February’s favourites: 5 Ramen bars in London I love

It’s been a while since I thought about writing a post about the best ramen bars in London and whoever read my post in the previous months, knows how I was dedicated at finding the best place in town that could satisfy my ramen craving here in this cold part of Europe.

Aware of the fact that London is full Japanese restaurants and the ramen fashion is rapidly picking up, I decided to visit the most popular ramen bars in town. After careful consideration (as those many rejection email I’m receiving start) I decided to briefly describe my personal favourite places, ranking them for a precise feature that makes their product stand out.

For first starters: Shoryu Ramen. This is the first place where I had the chance to eat ramen in London after my sublime foodie experience in Japan. The Origin Tonkotsu has a pretty well balanced harmony of flavour between the the broth and the toppings. A nice place to start your ramen appreciation. Unfortunately I don’t have a review for Shoryu, because I went there before I started this blog. However I still remember a pleasant experience.

For broth: Ippudo. A bowl of ramen without the perfect broth would just be pointless (see instant ramen cups) Here the broth is creamy and milky as it’s supposed to be after pork bones are violently boiled for 20 hours and release their collagen. Taste is meaty, satisfying, but at the same time it’s almost sweet,  “clean” I would define it, meaning it does not leave a strong greasy aftertaste in your mouth. Read my complete review here.

Ippudo

Shiromaru Hakata Classic @Ippudo

For noodles: Tonkotsu. These guys make their noodles on the premises thanks to their Japanese noodle machine and the use of local ingredients (let’s not forget the research for the perfect alkaline salted water) that perfectly abide by the original recipe. I love their tsukemen noodle so much for their “bite”. Unfortunately they are available only at their Tonkotsu East location. Read my complete review here.

Detail of the noodles.

Noodles for Tsukemen @ Tonkotsu East

For the marinated soft boiled egg: Kanada-ya. Ok, I know, you think I am kidding right? Simply, I’m not. Everybody who had the chance to try a real bowl of ramen (no, the instant one you had in college don’t count) know how extremely important the egg is to the whole flavour of the recipe. It has to be still runny, so the yolk mixes a bit with the soup, and white should have nicely absorbed the soy sauce overnight or more. In other words it should be a concentrate of Umami. Kanada-ya’s egg was absolute perfection, but unfortunately it comes with an additional price of £2. This is not a deterrent to hungry customers, because it seems to sell out very quickly. Read my complete review here.

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Kanada ya. That egg over there is to die for.

For strong flavours: Bone Daddies. Considering that when on a diet, ramen in general might not be the best choice for your calorie count, Bone Daddies’ speciality requires customers who want enjoy the full flavour experience and preferably without any sense of guilt after eating. Rich (or fatty maybe?) and intense broth, contrasting aromas and different textures in just one dish. Read my complete review here.

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@Bone Daddies

The winner or should I say winners

I think it depends on the occasion and the the atmosphere I’d like to give to my meal. In fact I would definitely choose Ippudo for a girls’ night out both because the place looks a bit fancier than the other ramen bars and because the broth base has an authentic flavour, but at the same time it tastes clean, not greasy at all.

However if I wanted a foodie date without frills or a highly satisfying solo lunch experience I would definitely choose Bone Daddies’ insanely rich Tonkotsu ramen.
What about you guys, have you visited any of these five places?

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 

Super quick review for a super quick brunch: Andina Shoreditch

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I had this place on my list of bars/restaurants to try for quite a bit and I don’t know why I didn’t stop there before, since I pass by it almost every day.

So, last Sunday I decided on a whim to grab a bite before deliberately losing myself in the craziness of the Christmas Shopping District: Oxford Street. After all, I have gifts to buy like everyone else.

Little sister of the famous Ceviche in Soho, Andina is a Peruvian Bar which concentrates its focus on Andean soul food with a modern touch, a necessity if you want to make it among the uncountable hip restaurants in Shoreditch and London in general.

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The first thing you notice as soon as you get in is the brightness of the place, thanks to the natural light coming from the big windows that surrounds the room. Then the quirky decor of the yellow tiles, the wicker basket chandeliers and the colored yarn hung on the walls add authenticity and modernity without weighing the interior down.

