Bone Daddies ramen bar, London: my review

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This place was on my list of ramen to try (see my idea here) since I read a while ago that Jonathan Ross crowned it as the best ramen bar in town. Well, considering that Bone Daddies’ director, Ross Shonan, is the former executive chef from Nobu and Zuma the success is assured.

I know, I’m always late and I should have visited Bone Daddies at that time, but I somehow trusted Jonathan Ross’ opinion as a connoisseur of Japan and its culture, so I left it on my list as the last one to try. Needless to mention how high my expectations had grown in the meantime. Finally, one freezing Friday of January I had the chance to verify if Bone Daddies’ ramen actually were the best noodle in town.

The downside of popular places is they are always packed with people, especially on Friday nights, so it can’t be helped but joining the long queue outside. Waiting is never pleasant, but in this case it was also painful considering the sub-zero temperature of the night. Anyway the staff managed brilliantly by offering us hot sake shots. Nice move, Bone Daddies, nice move.

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Can you spot me?

Finally our turn to get in. The interior is characterised by bold red and white walls decorated by Japanese rockabilly subculture related prints, the main theme of this ramen bar.

Unfortunately the dim lights affected the quality of the pictures I took, therefore thanks to this photo belonging to The Guardian, you can see what the place looks like in a natural light and without people.

 

Credits: The Guardian

Materials used are wood and steel, in line with the latest tendencies for places that target young professionals and creatives as their bracket of customers.

Packed.

Packed.

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We were seated next to a group of Korean girls that I shamelessly spied, to grasp the secret of holding the chopsticks correctly. Yes after studying Japan, its culture, after being to Japan twice, after having Japanese friend I talk to all the time, after cooking Japanese food at home, when it comes to ramen I still have problems managing my noodles not to slip off my chopsticks. Unfortunately the secret is not really a secret, it’s just practice.

We chose to order a classic ramen and a popular one, in order to see how the place interprets a standard and well known (among the Japanese food aficionados) recipe and how the same staff uses their creativity to innovate their noodle dish, to make it trendy, to make it viral as they say. According to this personal point of view we chose a Tonkotsu ramen, the classic one with its 20 hour pork bone broth, chashu pork and marinated soft boiled egg. As for popular dish we got a T22 with chicken bone broth, soy ramen, chicken and cock scratchings which seem to be pretty popular on reviews around the internet.

While waiting for the order to be ready, I looked around and I noticed behind me some shelves with sake on the top one and homemade shochu on the bottom one. Surely cherry and lemongrass and lime shochu are not really traditional flavour choices, so I think Bone Daddies’ staff should be acknowledged for their creativity and their will to experiment.

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Cherry Shochu

Cherry Shochu and lemongrass and lime at the left.

A shiny plastic thing folded in a decorated steel glass immediately caught my eye. I was a giant plastic bib with Bone Daddies logo on it. Usually ramen bars in Japan provide their customers with these bib to protect their clothes from splashes of broth, so everyone can enjoy their noodles without bending their back weirdly and awkwardly. Yes that’s what I normally do here in London when I go out for ramen.

Da bib!

Da bib!

So the bib thing brought me immediately back to Japan,  because it means authenticity, and I give you kudos for this, Bone Daddies!

Enough is enough, let’s go straight with the main dish, shall we?

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My Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkotsu ramen – I admit the first taste of the broth left me a bit puzzled because it wasn’t piping hot to the point of burning the tip of the tongue, leaving it numb. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it, but this means the soup would turn cold in no time. Aside from the temperature, the flavour was rich, full with almost creamy texture given by the collagen of the pork bones. I usually am a bit fussy with this kind of broth because as soon as my tastebuds touch it I know if I’m really going to digest it. It’s just a sensation, in fact if it leaves a greasy feeling in my mouth it’s a no-no. This time the broth passed the exam and exactly as I predicted I had no problem digesting it. The noodles were thin but with a nice bite and both the pork and eggs were perfect and full of flavour.

