Category Archives: Travels

Eating in Cape Town: Pot Luck Club

One of the places we were very keen to visit was The Pot Luck Club, at Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill. Luke Dale Roberts is a a bit of a legendary chef and everyone had raved about this restaurant. So we booked for a Sunday brunch.

img_7806-1Everything about the day was super. The service was good. The bottomless Bloody Mary’s and Graham Beck brut rose were divine (I mean really, pink bubbles on holiday, does one need anything else?) and the food was simply spectacular. We ate. We drank. We talked for hours. It was quite the best way to spend a Sunday. I figured a photo series could better express my delight at the meal…

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These smores though. Le sigh.

Eating with the Princess: The Draper’s Arms

I am not entirely sure why, but I do love The Draper’s Arms. This local pub in a  leafy, residential part of Islington, is welcoming, noisy and vibrant. And the food is always great too. We dined early, as I had a train to catch. We shared the salt beef with picked onions on a toasted loaf. I then had duck with peas and pancetta, the Princess had lamb pie and we shared some wilted, buttered greens.

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There was no room for dessert. But next time. Their menu changes often, which makes return visits compulsory.

The Draper’s Arms

44 Barnsbury Street

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Eating with the Princess: Ottolenghi

I was in London for research on a Saturday a few weeks back. Afterwards, I met up with the Princess at the Estorik Collection in Islington. From there we wandered to Ottolenghi, for cake. We found seats at the bar and ordered a chocolate tart with praline (her), and a lemon tart (me). The lemon tart was a truly fabulous dessert: sour lemon curd – the kind that makes your mouth pucker – with just enough sugar to take the edge off, encased in a crisp pastry shell. It was a precisely perfect 4pm-cake-uplift.

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Ottolenghi Islington

287 Upper Street, London

N1 2TZ

 

 

Eating with the Princess: Honey & Co.

Ages and ages ago, or so it feels, even if it was in fact April, the Princess and I finally made it to Honey & Co. We went to the last weekend of Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at the RA and then took a bus up to Warren Street, to have late lunch and cake. It was freezing, not spring like at all and rain fell intermittently but the only space available was outside and so we braved the weather.

We drank coffee and tea to warm ourselves and ordered the chicken with freekah and peas, and the baked lamb dish topped with creamy tahini that was to die for.

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We saved some room for cake, obviously. And really, we had to order the chocolate krantz cake (a take on babka) and a pistachio and plum cake. Both were superb. Plus those serving tiles!

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We will be back!

Eating with the Princess: Chelsea & Kensington

This is a second installment in this series.

The Princess graduated last month with an MA and so the whole family descended on London to celebrate. On the Friday, post graduation ceremony (which I sadly missed, being en route from Denmark), we ate at The Ivy Brasserie in Kensington. The restaurant was packed and busy but we sat in a private corner at the back. The highlight was the dessert – a strawberry sundae with warm strawberry compote, ice cream, meringues and a shortbread. IMG_6949

The next morning the mothership and I wandered around Chelsea – we stumbled across a tiny farmer’s market in Pimlico and then went into William Curley, mainly for coffee (which in all honesty was not fantastic) and a milk chocolate raspberry entremet.

Then we wandered to Daylesford Organic and had an entertaining time examining all their produce. I loved the food garden they’re growing outside!

We met the princess at Duke of York Square market where it is possible to eat your way around the world whilst in the heart of London. We bought charcuterie, bread and cheese and canelés! I was super excited about these and they were delicious. Then we ate lunch at Polpo. We sat at the bar – everyone was queuing to sit outside but us Southern folk were far too cold to do such silly things. We drank the wine of the week and ordered various plates to share – arancini, asparagus pizette and ‘nduja bruschetta followed by risotto, duck and walnut salad and meatballs.

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It was a super lovely way to spend a Saturday – wandering aimlessly between food places, snacking, looking, buying food for later.

Eating with the Princess: Hackney

I have been eating my way around London in the last few months. I’ve been down for research and to attend the Princess’s graduation and when my sister and I are together, we eat. It is our thing. When our parents join us, we continue to eat but with slightly better budgets. This is the first of a photo collection series of our eating adventures together. I’m starting in Hackney, where we spent a Saturday wandering purposely from food place to food place back in March (before we took the train back to Soho in pursuit of gelato).

We started our Hackney adventure at London Borough of Jam where we bought jam (for reals), and doughnuts. The doughnuts were filled with peach and saffron jam that was to die for. I recently made a vanilla cake filled with the blackberry and bayleaf jam I bought from here and it was superb (recipe coming soon).

Then we walked to Violet Bakery where we ate first lunch (avocado toast, and a divine ham and Comté quiche) and then cake. Violet is just as awesome as I imagined, and the kitchen space is much tinier than I ever thought possible. I’ve baked a ridiculous amount from Claire’s book in recent months too.

