Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vitaorganic: a London restorative for your body (and your wallet)

Though my interest in photographing the food certainly raised a few eyebrows, and my revelation that I was not a vegetarian raised a few more, I hope the staff and owners of Soho's Vitaorganic (on wardour street) will be flattered that I devoted two of this trip's five London meals to their delicious (and deliciously low-priced) "nutrition revolution."

Vitaorganic offers a smorgasbord of organic vegan and vegetarian cold and hot dishes, many featuring raw and/or live ingredients and all without a trace of processed flours, sugars, etc. They also have a dizzying number of hot and cold beverages from smoothies to lattes to lassis to juices to soft drinks, with ingredients like carob, barley, rose hip, ginger, and their living "mylk." If I've made this all sound like the backroom of a health food store, that only tells one half of the story: sure, this is healthy food, but it will also satisfy your inner-gourmand: a chef's care has most certainly gone into these exotic yet comforting flavor fusions, and the texture pairings and bright, vibrant colors thrill the other senses.

If you take your "nutrition revolution" to go, a satisfying meal for two plus fancy drinks comes to about £8, a terrific deal in an expensive city. There's even a tranquil little church a block away!

Posted by ShoZu

is it wrong to eat duck eggs in front of a duck pond?

any of this blog's readers know that I have, over the last two years, been evolving and refining my relationship to meat as a cook, as a consumer, and as an eater. though I didn't get a chance to try alain passard'd michelin-starred vegetarian cuisine in Paris (as it costs $170 per person), I was moved by his frustration "trying to have a creative relationship with a corpse."

and yet: I love the taste of meat when it is one part of a brilliantly prepared meal. i do, however, grow increasingly uncomfortable when I don't know the sourcing or the ethics of the meat's origin.

it is, therefore, always thrilling to come to London, where they take these issues very seriously. enter: inn the park, an incredible breakfast spot nestled in st James park and overlooking the duck pond. their menu lists the source of every ingredient and all of these sources are local farms with ethical practices. nothing tastier than ethics!

I had the above English breakfast with duck eggs, black pudding, massive (and perfectly-cooked) whole mushroom and tomato, baked beans, a tattie scone (need to figure out what this is besides delicious), unsmoked bacon back, and the piece de resistance, sage sausage with smoked bacon IN it.

So, while I struggle to figure out what relationship to meat will make me (and the world and the animals) as happy as possible, it's lovely to know that places like Inn the Park are around, making sure omnivores (ambivalent and otherwise) can make healthy, ethical, and environmentally responsible choices.

Posted by ShoZu

abannach in trafalgar square

abannach is a very special place. it's one of the slickest lounges I've ever set foot in with a killer playlist (or DJ, not quite sure), but they didn't even glance at my footwear to see if I was up-to-snuff (I was not). they serve the finest scotch in the world (with prices going up to $500 a shot for a 1960 laphroaig), but my lovely scotch (their peatiest offering, as per my request) and k's gorgeous cocktail (the london pride, pictured above) came to just over $20. oh, and they serve hagis. oh, and the sharp waiters and mixologists wear kilts.

it's at 66 trafalgar square in London, and if you'll be going during dinner hour, be sure to google for the "50% off" coupons scattered around the web.

Posted by ShoZu

and this was dessert: the carre d'or

dark chocolate mouse spiked with mariage freres' decadent black magic tea, with layers of salted butter caramel and chocolate biscuit, all enveloped in gold leaf and sumptuously resting in a pool of tart red currant's an unfathomably sensual experience just watching your fork cut through this gorgeous composition...and then the taste! my goodness that shouldn't be legal.

mariage freres has various locations throughout Paris, but my fave is the one on tiny bourg tibourg in the marais.

Posted by ShoZu

mariage freres iced teas

I've lost all hope of ever blogging the early July recipes I cooked in New York and I'm now just doing my darndest to catch up on Paris before I leave London for India (where I imagine I'll be quite the busy glutton).

k and I had resolved to spend one of our last Paris lunches at la maison de la truffe. a Madeleine-area truffle specialist I'd been hoping to try for 7 years. But: it's August dice. After walking about 3 miles on Paris' hottest day we were desperate for food, drink, and sanctuary.

We returned to our perennial marais refuge, the extraordinary tea salon, mariage freres. We ordered iced teas bigger than our heads (smoky Earl Grey and a jasmine green). The teas are served with liquid sugar and paper straws (so the tea's flavor isn't harmed by plastic).

I can't imagine being more refreshed.

Posted by ShoZu

Monday, August 3, 2009

it's a pizza. in a cone!!!

I was strolling around rue d'assas and just at the corner of rue du Rennes, I discovered an adorable (and as yet unlisted) bar a manger named PG's. they specialize in playful fast food like "pasta in a box" and the above pictured "pizza in a cone." my selection, the $7 rennes d'assas (I was rewarded with a free tasty bluberry mini-muffin when I guessed where it got its name!), had artichoke hearts, country ham, tomato sauce, and two different types of cheese.

it definitely tasted like a pizza, and a good one at that, though the crust was a little thick for my TMJ-riddled jaw. best part of all, since you can one-hand these "slices," I was able to continue biking on the velib you can just make out in the background of my photo. talk about fast food!!!

Posted by ShoZu