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T22

 

T22

T22

T22 – This dish was different, that’s why G and I chose it. The broth was lighter, more transparent than pork one, but in order to contrast the delicate flavour I could taste a strong sesame oil, soy sauce and some chili pepper in the back ground. As for the toppings, the famous cock scratchings (every time I say it I chuckle a bit), they added crunch and texture to the dish.

My vote: 8.5.A satisfying interpretation of a classic recipe and a nice attempt to convey creativity into something new, younger and fresher. I don’t feel like giving a higher vote because I would have preferred the broth a little bit hotter, but this is really a minor flaw. What really matters is flavour and I can assure you won’t be disappointed with that. Is Bone Daddies really the best ramen bar in town? Maybe, but I believe it’s still a draw with Ippudo in my opinion, in my opinion even though the two differ in various aspects of the preparation.

I will tell you more in my next post about the 5 places to eat ramen in London.

Stay tuned!

Bone Daddies Ramen Bar 31 Peter St, London W1F 0AR 

A day in Naples and the best pizza in the world. Gino Sorbillo’s review.

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Vesuvius volcano.

Naples is like a lioness, beautiful, haughty and arduous to tame. The collective consciousness about the third city of Italy is made up of diehard preconceptions: a poor, anarchic and at times dirty urban centre on the slopes of a volcano. I’m not here to say this is just not true, because each and every stereotype always has a pinch of accuracy. Also, if the essence of a community remains strong throughout centuries, not necessarily the said people won’t open to change for the needs that modern times demand. What I would like to point out here is that although I come from a region that borders with Campania (the region where Naples is the main centre) and my dialect is strictly similar to the Neapolitan one, due to centuries of Neapolitan domination in the fragmented South, I also had preconceptions. I had them because the last time I visited the city I was about ten, and well, almost 20 years ago the situation was a bit different than it is now. The neglected architecture of the buildings always stays the same, just as some grotesque “personalities” you can find in the narrow alleys that form the map of the city centre. However, this time Naples felt cleaner and safer. It’s true that Christmas is a busy period for the city, because tourists from every part of Italy and the world hit the San Gregorio Armeno alley, to visit the artisan workshops specialised in the creations of nativity scenes. For this reason it would be only logical to consider the hard work of the municipality as something special for the holiday season, but apparently the city is dealing with an actual desire to change, in order to make the ancient capital of southern Italy a modern European city. Some results are already showing, just like the project Stations of Art which is aimed at changing the perspective of the city’s perception by allowing contemporary artist to take over the design and architecture of some underground stations. In fact in 2012 Toledo station was chosen as the most beautiful underground station in Europe

The wonderful mosaic of Toledo underground station in Naples. Project by the Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. Credits: The New York Times

Where does food place itself in this context of traditions looking at the future? Exactly in harmony with everything else. Street food is a market that lures young entrepreneurs, because they have the chance to offer the classics of Neapolitan gastronomy in a new light by enhancing the traditional preparation methods, using quality Italian products and social networks to promote their business in the quickest way to the public. This is just what happened with the famous Gino Sorbillo’s pizza that I finally had the chance to try. Gino Sorbillo for whom pizza making runs in the family, is a young talented chef. His passion for the traditional Neapolitan pizza motivated him to improve it by researching and experimenting with mother dough, different organic flour blends and ingredients in order to find an excellent and easy to digest recipe. Gino Sorbillo’s research never stops, in fact it seems that he is trying to create a dough specifically for coeliac disease affected people with the same texture, taste and digestibility of the regular one used in his 3 pizzerias. The ingredients used as toppings are all the best Italian products the country can offer, with their origin and traceability stated on the menu. In other words, Quality. Yes, with capital Q.

Now let’s talk about the experience: image10 The location. You’ll recognise it from afar even though you’ve never been there before, because there’s always a queue that looks endless. You have to be patient, because sometimes it’s necessary to wait hours to get a taste of the best pizza in Italy (and the world in my opinion). My advice is to go either at the opening around 12 or after lunch time at 3. This doesn’t mean you will not queue at all, because as I said the place is always packed with people, but the wait is more “human”. image3 The pizzeria is an ancient two storey house, property of Esterina, Gino’s beloved aunt who passed the passion for pizza on to him. The decor is minimal because all the attention is concentrated on the product. Anyway, in my opinion it wouldn’t harm to modernise the retro style of the place, but retro is not to be intended as the vintage design that is so trendy right now. I am talking about 90’s Italian, so last century!