Unfortunately for us, G and I were seated downstairs in a very much different room with an aseptic bar, dim lights, furniture almost totally made of aged wood and a large mirror that covers completely a wall.

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I ordered simple poached eggs and avocado sourdough toast, just to play it safe after the flu I got during the week, while G got the Chicharron sandwich, which according to Andina’s menu should be the best bacon sandwich: chunks of confit pork belly with camote (sweet potato) ketchup, with red onions and tomato. Challenge accepted.

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The service was fairly quick, and in no time we had our plates. While mine was a bit bland in flavour and unfortunately cold, G’s sandwich was too much for me to handle, not really the best bacon sandwich as the menu claims. Excessively greasy with a strong pork flavour, that remained in my mouth for quite a bit that afternoon, even until dinner time.

My vote: I expected more from this place, to be honest. I cannot talk about their other specialities or their famous ceviche which I would like to try one day, but as a place for brunch I give Andina a 6. In my opinion there are far better places in Shoreditch and in London in general, to have a bite.

Andina,1 Redchurch St, London E2.

September favourites: 5 not conventional snacks that I am loving

The area of London I recently moved in is definitely a trendy one, full of hipsters and hipster wannabes. Therefore due to the high level of “hipster population”, shops are now more than eager to stick to the eco-friendly credo following the latest trends in terms of local, organic, free range, home grown food just to name few adjectives that cover shop signs and windows.

I cannot deny my grocery shopping is influenced as well, mainly because I was raised this way (click here) Not to mention how changing eating habits affected my everyday life when I moved from Italy to London 5 years ago. In other words I got 7 kilos and, as you can easily imagine, I wasn’t the happiest girl on earth.

With that in mind, I always try to balance my weekly meals according to the percentage of carbs, proteins and fibers. Then, systematically something messes up my plans and I find myself eating nutella from the jar or devouring a whole bag of crisps, or chips for you guys across the pond. What is the best thing to do when those cravings beg you to give up your good intentions for 5 seconds of pure ephemeral joy? Well, I like to think I try to limit the damages by choosing those unconventional snacks that you can find at Whole Foods or the Asian Markets, but probably I am just fooling myself. Here you can find my favourites of the month:

  • Calbee Shrimp Chips: The first time I tried these “crisps” was at the Daiso 100 yen shop in Harajuku, Tokyo. I was surprised that as much as a processed food we are talking about, the ingredient list is short and they were relatively low in sodium. Also the taste is delicate while, as you can imagine, their smell is strong. Ingredients: Wheat, Flour, Canola oil, Modified food starch, Shrimp, Sugar, Salt, Baking powder, MSG. Calories:  130 per serving (28 grams) or 464 per 100 grams.

  • Calbee Snapea Crisps: I first got to know these crisps while browsing on youtube, in some healthy grocery haul video, so last week I found them on offer at Wholefoods and I gave them a chance. A huge commitment for someone who doesn’t like peas like me. There are 3 types for the English market: lightly salted, Ceasar (salad seasoning?) and Tomato and basil. I picked the lightly salted ones because their ingredient list was way shorter than the other two. Long story short: I liked them because they are salty on the outside and sweet-ish on the inside. Ingredients: Green Peas, Vegetable Oil (Canola, Sunflower and/or Safflower Oil), Rice, Salt, Calcium Carbonate And Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Palmitate) Calories: 110 per serving or 393 per 100 grams.

  • Cofresh Hummus Chips: or simply chickpea crisps as there’s no trace of tahini or sesame. It’s a bit misleading as a product, but even though these chips do not really taste like hummus, they’re not as bland as the ingredient list would suggest. Ingredients: Chickpea Flour, Rice, Potato Starch, Vegetable Oil (Rapeseed), Corn Flour, Sea Salt. Calories: 135 per serving or 483 per 100 grams.

  • Senbei or Japanese Rice crackers: I don’t really stick to a brand in particular, but to a flavour, in fact I tend to prefer those seasoned with soy sauce. I believe rice flour is lighter and easier to digest than wheat, but feel free to correct me if I’m saying something not really correct However, the real reason I tend to buy senbei is that they are often packed in pairs, which is definitely not fair to the environment but prevents me to eat more than one packet because I feel guilty. Calories are an average of 35 per cracker.

