Thursday, 25 December 2008

lunch on christmas day

breakfast on christmas morning was a glass of bubbly after which i threw together a fruit salad (a guilt free alternative dessert with melon that was honey sweet, segments of orange, a handful of blueberries and a kiwi. i dressed it with honey, the juice of a lemon and lime and a grating of zest to add a citrusy kick).

lunch started off with hare pate for the family and smoked salmon with a side of leafy greens for me. this was followed by a turkey, just roasted and hot out of the oven with a medley of vegetables – broccoli that was steamed lightly, carrot batons that were a fresh bright orange, parsnips that were roasted to bring out their natural sweetness and potatoes mashed to fluffy and velvet smoothness. there was classic bistro gravy with the addition of some whole cranberries for the festive season and cranberry port sauce with bruised whole berries in it. aunt i’s ruby pink-red cabbage had the bite of apple and a hint of cinnamon that matched perfectly with the turkey. uncle g served an amber colored white wine that had a dark honey-ish flavor recalling that of stringy bark honey. 

the consequence of eating such an extensive lunch is that none of us had space for pudding…

Friday, 19 December 2008


sofra and its oxford circus chef named branch ozer is somewhat of an institution with my pakistani friends. so much so that it is the inevitable starting point for most nights that i have made plans with b and co. in fact come to think of it i celebrated my twenty-sixth there too. so i finally decided to take fellow foodie i to give ozer a try. an eight thirty reservation on a friday night the weekend before christmas found i and i at ozer.

despite the credit crunch ozer was packed and perhaps one of the reasons for that is ozer/sofras menu aptly titled the ‘credit crunch’ menu to reflect the sentiment of the day. upon being seated a bowl of hummus and bread appeared. since i wanted to sample we ordered some hot and some cold mezze and an entree to spilt. there was beef kofte from the hot mezze menu and red lentil kofte and imam bayildi from the cold. for the entree we choose the chicken kulbasti which comes highly recommended from the restaurant itself.

the beef kofte were delicately spiced and was accompanied by a tangy slightly chilli dipping sauce. the meat itself was juicy and moist and the kofte disappeared almost instantaneously. the red lentil kofte were reminiscent of homemade dahl which had been mashed and then squeezed in the palm of the hand to create an uneven longish kofte. once again the seasonings brought out the flavour of the lentils. imam bayildi features stewed aubergine with red pepper and tomato, with the three vegetables being tossed in a generous glug of seasoned olive oil. the combination of flavours is common to middle eastern cuisine and never fails to deliver.

i have had the kulbasti on the number of occasions and love the basic seasonings and flavours. the fillet of chicken is grilled and served on a long strip of slightly toasted bread, a mild salsa-ish sauce, vegetables in a light sauce (a bit like a rue) and a mound of basmati rice that is steamed to perfection and tastes of salted butter.

to end the dinner we had mint tea, served in glass cups. it was fragrant and refreshing, basically a bunch of mint leaves on which boiling water had been poured to draw out the essence of the leaf. there was also dessert which despite having eaten so much i and i decided to order. in the words of i it was gluttony – and gluttony that paid well. dessert was an almond and coconut pudding which was served chilled and with a thick crust which gave way to a creamy rice pudding – there was a strong hint of coconut cream and the crunch of almond in every mouthful.

it was a pre-christmas treat with a lovely surprise – a foodie notebook constructed by i resembling our blog as i had printed and collaged the front cover. it allows me space for recipes and other notes. here is to the beginning of a new year and a new chapter of culinary adventures.

p.s. ozer/sofra’s menu’s are good value and especially helpful when dining in a group of friends all of whom have varied tastes and requirements.

Monday, 15 December 2008

sakura for sushi

i had japanese with italians and despite the fact that i speak no italian and aside from two out of a dinner party of four spoke no english we had a perfectly wonderful time. i and i were left to navigate an oversized sakura menu which if you have been to sakura you would know is not exactly an easy job to do. however we managed to get it all sorted and the result was an assortment of japanese dishes from sushi to sashimi, teriyaki, cold soba, some grilled squid and tempura.

i should at this point pause and say that the waiters are slightly linguistically challenged and you may find yourself repeating your order. also the service is patchy at best and some things with happen in quick succession whereas others (like the tea service) is ridiculously slow. my advice to you is to bear with it because the food more than compensates for it. in fact what goes in favor of sakura is the presence of a japanese clientele which to me is generally a fair indicator of the authenticity of the food.

so to return to the food; sakura uses good quality fish and both the sashimi and sushi were made up with fish that felt silken in the mouth. the beef ginger was thinly sliced and had heaps of flavor and in keeping with the rest the salmon teriyaki had a lovely rich glaze and flaked with ease at the touch of chopsticks. i and i tasted some cold soba which was refreshing. they say that making cold soba is an art and each strand must reveal itself independently. i am no expert but if the rules of pasta apply this soba definitely lived up to what little i had read. i wasn’t particularly fussed with the tempura which is always good. however it was a last order of grilled squid that was really hit the spot. it came with a wedge of lemon and something akin to wasabi in taste but which was yellow in color and added extra flavor to the already tasty squid. 

at some point during dinner our attention was caught by the hot pot on the table next to ours and for a while the memory of china town’s hoco held my imagination. suddenly i was in islamabad on a winter evening in a grubby room. there were peanuts marinated in chili oil and pickled radishes and carrots for starters whilst waiting for the signature copper brazier to arrive along with a platter of raw meat, seafood and vegetable. the waiter would get the hoco started by adding thin slices of meat and leafy greens that would wilt dramatically in the hot soup. he would then use a chinese soup spoon to measure out steaming white rice into the base of soup bowls. to this he would add peanut sauce and chili (depending on preference) and then meat and vegetables would be added from the hoco with generous ladles of soup. he would then give it all a rapid stir and place it in front of you, ready to be eaten. and i returned to the present only when the discussion about dessert required my attention. i and i settled on some shared guilt in the form of azuki bean ice-cream which is this curious brownish-pink but tastes quite nice. 

i just wish i had gotten more tea.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

via condotti

a two course meal at via condotti entails carpaccio crowned with a baby spinach salad glistening in its vinaigrette toss – with the accent of walnut halves and a thinly sliced salmon with flecks of dill and triangles of grilled bread.

entrees of pasta that were a medley of colour, served in shallow white plates. squid ink tagliatelle which was charcoal with hints of colour – carrot and zucchini shavings and rings of creamy white squid curled on top. chestnut ravioli – parcels of warm beige with strips of venison which were a darker brown contrast. the sauce comprised the juices of the meat, olive oil and a hint of butter. the flavours in both revealed themselves in complex layers with an over arching hint of extra virgin olive oil. 

dessert was a glammed up version of tiramisu and although i am traditionalist i could not fault the taste of it as it was truly sublime. to go with dinner was a deep dark merlot with a dark winter berry flavour. 

end note of the meal: satiated.