We wandered through Broadway Market, perusing all the goods, and popping into several bookshops along the way, and then wandered on to Hackney City Farm, because you know me, I love a city farm. I have never spent time in Hackney or the surrounding areas, but I enjoyed how it felt like a village.

We ended the day getting ice cream (not in Hackney) at Gelupo in Soho. Pistachio gelato that doesn’t taste of almond essence for the win.

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Food for Thought Lectures, The School of Artisan Food

This past weekend I journeyed to the rural areas of Nottinghamshire, to the rather lovely Welbeck Estate, to attend the School of Artisan Food ‘Food for Thought’ lectures. It was a truly fantastic weekend of scholarship, writing and thinking about food.

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The whole two days seemed to hang together very loosely – there was no wider theme that really connected the speakers and so we journeyed from the horrors of the food industry to the tiny Cookhouse, to the Grand Tour. It was all fantastic, capturing my enthusiasm for food talk and writing once again. We were also superbly well fed!

Joanna Blythman started us off, talking about what the food industry doesn’t tell us. Her new book, Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets explores this in more detail. She spoke in (rather horrifying) detail about how ‘natural flavourings’ like ‘rosemary extract’ aren’t really related to the rosemary plant at all. If you’re even slightly skeptical about how the food industry works, read her book. On Sunday, in an unexpectedly related talk, James Whetlor talked about his business Cabrito Goat Meat. James and his partner started Cabrito in Devon, as a solution to using the billy kids that otherwise form a waste product from the goat milk industry. The idea was to supply goat meat for people to eat. As their business has grown, they have looked to expand into supermarkets and James spoke with frank honesty about the difficulty of doing this as a small producer. He talked about how the food industry and the supermarkets work to shape choice, by limiting what they will and will not buy from suppliers. It was totally gripping and engaging.

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Bee Wilson spoke about how we learn to eat, the possibilities for teaching our palate’s to like various foods, including vegetables, and how (ideally) the best way to teach children to eat is to allow them to choose from a range of foods (without getting anxious about their nutritional intake). Her new book, First Bite, discusses this in more detail. I spoke to her afterwards because it struck me as an interesting tension that manifests in schools where, because of the unknown (by parents of what children at at school and by teachers/dining hall supervisors of what children eat at home), children lose this ability to choose. In schools, children are encouraged to eat all the food they are given, to ensure they are not hungry. There is little opportunity for the kind of agency Wilson talked about around the school dining table.

One of the reasons I signed up to the talks was to hear Jeanette Orrey speak. Jeanette is the ‘original’ dinner lady, the one who is largely credited for telling Jamie Oliver about the state of school food, and who has worked tirelessly to change school food in the last 16-odd years. She provided some interesting statistics, particularly on the growing problem of hunger in schools, and she urged the audience not to think that school food had been ‘fixed’. Orrey argued that there are still head teachers who do not think school food should be their problem, that there is still tension between the DfE and the DoH about who is responsible for food in schools, and there is an ever growing issue around summer hunger too. She also talked about the tension that exists between what policymakers envision, and what schools can do at the grassroots level (which is what my thesis was all about).

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I loved hearing from the chefs too. Over the weekend, we heard from Olia Hercules on fermentation (her rather exquisite book is only £5.99 on Amazon at the moment); Jeremy Lee on the evolution of British food and this new culture developing around feasting and sharing; and Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich from Honey & Co. I was interested in the way Sarit and Itamar talked about writing their cookbooks, about how channeling the personal is so important, how their cookbooks are about food they want to eat and cook, and how you can read their cookbooks like any other book.

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The food garden at the School of Artisan Food

I particularly loved listening to Anna Hedworth talk about starting Cook House, up in Newcastle (how much do you love her logo?!) and her work putting on events for the National Trust in the Farne Islands (working in foreign kitchens, some without running water). Her pictures were exquisite and made me desperately want to run some supper clubs like we used to do in Johannesburg.

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Food at lunch on Sunday

The weekend ended with two history talks – one on The Grand Tour by Andrew Graham-Dixon and the other by historian Ivan Day. Ivan’s talk was particularly interesting. He talked about food as art as largesse. My understanding of his talk was that in the event of wealthier people having large events, with large displays of food (often created as works of art), the food was later given to those less well-off to have and eat. So architectural displays of food were later dissembled by the poor. This is food as art but also food as art as largesse… Ivan had a fascinating collection of photographs of tables laid with plenty. These tables were then picked at by the wealthy before being given to poor people. In other places, who scenes were constructed from food (as part of a wider celebration of a birth or a marriage of the landed gentry), and then people could destroy them and claim the food. At food festivals in Europe, people were given roasted meats for free as part of the wider celebration. An interesting idea of redistribution of wealth I think.

All in all, I had a fantastic weekend, talking and thinking about food. I’m hoping, now that I have been there, to return to The School of Artisan Food for another course. And I will definitely be back next year for this lecture series!

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