  • Wasabi peas: namely roasted peas covered in wasabi. This is a tricky one, because it’s one of those snacks that I don’t really like at first, but then I have to finish the whole packet because of a strange addiction. Calories are around 400 per 100 gr.

…or you could eat that apple you have on your kitchen counter!

Have you guys tried these snacks? let me know what you think about them and please suggest me what I should try after these, hoping to find them in London.


And now in Italian.

L’area di Londra in cui mi sono trasferita recentemente è sicuramente quella più di tendenza, piena di hipsters e aspiranti tali. Per questo, a causa dell’elevato presenza di questa fetta di popolazione, i proprietari dei negozi sono molto inclini a seguire il credo eco friendly degli hipster, e quindi le ultime tendenze in termini di cibi locali, biologici, da allevamenti a terra, o fatti in casa, solo per citare alcuni descrizioni che caratterizzano le insegne e le vetrine del quartiere.

Non posso negare una certa influenza “verde” su ciò che compro, ma solo perché sono stato cresciuta in questo modo (cliccate qui) per non parlare di quanto aver cambiato le mie abitudini alimentari da un paese all’altro abbia pesato sulla la mia vita di tutti i giorni. In altre parole, 5 anni fa avevo preso 7 chili e, come si può facilmente immaginare, non ero molto contenta della cosa.

Tenendo a mente tutto ciò, cerco sempre di bilanciare i miei pasti settimanali a seconda della percentuale di carboidrati, proteine ​​e fibre. Poi, sistematicamente c’è sempre qualcosa che incasina i miei piani e mi ritrovo a mangiare nutella dal barattolo o a finire un intero sacchetto di patatine. Qual è la cosa migliore da fare quando ti prendono quelle voglie che ti istigano ad abbandonare le buone intenzioni per 5 secondi di fugace piacere? Beh, mi piace pensare che cerco di limitare i danni scegliendo quegli snack inusuali che si possono trovare nei negozi di cibi biologici o in quelli asiatici, ma probabilmente (anzi, quasi sicuramente) mi prendo in giro da sola. Qui potete trovare i miei preferiti del mese:

  • Patatine Calbee ai gamberi: La prima volta che ho provato queste “patatine” era al negozio Daiso ¥ 100 a Harajuku, Tokyo. Ricordo che rimasi sorpresa che per quanto fosse un alimento industriale, la lista degli ingredienti era breve e con basso contenuto di sodio. Il gusto è delicato, mentre, come si può immaginare, il loro odore è forte a causa del condimento al sapore di gambero. Ingredienti: frumento, farina, olio di colza, amido alimentare modificato, gamberetti, zucchero, sale, lievito, glutammato. Calorie: 130 per porzione (28 gr.) o 464 per 100 gr.
  • Patatine Calbee Snapea ai piselli: ho avuto modo di conoscere queste patatine mentre navigavo su youtube, in alcuni video riguardanti gli snack salutari, così la settimana scorsa le ho trovate in offerta da Wholefoods e ho dato loro una possibilità. Un fatto significativo per chi, come me, non ama i piselli. Ci sono 3 tipi di prodotto per il mercato inglese: leggermente salate, Ceasar (condimento per l’insalata?) e pomodoro e basilico. Ho scelto le prime perché la loro lista degli ingredienti era molto più breve rispetto agli altri due. Per farla breve: mi sono piaciute perché sono salate all’esterno e dolciastre all’interno. Ingredienti: piselli, olio vegetale (colza, girasole e / o olio di cartamo), riso, sale, carbonato di calcio e vitamina C (ascorbil palmitato). Calorie: 110 per porzione o 393 per 100 gr.
  • Cofresh Hummus Chips: o semplicemente patatine di ceci visto che non c’è traccia di tahini o di sesamo. E ‘un po’ fuorviante come prodotto, ma anche se non sa di hummus, queste patatine non hanno un gusto così piatto come la lista degli ingredienti suggerirebbe. Ingredienti: ceci farina, riso, fecola di patate, olio vegetale (colza), farina di mais, sale marino. Calorie: 135 cal per porzione o per 483 100 gr.
  • Senbei o crackers di riso giapponesi: Non c’è una marca in particolare a cui sono legata, ma il gusto sì, infatti tendo a preferire quelli alla salsa di soia. Credo che la farina di riso sia più leggera e più facile da digerire rispetto al frumento, ma correggetemi se sto dicendo una castroneria. Comunque, il vero motivo per cui compro i senbei è che sono spesso confezionati in coppia, cosa che è sicuramente non è eco friendly, ma mi impedisce di mangiarne più di un pacchetto, perché mi sentirei in colpa. Le calorie sono una media di 35 per cracker.
  • Piselli al Wasabi: cioè piselli tostati e ricoperti di wasabi. Questo è uno snack strano, perché è sempre così, in un primo momento non mi piace, ma poi, piano piano, sviluppa una strana dipendenza che mi obbliga a finire l’intero pacchetto. Le calorie sono circa 400 per 100 gr.