Monday, 1 December 2008

the afghan kitchen

to me afghan food is the offerings of kabul restaurant. kabuli pilau made from long grained sayla rice whose centre is a piece of tender beef that comes off in strips when pulled to eat. it if further garnished with raisins and julienned carrots pickled in sweet syrup. there is mantu essentially dumplings stuffed with minced meat and onion, steamed and then topped with a garlic spiked yoghurt and lentil sauce. better yet are the kebabs pulled from seekhs with a fork and wrapped in roti and eaten hot. each kebab is separated by a grilled tomato which benefited from the juices of the meat when it was grilled. afghani roti itself is long flat leavened bread that is just as good eaten hot and washed down with a cold coca cola. i love this food so much that bearing the salty thirst that accompanies and lingers after the meal doesn’t deter me from it one bit.

with all that in mind you can imagine my surprise at the afghan kitchen’s menu which bore no resemblance to any of the food i’ve described above. on its contained menu are several meat and veggies options from which i and i selected the lavand-e-murgh and borani kadoo. borani kadoo combines pumpkin with a yoghurt sauce. it is basically thick slices of pumpkin that have a delicate flavor of cinnamon draped in a thick yoghurt with a slightly salty edge. lavand-e-murgh combines boneless chicken with a yoghurt and mint base. it is cooked till the chicken is tender and has a slight undertone of chili. sadly there was no pilau so we settled on the naan. the food was simple and yet flavorful and both dishes complimented each other. although the eating space is constricted and doesn’t lend itself easily to conversation it’s communal nature reinforces the sharing spirit that i have found to be a hallmark characteristic of the afghan people. 

and inasmuch that it doesn’t resemble the afghan food from home it is very good and characteristically afghan too. i find that the brevity of the menu adds to the charm of the place making it easy to choose and enabling a perfection to the food that is sometimes impossible with a lengthy menu.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

oqo on the green [now closed]

angel is always a favourite for a quiet dinner or a quick drink, as it’s conveniently located halfway between me and everyone else. so far though i hadn’t really come across my favourite bar there. sure, the cuban restaurants makes mean mojitos but they aren’t quite enough to compensate for the complete lack of atmosphere. last night though, m and i met for an early dinner, which turned into dinner and drinks as we hadn’t quite exhausted the gossip by the time the restaurant bill came.

so we walked over to oqo, which tempted us with elaborate drinks and interesting prices for early birds like us, 3.50 for selected (but still very intriguing) cocktails. the place ticked all the boxes in terms of atmosphere. nice, dim lighting, funky furniture, excellent music and an unusually friendly staff for a cocktail bar.

our drinks came fast and well presented. being experimental with my drinking i went for a jasmine and ginger caipirinha, while m had a love tap, some red and fruity concoction topped with champagne. they tasted just as good as they looked. sweet but not overly so, we could taste the alcohol in them but only to appreciate its quality and the perfect balance between all ingredients.

being only nine o’clock the place wasn’t packed and although the music kept our head moving it was still possible to have a decent conversation without damaging our vocal cords. having a more careful look at the menu we discovered a plethora of unusual drinks, some tremendously tempting, others that seemed just a bit too experimental for our tastes. still, we really enjoyed the whole experience and we’ll definitely go back for more drinks, more relaxed conversations on the red leather couches, more pleasant music.
we’ll just be careful not to have a drink too many and then attempt to reach the futuristic toilets we might get lost on the way.

oqo| 4-6 islington green| london n1 2xa

princi: the prada of bakeries

walking into princi on wardour street has nothing to do with the familiar feeling of walking into the warm, fragrant local bakery back home. the suited cashier doesn’t remind me of the sweaty and loud baker i visit daily in turin at all. princi looks more like a jeweller’s than a bakery to me, but i guess that’s how it got the reputation of “prada of bakeries” in london.

the large store in the heart of soho is, indeed, classy and impressive. warm lighting, uncluttered tables, artistically arranged counters...even a fountain decorating the long wall. spending half an hour here with a warm coffee or a filling slice of pizza is certainly a stylish experience that no other italian bakery offers in london, or italy for that matter. the choice is vast, ranging from pastries and cakes to pizza slices to more complex salads and dishes. little baskets on the counters allow you to sample the different kind of breads kept behind the counters, expensive delicacies enriched by walnuts, raisins, olives and so on. everything is elaborate but classic at the same time, nothing strikes me as an unnatural adaptation of italian favourites to the english taste. i am actually tempted by most of the sweet and savoury options on display.

in the end m and i decide on the tiramisù, the ultimate test, and foamy lattes, while o chooses a pear and chocolate tart and a small cannoncino (milanese term for cannoli apparently). i’m no coffee expert, so i focus on the desserts. the chocolate and pear tart is nice and crunchy, the pastry strongly reminds me of home-made crostata. the cannoncino is a delicate affair which disappears in two bites, leaving behind a sweet memory of custard and breakfasts on the run. finally the tiramisù is a contentious affair. m is terribly disappointed by the dry sponge and the addition of a hint of orange. it’s definitely not a classic, but i can easily imagine it being served in fancy restaurants back home as an ingenious reinterpretation of an overly common desserts. all in all, i like it, although i don’t love it, the flavours merge well and match the sophisticated atmosphere.

to complete the test, i take some walnut bread home. a bit heavy, but still successful with my italian guests. i remain curious to try the cold and warm dishes that were tempting me from behind the spotless glass counters, and i wouldn’t mind coming here for a real italian aperitivo, if only they started offering those tiny but oh-so-yummy nibbles that clutter bars and cafes on any italian evening.

princi doesn’t resemble any italian bakery i know, but their loaves and pizza slices and croissants do remind me of family sunday lunches. the prices are also far from “authentic”, but that shouldn’t be a surprise in soho. after all, we’re in london, where everything is possible. then why not a trendy bakery serving tasty italian delicacies with a fountain in the background?