The service is very fast even though the waitresses aren’t smiley or chatty. I would have certainly appreciated some more courtesy, but I understand that heavy shifts and dealing with every kind of people at a fast pace can get easily on everyone’s nerves. For this reason, there’s no tablecloth on the table and glasses are disposable, just like their napkins. When customers are ready to leave, a waitress comes and cleans the table in a few seconds, so it’s ready for the next group of people.

The pizza. The base is light and soft but doesn’t tear up. This is the result of working the dough and stretching it by hand only, because Sorbillo refuses to use industrial machineries. To those who are not familiar with Neapolitan pizza the dough will taste as still raw, but believe me, it’s not. You will realise it immediately, because after eating you pizza you will not feel full and bloated. As I mentioned before, high-digestibility.

My Osvaldo pizza.

My Osvaldo pizza.

I got an Osvaldo pizza which is made with cherry tomatoes, smoked mixed buffalo&cow’s milk provola cheese, mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella, extravirgin olive oil and fresh basil. Only 5€.

Vittorio pizza.

Vittorio pizza.

G got Vittorio, an amazing mix of Apulian tuna, Taggiasca olives, Mount Saro’s wild oregano, Italian organic passata and mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella. Price was 7.50€.

My vote is 9. Sorbillo’s pizza is extraordinary, the best I’ve ever had, because it is a combination of harmonic quality ingredients with a digestible dough, basically the dream. I can’t give more than 9, because some aspects of the overall experience can definitely be improved, but of course I recommend you to try Sorbillo’s amazing pizza because, I can assure you, nothing will ever be the same after that.

Gino Sorbillo, Via dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Naples.

Kirazu London review: a Japanese “tapas” restaurant in Soho

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I found Kirazu during a hot August afternoon while, in the middle of disastrous property viewings, I was comforting myself with the latest hipster trend, a bubble tea, in the shop right next to it. I suddenly stopped gulping my fresh white peach and tapioca pearls drink and intensely stared at the inside of the empty room from the window. I am sure the waitress, who was cleaning and tidying up for the evening shift, thought I looked a bit creepy, but she smiled politely back at me like only the Japanese can do.

To tell the truth, I was totally enchanted by Kirazu’s interior design whose aged wood, wrought iron elements and beautiful Japanese pottery create a modern but also homely style. An elegant and, at the same time, cozy balance between the Japanese modern design and the vintage approach that is taking over London trendy bars.

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I unquestionably missed Japanese food, I craved it so much during the previous 9 months I stayed in Italy (no, I wasn’t pregnant!) that I felt the urgency to go back there and give this place a chance. Usually I consult the web before trying a new place, like everybody in 2014, but this time my instinct was stronger than my usual reasoning. Or, simply, I was just in love with the interior and I expected the food to be as delightful as the location. Typical me!

The following day I went back there for lunch to give a first try, since the lunch box menu was only just £5. “I’ll play it safe this time and if they surprise me I will definitely go back.” I told myself while I was staring at the big black board listing all the tapas they prepare for the evening shift. Yes, tapas, although I don’t like this word when used outside its Spanish context, but I assume the chef Yuya Kikuchi borrowed the term to immediately convey the precise concept of tiny plates to share to its international customers.

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My partner, G., and I chose our lunch box from a list of 4 available on that day. He ordered chicken karaage with curry and I got the same chicken but with sesame dressing and mayo  and a pickle salad. Both lunch boxes included a hot miso soup and a portion of steamed rice.

While waiting, G.’s face lit up as his eyes caught the word Matcha on the menu. Now, Matcha green tea is not something supposed to be drunk at the beginning of lunch, but I don’t always follow rules because life would be boring, wouldn’t it? Plus, G. wanted to try the “real thing” for so long, so I challenged him to prepare it. Luckily for him, every passage was carefully explained by our kind waitress, so no mess or green splashes all over the place.