… potreste sempre mangiare quella mela che avete nella fruttiera in cucina, o no?

E voi, avete mai provato questi snack? fatemi sapere cosa ne pensate e suggeritemene altri, sperando che li possa trovare qui a Londra.

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.

June favourites: 5 products I’m loving

London, I’m back! Even though I still have to find a place to live and right now my temporary room is full of boxes and piles of clothes everywhere, I have to admit it’s nice to be back. Yes, because I missed London’s buzzing and lively atmosphere, the fact that there’s always something going on just around the corner, an event to attend or a new restaurant to try. Obviously, I missed the food and the availability of almost every cuisine it’s possible to imagine, because after months of delicious Italian dishes, I’m now ready to go back to healthy/fusion/international food.

My 5 favourite products of the month are a proof of this:

  • Rebel Kitchen matcha green tea Mylk with coconut milk. One word: AMAZING! Love at first sip, because this drink tastes exactly like matcha Frappuccino, that I use to drink in Japan. The fact that this product is capable of bringing back good memories in such a Proustian way, makes me happy to buy it again. The healthy bits: not only is it naturally sweetened with dates, but it’s also dairy free thanks to coconut milk.
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from my last vist at Wholefoods

  • Chia seeds. Now that the quinoa craze is losing its hype, it’s time for another Aztec plant that can easily qualify for the Superfood prize of the year, because of the high protein and fiber content just to cite only two of this plant’s countless benefits. Chia seeds look like a cross between poppy seeds and tiny lentils, but they puff up when soaked reaching a gummy consistency. I only tried them in yogurt or warm milk, so I still have to learn the other ways to eat them, but I can imagine I would also sprinkle them on salads or mixed with my usual breadcrumb for chicken or fish.
chia seeds

Photo: Jacqueline

  • Kettle chips in smoky barbecue flavour. I may be late as usual, but I discovered this flavour only recently, when some Italian friends invited me to watch the game Italy vs Costa Rica. I ended up eating the whole bag to cheer myself up after Italy’s loss. Lamest excuse ever.
  • Bubble Tea. Late again, but I had to make up for the lost time and try this hipster drink. At first, drinking and chewing tapioca pearls together was kind of new, and weird for me, but then I grew to love bubble tea. Of course the things I love are either expensive or have high calories, in this case I wouldn’t drink bubble tea on a diet.
Bubble Tea

Photo: Kenton

  • Tymsboro cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy. This store is like a paradise for cheese lover like myself, I always admired it from afar during my years as a broke student who preferred quantity over quality. I’m still penniless, but I guess my tastes have grown up, so I decided it was time to buy cheese there. After tasting 4 types of cheese, I chose Tymsboro goat cheese: tangy and creamy; better tasted on its own with a robust red wine.

London, you feed my stomach and, hopefully, my creativity, so even if we have always been in a “it’s complicated”-kind-of-relationship, let’s make things work this time.

And now in Italian.

Londra, sono tornata! Anche se devo ancora trovare un posto dove vivere e in questo momento la mia sistemazione temporanea è piena di scatoloni e mucchi di vestiti ovunque, devo ammettere che è bello essere tornata. Sì, perché Londra mi è mancata, insieme alla sua atmosfera piena di vita a al fatto che ci sia sempre qualcosa da fare, un evento a cui andare, un nuovo ristorante da provare. Ovviamente, mi mancava il cibo e la possibilità di poter accedere a qualsiasi tipo di cucina si possa immaginare, perché dopo mesi di ottimi piatti italiani, ora sono pronta a tornare al cibo fusion/sano /internazionale.

