Yotam Ottolenghi and his team are all greatly admired in our household. We all love his recipes, I have all his books so Sami Tamimi and Ramael Scully cannot go without a mention too. His style of cooking is a middle eastern basis and yet he has given it a western twist and while previously it seemed a daunting task to create the cuisine of these ancient lands at home Ottolenghi makes this a possibility. Originally a journalist it was in 2002 that with Noam Bar and Sami Tamimi they set up the first Ottolenghi Deli. This provided sweet and savoury delicacies. Restaurants followed and it was the design of the dining room that was distinctive, the canteen style long tables where you can sit and peep at the other diners mouthwatering dishes before you order your own. I always think of his amazing treatment of vegetables and he has a weekly column in the Guardians weekend magazine and several books. The first of these also incorporate meat and fish entitled ‘Ottoenghi’ and ‘Jerusalem’ and the second two books are vegetables only ‘Plenty’ §and ‘Plenty More’. Amazon, Nopi
Nopi is the soho based restaurant and does have some of the Ottolenghi trademarks. There are platters full of salads on display as you enter and in the basement there is still the familiar shared dining table which has a fantastic view of the kitchen. The walls are all tiled with a utilitarian feel and on the steel shelves that line one wall are exciting and exotic ingredients. Upstairs you are far removed from the production and creativity of your anticipated dishes and there is smart white marble and polished golden brass. A more formal feel and individual dining tables and a bar area. The bathrooms can also not go without a mention as these are so stylish and at Nopi this is a room made entirely of mirrors with a series of facets which create a confusing perspective, thankfully on the floor there is an indication of the way out!
The menu at Nopi is seasonal so there are always fresh and new vegetable dishes but Ramael Scully has his signature dishes such as the courgette and manouri fritters, coriander, seed crusted burrata with blood orange slices and twice cooked baby chicken with lemon myrtle salt and chilli jam. I am really looking forward to hearing Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully speak at the Ballymaloe Litfest in May this year I am such a great admirer of their wonderful skills.Ballymaloe Litfest