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“Your face shows everything you’re thinking, please do something about it.” I remember my mother and friends repeating these words to me since childhood. This time it happened again, I could not hide a bit of disappointment in looking at how small portions were, especially the main dish of the bento box: 2 tiny bite-sized pieces of chicken. At the same time, I was torn because I felt almost guilty being dissatisfied with my lunch as I was paying £5, seated and served.

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I have nothing to complain about the food, as it was delicious and full of flavour. It was just what I wanted, what I had been craving for months: pure Japanese home style flavours. I just wanted more of it. I solemnly promised myself to go back for “tapas” and that’s what we did a week later.

Surprisingly, the evening atmosphere had completely different vibes: dim lights, people cheerfully toasting, waitresses who relentlessly juggled around the tables and tiny spaces with their trays full of beers and sake. In other words, the place was rapidly transformed into the modern adaptation of the traditional Japanese izakaya, a bar where customers can enjoy food to accompany their drinks. However, I noticed that the options for the evening are far more refined than the ones offered for lunch, so it has to be said that the food served here has not the mere role of a side dish to accompany a glass of beer, but more of an elegant protagonist.

This time we ordered from the “tapas” board a portion of takoyaki, octopus carpaccio with fresh wasabi, mentaiko (a type of marinated roe) and salmon sashimi to accompany the roasted aroma of our Asahi Kuronama black beer.

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Octopus carpaccio

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Mentaiko

Food portions were again tiny and maybe a bit expensive for that size, but I give up to the fact that fish is pricey anyway, so I don’t feel I should blame the owner/chef for overcharging us.

Again the flavour was just perfect for each plate in a different way, but my favourite were, the octopus carpaccio and mentaiko. The first had a delicate soft texture which is not easy to master. Then the intense flavour of fresh wasabi gave the dish a nice zingy kick. Mentaiko had a strong spicy and smoked flavour that I cannot associate with anything else I have ever tried, but it was undeniably pleasant to the palate.

I can’t say I was full after eating there, so I would probably not call that meal, a proper dinner, more like a fancy aperitivo.

I give this restaurant 7.5 in total, as the food truly reflects the authentic flavours of Japan. In addition, the place has a simple but modern atmosphere that makes the whole dining experience charming.

I’m still not convinced by their £5 lunch deal, so for your lunch break I would recommend more a place like Soya, whose larger portions are worth spending some more pennies.

However, Kirazu can be a lovely place for an elegant pre-dinner sake or to indulge in a Japanese dinner where traditional flavours are modernised with a hint of sophistication.

Kirazu, 47 Rupert Street, London, United Kingdom W1D 7PD.

Chef, not really a great film

Chef poster from the website beyondhollywood.com

 

Chef is a film directed by Jon Favreau who also plays the protagonist Carl, a talented chef that finds himself jobless after a fight with a well-known food critic goes viral online. Carl then accept to start a new culinary and entrepreneurial adventure cooking Cuban sandwiches on his food truck. This choice allows him to reconnect with his son and ex wife (the always gorgeous Sophia Vergara) and to rediscover the joy of cooking simple and traditional dishes. Happy ending for everyone, according to the classic scheme of the comedy film.

Pleasant film but not exceptional, in my opinion, because its message seems to be that it’s easy to grow a successful business if the food is good and it’s well advertised on twitter. Frankly, I don’t think it can possibly be true or applied as a general rule, otherwise we would be surrounded by profitable companies and we wouldn’t talk about the economic crisis.

I wish the protagonist had dealt with some difficulties during his food truck adventure; I wish he had doubted this choice; After this, I wish he had found a reason to challenge himself that this was the right thing to do, the right purpose to believe in and to reach, just as it happens to real people in real life. This is fiction though, I know.

I would also have spent a couple of minutes more about the protagonist’s rediscovered joy in cooking simple and traditional food for all people, not just for food critics. It would have been more realistic and acceptable to me.

I give this film one star (as in the Michelin Guide), but just because I feel generous and I would have eaten a couple of those Cubanos.

Disclaimer: All images are copyrighted by their respective owners unless otherwise stated. Links/Credits are provided via click-through link or caption.  Clicking the link of the image will lead you to its source.