I miei 5 prodotti preferiti del mese ne sono la prova:

  • Rebel Kitchen drink al tè verde matcha e latte di cocco. Una sola parola per descrivere questa bevanda: INCREDIBILE! Amore al primo sorso, perché ha lo stesso identico sapore del Frappuccino al matcha che bevevo in Giappone. Il fatto che il gusto di questo prodotto sia in grado di riportare alla memoria dei ricordi in modo così proustiano, mi rende felice e molto propensa a comprarlo di nuovo. I dettagli importanti per la salute: non solo sfrutta l’alto potere dolcificante dei datteri, ma è anche adatto agli intolleranti al lattosio grazie al latte di cocco.
  • Semi di Chia. Ora che la mania della quinoa sta decisamente rientrando, è la volta di un’altra pianta azteca che può facilmente qualificarsi per il premio Superfood dell’anno, per l’alto contenuto di proteine ​​e di fibre tanto per citare solo due degli innumerevoli benefici che questa pianta apporta alla nostra salute. I semi di Chia sembrano un incrocio tra semi di papavero e delle piccolissime lenticchie, ma si gonfiano e raggiungono una texture gelatinosa quando vengono incorporati in ingredienti liquidi, grazie alla loro capacità di assorbimento. Per ora li ho provati solo con yogurt o latte caldo, quindi devo ancora imparare ad usarli nei mille modi suggeriti dalla rete, ma posso immaginare di cospargere questi semi su insalate o mischiarli alla mia classica panatura per carne e pesce.
  • Patatine Kettle gusto barbecue. Arrivo in ritardo come al solito, ma ho scoperto questo sapore solo recentemente, quando sono stata invitata a casa di amici italiani per guardare la partita Italia – Costa Rica. Ho mangiato l’intera busta, perché, diciamolo, era l’unico modo per soffocare il dispiacere della sconfitta dell’Italia. Ok, è una scusa poco credibile!
  • Bubble Tea. Di nuovo in ritardo, ma ho dovuto recuperare il tempo perduto e provare per forza questa bevanda hipster. In un primo momento, bere e masticare palline di tapioca insieme è stato qualcosa di nuovo e strano, ma poi ho cominciato ad apprezzare questo drink. Naturalmente le cose che amo appartengono a 2 categorie: o sono costose o caloriche, in questo caso, non consiglierei il bubble tea a chi è a dieta.
  • Formaggio di capra Tymsboro di Neal’s Yard Dairy. Questo negozio è un paradiso per gli amanti del formaggio come me e durante i miei anni da studentessa senza una lira l’ho sempre ammirato da lontano perché, per forza di cose, mi trovavo costretta a preferire la quantità rispetto alla qualità. Comunque, la mia situazione economica non è cambiata molto, ma credo che i miei gusti siano cresciuti di pari passo con l’età, così ho deciso che era ora di entrare in quel negozio e di fare il mio primo acquisto. Dopo aver assaggiato 4 diversi tipi di formaggio, la mia scelta è caduta sul Tymsboro, un formaggio di capra dal sapore molto deciso e dalla consistenza cremosa. Un sapore così forte e pieno si esprime al meglio da solo, ma accompagnato da un vino rosso robusto.

Londra, tu nutri il mio stomaco e, si spera, anche la mia creatività, quindi, anche se siamo sempre state in una “relazione complicata”, facciamo funzionare il nostro rapporto questa volta.

 

The rise of Dry Bars, the alcohol-free place to be

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When I moved to London and first registered for a GP (the doctor), I remember having to fill in a form with my personal data as part of the normal procedure. What I didn’t expect was a document of 2 pages full of detailed questions about patients’ drinking habits. I admit I was kind of surprised, but then I thought about the streets packed with drunk people on weekends and I just realised it: “England, we might have a problem here.”

So when I heard about “Dry Bars”, namely alcohol free bars, it sounded like a joke, a contradiction, a likely business failure in a country that prides itself on the pub culture. It’s true that the taxation on alcohol consumption is rising together with the number of closing pubs, but living in the UK, I didn’t witness any massive tendency to sober up due to the economic situation.