Saturday, 15 November 2008

kati roll

kati roll is reminiscent of t.r.p (a pakistani roll enterprise) albeit a more sophisticated version of it. this soho eatery is incredibly cheap and very tasty. it is also one of the many wrap places that populate london’s quick, cheap, food-to-go options.

a kati roll is a sub-continental inspired wrap. it is essentially a paratha (a thin round of bread griddle fried in oil). to this the creators of kati roll have added a number of flavorful meat or veggie fillings. the roll itself is presented in a foil wrap with red onions and a generous amount of mint chutney – o had an achari paneer kati roll whilst i had a beef tikka one to assuage my red meat cravings. achar is an oily indian pickle a bit heavy on the spice but is tasty accompanied by bite sized cubes of fresh indian paneer (cheese) akin to tofu. the two offset each other well. my beef tikka was bite sized cubes of meat that was well cooked and wrapped with onions and chutney. both of them were finger licking good, almost as good as t.r.p

t.r.p, the shortened version of taimoori roll paratha , when it arrived in islamabad was a roadside kiosk offering similar rolls and was located in f-10. it was so good that it warranted a trip from f-7 to f-10 when the t.r.p craving hit (islamabadites will understand the zipcode syndrome). t.r.p was much spicier than kati roll but they are both are a calorific tasty treat.

i am definitely going back for an aloo tikki (potato cutlet) sandwich for no other reason than the invocation of food memory. mama’s aloo tikki’s were a wonderful affair of well mashed potatoes seasoned with a smattering of asian spices – coriander and cumin seed, fresh green chilies, sometimes pomegranate seed. they were formed into tikki’s, dipped in a lightly beaten egg, then rolled in bread crumbs and shallow fried until the breadcrumb coating was a reddish brown. i loved eating these on toast, mashed slightly under the fork to spread them over the toast. they were great cold as well and were a packed lunch staple, either crimped in toast like a pakistani rarebit or between untoasted white bread.

Friday, 7 November 2008

food isn't everything

villandry is not the cheapest breakfast option in town. it had been on our list of things to do in london for over a year now, but we never managed to fit it in our student lifestyle, no matter what our foodie heart was telling us. finally, the other morning we elected it as the location of a debrief meeting to celebrate an eventful week. it was clear from the beginning, we were there for the eggs. the menu was simple but classy, as one would expect from a rather fashionable place such as villandry. i ordered scrambled eggs and bacon, m went for poached. twinings tea was a slight disappointment, as you would expect something rarer from a restaurant attached to a fancy grocery store, but no one is perfect so we welcomed our beautifully arranged plates with true excitement.

the eggs were, indeed, perfect. just the right amount, the ideal texture and colour, resting on crunchy brown bread. m’s eggs looked like a work of art, smooth round balls with a bright orange liquid heart, it was hard to resist the temptation of stealing them from her plate. my bacon was abundant and perfectly cooked, crispy on the edges but not crumbly, a rarity in most english breakfasts today. up to this point, we were delighted by villandry’s famous breakfasts and we were already planning our next visit.

but then, we decided to order dessert. getting the attention of a waiter proved an exhausting ordeal, although there were only three occupied tables in the restaurant. asking for a menu, ordering a (scrumptious) croissant and getting the bill required three long waits, a lot of pointless gesturing and tons of patience. after the bill was paid, we waited another fifteen minutes for our change, as service was included in the bill, but instead we were asked for more money as we were putting our coats on because the slowest waitress in the world had given us the wrong bill. 

villandry’s breakfasts are certainly something worth considering, but the delicious food might actually not be worth the steep bill and theterrible service that come with it. if you would do anything for perfect eggs, then at least bring a good book to read... 

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


leon has disappointed some of my friends, so i don’t get the chance to go there very often. today though, as i was looking for refuge from a cold and dark winter day, the cosy and warm decor of a leon behind the tate modern won over all my reserves and i walked in. although i prefer its smaller branches, which don’t get as noisy and look less like fast foods during lunch breaks, this large and industrial eatery is still blessed with warm lights and colourful advertising, simple wooden tables and a familiar atmosphere.

the menu wasn’t as exciting as i remembered, probably because they have eliminated some of the most complicated dishes since the last time i ate there. so i settled for a classic leon gobi and the ginger and lemon crunch, which represented the real attraction since i remembered it as one of the best desserts of last year.

the first bite truly made me wonder “how can my friends not like this”? the gobi was nice and warm, rich with raisins, the flavours well mixed, the rice cooked to crunchy perfection. after the fifth bite though i started to get a bit bored by the harsh corner of the cardboard box out of which i was eating and, to be honest, by what i was eating as well.

i was really looking forward to the dessert, but unfortunately i had to agree with my friends. leon can be disappointing. something was simply not right, not the right consistency, not the right combination of flavours...not sure what, it simply wasn’t the sweet miracle i remembered.

although leon is still marketed as the revolutionary fast-food, it’s losing its appeal. disappointing then, but honestly still a decent choice for a quick lunch, a warm soup, a cosy break in these gloomy winter times.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

the beigel chapter

my affair with cream cheese and bagels owes itself to a trip to chicago in 1998. during my undergraduate days in london i rediscovered them but as part of a chain called bagel factory. for a while i was addicted to sunflower seed bagels with honey, or peanut butter on granary, sesame seed with cream cheese and salmon or cinnamon and raisin with cream cheese. but as much as these were good what i really wanted was a bagel that was crisp on the outside but easy to bite of rather than be torn – and for this a bagel factory bagel didn’t play the trick. this is where london’s hidden gems come to play –

all over london are nondescript looking bakeries whose insides smell like they are an oven themselves. where through the open door you can see the baker putting the bread in to bake (or in the case of bagels, to boil)… with that in mind here is a short guide to good bagels in london.

beigel shop (apparently the oldest beigel bakery in london) is on brick lane. it is an east london institution and is open 24 hours. when i went in on a tuesday night at 10 pm the kitchen was as if it was early in the morning. rows and rows of dough, the smell of freshly baked bread and sadly a sold old sesame seed beigel rack. i settled on plain beigels (22p each) and rye bread (and a brownie which was more like a slice of heaven). the beigels went home in a brown paper bag and were my breakfast on the run the next day, split toasted, smothered with cream cheese and utterly delicious.

