A Food-Orientated Family Gathering
One of the main reasons why I love to cook, to eat, to talk about food, is because of the way it brings people together. Yes, I realise that this is a rather embarrassingly cliched opening sentence, but it is one entirely based on truth. I love that, however large or small, families come to together to share food and thought. I am one of four siblings, so while growing up I became very familiar with this notion; despite everyone’s different schedules, everyone’s varied likes and dislikes, we made sure that we spent time together around the dining table. I am the youngest in my family, and still living at home; my brother lives here, there, and everywhere (mainly abroad), one of my sisters lives in London, and the other lives in Sheffield. But regardless of the distances, we still manage to come together and share a little food experience in one way or another. It was my sisters birthday this month so my mum, my other sister and I decided to make the journey to London for a little girly weekend of food-orientated fun.
A delicious start to the day; a Pret breakfast high-fibre muffin upon arrival at Kings Cross Station. I’ve been dreaming about that little bad boy since I ate it, and I have some future plans to recreate it, along with a number of other items I ate over the weekend (soon to be revealed as the story unfolds). My mother and I watched out for my sister amid the crowds of bustling people; a petite size six figure smuggling a galia melon down her dress…or rather a 20 week bun nestled away in her oven. After about 40 minutes of constant nattering at my sisters (quite a bit of baby talk to get through) we headed to London Bridge, to the notorious food heaven that is Borough Market. I’d been to Borough Market recently, but that in no way mattered, in fact it gave me an advantage; I knew exactly what to find and where to find it. If you haven’t yet been to Borough Market then you must put it on your bucket list, it’s quite the foodie heaven. A buzzing hive of stall upon stall of fresh artisan breads, charcuterie, oriental spices and herbs, cheeses, baked treats, fresh vegetables, meat and fish, and last but not least, the street food stalls. During my last visit I tested out some Ethiopian food, which (of course!!) was amazing! This time I hunted down the ‘Heavenly Halloumi Burger’. Well. They didn’t beat about the bush when naming this little beauty. It was rather delightful. The patty, predominately grated halloumi and mixed vegetables, was smouthered in sweet red onion relish and bound in a wholemeal, seeded bun. Have I got your mouth watering yet? The rest of the fam went for a potted Egyptian rice and lentil dish; which they sang about during the entirety of its consumption. Happy luncheon all round.
After eyeing up each individual stall in the market we headed towards Selfridges, to eye up some other rather beautiful items. Later in the evening, after a speedy turn around back at my sisters home in Bounds Green, we headed to Holloway Road for dinner. My sister had read a review in Timeout Magazine for a Vietnamese restaurant, called, Com Tam, which we decided to check out. My sister is a huge fan of Vietnamese, especially Pho, and I’ve spent quite a bit time travelling in Vietnam, so I was naturally pretty curious to check it out. For starter I went for Goi Cuon (fresh summer rolls with prawn), which my sister also chose. My other sister and my mum went for the classic Cha Gio (hot and crispy spring rolls), which I was rather envious of. Damn you food envy, bane of my life! For the main I chose Bun Bo Hue (a spicier version of the classic Pho), a beautiful fragrant and warming dish which I slurped up happily. However my sister was rather gutted, as the Pho was made with beef stock and so she had to go for a prawn stir fry noodle dish. Despite this minor let down, the evening was lovely, bound up with great food, company and conversation.
Come Sunday morning you’d think we’d be overwhelmed by the thought of more food. Please!! Onwards and upwards!! Or rather… outwards?! For breakfast we feasted on fresh Spelt and Rye bread, bought from a stall at Borough Market. Toasted and coated in butter. Heavenly. Sometimes in life the simplest things really are the best! The plan for the day; head to Angel on the tube, do a little bit of shopping, and get in the queue at Ottolenghi’s for a little luncheon. I realise that in my previous post I highlighted that I should turn my attention away from Ottolenghi’s genius and dabble in some new recipes. But this doesn’t count, right? So we queued for about an hour before we were seated; but don’t worry we happily nosied through all the cook books on display and analysed each individual salad and dessert on display. Time well spent I think. By the time we sat we each new exactly what we wanted. I went for the seared fillet of beef with sour cream, mustard, horseradish and rocket sauce. On the side I opted for two salads; the mixed green bean and mung beansprouts salad with ginger, shallots, peanuts and coriander, as well as the chickpea, cannelini bean and burnt aubergine hummus, with roasted red onion, red chilli and parsley oil. Yes. It was the best thing I think I’ve ever eaten. My sisters and mum had the char-grilled salmon with black olive, piquillo pepper, caper and mint salad, with a selection of other salady sides. We decided, that after queueing for an hour, we couldn’t leave without dessert. After another quick analysis of the window display, I chose the passion fruit meringue tart. What a fruity little thing it was!! Tangy passion fruity curd encased in crisp pastry and topped with Italian meringue. As soon as I finished I instantly began trying to recreate it in my head, working a good excuse so that I can make it (who needs one really?).
Our little Ottolenghi’s luncheon concluded our weekend of edible adventures; after leaving the cafe we did a little but of impulse shopping at Baby Gap before heading to Kings Cross for our trains. For the entire journey back up to little Yorkshire I dreamt of spelt breads, hummus and Italian meringue. It could be a lot worse…