“We logged high levels of aubergine all over the menu,” A Review of Bianco 43

20130620-221454.jpg

There are two Bianco43’s in Greenwich. This has been confusing me since an Italian friend suggested meeting there (before deciding she was actually gluten intolerant) and I was intrigued as to how we could fit in at the takeaway only Bianco 43 that I knew of in Lassel Street. This was actually a bit daft of me, because Bianco 43 the restaurant is kind of hard to miss on Greenwich Church Street near the Cutty Sark (number 43 in keeping with Napoli traditions of restaurant naming).

We sailed in on a Monday evening, expecting dead quiet, and were genuinely impressed to find it pretty full at such an antisocial time. The beachcomber interior of white walls and pale wood was glowing in the sunny evening and we sat upstairs to analyse the menu.

We logged high levels of aubergine all over the menu (the desserts were on a different page) Now it has taken me a long time to appreciate aubergine. I have even goaded Yotam Ottolenghi into taking the subject up with me on twitter. (Oops, is that a name on the floor?) But just lately I have been converted. Smokey deep and comforting aubergine; relatively uncelebrated, lush. So high aubergine readings are a good thing

20130620-221542.jpg

20130620-221552.jpg

I went for fried smoked cheese with sweet and sour aubergine (scamorza alla piastra con caponata siciliana in agrodolce- I did not order it in Italian.) which was delicious, two smokey flavours together.

20130620-221658.jpg

But I should have thought ahead. Pizza’s were split by pomodoro (tomato sauce based) and bianche (not tomato sauce based). Pizza is always tomato based, I thought- I will have bianche. Foolish. This meant even more cheese, albeit with small studs of basil embedded in it. Both pizzas came in authentically rough ovals, oozing with giant pizza bubbles. I bet you won’t find bubbles like that in vision express*. I wish there had been more green stuff. More something not cheese. I struggled. I swapped a slice with my husband. His capricciosa was full of deep flavours. It was loaded with convincing mole hills of ham offset with artichoke and olive, real olives with real stones. I tasted my husband’s valpolicella (which went way better with my pizza than his because it cut through the oil, but did he offer to drive? Did he?) but after cheese for starter too… there was no way that so much cheese could be finished in one night.

20130620-221759.jpg

20130620-221805.jpg

A distraught waitress ran over to check if everything was ok, and seemed only too pleased to respond with an offer of boxes to take away. I can’t decide if we started a trend here, or whether it was a sign of belt-tightening times, but many boxes followed ours. (It was great cold the next day, by the way).

The other dish on the table was superior calamari. Only recently have I realised that not all calamari is made equal, which is strange for something apparently so simple. This dish was unusual in not being remotely rubbery and avoided a flaw i have recently begun to notice of calamari being overly deep fried. It came with a side of deep fried courgette. I am less keen on this addition. I can also vouch that it was not rubbery… But it would be kind of strange if courgette were rubbery.

20130620-221854.jpg

It was a bit embarrassing to ask for the dessert menu after the box incident, but hey it was dessert, we got over it. The waitress didn’t bat an eyelid. Although we were given two knives and one spoon for the 2 desserts, no doubt to make us feel less embarrassed by our faux pas. The inability to picture some of the desserts held us back. Could chocolate cream cake outweigh my previous chocolate cake disappointments? Was the tiramisu the way I like it? We chose well, readers. Very very well. The owner flashed a smug smile at the choice of cannolo, sweet ricotta in deep fried pastry with a grainy texture and crunch to the pastry, and fruit filled sorbert (sic) – which turned out to be fruit with sorbet in and not a wounded Albert with lots of fruit inside. FFS was lemon sorbet- proper tart, mango sorbet in lime – mmm and spectacular walnut sorbet in a walnut shell. Shipped in from Naples, so the owner told us.

20130620-221948.jpg

20130620-221955.jpg
Coffee? I’m starting to feel the pressure. How many times can I describe really good coffee? It was really good coffee. Smooth, flavoursome.

Bianco 43 covered the cost of this meal. I am sure I saw a skip in my husband’s step as we left.

* yes. I know. It was deliberate.

43 Greenwich Church St, London
020 8858 2668

Mouthful of cake, swig of coffee. Savour. A Review of Mara Interiors

Now there is a mini-review of Mara Interiors on my blog already. They are actually an interior designers who happen to sell cake and coffee to chat over rather than an actual coffee shop. So it always felt a bit like cheating to write about them. Also, the owner worked out that I am the that coffee shop blogger, which always felt a little intimidating. It’s so much easier to let my opinion run free when no one knows who you are.

However I have had such consistently pleasant visits there that I thought it was worth a revisit. especially as recently they have been moving their cake selections from solely Boulangerie Jade (which you know I love) to one made no other vendors. In particular this week we discovered these tea cakes (I believe the name is)

20130602-212128.jpg

Why have I only got a picture of half of a tea cake…? Because I couldn’t stop myself diving in. This blog, you followers, I forgot you all when faced by the tea cakes and the knife to tuck in… So I don’t even have any evidence of the raspberry one to share with you.