once again in east london jones dairy café served me a smoked salmon bagel. the waiter behind the counter cuts the bagels through the centre, butters them thick and then adds paper thin slices of salmon overlapping them. i asked for mine unbuttered and accompanied by a half pint mug of argentinean coffee (strong and hot after a roam around columbia flower market). even untoasted the bagel gave away easily to the bit and was scrumy with an addition of coarse black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

in my old neighborhood in north west london roni’s bakery made some excellent bagel-wiches – cream cheese that set itself thickly in the fridge with salmon draped over. it was wrapped in cling-wrap and great on the run. i hear that north london is home to the best beigels outside the east end so there is a trip scheduled to happening bagel at some point.

notwithstanding every so often i get a craving for bagels from lox stock and bagel. this is a bagel deli on paseo village (a strip mall near my house in scottsdale arizona). its bagels rival its british cousins in size (i usually eat half at a time). mum loves poppy seed bagels and i love the american cinnamon and raisin ones. lox stock and bagel also do a dozen variation of homemade cheese. there is cream cheese with honey and almond whipped into it and berries too. we usually have a tub of plain lite, veggie and chives at home to spread thickly onto our bagels on sunday mornings. 

for bagels on the go london has a host of bagel chains from bagel factory to ixxy’s bagels to offer you all manners of bagel-wiches. but i can tell you now that as a rule of thumb if you see a small jewish bakery somewhere dash in to get a bagel. it won’t ever get better than that. and remember a bagel is a donut with half the guilt –

Thursday, 23 October 2008

cake & my best friend

i sometimes get a craving for cake and then i want something that is unusual and moist and dense all rolled into one; and with no artificial tastes lurking around. so when i and i went to books for cooks i figured we should share some guilt. the chocolate and sour cream cake did not disappoint even one bit. it didn’t crumble. instead it melted in the mouth like a molten cake. the frosting tasted nutty like a hint of peanut and was dark vanilla in colour (not the synthetic yellow) but the warm white type sans the flecks of vanilla.

if you can have perfection on a plate with two forks and a best girlfriend this is it!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


most londoners i have met think tayyab’s when they think pakistani food. as a pakistani who has spent almost four and a half years in london i felt i must get onto the bandwagon of tayyab-ites and see for myself. one very chilly early winter evening found me negotiating east london. my first tayyab’s experience took place with two friends both of whom regard themselves as tayyab’s experts. having studied and lived locally tayyab’s has been their kitchen away from home.

but as it is turns out i had come better equipped to wait. one of the things you need to know about tayyab’s is that it’s waiting times have grown exponentially since it’s become a regular feature in all manner of cheap eat guides and newspaper reviews. in fact while you wait you have ample time to read up on tayyab’s hall of fame which takes up most of one wall of the place. even so a fifty minute wait can be taxing especially if in the course of it you are abandoned by your fellow foodies for their nicotine fix. 

once seated i had the chance to hear s’ tayyab-isms and was pleasantly surprised to note that they echoed mine. i left the old timers to order the food which arrived promptly and piping hot. there was chicken and paneer tikka followed by chicken karahi and chana’s. the paneer tikka was a disappointing affair; overdone and rubbery but the chicken tikka almost quite hit a note of home. the meat was white on the inside and drew a deep orangish color on the outside from its marinade – comfortingly close to the tikka i have known and not the pink-red executions that often make their way to tables at sub-continental eateries in london. 

i have no complaints to make of the flavor of the chana’s (chickpeas). you can tell that the ingredients are fresh and nothing has been masked by additives of curried powders or sauces. however the authenticity of the karahi was slightly dubious. karahi dishes draw their name from the dish they are cooked in. essentially this is a sub-continental version of the wok. the meat is stir fried with spices and some tomato. the karahi i have known is not saucy. it has what is known as a kharha masala (literally a reduced ‘standing’ sauce). roughly cut tomatoes are added last and stir fried just enough for them to be slightly bruised but still retain their shape – also there has to be coriander leaves and julienned ginger as garnishes. the chicken karahi we were served was halfway to a curry (and if it had been named such i’d say it was very good). the roti (bread) that came with was really good. 

as we worked our way through the food s and i deconstructed the tayyab’s experience. these are our notes – service although quick is at the same time harried. while our food was being served our table was being nudged a few spaces down to create area for movement. this is an oxymoron given the place is packed like sardines with tables. in fact it is quite marvelous as to how many seats and tables line the length of this compact space. meanwhile behind and around us snaked the queue of people waiting – the constant shuffle and movement as much as it is part of the tayyab’s experience has a subliminal effect on eating speed (i can’t doubt the tradition of this in pakistani culture as i recall evenings at zenose and jahangir where the primary sequence was order-eat-leave all in quick succession). however tayyab’s leaves you feeling harassed on account of the tightness of the space. s is right when he says that tayyab’s can be expanded space wise. 

i’d definitely say that the fact that food is piping hot is great. there is also a neatly cut plate of salad and condiment bowls as well as poppadums to munch on while you wait for the mains. for those of you who aren’t concerned with the authenticity of the dishes as well as the feeling of being rushed tayyab’s is a good choice, especially because it is fresh and filling. it’s also very reasonable. i would recommend reserving or else avoiding peak time unless you really want to do a long wait… 

83-89 fieldgate street london e1 1ju

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

lunch in the city: hiscox art café

living in london, even in these times of credit crunch, does make you wish you belonged to the shiny business world of the city. at least sometimes. as we happened to be both temporarily unemployed and have some free time on our hands, m and i decided to step in one of the shiny buildings around liverpool street to mingle with the suited crowd and, of course, indulge in some gastronomic experimentation.

m had been to the art café before, but she hadn’t quite prepared me for the delightful lunch we were about to have. the atmosphere, on the ground floor of an insurance company building, was classy if a touch disturbed by the several tv screens projecting imaged of george w. bush and desperate bankers in wall street. it’s a “café”, but a café in the city and therefore the service was attentive and polite, although a bit slow. at this point i was seriously wondering whether i would be able to afford anything more than a coffee, as it did seem all a bit out of my league. but i was soon to be reassured by the menu.

appetizers and mains were all, and i mean all, terribly tempting. i wouldn’t normally go for lamb or braised pork for a mid-week lunch, but i must admit the flavour combinations were so appealing that i did consider every single item on the menu for a few seconds. in the end, we decided to share an appetizer and a main, a grilled aubergine and courgette bruschetta with tomato fondue and the pumpkin and goats cheese tart with fennel and pine nuts. the first course was a surprise, a crunchy and aromatic slice of bread topped with perfectly cooked vegetables and surrounded by top-quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar and the smoothest tomato sauce i have had in a while. the second course, however, was a revelation. probably the best tart i have ever had. a thin layer of flawless pastry hosting a delicate but flavourful filling with a surprisingly perfect texture. each of the ingredients could be distinguished, and their excellent quality was easily recognised, but none threatened to overpower the others. the presentation was also a work of art, once again tempting me into biting carefully into one of those green leaves that i would usually just push to the side.