 

And now in Italian.

Chef è un film diretto da Jon Favreau che interpreta anche il protagonista Carl, un talentuoso chef che si ritrova senza lavoro dopo che, una lite piuttosto accesa con un noto critico gastronomico si diffonde online a macchia d’olio. Carl, in seguito, accetta di iniziare una nuova avventura culinaria e imprenditoriale preparando sandwich cubani sul suo camioncino itinerante. Questa scelta gli permette di riavvicinarsi a suo figlio e alla sua ex moglie (la sempre splendida Sofia Vergara) e di riscoprire la gioia di cucinare piatti semplici e tradizionali. Lieto fine per tutti, come nel classico schema della commedia.

Un film piacevole ma non eccezionale a mio parere, perché sembra far passare il messaggio che è facile creare un business di successo se il cibo è buono ed è ben pubblicizzato su twitter. Francamente, non credo che possa essere vero oppure una regola da applicare in generale, altrimenti saremmo circondati da compagnie redditizie e non staremmo a parlare crisi economica.

Avrei voluto che il protagonista avesse incontrato delle difficoltà durante la sua nuova avventura culinaria ed imprenditoriale; Avrei voluto vedere Carl mettere in dubbio questa scelta ed infine trovare una ragione per sfidare sé stesso e convincersi che questa era la cosa giusta da fare, l’obiettivo a cui credere e raggiungere, proprio come accade alle persone reali nella vita reale. Questa è finzione però, ne sono consapevole.

Avrei anche anche voluto che il protagonista/regista avesse dedicato qualche minuto in più al alla ritrovata gioia di cucinare cibo semplice e tradizionale per tutte le persone, non solo per i critici gastronomici. Sarebbe stato più realistico e accettabile secondo me.

Questo film si merita una stella (come nella Guida Michelin), ma solo perché mi sento generosa e avrei voluto mangiata un paio di quei Cubanos.

 

Disclaimer: tutte le foto sono protette da copyright e restano di proprietà dei loro autori. Cliccando sulla foto si potrà accedere direttamente alla sua fonte.

July’s favourites: 5 London’s independent coffee shops that I love

Monmouth Coffee @Borough Market during my last visit. Coffee blend is Gichatha-ini from Kenya.

Flat White @ Monmouth. The blend is Gichatha-ini from Kenya.

My day doesn’t start until I get my cup of coffee. Not just because it wakes me up more quickly, but just because it’s a comforting habit, that takes different forms according to the context: from my Dad’s strong espresso back in Italy, to my much bigger paper cup and different blends in the UK or when I’m lucky enough to travel around the world.

I admit that in the first place coffee abroad meant to me the famous green siren logo, but there definitely was something else out there to try, and I had to try it. Needless to say that after the first independent coffee, it’s impossible to go back.

I always like to try a different one and these are my 4 favourite coffee shops that I discovered this month in London, plus my all time favourite that I always go back to.

Nude Espresso – This coffee shop has its own roastery where the staff takes good care of their coffee beans from the start, when they are still green. The House Blend has, according to my taste buds, a taste of licorice with a softer aftertaste, medium body and low acidity. Just to clarify, I’m not an expert, just a person who really loves coffee.

Nude Espresso, 26 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR (their roastery is just opposite the coffee shop and it’s open to public from Wednesday to Sunday)

 

Prufrock – Nice and cool atmosphere just as their informed and helpful staff. The House blend is light and sweet as it delicately cuddles you while waking you up in the morning.

Prufrock Coffee, 23-25 Leather Lane, London, EC1N 7TE.

 

Allpress Espresso – directly from New Zealand, Allpress team knows how to treat coffee and to prepare an amazing flat white. Their House Blend is sweet with caramel notes and low acidity, which makes it the ideal partner for milk.

FW@allpress

Flat White @ Allpress

The staff is not only very helpful, but also smiling and relaxed, which also leads customers to peacefully enjoy their coffee break, or their superb breakfast!

Allpress Espresso, 58 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London, E2 7DP.

