Clever Catalan small plates and a newly cultivated crush on all things tapas – this is Rambla…

Rambla aka the place that made me like octopus.

Not love it mind you – baby steps and all – but definitely like it more than I ever did after past tastings or recent viewings of ‘Blue Planet II’ where, let’s face it, they come across a bit mean, a bit beaky and a bit grumpy. In all fairness I’d probably spend my life looking pretty peeved if the threat of being fished, fried and served on earthenware pottery in the heart of Soho was ever present but I digress…

Catalan cuisine takes front and centre stage here at the place named after the leafy, bustling boulevard in Barcelona where chef Victor Garvey grew up. I’ve never been the world’s greatest fan of tapas – too many rubbery rings of calamari and over-cooked potatoes limply floundering in smeary tomato puddles – but Rambla offers neither of those things and has subsequently left me wondering how many years of very fine tapas I’ve missed out on and how exactly I’m going to rectify that situation now because these tapas, these tapas (cue finger jabbing at photos) I kinda have a thing for.

Eating at the bar has rapidly became my favourite way of dining; there’s something delightfully yet effortless cool about sitting across from the chefs and watching a parade of dishes strut past. Here you’ll find an abundance of doe eyed, dark haired staff all in possession of disgracefully long lashes and delightfully charming spirits, each one happy to genially chat through a menu split into land, sea and field, raw, cured and sweet. A small but decent wine list gives you the chance to try something new and fizzingly sweet or fall back on old favourites, as comforting and nostalgic as your dad’s worst jokes.IMG_4834Snacking whilst selecting has always made sense to me. Pan con Tomate arrives thickly spread and nicely straddling the line between squishy and chewy while Blistered Padron Peppers are softly charred & heavily crunchy with sea salt.IMG_4835 Read More

Losing my heart to Morito…

Morito made me love aubergine.

Normally I’m all about personal accountability but I swear on this occasion, it’s totally, completely & utterly their fault. Never really liked it before but the way they do it here in the little sister of Clerkenwell stalwart Moro? Well let’s just say the aubergine and I have a lot of lost time to make up for.

There are so many things I loved about this new girl on Hackney Road but I have to start with the biggest & most important in my mind, and the fact that there’s now something else in the world for me to devour with passion is pretty significant to me.

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As a Tube devotee who balks at the first world problem of finding overground stations near my final destination, I wouldn’t say this is the easiest place in the world to get to but I swear on all that is good and delicious – yes, I am talking about those aubergines again – that it’s absolutely worth it.

I expected more tables given the generous size of the open plan dining room however the kitchen and bar area take up a fair portion so unless you’re super lucky or arrive as the door is being opened, chances are you may have to wait for a little bit…try not to ogle the meals of those lucky enough to be chowing down already while you do so but if you’re successful, please, let me know how the heck you managed it.

The Wednesday night we arrived heralded two seats in the window by the door almost instantly, perfect for people watching, a bit more challenging plate wise given that we ordered enough food to feed every participating country of the upcoming Olympic games.

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A perfectly sized menu lists a good number of options under each heading and at just £14.50 for the most expensive plate on offer, this is a great place to come with a group of your greediest friends to share both the dishes & the bill; I hate hearing that somewhere new & exciting has opened up only to discover that I can’t afford to enjoy it and the accessibility of Morito’s prices warrants another nod of approval from those not on a fat cat, city banker salary.

Easing my stomach in gently heralded winners including a plate of pan con tomate with jamon – warm & soft with the sun soaked flavours of the Med spilling out with each bite – and a beautifully varied bread basket.

‘I’m sorry, I’m not eating bread’ confessed my dining buddy.

‘I’m not sorry in the slightest’, I retorted as I tore apart piece after piece with the sort of voracity that might lead you to conclude I was carb-loading for the London Marathon.

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Chorizo stuffed squid courtesy of Saturday Kitchen & a Salt Yard chef…

Saturday mornings, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…

No alarm? Love.

Lazy lie-in? Love a bit more.

Time to make a nice breakfast? Love a lot more.

Sitting pj clad on the sofa eating said breakfast in front of ‘Saturday Kitchen’? Love big time.

So in short then, Saturday mornings, I salute you. I was recently lucky enough to be gifted an afternoon at the studios of ‘Saturday Kitchen’ in Clapham. I had no idea what to expect but it was an absolutely brilliant experience!

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A cooking masterclass where we shown how to make tapas delicious enough to consider trading your first-born for was first up and then it was off for a tour of the studios themselves, a crack at the omelette challenge – much more intimidating than it looks on the tv! – and a wine tasting with the brilliantly affable Andy Clarke who paired each one with a suitable accompanying food suggestion. FYI, try and be on the group that does the omelette challenge after the wine tasting, not that it helped me any with my effort which was applaudably dreadful!

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