Beautiful Vegetables, Roof-Raising Sisters

The food: Fresh takes on vegetables

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During my recent trip to England, I ate at two London restaurants that featured Mediterranean style salads and vegetable-centric dishes, sold by weight, that make for a colourful and delicious meal in combination on a plate. This style of eating struck me as fresh, modern, and representative of contemporary London.

The first such place I tried was Fait Maison, on Stratford Street in Kensington, a café that makes lovely food from organic ingredients. E and I chose our selections at the front of the shop, where enticing platters of food were displayed, and then walked through to the smallish back room, where, a few minutes later, a server brought out our food, plated and where applicable, heated.

I had the salads shown above: one with eggplant and pomegranate seeds, another with tomato and a soft white cheese that was not mozzarella, and a third made with green beans, snow peas, and black and white sesame seeds. E had the potato torte and a delicious concoction of squash, chickpeas and onions (both shown below) that was so good he has tried to replicate it at home since, twice.

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Another day, we ventured to the Notting Hill location of Ottolenghi, a buzzed about mini-chain of food shops that also features beautiful Mediterranean-style salads and dishes, artfully displayed.

The seating here consisted of one communal table (no washroom on premises) so we chose a selection of items to take away, which we ate in nearby Hyde Park, an hour later. A pleasant server patiently explained how the shop’s system works re: pricing and packaging, and told us what the various platters of food contained, though a bitchy supervisor admonished me when I pulled out my camera and said I was not allowed to take pictures inside. (Which was ridiculous as photos of the food are widely available online and in print.)

Though tempting looking dishes of seared tuna, rare beef, chicken and shrimp were available, we once again chose an all-vegetable selection – roasted eggplant with yogurt, mint and pine nuts; a herbed rice and nut pilaf; and some baby carrots with peas and parsley, all of which we enjoyed on our bench overlooking the Albert Memorial.

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Salads to takeaway from Ottolenghi

That same week, I visited another appealing attraction of contemporary London: Sister Act, the musical, currently playing at London’s Palladium Theatre, a venue I was thrilled to enter because it was the location of a key scene in the 1935 Hitchcock film The 39 Steps.

Sister Act the musical is based on the 1992 movie (starring Whoopi Goldberg); its period has been reset to the 1970’s; it features nuns, church and talk of God (the kind of content I had trouble with when I saw Altar Boyz); and its disco-tinged (this is a good thing, IMO) score is written by Disney stalwart Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid), but I very much enjoyed the show ANYWAY.

It’s a roof-raising, crowd-pleasing, catchy-tune-packed, get up on your feet and dance kind of show, a la Mamma Mia and Hairspray (no sneering, please, I liked both those shows); I’m pissed that I can’t order the Sister Act soundtrack from itunes in Canada; and I hope it comes soon to Broadway so I can see it again.

Check out this version of one of its big numbers, performed by star Patina Miller and the London Palladium cast:

Ottolenghi on Urbanspoon
Fait Maison on Urbanspoon

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2 thoughts on “Beautiful Vegetables, Roof-Raising Sisters

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