we decided to complete the meal with a delicious brownie, but for once the dessert was not the highlight of the day, as the memory of fresh vegetables and creamy tart was still dominant in my mind. certainly the extraordinary glass of wine that accompanied our lunch did play its part in enhancing the flavours and warming the atmosphere.

the art café owes its name to the paintings and sculptures displayed around the large bright room, but i think the level reached by its chefs in the art of cooking is what really characterises this unusual lunch option around the city. it’s much more than a lunch-break experience, as it easily falls in the category of excellent food in london, and if you need to take the afternoon off work to enjoy this place properly, so be it. it’s well worth it.

hiscox art café| 1 great st helen’s| ec3a 6hx

Monday, 13 October 2008

busaba; eat thai

busaba is one of many contemporary communal table eateries in london. it is the brainchild of yau who has bequeathed the culinary landscape with michelin starred hakkasan and yauatcha to wagamama. busaba realizes a tricky equation – of replication with originality (there are three branches and it is set to rollout a couple more) and quality at a reasonable price. of the three busaba’s around london each has its distinct personality and varying lengths of queues. i love the one in soho.

the interior is a combination of teak wood, warm light that rests just slightly about your head and woody fragrant incense. its menu is a comfortable length and experiences slight tweaks every so often – the only hiccup is that busaba’s pad thai is a tad disappointing. but then which eatery is flawless? for its lackluster pad thai busaba more than makes up with its other offerings. it’s curries in particular are mouthwateringly good. not as chili as most thai food i’ve had but it is an experience of flavors that come across in layers. you will find an assortment of lemon grass, smooth milky rich coconut, the tang of tamarind and the peppery note of red chili at the back of your throat. presentation is fuss free in glazed bowls – the wine menu isn’t extensive but it isn’t disappointing either. frankly thai chili is warm enough on its own and i usually forgo the wine for their honey and ginger tea. 

i was recently introduced to the thai calamari – it is a generous bowlful of calamari with a light crust of batter; a smattering of green peppercorns and plenty of ginger and is usually polished within seconds of its arrival. 

here are a couple of things you shouldn’t do at busaba

avoid the noodles aside from the pad kweito and try to steer clear of the tom yam talay as it is a disappointing affair with flavors that stand out like sore thumbs rather than blending together. and lastly,  avoid the jungle curry unless you want a mouth burner chili experience. 

and here is the stuff you should do
admit that pretty much all of us have been perplexed by the ying/yang indications on the toilet doors
definitely have the green curry’s as they have a lovely base
also have all things butternut squash
attempt the rose apple stir-fry. it’s got a curiously good taste that falls together with all else that goes into it – and when you close on the note of tea enjoy the crumbly softness of cashew and coconut cookies that accompany it – breathe in the woody incense and then brace yourself for capricious london weather outside.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

la fromagerie

la fromagerie found itself on our list of places to try post the first exploration of my north london neighborhood with i. our first visit to la fromagerie was an impromtu lunch. outside it was a lovely warm autumn day but inside the fromagerie we were frozen (owing to the cold drafts of chees air from the cheese room). although there is lots to choose from - there are sanwiches and tarts and tortilla's my partiality for goats cheese made it easy for me to settle on the goats cheese, red pepper and butternut squash tortilla.

i had the leek corguette and ricotta tart. we dabbled into each others choices and were more than satisfied by what we had. our lunches were accompained by some tossed greens. i who has an antagonistic relationship with all things leafy and green ventured into salad territory making it a point to tell me that she was trying the greens. but sadly a couple of forkfuls in she hit a rather bitter note (probably the arugula) and abandoned the greens – i didn’t manage to tuck into all of mine but the combination of baby spinach and arugula tossed with olive oil offset the richness of the tortilla.

we both decided to split the guilt, that is dessert. however choosing it offered up a bit of a challenge. there was polenta cake, a thick homely looking carrot loaf, cheese cake, fruit tarts with a hint of frangipani, brownies…but out of all of those it was the irregular loaf of lemon and poppy seed cake dense with flecks of poppy seeds and irregular icing that caught our fancy. i must say that i and i are lucky in that there is very little aside from leafy stuff that we don’t love in common. the lemon and poppy seed cake arrived with two spoons and a neat diagonal cut with as equitable a distribution as possible (i wonder did our server thing us incapable of sharing equally?) dessert was accompanied by a cafetière of coffee for me – a very dark roast with a smooth edge and a pot of earl grey for i. the earl grey was exquisite with a hint of sweetness (a definite addition to my repertoire of earl grey teas).
be rest assured we will be back here soon.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

THE italian restaurant

why would anyone go to arsenal for dinner? well, because the best italian restaurant in london, in my humble (italian) opinion, happens to be located in blackstock road. i haven't tried that many, as i haven't really been tempted by the menus hanging outside most doors. at this point, however, i don't see why i should look any further and suffer more overcooked pasta, ridiculous combinations of ingredients and tiramisù made with whipped cream. i have found my italian restaurant in london.

our perfect sunday

sunny days in september are a prized rarity for any londoner. last sunday, it was sunny and warm, i needed to reconcile myself with the comforts of london after a month spent travelling around india and my best friend was happy to join me for a lazy day of art, shopping and, naturally, food explorations. i couldn't have asked for more...the perfect day was served. 

we started at fernandez and wells in beak street, a lazy and empty road on the borders of soho. i walked in dreaming of a classic italian breakfast, a simple croissant or a slice of cake, but the artistically arranged display tickled my appetite. after much debate, i went for an extra-large croissant filled with comté cheese, tomatoes and thickly-sliced ham, my best friend being slightly braver with a montgomery cheese and leek toast. as we waited for tea, coffee and food we found our spot by the window and soaked in the sunday morning atmosphere, uncluttered white walls behind us, sunlit pavement in front of our eyes, the smell of good food and a newspaper on the table. everything called for a slow pace and we were more than happy to indulge in girly conversations over excellent food. 

