Wednesday, 6 August 2008

books for cooks and more

books for cooks 
i wrote this at the beginning on two thousand and seven. mum and i had a week in london. this is the story of one saturday in notting hill. after circuitous walk around portobello – lost in stalls stacked high with retro curios, antiques of dubious antiquity, books and compact discs. and having been rained down on and bought umbrella’s for three quid each later mum and i finally stumbled upon books for cooks

a bookshop dedicated to chefs complete with a cramped and cozy café at the tail end, serving up the days cooking at the classes conducted on the floor above. i tucked into a pear honey & polenta cake with a side of yeo valley’s organic yoghurt with a swirl of warm chocolate sauce out of a pan that sat on the hob. i’ve always had this fascination for polenta. it’s something about the texture – the feel of it on the tongue melting but with a soft grittiness, much like the semolina that mama used to make for me as a child. the bookshop itself is a tiny space lined to the ceiling with shelves with book upon book detailing food… the ABC of food – it’s origins – how to cook – when to cook what – culinary dictionaries and what-not

a little further up the road are melt and ottolenghi two places that i had bookmarked. melt has much to do with my new found passion for sea salt caramels. i’m not sure why but sea salt does something more to enhance the flavor of caramel than regular salt does. on the flight to london, mum and i got bumped up to club on ba and they served the most delicious sea salt caramels from a store somewhere on sloane street which i am hoping to track down on my next trip to London! melt’s charm isn’t only in its sea salt caramels but also in the fact that you can watch chocolate being tempered in the shop!

ottolenghi was white-walled accompanied by white crockery; perfect to emphasize the color of the food. red peppers grilled and splashed with olive oil and dotted with balls of fresh white mozzarella – aubergines bearing lines of the grill tossed with vinaigrette. chocolate tarts dark red brown and dusted with cacao and meringues bright white with streaks of chocolate and berry breaking through. mum and i returned there for breakfast on sunday to enjoy a melt in the mouth frittata and red pepper salad with hunks of sour dough bread, washed down with coffee. we couldn’t resist the meringues and bought one to go, a big mound of egg white. the eating of the meringue returned each of us to our childhoods – making us look like two little girls laughing silly. the center fluffy and sticky – satisfying like the ones we baked when i was a little girl and mum taught me how to beat my egg whites and fold in the vinegar and corn-flour. that shiny mountain of white that would transform into pavlova, crowned with fruit and cream.

one night we landed up at wagamama’s whose spartan décor, conveyer belt handling and quick food still makes me feel good. we tried sake that was served warm and tickled the back of our throats. somewhere in the midst of it all this we managed to visit the food court at selfridges, walking away with a bag of champagne truffles from leonidas that disappeared within seconds. there was the wednesdaysdale cheese sandy from marks and sparks, eaten on the run between getting to places…