Posts Tagged ‘tiramisu’
‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’ Samuel Johnson
I was delayed by Hurricane Irene in New York for two days and my direct flight London was rescheduled to one connecting via Amsterdam. Thank goodness I arrived in time to attend the wedding but I was reduced to just Saturday in London.
We missed the wedding of dear friends earlier this year in Australia. They have since moved to London and I had lunch with the newlyweds at Jamie’s Italian.
The flagship Covent Garden restaurant is spacious and lively. Seasonal produce are stacked in crates by the entrance, fresh pasta is handmade at the front, a bench is laden with crusty loaves of bread and the dining room features a charcuterie counter with legs of prosciutto di Parma dangling on hooks.
White tiles with black accents line the walls, Jamie Oliver branded products and cookbooks are neatly displayed on shelves, and wooden tables are matched to red lacquered chairs. Patrons sang a jovial rendition of ‘happy birthday’ when a cake with candles was delivered to a nearby table by staff.
The menu is divided into nibbles, antipasti, pasta, secondi and sides. As I browsed the menu, I could hear Jamie Oliver’s distinctive Essex accent reading it to me! We picked our courses between convivial conversations.
Mr M ordered crispy squid as an appetiser. Lightly floured and served with ‘really garlicky mayo’, a squeeze of lemon freshened the tender tentacles.
Mrs M and I had a crispy courgette flower each. Stuffed with four cheeses, lemon and mint, the golden zucchini flower was drenched in a puddle of olive and tomato sauce. I prefer battered to crumbed but it was rich and tangy.
Mr and Mrs M both selected main courses with squid ink. Mr M had scallop and squid ink spaghetti with chilli, parsley, anchovies, wine and capers. The snowy scallops contrasted with the black pasta. I twirled a few strands around my fork and it was deliciously briny.
Night on a plate, the crab and squid ink risotto had a mound of shredded crab meat and ‘crunchy herby breadcrumbs’.
A beautiful lemon colour, my bucatini carbonara was coated with egg and parmesan and dotted with pancetta and leek. The slippery buccatini is hollow in the middle and it was a smoky and simple lunch.
Mr M was full but the ladies welcomed the dolci menu with glee! A decadent treat, Mrs M selected a slice of chocolate and espresso tart with glazed figs and orange crème fraîche.
I defaulted to my favourite of tiramisù. On a rustic plate, the wedge of Italian dessert was layered sideways and covered with lemon zest.
It was lovely to spend the afternoon with Aussie friends, strolling the cobbled streets of ye olde London.
There is a pattern to my notorious indecisiveness. At least once a week, we exchange a conversation like this.
Mr S: ‘Where would you like to go for dinner?’
Me: ‘I don’t know, let me think about it.’
Mr S: ‘Have you picked a restaurant?’
Me: ‘Here’s a shortlist, you decide.’
Exasperated, Mr S would say ‘let’s go here’. And then I would change my mind!
Inside is an open kitchen where you can sit at the counter and watch your pizzas cook in the wood fire oven.
There was some shade from the wide umbrellas with a panoramic vista towards Queen Anne and a clear view of the Space Needle.
We shared an antipasto and a pizza. The bruschetta had ruby orbs of Roma tomatoes resting on thick slices of crusty bread. Macerated in garlic, basil and sea salt, the tomatoes were juicy and flavoursome.
We’ve never sprinkled chilli flakes or grated cheese on pizza until we moved to Seattle. Condiment shakers are common here and the addition of chilli flakes gradually increases my spice tolerance.
Blistered and charred, the prosciutto e porcini pizza had a thin crust and a scattering of ingredients. Prosciutto cotto and porcini mushrooms were a meaty combination, and the mozzarella melted and bubbled into the crevices of the dough.
Our order was lost for a while and the waiter apologised for the minor delay with free dolce. Yes please!
Presented in a deep square bowl for two, the tiramisu was a sweet conclusion to the meal. Layers of espresso and liqueur soaked savoiardi and creamy mascarpone were slowly savoured as we watched the sunset.
The sun dropped behind the Space Needle, creating a shadowy dusk as day descended into night.
On the edge of Downtown and in an apartment building, Barolo has a beautiful dining room in muted tones lit by candlelight. But as we enter, we turn left into the small bar area with counter seating and a single row of narrow tables. We’re here for an early dinner to take advantage of their happy hour. We squeezed into the last available table, next to a rowdy group of four sampling every dish on the bar menu.
Service is efficient as the waitstaff understand patrons are keen to make the most of the fifty percent discount! A substantial section of the bar menu is seafood, although we had previously enjoyed the rigatoni with beef and veal ragú, hanger steak and lamb burger. We chewed thoughtfully on the complimentary focaccia and tapenade, trying to distinguish what the sweet ingredient was. There was a mild sweetness to the focaccia but the tapenade also had a sugary aftertaste.
Due to the size of the table, we were constantly shifting glassware and plates throughout the meal – definitely elbows off! The Parma prosciutto plate is presented on a large wooden board and there are a dozen translucent slices of porcine delight. The coral coloured prosciutto di Parma is delicate to handle and simply melts in your mouth. I would happily eat layer after layer of this, gently peeling it off the wax paper and rolling it into prosciutto cigars, sipping on a glass of pinot grigio.
We made the rookie mistake of thinking that one pound of sautéed mussels would be plentiful. We’re accustomed to one kilo pot of mussels, which is just over two pounds. Our one pound of mussels was steeped in a white wine sauce with garlic and chilli, garnished with finely chopped parsley. The mussels were small but tender, and the broth pairs well with the briny molluscs. A side of chunky hand cut fries (moules frites!) would bulk up the meal.
Mr S added the ahi tuna carpaccio to our order and it was a mosaic of Christmas colours. Celery, red onions, capers and parsley dot the pink hued tuna, drizzled with horseradish cream. It is a lovely balance of flavours.
I chose the eggplant parmigiana, a hearty vegetarian dish. The thick discs of eggplant are soft and silky, smothered in molten cheese and tomato sauce.
We were tempted by desserts and Mr S liked his pera al vina bianco e cioccolato - poached pear with chocolate and hazelnut gelato. While I’m lukewarm about mixing fruit and chocolate in desserts, I adore hazelnuts and the gelato was pleasantly nutty. My tiramisu was unfortunately overloaded with mascarpone and didn’t have enough savoiardi for a spongy texture.
Happy hour at Barolo is a stylised experience – service is polished and so is the silverware. But at its core, it is delicious food at a good price in a relaxed atmosphere which qualifies it as quintessentially Seattle.