Was it good? Yeeeess it was good. But the one you do have a photo of is even better. The honey and lavender one that was in the words of the baker’s husband ‘less elaborate’ with only a layer of thin icing was fabulous. The best, full of subtle flavours and sugar. I liked. Mouthful of cake. Swig of coffee. Savour. Do something else for a couple of minutes. Repeat. It is necessary to get the balance between enjoying the cake and making the experience last as long as possible.

Very good coffee by the way. And sitting in an interior design shop you do get much nicer seats than in many of Blackheath’s options.

180 Westcombe Hill
Blackheath
London
SE3 7DH

Who Was to Know: Not All King Prawns are Born for Chilli and Garlic, A Review of Tzigano’s, Blackheath

The revisit to Tzigano’s was spontaneous (and probably unnecessary) although they had replied to my previous review with a note of sadness that I had missed their proper menu.

This proved a valid concern. Firstly, it had completely escaped my notice that there is tapas to be had in the village… much as i love it. Secondly, this tapas was special.

Now we did have chorizo. You knew that right? It was everything that it should have been. Sardines I think we could have left, but they were rely enjoyable.
Champinones Verde- This is the first time i have tried button mushrooms in basil and Gorgonzola, but what a combination. No really. Very creamy- most obvious flavour was energy Basil, but fantastic merging with the Gorgonzola… Run to your fridges and try it.

And who was to know that not all King Prawns are born for chilli and garlic. (Which are very good things too), what a fabulous surprise that they also come with cognac and cream. Waaaay mellower, not instantly noticeable but very rewarding.

We chose pimientos. We were disappointed that they were not what we had imagined (Pimientos de Padron) more that they were roasted sweet peppers drowning in olive oil. Went great with chicken satay (anyone want to tell me how authentically med that is?)

Desserts were all creamy. One came with coffee liqueur and amaretti, but I was the driver, so I had the hot chocolate. Get that readers. I didn’t have dessert, I had a hot chocolate. Okay I had a spoonful of Gelato Borracho. Coffee liqueur was lovely. Amaretti was under-supplied. Whipped cream was er… Imploding to invisibility. You know what that means right?

Notable and untested were several, I do mean several, cocktails moving to the window seats and all supplying Mediterranean speaking people. Always a good sign for authenticity.

17 Montpelier Vale , Blackheath, London , SE3 0TA Phone 020 8852 9226

20130602-211326.jpg

20130602-211335.jpg

20130602-211341.jpg

20130602-211347.jpg

20130602-211352.jpg

20130602-211358.jpg

20130602-211404.jpg

The Turkish Coffee Arrived and it was not Nescafe, A Review if Helva in Greenwich

Helva Interior

Helva Interior

There’s nothing like Meze. It solves all of your menu woes… You don’t have to pick, just have a bit of everything. The Meze however at Helva was only of starters, cruelly evading the exciting grills also on the menu, so we did what every self respecting food fan does, and ordered the mixed grill too. The waitress looked confused and after a pause asked us if we wanted both at the same time. Then she pulled over an extra table, so that she would have room for all the Meze.

2 tables of Mexe

2 tables of Mexe

Personally, I think that without the deep fried stuff… Calamari, whitebait, this would not have been such a difficult job to eat in its entirety. Deep fried halloumi could stay though. This was one of the best specimens I have tried, lightly herbed and with lemon juice. Also exceptional was the flavour of the garlic mushrooms and the bread so light it was inline savoury brioche- as if it had been steamed in the cooking. The lahmacun, mince sauce on flat bread was also finished pretty quick. The humous was not as good as the one that I made (on the advice of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem). My husband said this before I did, btw.

Light Turkish bread

Light Turkish bread

The iskender, the mixed grill, was exactly what grills should be, and in this instance came with yogurt, butter and bread sauce. Why would that taste so good? Have i ever served cornflakes and milk and Rice Krispie sauce with my grills? No. But after tasting this combination, maybe i should. The cankaya- (turkish wine) however was nothing much… But given the brave decision of the menu not to have a single Sauvignon blanc, I gave it a shot.

Iskender

Iskender

We did a respectable job of finishing dinner. I say respectable, although there was an almost indecent speed of completion in our part. Just a bit of whitebait and 2 slices of bread remained. It was like the loaves and fishes in reverse.
We didn’t even have the manners to decline the dessert menu. (Actually these were just thrust upon us, depriving us of the chance to make jokes a out how greedy we were being and thus divert from the fact that we were being greedy).

My oh so noble attempts to remain authentic led me to a turkish dessert and a turkish coffee. The Helva arrived looking unexpectedly like polenta and with very little taste of sesame. I was quite taken aback by how different it was from every other helva experience have ever had – even in Turkey, and even now i am wondering if it was an elaborate ruse to assess whether i knew anything about turkish cuisine and hence pass off the nescafe as turkish coffee.

My husband ordered only ice cream and was disappointed by the neopoliatan options available. We think he offended them with his lack of turkish attempts, because while mine was sparkling with hundreds and thousands, this was what arrived for him

20130602-210533.jpg.

He went on to make a Home made (table-based) affogato

The Turkish coffee arrived and it was not nescafe. It had the sand like texture and deep flavour that turkish coffee always has, but sadly far too much sugar than was drinkable after such a huge meal.

27-31 Greenwich Church St, London
020 8858 8658