However, I did some research about Dry Bars and I noticed that, despite evoking Prohibitionism, they represent a model of business with great potentialities growing beyond any expectation.

The first Dry Bar opened in the UK was The Brink in Liverpool, a place founded in collaboration with the charity Action on Addiction, that helps people with alcohol or drug problems during and after their period of rehabilitation. The initial idea was to create a public place where former addicts could hang out and have fun, away from the temptations of drinking. The risk, for the bar, of looking like a rehab facility was an encouragement to push the ambitions forward, in order to create a space that could welcome all kinds of customers who, voluntarily choose to spend an alcohol- free night out.

What’s their target market?

  • Women? – Every time someone in my group of friends orders an alcohol free fruity cocktail, it’s always a chorus of: “that’s so girly!”. So it may be argued that, aside from people who are recovering from addictions, Dry Bars are places for a female audience after all. As a woman and potential customer, I think that women may feel more comfortable enjoying a mocktail (that’s how they are called) in a place where alcohol is not served, because it is unlikely for them to be bothered by drunk men as it happens in pubs or clubs. To this end, Alex Gilmore, the manager of Sobar, Nottingham’s dry bar, agrees with a safer environment but claims that there is no significant gender gap among the customers.
  • Young Generations? – Yes, because after few months we learned about the latest idiotic trend called Neknomination, recent statistics have demonstrated a decrease in drinking habits in teenagers and young adults compared to 10 years ago. The increasing costs of daily life are surely forcing customers to cut drinks, but reportedly, one of the reasons is that young generations don’t find it fun to get drunk and then face the consequences of a bad hangover. Moreover, I heard more than few people telling me they would rather spend their money on a nice and relaxed dinner than on drinks. For this reason, many young customers from 20 to 30 may find Dry Bars as a good alternative to the classic pub night.
  • Everyone! – The fact of creating such a friendly environment broadens the target audience to all ages, from students to families with babies or elder customers and pregnant women, who can enjoy a night out with friends without feeling left out because they can’t drink alcohol.

How do Dry Bars keep their customers interested?

With such a variety of target customers with different budgets it’s necessary to have an effective marketing strategy in order to make the business grow, but how? First, they all have an interesting mocktail menu, which is also affordable, because each drink doesn’t cost more than £3 (€ 3.60/ $4.99). Secondly, they all have particular food choices, from English traditional dishes, to Mediterranean specialities or organic only selections. For example, Redemption in London serves only vegetarian food with vegan and raw options. Last but not the least Dry Bars’ management organise events, such as live music gigs, in order to engage even more customers.

In a country with the pub culture in the DNA, Dry Bars are doing something simple but revolutionary at the same time. These places still represent a niche market but I see some potential and apparently I’m not the only one, because this kind of business is rapidly growing all over the UK.

Sources: The Guardian, The Guardian page2, The Independent, BBC News.

And now in Italian.

Quando mi sono trasferita a Londra e mi sono registrata dal medico, ricordo di aver dovuto compilare un modulo con i miei dati personali come parte della normale procedura. Quello che non mi aspettavo era di dover rispondere a due pagine piene di domande dettagliate riguardanti le abitudini sul consumo degli alcolici. Devo ammettere che, di primo impatto, sono rimasta sorpresa, ma poi ho subito pensato alle scene pietose che si vedono per strada durante il fine settimana: uomini e donne schifosamente ubriachi che danno il peggio di loro stessi. E che molto spesso, quel peggio lo fanno uscire. Sul pavimento.

Cara Inghilterra, credo che abbiamo un problema.

Così, quando ho sentito parlare dei “Dry Bar”, cioè bar dove non si servono alcolici, mi è sembrato uno scherzo, una contraddizione, un probabile fallimento in un paese in cui il pub rappresenta uno dei pilastri della socializzazione. E’ vero che la tassazione sul consumo di alcolici è in aumento, come anche il numero di locali che chiudono, ma vivendo nel Regno Unito, non ho ancora notato una forte tendenza di massa all’astensione dalla pinta, nemmeno per risparmiare qualche sterlina in tempo di crisi economica.