as the day moved on, we felt the need to feed our brains with some art at the photographers' gallery and some people watching around covent garden. a lot of walking and chatting later, we felt we deserved a we headed to scoop, back in the heart of covent garden, for a proper italian ice-cream in honour of the last summery day of the year. i had been looking forward to trying scoop, as it does appear to offer the most authentic italian ice-cream in london. the nocciola tonda delle langhe and pistacchio puro di bronte are flavours that remind me of classy gelaterie at home and i was therefore eager to see if the taste would live up to the names. walking into the shop was already an italian experience, the colours and the decor credible, the selection of cones and waffles familiar. only the orderly queue signalled the central-london location. overall, we could have been on a busy italian street, but in that case it wouldn't have been the best ice-cream parlour in town. the ice-cream turned out to be a bit watery, lacking the creaminess i was craving, but i'll suspend my judgement til my next visit (and therefore the next summer), as that might have depended on my slightly unconventional choice of flavours. 

while heading back to my best friend's old neighbourhood, if only to pop in our favorite kennard's and have a chat about the impossibility of meeting eligible bachelors in london, we realised it was still too early to part and put an end to our perfect day. so we enjoyed the luxury of a bus and returned to where we had started from, finally ticking a meal in china town off our “list of 101 things to do in london”. as we were trying to keep it classical, we went straight to gerrard street and quickly picked golden dragon, which we had never tried before but had heard about. having to wait five minutes to be seated in a half-empty restaurant seemed slightly bizarre, but wasn't such a big deal. the atmosphere was old-style china town, big rooms, plain decor, stained tablecloths and loud customers. which is exactly what we were hoping for. the dinner satisfied all our chinese food cravings, with the right balance of greasiness and spiciness, big plates who didn't make us feel ashamed of mixing prawns, chicken and noodles in the same meal. 

perfect days cannot be repeated, but london offers so much that i'm sure we'll find another fantastic selection of cafes and restaurants to sit in on our next lazy sunday. in the meantime, menus do tend to be repetitive, so i'll soon be going back to fernandez & wells or golden dragon for some more good food and relaxing times.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

fernandez and wells: food and wine bar

a rainy and washed out saturday evening found a friend of mine and i in the heart of soho. as usual i had forgotten my a to z and despite countless visits to soho i had as usual got my bearings all mixed up. however it was not long before we had made our way to lexington street. the window of fernandez and wells (wine and food bar) has large carcasses hanging in it. the place smells of a combination of salty cured meat, cheese and a hint of smoke from those standing in the doorway indulging in their nicotine fix.

we both ordered olives that were served up in a little glass stacked in another glass that was to be used for discarding of the stones. the olives themselves were fat, their skins glistening with olive oil. we ate them speared on toothpicks. the rioja wine that we chose to accompany them was lovely – it was rich without being too heavy and despite its fruity flavor it was not sweet.
it was perfect for a chilly evening.

despite the small size of the place it was comfortable and we all managed to sit perched on stools or stand without bumping into each other. the pace of the bar is busy and you will find yourself waiting around…my next visit will have to include a sample of the platters, possibly the one with cheddar cheese, apple chutney and slices of pear.

Fernandez & Wells on Urbanspoon

Friday, 3 October 2008

italian with an italian

this is an add-on to i’s post 'the italian restaurant'. i and my friendship coincided with a lack of italian restaurants. out of friendship faithfulness i ceased to visit italian eateries hence the shock when on i’s first visit to my neighborhood she declared trying out il bacio – a local italian restaurant near my flat on blackstock road. we followed this up on a friday night on the close of an eventful week for both of us girls since we had both received positive work related news. 

we exchanged notes over a three course meal kicking of with a thick dime of goats cheese (warmed and melting), asparagus spears and pears. i followed mine with an all time favorite – spaghetti vongole with grey mullet roe. the clams were soft and flavorful served on a bed of spaghetti that was done just right. the olive oil had a strong taste with an addition of herbs, the roe on top added to the layers of textures and tastes. i soaked up the remaining juices and olive oil with bread from the pizza oven. at this point we didn’t think we could proceed further into foodie heaven but the tiramisu proved us wrong the description of which is done full justice in the italian. the italian restaurant does more justice to the food... 

Saturday, 27 September 2008

fernandez and wells: coffee bar

i’s return from india was christened by a hasty lunch at ‘the clock’ – a local café located on highbury grange. come the weekend we had chalked out a full day the beginning and closing note of which was food.

(we were supposed to indulge in jo’s cakes at tea-time at the photographers gallery café but were too sated from our fernandez and wells experience and had to forego it)
fernandez and wells has two branches just round the corner from each other. both are small spaces, constructed in a way that maximizes on natural light giving the spaces an open feel. the walls are white and the large shop windows allow natural light to flood in as well as a view of soho street life. we happened to visit on what in england is known as an indian summer day when large panels of sunlight threw itself into the café.
the closer to brunch timing of our breakfast excursion complicated the choices available. the muesli with dried berries and roasted almonds was as inviting as the greek yoghurt with heather honey and nuts… eventually i settled on a toasted poilâne sandwich which when presented itself oozed montgomery cheese accompanied by leeks and red onion. the choice dilemma extended to coffee as well. i ordered a stumpy (what to me is a new-fangled coffee) – the description offered was of a coffee that is stronger than a flat white, a sort of complex latte served in a small glass.

when it was served i was not disappointed. it had a dark nutty flavor with full cream milk and a flourish of fern in its foam. it was a real coffee treat.

Fernandez & Wells on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

the five senses travel to india

a trip to india is, as it might be expected, a trip that awakenes your senses. the colours , the smells, the flavours are all so intense that risk to be overwhelming.

as a foodie, i was obviously eager to experiment the flavours of real indian cuisine, but partly due to hygienic precautions and partly having to trust the uninspiring recommendations of western guidebooks, who assume all tourists are craving for bland omelettes and dubious versions of shepherd's pie, so far i hadn't been impressed. the food had always been delicious but the menus seemed repetitive and, after all, i couldn't taste such a marked difference between these "authentic" dishes and what's served at masala zone in london.

in kochi, however, the monsoon changed our travelling routines. soaked to the bone and stranded in the old part of the city, an island off the coast of kerala, we left our guidebook at home and picked the restaurant next door for dinner. it seemed nice from the outside and turned out to be allegedely the "best boutique hotel in india". a wonderful, if quite random , choice.

honestly, a touch of class and elegnace were welcome after ten days spent on the road in dusty rajasthan. the service and the decor were truly flawless. tek carved ceilings, a few hindu statues, white tablecloths and pinapple flowers on the table were key for the chic but unpretentious atmosphere. reading the menu was a pleasure in itself. except for a few pasta dishes, appertizers and main courses denoted creativity, but also an attention to local ingredients. seafood played a central role and we were happy to deviate from the usual diet of vegetables and chicken.

dishes were too elaborate to describe in details, but they were all artfully mastered concoctions of prawns and squids, avocado and curry leaves, ginger and mango. the carefully adjusted plates invited to try and get lost in unkown flavours, as any attempt to recognise familiar ingredients was soon replaced by the pure enjoyment of such delicate creations. the dessert, a crumble of caramelised pineapple with green and black pepper, was the perfect conclusion for the meal, combining local spices with foreign methods of preparation.

surely, this wasn't the most typical indian meal, bringing together keralan ingredients and european standards with a touch of thai perfumes. however, it is refreshing to know such high standards of cooking, and creativity, are reached all over the world. malabar house in fort kochi was definitely a most welcome parenthesis in our usually more down-to-earth trip through the smells, colours, sounds and flavours of india.

