon!

Ottolenghi is one of my hero's he inspires the cook in me and I can’t recommend either his restaurant or his books highly enough.


  1. Oh, you're so lucky to be able to be near enough to go to Ottolenghi! I'd be beside myself with excitement, at just the idea, lol. I recently got Ottolenghi's "The Cookbook" out via the library and it's firmly, along with "Plenty" on my Christmas list. I made their Kosheri a week or so ago and it was glorious.

  2. I absolutely love the Ottolenghi style also. Love the books and totally agree with the urge to recreate the beautiful dishes at home too! I'll have to make a trip to London when their exciting new Soho project is up and running, can't wait.

  3. A good read, and those photos looks amazing, particularly the beautiful patisserie display! I love how the food there often makes me want to try things I haven't previously liked in other places because I know the balance of flavours will be just right.

  4. I went totally Ottolenghi crazy with that first book when I got it, I haven't got Plenty yet. I ate lunch in the Notting Hill branch twelve months ago, it was SO busy, the queue was down the street. Fortunately we'd arrived very early and were sat down to eat! I'm crazy about their sweet potato salad with maple and pecans or something. Time I made it again...

  5. I had to laugh at Sarah's "went totally Ottolenghi crazy", as that's exactly what happened with me, too. Our Boxing Day dinner was 90% Ottolenghi recipes. :)


If you are reading my blog I must warn you that I am not impartial. I want to influence you. I want to make you stop for just a moment and consider the effect of a lifetime of seemingly insignificant decisions and how making small delicious choices can change the world.

I believe that we can change the world one bite at a time.

It's a delicious revolution.