Tuttavia, ho fatto qualche ricerca su i Dry Bar e mi sono resa conto che, nonostante le possano far pensare ai locali aperti durante l’epoca del Proibizionismo, in realtà costituiscono un modello di business dalle grandi potenzialità.

Il primo Bar Dry aperto nel Regno Unito è stato il The Brink a Liverpool, fondato in collaborazione con la charity Action on Addiction, che aiuta le persone con problemi di dipendenza da droghe o alcol, durante e dopo il periodo di riabilitazione. L’idea iniziale era di creare un luogo dove gli ex tossicodipendenti avrebbero potuto divertirsi e passare del tempo lontano dalle tentazioni alcoliche. Il rischio però, era quello di creare una struttura che si avvicinasse troppo a quello che è un centro di riabilitazione, perciò il management di Action on Addiction ha pensato ad un locale dove poter accogliere tutti i tipi di clienti che, volontariamente, scelgono di passare una serata “a secco”.

Qual è il loro target di mercato?

  • Donne? – Ogni volta che qualcuno nel mio gruppo di amici ordina un cocktail analcolico alla frutta, è sempre un coro di gridolini del tipo: “è così da principessa!”. Quindi si potrebbe dire che, a parte gli ex tossicodipendenti, i Dry Bar siano locali per un pubblico femminile. Come donna e potenziale cliente credo che, effettivamente, sia più facile sentirsi a proprio agio sorseggiando un mocktail ( è così che si chiamano ) in un luogo dove l’alcol non viene servito, perché è meno probabile essere infastidite da uomini ubriachi, come accade nei pub o in discoteca. A questo proposito, Alex Gilmore, responsabile della direzione del Sobar di Nottingham, è d’accordo che i Dry Bar abbiano un ambiente più sicuro, ma sostiene che non ci sia una significativa differenza di genere tra i clienti.
  • Le giovani generazioni? – Sì, perché dopo pochi mesi dall’ultima moda alcolica chiamata Neknomination, recenti statistiche hanno dimostrato una diminuzione nei consumi di alcol da parte degli adolescenti e dei giovani adulti inglesi rispetto alle percentuali di 10 anni fa. Il costo della vita in crescente aumento può sicuramente motivare a ridurre le spese non necessarie, tra cui gli alcolici, ma, a quanto pare, le giovani generazioni  bevono meno perché non trovano divertente ubriacarsi e poi stare male a causa della sbornia. Inoltre, molte persone mi hanno confidato che preferiscono spendere i loro soldi per avere una cena piacevole e rilassante piuttosto che ubriacarsi, vomitare e vergognarsi di se stessi il giorno dopo. Per questo motivo, i giovani tra i 20 e i 30 anni potrebbero pensare ai Dry Bar come un’ottima alternativa al classico pub.
  • Tutti! – Il fatto di creare un ambiente così accogliente amplia il target di riferimento a tutte le età: dagli studenti alle famiglie con bambini piccoli, o clienti anziani e donne in gravidanza, che possono godersi una serata fuori con gli amici senza sentirsi escluse dal giro dei drink.

Come fanno i Dry Bar ad attirare clienti?

Con una tale varietà di clienti con possibilità economiche diverse, è necessario avere una strategia di marketing efficace per far crescere i guadagni, ma come? In primo luogo, tutti i Dry Bar puntano su un menù di mocktail interessante e variegato, ma anche conveniente, in quanto ogni bevanda non costa più di 3 sterline (3.60€). In secondo luogo, tutti hanno particolari scelte gastronomiche, dai piatti tradizionali inglesi, alle specialità mediterranee o solo cucina biologica. Per esempio il Redemption a Londra serve solo cibo vegetariano, con opzioni vegane e crudiste. Ultimo ma non meno importante, è l’organizzazione di eventi come le serate di musica dal vivo, al fine di coinvolgere ancora più clienti.

In un paese con la cultura del pub nel proprio DNA, i Dry Bar stanno facendo qualcosa di semplice ma rivoluzionario allo stesso tempo. Sicuramente rappresentano ancora un mercato di nicchia, ma vedo un grandissimo potenziale commerciale e, apparentemente, non sono la sola, perché questo tipo di attività è in costante aumento in tutto il Regno Unito.

 

Fonti: The GuardianThe Guardian page2The IndependentBBC News.