Friday, 12 September 2008

raavi kebab house

when i am missing home i usually make a rip down to raavi.

it is famous for it’s grilled meats but since i am not a huge fan of meat (particularly lamb) i usually find myself dabbling in its vegetarian and lentil offerings. there is also the tandoori roti (flat leavened bread baked in an earthenware oven) that i am particularly partial too. i definitely like roti more than it’s white flour constituting partner called naan. as a child i was fascinated by tandoors (the place where naans, roti’s and the numerous types of pakistani breads are made and sold). the jouney home from school often involved a stop at the tandoor to get fresh roti. i loved these trips to the tandoor watching in fascination as the tandoor wala would take a ball of dough, roll it out, slap it onto a solid cushion with a moistened surface which he would then lower into the oven in order to transfer the roti to the rounded wall of the oven in startlingly fast pace. he would watch over the roti whilst repeating the process with dough balls lined up in front of him. the roti would cook on the heated wall swelling unevenly in places with the pressure of the heat. once it was toasted all over the tandoor wala would prise it out with a steel rod whose end is shaped like a spatula. he’d then toss the hot roti across to another man who would roll it up in a sheet of newspaper and hand it over to the customer. even now every time i return to visit pakistan i am impatient to go to the tandoor – there is nothing better than a roti hot from the tandoor accompanied by a cup of strongly brewed tea.

but i digress, to return to raavi. for veggie lovers i’d recommend the okra, lentils and spinach dishes. and for those who like a bit of meat with there veggies there is the murgh chana masala (chicken and chickpea) and the chicken karahi (chicken with a stir-fried masala of tomatoes and fresh green chilli and garnished with julienned ginger) that are really good. i am afraid i cannot give you a vote on the lassi as i am one of those pakistani’s upon whom the love of this creamy drink is lost. other than that raavi will give you a bit of a taste of home (for those of you who come from the sub-continent) and some good curry (for those of you who like it).

Friday, 5 September 2008

diwana bhel poori house

m and i eventually managed to assuage our chaat cravings although our choice of evening was far from promising as it was on a very rainy friday. chaat is indian street food and includes a medley of ingredients; a bit sweet and a bit sour, lots of tang and crispness and lots of yoghurt too. our choice of place, diwana on drummond street has a reputation for good chaat.

we landed up ordering a couple of starters (papri chaat, pani puri and aloo chana chaat) and for the mains we split a dosa. papri chaat brings together crisp and crackle with the sweet tang of tamarind sauce and the coolness of yoghurt. it’s also got chickpeas in it. eating pani puri is a messy yet very satisfying affair. you take one of the puri’s, tap into the surface to make a small hole into which you drop a few chickpeas, you then take the little puri and dip it into the sweet tamarind water (pani) after which it should follow to your mouth in quick succession. you have to eat the whole thing in one go otherwise there will be tamarind water all over you. aloo (potato) and chana (chickpea) chaat is just what it’s ingredients say. it’s got yoghurt and some tamarind sauce in it and all the flavours come together to make a wonderful treat.

a dosa is a south indian pancake (albeit much bigger in size). it’s made of rice and gram flour and is usually stuffed with vegetables and accompanied on the side by chutney and pickles. ours came to us on trademark indian stainless steel dishes and was long and stuffed to the brim with mashed potatoes, fried onions and spices. along with it was a sweet and salty coconut chutney and some chilli chutney too. we worked our way slowly through all the food we ordered by the end of which we were utterly full.

we rounded the meal of with masala chai which was a failed experiment. either the cook was having a bad day and added too much masala or it was just the tea itself but the peppery hotness of it burned our throats. i can say it must be good for someone who had a sore throat because a couple of sips down and i felt like i had been cleansed. so… avoid the masala tea next time…but if you are in a mood for good indian street food this is the place to be.

Monday, 25 August 2008

the breakfast chronicles; balans soho

breakfast martini
i and i have a breakfast ritual that often gets subsumed in the chaos of daily life.

every so often we defy our schedules and meet - this time it was to celebrate the completion of i's final dissertation draft. however finding the right place proved more challenging than i had thought. i'd been craving eggs...scrambled ones. a forty-five minute web trawl and a dedicated breakfast blog later (that's london review of breakfasts) i had found a place.

balans has a pretty extensive breakfast menu including classics like the full english, omelets and benedicts. there were also pancake stacks and french toast for which we had no space. i had to construct my breakfast - scrambled eggs with a side of field mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. that's the only downside, they don't have a veggie breakfast. i landed up with the eggs benedict which she enjoyed. i have to admit that for a busy place balans scrambled eggs were really good. the real treat for both us were the bloody mary and breakfast martini. as someone who isn't particularly keen on bloody mary's take it from me when i say it was good. the breakfast martini finished off on a nice rounded taste of bitter marmalade and like its counterpart cocktail was really good. we've already earmarked the pancakes and french toast for a return visit. but meanwhile if you are in a mood for eggs i'd say give balans a try. 