 

Kaffeine – Another Australian/New Zealand coffee shop that perfected the art of Coffee Making. Their House Blend is a balance of sweetness and acidity, perfect, again, with milk to achieve an excellent flat white. They are Australian afterall!

Kaffeine’s supplier is Square Mile, one of the most awarded roasteries in the world.

Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield St, London W1W 7QJ.

 

Monmouth – well if you say independent coffee, you say Monmouth. This is my favourite coffee shop, the one I always find myself going back to. The reason is simple: there is the possibility to try their different blends for any coffee drink, just ask the highly knowledgeable staff. They will advise you on the kind of blend is better for the drink of your choice and your personal tastes. Then they will grind the exact quantity they need for your coffee and within minutes you’ll have it there, ready for you to enjoy it.

My advice is the House Blend if you like a smooth and sweet taste that reminds of almonds and chocolate, but if you want to try something with more body and acidity, try the Brazilian Fazenda da Lagoa, amazing for espresso.

FW@Monmouth

Flat White @ Monmouth. Brazilian Blend Fazenda da Lagoa (sky blue label)

Monmouth, 27 Monmouth Street Covent Garden London WC2H 9EU

 

I hope you guys enjoy these coffee shops as much as I do, not only for their high quality ingredients but also for the expert staff who is willing to help the customers and share the good coffee culture. And no, they will not misspell your name on the paper cup, which for me is a big thumbs up.

 

And now in Italian.

La mia giornata non inizia finché non bevo il mio caffè. Non perché mi svegli più in fretta, ma perché è un’abitudine che mi rassicura, e che cambia secondo dove mi trovo: dall’espresso ristretto di mio padre in Italia, alla mia cup di carta e le diverse miscele qui in Inghilterra, o quando ho la fortuna di viaggiare per il mondo.

Ammetto che all’inizio, associavo il caffè al di fuori dei confini italiani al bicchierone di carta con il famoso logo della sirena verde, ma sapevo che c’era sicuramente qualcos’altro là fuori e dovevo provarlo. Inutile dire che, dopo il primo caffè indipendente non si torna più indietro.

Mi piace sempre provarne uno diverso e questi sono i miei 4 caffè preferiti che ho scoperto in questo mese in giro per Londra, più quello che amo da sempre e in cui torno spesso:

 

Nude Espresso – Questo caffè ha la propria torrefazione dove il personale si prende cura dei chicchi di caffè fin dall’inizio, quando sono ancora verdi.

La miscela della casa ha, secondo le mie papille gustative, un sapore di liquirizia, con un retrogusto più morbido, di corpo medio e bassa acidità. Comunque io non sono esperta del settore, ma solo una persona che ama veramente il caffè.

Nude Espresso, 26 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR (la torrefazione è proprio di fronte alla caffetteria ed è aperto al pubblico dal Mercoledì alla Domenica)

 

Prufrock Atmosfera piacevole e giovane, proprio come il loro personale, competente e disponibile. La miscela della casa è leggera e dolce come una coccola delicata che ti sveglia dolcemente.

Prufrock Coffee, 23-25 ​​Leather Lane, Londra, EC1N 7TE.

 

Allpress Espresso – Direttamente dalla Nuova Zelanda, la squadra di Allpress sa come trattare il caffè e preparare un flat white straordinario. La loro miscela della casa è dolce, con note di caramello e bassa acidità, che lo rende il partner ideale per il latte.

Il personale non solo è molto disponibile, ma anche sorridente e rilassato, il che permette anche ai clienti di godersi la pausa caffè in pace. Oppure la loro colazione, che è superlativa!

Allpress Espresso, 58 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, Londra, E2 7DP.

 

Kaffeine – Un altro locale Australiano/Neo Zelandese che ha perfezionato l’arte del caffè. La loro miscela della casa è un equilibrio di dolcezza e acidità, perfetto, ancora una volta, con il latte per ottenere un ottimo flat white. Dopotutto, sono australian!

Il fornitore di Kaffeine è Square Mile, una delle torrefazioni più premiate al mondo.

Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield St, Londra W1W 7QJ.

