“Sadly for me La Salumeria does not consider it’s remit to bake cakes” a review of La Salumeria, Greenwich

A Review of La Salumeria, Greenwich Italian Deli SE10.

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It’s winter and we’ve decided that La Salumeria the Italian deli on the Woolwich Road needs heated floors and a foot rest. Anyone want to run with that idea in a coffee shop anywhere? It’d be a close competition behind an open fire. Are there any open fire establishments in Blackheath/Greenwich? Please advise in the comments box.

Anyway, that aside (and we can’t really hold it against them when no one else offers this service)…

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Sadly for me La Salumeria does not consider it’s remit to bake cakes. Not too unreasonable: No bakery. And after all, just look at this selection. Do you blame them?

Deli selection at La Salumeria

Deli selection at La Salumeria

Nonetheless, my visit was too early for savoury food and there are frequently a number of modest looking tray bakes there. There is always spogliatelle (which I always thought were called lobster tails, can anyone enlighten me?) I went instead for ‘the tray bake with coconut on’. Result! I was advised it contained white chocolate, which sold it to me. But the impressive feature was crispness of the extremely delicate pastry leaves, with not a hint of sogginess in sight/taste.

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Can I confess I went for a hot chocolate rather than a coffee? It was a cold day and that boosts the sugar cravings. If they’d wanted me to rate the coffee (which from recollection, is good) they needed to supply heated floorboards to reduce hot chocolate desire. It was an exceedingly fine hot chocolate- no pretensions (unless you count the glass cup).


I am being kind of mean to La Salumeria. This deli started as a shop that also sold cappuccinos…. The seats were added later, so they are simple, nestled amongst the black and white posters of tourist Italy. But I love them. In reality La Salumeria is a treasure trove of store cupboard delicacies. Waitrose pasta selection be shamed… Nothing in Jamie Oliver can beat me now...

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Treasure Trove of everything

Treasure Trove of everything

Address: 184 Trafalgar Road, London SE10 9TZ
Phone:020 8305 2433

Ratchada’s has a waiter to melt your heart.

A Review of Ratchada in Blackheath/Lee

Anyone remember the Naked Chef? It was published 13 years ago. No, I didn’t believe it either until I took a look at the pictures of Jamie Oliver on it and wondered why a school girl was writing recipe books. I was browsing a copy of the Naked Chef for meal inspiration the other day, when I came across a fragrant green chicken curry recipe. Just a decade ago and the accompanying write up reads as follows: “I was asked to make this by my sister’s husband who’d eaten something similar in a Thai restaurant. I looked up a lot of recipes and they all seemed quite different..” Ah bless. Not only did Jamie seem much more modest in those days, but it seems we didn’t really do much Thai food at the beginning of the 2000’s. Life was all Seattle coffee shops and biscotti. These days Thai food references are getting close to Indian references for recognition: red curry, green curry and pad thai. Jamie’s recent 30 minute, 20 minute and 15 minute meals are all full of Thai-inspirations.

Fragrance, though. Isn’t that just the word for Thai food? Even more true than for Turkish delight. This word made me think about Thai food for a Saturday lunch and it had been a very long time since I had visited Ratchada on the Lee Road. (Not the Lee High Road!)

Ahh… now, Ratchada’s has a waiter to melt your heart. He would come to collect dishes and ask if we’d like to see the dessert menu. When we said yes, he put all the dishes back down and went to get the menu before returning to pick up the dishes again. All of it was done with the gentlest of smiles. I wonder if he only normally serves takeaways at lunch time. It was a little quiet. We tucked into our fragrant dishes, underneath red and yellow lanterns and accompanied by Magic on the radio… with ad breaks that discussed how easy abdominal cramps could be dispelled with one pill. At that point we decided to close our ears, even if it did mean no more relishing of eighties cheese.

Ratchada knife and fork

Opinion on the food came down to the accompanying sauces and whether they were they our favourites. The spiced fishcakes starter came with sweet chilli sauce loaded with peanuts. That was good. Actually, the spiced fishcakes were very good- perfumed and with a texture way beyond fishlike. The chargrilled mussels came with something sourer, and unexpectedly hot. The mussels were not particularly chargrilled, either, nor spiced and a little disappointing.

Ratchada starters

Ratchada starters

For mains I chose a red curry- full of (more) mussels and more squid and prawns, with a fruit bowl sized bowl of rice. I love Thai red curry – hot and rounded and slightly sweet with streaks of cream, and the seafood was swimming in it. The first few mouthfuls were amazing, but by the end of what was admittedly a large portion- I could only taste the sweetness and was looking at my husband’s plate to break the monotony.

Pork Grill

Pork Grill

Thai Salad and sticky riceThe back up dish was pork grill and sticky rice. The rice was fun, as it slipped all shinny out of the bag. But the dish really came down to the tamarind sauce to make it exciting and opinion was divided. It’s difficult to opine, when I have never eaten a tamarind. (Has anyone who grew up in the UK?) I didn’t mind it so much. There was something of a chocolate undercurrent with sour high notes.

