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A Taste of Jerusalem in the Midst of London

Published: May 17, 2017

A Taste of Jerusalem in the Midst of London

The array of desserts in the front window at Ottolenghi tempt passersby on Upper Street, a short walk from where students on the London & Florence program live in Islington.

Blog posts and photos by faculty on the London site visit to the London & Florence: Arts in Context program

Corinne Scheiner

Lunch at Ottolenghi

Post by Corinne Scheiner, Maytag Professor in Comparative Literature and Judson M. Bemis Professor in the Humanities, Colorado College

Following our visit to the students’ flats in Islington, we had some free time before the performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Globe that evening. For me free time in Islington could only mean one thing: a meal at Ottolenghi.

When I travel, the first thing I do after booking flights and hotels is figure out where I am going to eat. And in London, that means Jerusalem cuisine at one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants or at one of the other restaurants serving similarly-inspired, Middle-Eastern food that have opened recently, such as Honey and Co. or the Palomar.

When I received the schedule for the site visit I saw that it was packed. But we had one free evening; sadly, all of Ottolenghi’s restaurants were fully booked then. Well, this is a work trip after all, I told myself, you’ll be able to plan further in advance the next time you come and eat at one his restaurants. And, on that free evening, I joined my cousin for dinner at Honey and Co., which was spectacular.

But still: Ottolenghi. Yotam Ottolenghi is the author of several cookbooks and the New York Times and the Guardian both regularly publish his recipes. Needless to say, I am a fan. So when I found myself in Islington at 3:00 p.m. with several hours of free time, I knew where I was headed.

Two of the other faculty members on the site visit, Amy Weldon (Luther College) and Rebecca Graff (Lake Forest College), were also Ottolenghi fans, so we made the short walk from the students’ flats through the bustling, trendy (particularly for foodies) neighborhood to his flagship restaurant. 3:00 p.m. means a late lunch, no reservation needed, and no wait.

Most importantly, it means delicious food. We started with an array of house-made breads. Then we sampled two delicious mains: char-grilled salmon with green harissa yoghurt and pecorino, rainbow chard, and sundried tomato arancini with saffron yoghurt. Each of the mains came with several salads: roasted aubergine (eggplant) with tomato, pine nuts, capers, and fennel-seed breadcrumbs; char-grilled broccoli with chilli and garlic; bahart roasted cauliflower with rocket (arugula) yoghurt, hazelnuts and dates; and freekeh and black quinoa tabbouleh with feta, walnut, pomegranate, and pickled celery. The pictures here give you access to only one part of the sensory experience. The tastes were sublime.

A plate of salads and line-up of desserts grace the table.

And finally, of course, there was dessert. Or rather desserts: strawberry and lime cheesecake; apple, sultana (raisin), and vanilla cake with maple icing; vanilla and strawberry financier with marscapone; and flourless orange and almond cake with chocolate ganache. So, so good. Now time to catch the Tube to the Globe.

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