 

Monmouth – Se dico caffè indipendente, penso subito a Monmouth. Questo è il mio caffè preferito, quello in cui torno sempre. Il motivo è semplice: c’è la possibilità di provare le loro diverse miscele per qualsiasi tipo di caffè si scelga, basta chiedere al personale che è altamente competente. Vi consiglieranno la migliore miscela per la vostra bevanda, rispettando anche i vostri gusti personali. Poi macineranno la quantità esatta di chicchi di cui hanno bisogno per il vostro caffè, e in pochi minuti sarà pronto per essere gustato.

Consiglio la miscela della casa se vi piace un gusto morbido e dolce che ricorda le mandorle e il cioccolato, ma, se volete provare qualcosa di più corposo e con media acidità, allora chiedete la miscela brasiliana Fazenda da Lagoa, che è ideale per l’espresso.

Monmouth, 27 Monmouth Street Covent Garden Londra WC2H 9EU.

 

Spero che vi piacciano questi caffè tanto quanto piacciono a me, non solo per i loro ingredienti di alta qualità, ma anche per il personale esperto che è disposto ad aiutare i clienti e condividere la cultura del buon caffè. E no, non sbaglieranno a scrivere il vostro nome sulla cup di carta, che per me è molto molto positivo.

Vegemite vs Marmite, an impartial comparison from an Italian perspective

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I remember missing hummus during my long months in Italy. I kept telling myself “what are you complaining about? Italian food is amazing.” Yes, undoubtedly true, although what I missed was obviously not just hummus, but the wide choice that London has to offer in terms of different products and cuisines. This testifies how travelling changes our own way of thinking and in this case eating, opening our minds to new food adventures.
For example with the exception of Nutella,I personally never considered spreads as fundamental. Yes, the occasional peanut butter on toast once in a while, but never a necessary pantry staple. Last week while I was pushing my trolley in a busy aisle of my local supermarket I saw Marmite, the British yeast spread, and something happened in my mind.

When I was in Australia 3 years ago I tried Vegemite, the Australian yeast spread, because I was curious about the flavour. “You can either hate or love it, there’s no middle ground” I was told. These words sounded like a challenge I had to take up, so I gave Vegemite a go and I ended up really liking it. So when I saw Marmite, its British opponent, on the supermarket shelf I knew I had to try it see for myself how different it was. Also to discover which side I have to take during the heated arguments between my British and Aussie friends on which spread is the best.

Before I start, for those of you who might wonder why anyone should eat a yeast spread, you will be surprised to know that both Marmite and Vegemite are rich in Vitamin B and folate.

My personal test:

Vegemite:

  • Colour: dark chocolate brown.
  • Aspect: thick almost jelly-like, in fact it doesn’t drip when trying to take a little quantity out with the butter knife.
  • Aroma: first mouldy, because of the yeast, and then you can smell traces of monosodium glutamate.
  • Flavour: extremely salty and of course yeasty because yeast is the main ingredient. Although Vegemite’s recipe includes spices and vegetable extracts, in my opinion they are not so strong to balance the combination of yeast and salt, that I would define overpowering .
  • How to eat it: Aside from the classic Vegemite toast (toasted bread, butter and a thin layer of Vegemite) and its variations, I would add it to stews or soup to give these recipes a nice umami kick.

 

 

Marmite:

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  • Colour: burnt caramel
  • Aspect: runny, it reminds caramel sauce or dulce de leche both for colour and texture.
  • Aroma: Yeasty as Vegemite but less strong in glutamate.
  • Flavour: As predicted by my nose, Marmite is less salted than its Australian opponent. After the savoury note comes the aftertaste which is slightly bitter, due to a combination of yeast, vegetable extracts and spices that, here in Marmite, I can definitely taste.
  • How to eat it: like Vegemite, on toast, but I would rather use it for the preparation of soups or stews because of its aftertaste that reminds stock cubes.

Yast spreads, you either love or hate them. I my case I ate them and my impartial choice is: Vegemite!

*In the meantime my auntie and my cousin came for a couple of days and I gave them a Marmite toast telling them it was a sweet spread like Nutella, just because I am evil and wanted to see their reactions. Both were surprise by the unexpected flavour but while my cousin was nauseated, my auntie loved it.