Apple fritters come with honey, sesame seeds and dairy ice cream topped with hundreds and  thousands. Personally, I would have subtracted the honey and the sesame because, as I have explained to you all many times, fried sweet things are good, very good, in a simple way.  The waiter said banana fritters as he wrote it down, so we explained that it was apple fritters we were ordering. Then we explained that we were asking for apple fritters again after we had taken the first bite of banana fritters. He was touchingly apologetic. The ice cream was a good quality vanilla, and the hundreds and thousands seem compulsory in a lot of ethnic food. (Birmingham may have made curry a national dish, so who’s to say Bangkok can’t do the same with hundreds of thousands).

Banana er I mean Apple Fritters

If you are looking for something lighter than the rather significant dining options in Blackheath, Ratchada was enjoyable enough to recommend that you all take a (very small) hike down the Lee Road to eat out and surrounded by some quirky shops that are worth a nose. From recollection it has a lovely atmosphere in the evening.

Ratchada Thai Restaurant, 129 Lee Road, Blackheath. SE3 9DS

Did you enjoy that? The waiter asked. He mocked us.

A Review of Barbecoa, restaurant in New Change, the City of London, London

http://www.barbecoa.com/

(No… it’s not South East London, but it’s easily accessible via South Eastern to Cannon Street (south Eastern dependent) so go out and be adventurous.)

It all began with the bread course. This dish definitely deserved the word ‘course’. We had a four course meal, the first course was bread. Three breads to be exact. The first we were told was a naan, but it was like a pancake with sesame seeds. It was lovely, you know, in the way only warm pancakes can be. The malted bread had a solid sweet crust; and the ciabatta was toasted in a robust olive oil. I am sure toasted, not fried, strange as that sounds.

Many exciting flavours of bread

Many exciting flavours of bread

The butter came with salt crystals… Well ok, salt crystals aren’t actually all that practical, but this bread course was about the visuals, sparkling gems scattered on the creamy yellow butter. Mmm creamy yellow butter.

Did you enjoy that? The waiter asked. He mocked us. He laughed at his own joke before we could answer. How could anyone not enjoy it? And we did eat it rather quickly.

My mandarin fizz was lovely, the Campari rounding off the otherwise sharp citrus flavour; but I should have had this as an aperitif; it was not so great with food. I switched to a Rioja. Smoothest I’ve ever tasted.

Nice for starters

Nice for starters

Starters (the course that comes after the bread course) are definitely more interesting than the mains, but it was the piccalilli that pulled me to the shredded pigs ear… Oops, I mean cheek. I had reservations. I shouldn’t have. Piccalilli perfection- just the right spiciness, the right saltiness of pork shredded into a cake.

mmm

mmm

The Calamari and avocado (not guacamole, avocado you know) was good too.

Incredible Calamari

Anxious to finish off the rest of the pig (ok, actually I was embarrassed to have pork  for both starter and main) I overlooked the various impressive sounding steaks. More often than not, I like something a little more tangy, so the pork featured again. Coleslaw and shredded pork in BBQ sauce (wooweee) and market salad and about 2 chips in duck fat. Two chips was all I could squeeze in and there were better things than chips on the table. Coriander was the ultimate fresh garnish on this flavour feast. Oh, it was so good I came over all alliterative. Market salad is another one of those dishes with a name that just don’t sell it, but was replete with all kinds of fresh leaves and herbs and uncluttered with dressing.

JO Pork Waffle coleslaw

(Incidentally, the dish working so well with coleslaw reminded me of a recipe on the excellent and exciting food stories blog which I have tried to reproduce, got a stomach bug and had to watch my guests tucking in happily with the homemade caraway bread as I held my stomach soulfully and spent the next 4 days losing half a stone).

The interior of Barbecoa seems to have been carefully considered at the architectural point before any restaurant occupied it.  St Paul’s Cathedral is visible from almost every side. From the main shopping centre a pathway hides customers from potential customers. Draped sliced black cylinders hang from the ceiling and there is one of those endless wine racks that you always wish your dining room wall slash house is big enough to accommodate.

Wine Racks

Dessert? we had to. The first mouthful passion fruit brought with it a Pavlovian disappointment after the would-be-lemon tarts at Mara’s ; but that memory faded as the creamy really genuinely cheesy substance inside kicked in, and then the gooey base. Yes- gooey base. Own up who eats cheese cake for the base, well… A normal base in this cheesecake would have been pipped by the exceptionally cheesy cheese part, but in reality the cheese was pipped again by the base. The caramelising of the pineapple took the edge of what can otherwise be a leetle bit of a hyperactive pineapple taste. And those white scoops nestling on top weren’t ice cream. They were white chocolate swirls.

White Chocoloate Cheesecake

The Other Dessert

The Other Dessert

Please I can’t eat anymore. But I have to.

JO BBQ

20 New Change Passage, City of London, Greater London, EC4M 9AG