Sunday, 24 August 2008

the nordic bakery - once again

i am back at the nordic bakery.
this time with h. this was a the ultimate sugar rush brunch because aside.
aside from a cinnamon bun each h decided we should sample the oatmeal cookies that were sitting in front of the till, still warm from the oven. definitely made with lots of butter because they had spread themselves thin. their edges were dark and crisp and they were studded with whole hazelnut and chocolate chips.i haven't always seen them around so if you happen to visit and you do see them, do have them. they are well worth the calories
in any case, if happiness had an index to measure it it would be the calorie.
if all else fails remember
weekend calories don't count
(at least that's what a very close friend of mine told me!)

the photographers' gallery cafe

i collect cafes. especially independent ones that don't have replicas sprouting up on every high-street. the photographers' gallery cafe has high ceilings and a linear seating made up square tables joined together to form a rectangle that cuts through the centre of the room. the walls, spotlit always have something interesting to offer. i am here to write my dissertation. i love writing at cafes. it gets my creativity going. it's got to do with the people and the space as well. there is the sporadic sound of the coffee machine. i had tea, not the best earl grey ever but my thick slice of lemon cake was sheer perfection. there was the sharp clean scent of citrus, a hint of grated zest and the whole thing just melted on the tongue. there is a nice selection of cakes (which made it hard to choose), apparently all supplied by Jo's who makes them at home. and there are also sandwiches which i haven't tried yet. however judging by the cake it's unlikely that the experience will be disappointing.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

from the kitchen of 90, highbury and islington

cooking for people who love eating is always a pleasure. last night we did just that and it was very much a communal enterprise. i and i with the help of s and e threw together a rather successful meal that was accompanied by lots of cold citrusy white wine, laughter and fantastic conversation. dinner was… parcels of foil baked haddock accompanied by a new potato salad tossed in a generous glug of olive oil with flecks of fresh dill and dijion mustard. pan-fried asparagus rubbed with olive oil and placed on a bed of finely chopped garlic to flavor it spinach sautéed in olive oil in which i had fried plump cloves of garlic and then sprinkled some balsamic over there was also a large round of bread cut and spread thickly with garlic butter (press garlic through a garlic press or pound in a mortar and pestle, then combine with butter. you can add some dried herbs if you fancy) which we wrapped in foil and put into the oven for a good twenty minutes, at the same time as the fish was baking.

we finished of on a fruity note with grilled peaches that i basted with a syrup that was made of honey and balsamic vinegar warmed slightly over the stove for the two of them to mix together. they were served with greek yoghurt lightly sweetened with honey. there were also red red strawberries tossed with whole leaves of fresh mint, a liberal sprinkle of sugar and a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. 

the final note of the evening was fresh coffee served in large white cups 

i must admit that for me the best part of the evening was the time spent in the kitchen with i, chopped, washing, cleaning and cooking. we got substantial attention from the host and lots of help in putting everything together. m in particular had a field day mixing coin sized thick slices of new potatoes with olive oil, mustard and dill. there was much picture taking of the food as well as smelling of herbs that had been chopped. of course the garlic chopping was shied away from by the boys and i really didn’t want to have i chop garlic when she was all dolled up and looking lovely in a red dress. 

the food itself was thoroughly enjoyed (and no i am not making that up). i think the only leftover’s we had were the potatoes.

here are the recipes
for the fish 
get fresh fillets of haddock (one per person)
preheat oven to a hundred and eighty degrees celsius. 
place a fillet on a piece of foil large enough to wrap and seal it in
baste the fish with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with fresh dill (parsley works really well too)
grind some pepper and salt on to it 
top with a thick ring of lemon

fold the foil over and then seal the edges to make sure none of the juice escapes during baking. 
bake for twenty minutes of when the fish flakes easily

the new potato salad
boil new potatoes in generously salted water (they should be firm, don’t over do them)
cut into thick slices and when still warm toss with a liberal amount of olive oil, dijion mustard and lots of freshly cut dill.

pan fried asparagus spears
wash spears and then do away with the woody bit of stem at the end
rub with olive oil and toss with some finely chopped garlic

heat a frying pan with a little bit of oil until it is smoking hot
then lay the spears on and fry for five to seven minutes
season with a sprinkling of balsamic right before you tip them out of the pan

sautéed spinach with whole cloves of garlic
wash and roughly chop up the spinach leaves (you can use baby spinach if you like)

in a wok heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sauté whole cloves of garlic until they caramelize. 
then toss in the spinach leaves and let them wilt 
(the leaves should retain the brightness of their color. don’t over cook or you’ll lose the flavor)

Sunday, 17 August 2008

a food filled saturday

the large window at nordic bakery
i did a walkabout london yesterday with a friend who is visiting from back home. soho revealed a host of new places to sample. in between i had a quick lunch at 
flat white. it’s a tiny café on berwick street with a very distinct vibe and a really dense smell of coffee. lunch was bite sized pieces of baked butternut and grilled mozzarella with a generous amount of caramelized onion chutney, sandwiched between two slices of crusty well toasted white bread. i finished of with the trade mark flat-white which bore a perfect fern in its foam top (just in case a flat white is an antipodean style coffee which is served as a strong shot of espresso served in a small cup with textured milk). a short walk (including a walk-out of maison bertaux) owing to indecision over dessert and my friend’s craving for cinnamon buns we landed up at the nordic bakery.

golden arches for the sophisti-cat

Saturday, 16 August 2008

the d-i-y breakfast chronicles

jamie oliver calls it pukkola, it’s sold in grocery aisles as muesli, there is the soaked version called bircher muesli but whatever the name it is a brekkie food that i absolutely love. so here’s a home grown recipe. part of it is inspired by my mum and part of is my own addition. i am not particularly pushed with the measurements just because you can make it bulk and when you serve it’s really up to you how much you can tuck into and what consistency you like…
 making it…
two cups of pinhead/steel-cut oats (or rolled oats with do. i prefer the texture of steel-cut /pinhead oats)
a generous handful of pumpkin or sunflower seeds
a generous handful of nuts – almonds hazelnuts pecan nuts (basically whatever you fancy)
a handful of plump raisins
some chopped dates or apricots
i like to dry roast my oats which is; preheat your oven to 325 degrees farenheit/160 degrees centigrade. spread the mixture of oats, nuts & fruit on a baking tray and roast for 5-7 minutes. be sure to stir in between as you don’t want the oats to burn. the oats should turn a light golden brown color. once that is done mix in the dry fruit and store in an airtight container.
putting it together & eating it
try and let the oats soak over night. it really does wonders for the texture. i like to soak mine in organic apple juice or milk. spoon out a measure of oats that works for you into a ceramic bowl. cover with apple juice or milk, cling wrap and put in the fridge. in the morning pull out the bowl of soaked oats and add milk or yoghurt to loosen up.
for the final touch here are a couple of ideas.
a couple of tablespoons of rachels organic yoghurt
a table spoon of runny honey
a mashed banana
grated apple
summer berries that leave streaks of color when stirred with a spoon