 

And now in Italian.

Ricordo che durante i miei lunghi mesi in Italia mi mancava l’hummus. Continuavo a ripetermi “ma di cosa ti lamenti? Il cibo italiano è tra i migliori del mondo .” Sì, indubbiamente vero, anche se quello che mi mancava davvero non era solo l’hummus, ma l’ampia scelta che Londra ha da offrire in termini di prodotti e cucine diverse. Questo testimonia come viaggiare cambi il nostro modo di pensare e in questo caso mangiare, aprendo le nostre menti a nuove avventure gastronomiche.

Ad esempio, con l’eccezione di Nutella, non ho mai considerato fondamentali le creme spalmabili. Sì, il burro di arachidi sul pane tostato una volta ogni tanto, ma non l’ho mai considerato un prodotto da non farsi mai mancare in dispensa. La settimana scorsa, mentre stavo spingendo il mio trolley in un corridoio affollato del supermercato vicino casa, ho visto la Marmite, una crema spalmabile a base di lievito, e qualcosa è scattato nella mia mente.

Mi spiego meglio, quando ero in Australia tre anni fa ho provato la Vegemite, la crema spalmabile australiana a base di lievito, perché ero curiosa provarla dopo che avevo sentito più volte ripetere: “O si ama o si odia, non c’è via di mezzo”. Queste parole suonavano come una sfida che dovevo accettare, così ho dato un’occasione alla Vegemite e devo dire che mi è piaciuta. Così quando ho visto la Marmite, il suo competitor britannico sullo scaffale del supermercato, sapevo che dovevo provare questo prodotto. Anche per scoprire da quale parte stare durante le accese discussioni tra i miei amici britannici e australiani su quale delle due creme sia la migliore.

Prima di cominciare, a quelli che si chiedono perché mai dovremmo mangiare una crema spalmabile a base di lievito, rispondo che sia la Vegemite sia la Marmite sono ricche di vitamina B e acido folico.

Il mio test:

Vegemite:

  • Colore: marrone scuro come il cioccolato fondente.
  • Aspetto: denso, quasi gelatinoso. In fatti non cola quando si prende con il coltello.
  • Aroma: si sente un odore quasi ammuffito, per via del lievito, e delle tracce di glutammato monosodico.
  • Sapore: estremamente salato con retrogusto amaro di lievito, ovviamente perché è l’ingrediente principale. Sebbene la ricetta di Vegemite comprenda spezie ed estratti vegetali, a mio parere non sono così forti da bilanciare la combinazione dominante di lievito e sale.
  • Come mangiarla: parte il classico toast con Vegemite (pane tostato, burro e un sottile strato di Vegemite) e le sue varianti, personalmente aggiungerei il prodotto a zuppe e stufati per dare un pizzico di umami al piatto.

Marmite:

  • Colore: caramello bruciato
  • Aspetto: meno densa rispetto alla Vegemite, infatti cola dal coltello. Ricorda salsa al caramello o il dulce de leche, sia per il colore e la consistenza.
  • Aroma: odora di ievito come la Vegemite, ma risulta meno forte in glutammato.
  • Sapore: Come previsto dal mio naso, la Marmite è meno salata rispetto al suo competitor australiano. Dopo la sapidità arriva il retrogusto leggermente amaro, a causa di una combinazione di lievito, estratti vegetali e spezie che, qui nella Marmite, si sente decisamente di più.
  • Come mangiarla: come Vegemite, sul pane tostato, ma piuttosto la utilizzerei per la preparazione di minestre o stufati a causa del suo retrogusto che ricorda dadi da brodo.

Vegemite o Marmite, o si amano o si odiano. Nel mio caso si amano e la mia scelta è imparziale: Vegemite!

* Nel frattempo, mia zia e mia cugina sono venute a trovarmi per un paio di giorni e ho approfittato per provare loro la Marmite dicendo loro che era una crema spalmabile dolce come la Nutella, solo perché sono cattiva e volevo vedere le loro reazioni. Entrambi erano sorprese dal sapore inaspettato ma mentre mia cugina era letteralmente disgustata, a mia zia mi è piaciuto molto.