“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

L’Artisan Greenwich Review: “Does what it says on the cover: A Craftsman of food”

A Review of L’Artisan Delicatessen , Greenwich SE10

Imagine piles chocolates and biscuits; meringues and croissants and tarts and different iced cakes.

Ok stop now and listen to what I am saying.

Responding emotionally to plenty is a reaction designed for survival, right? And Tesco’s and Paul Rhode’s Bakery (and a few other venues on the food-selling spectrum) know how to hit that button hard – the shelves replete with diversity and colour. Other restaurants go for plush interiors.

Don’t pretend you’ve never used that ‘nice toilets’ line on a night out.

So I’m going to ask you to put a check on that gut reaction. It would be too easy to dismiss the humble interior of L’Artisan: 3 small red gingham-clothed tables, and some shelves and a fridge. The location is a walk away from tourist Greenwich, hovering uncomfortably east of the (gasp) university and in the section that seems to be competing gambling shops and genuine African or Asian dishes (which I shall be investigating on your behalf).

Dismissing L’Artisan for these reasons would be a mistake.

The view from inside L’Artisan Greenwich

L’Artisan values food. To be specific, it values the food experience. On a very dreary afternoon, we visited, chose something simple, (because we thought this was just a coffee shop) and in response the owner (let’s call him L’Artisan) responded by kicking the door stop out the way to block out the busy road, neatly laying cutlery and a napkin and turning on the classical music. We got the message: Food is an important experience; don’t take a single bite without relishing it even without flash surroundings.

On our second visit, we ordered Quiche with Salad. Perhaps like me, you wonder what the big deal is about quiche. It reminds me of cold weddings in village halls, alongside the winter salad. I have had good quiche lorraines from some of the chain French delis, but while nice they can be little laden with oil. At L’Artisan, the quiche was perfect. Fabulously flavoured with leek and ham and so very light. Served with due care sprinkled with olive oil and black pepper, due attention ascribed to the detail.

The side salads were excellent. My husband raved about the spiced beetroot with herbs. I enjoyed the pickled cabbage.

We finished with a very generously sized lemon drizzle cake. Again, not a heavy cake which lemon drizzles often can be.

They asked, can we get you anything else? They weren’t up-selling. They just thought we might like a glass of tap water to rehydrate after our coffee. Like I said, attentive.

Plat du Jour at L’Artisan

Beautiful pear tarts came out of the kitchen as we went to pay and leave. Are these what you serve in the afternoon, I asked the owner. No, I was told. He proudly runs out of food throughout the day. The batch was arriving now, because everything is cooked on the premises and cannot be supplied to demand. He does fresh soup every day and a different Plat du Jour for takeaway with salad… I quietly wished to myself that I worked next door to L’Artisan.

The deli shelves offer the kind of things you always used to find in a French Hypermarche. The deli shelves offer the kind of things you always used to find in a French Hypermarche – don’t you just love those little spongy biscuits that used to come with a fruit or chocolate filling? And what was with those rich looking bottles of Syrop? They don’t just have Kia Ora on the continent, you know.

There are no pretensions here, behind us was a jar of alphabetti spaghetti (albeit dried and without tomato sauce). And the fridge was largely empty. I honestly don’t know if this was just because they sold out, or if this was all they were able to offer today thank you very much – but it lent to the assurance that whatever was still in the fridge it was made with the highest love.

A shelf of cheese that puts supermarket selections to shame. (Although I came over all English and skipped the unpasteurised offerings.)

And you kind of think – ok, no amuse bouche (would be odd in a deli) but L’Artisan has taken pride in his work down to the last detail, and looked after you as well as in any flash restaurant.

Seriously, these people are doing something special here. Really quite special. If there is any justice in the world I would say they are going far.

If you want to make the most of a visit to L’Artisan, we also visited the quirky Green Parrot Gallery, (opposite the auction house) and it’s not far from the North East corner of Greenwich Park. A few shops closer to central Greenwich is the unbelievably helpful Theatre of Wine.

L’Artisan 93 Trafalgar Road, London, SE10 9TS Phone: 020 8858 0918

Fried Carbs. Hot Fried Carbs. Hot Fried Carbs in sugar.

A Review of San Miguel restaurant and tapas bar, Greenwich SE10

Question is, would I ever have visited San Miguel if the San Miguel Twitterer had not challenged my lunch choice of cold mussels? A choice by which I still stand, you should know.

I might not have, because San Miguel is based in the heart of the Greenwich where the students and funky shoe shops make it all just so colourful, that the duly colourful Spanish bar doesn’t quite stand out. But their website told me they cooked homemade tapas, and churros… so I was going to find search them out.

San Miguel feels authentic. Partially because it is unashamably Spanish, being full of genuine Spanish articles that seemed such wonderful exotic holiday keepsakes for our parent’s sideboards in the 70’s; and partially because it was full of Spanish speakers – staff and guests. I was impressed, if not to say slightly intimidated. I came to sound off about whether I enjoyed lunch, and now I have to concede that my personal opinions might just not be Spanish enough.

Paella was an option on the menu, but so was Tapas. And tapas is a wonderful thing. It means that you can (1) not make up your mind from the menu and have everything, and (2) (where all tapas dishes are the same price) pick all of the meat rich ones. This is a clever thing to do because restaurateur had priced in the assumption that you would have some vegetable dishes, so you can feel smug that you got good value for money (albeit slightly bloated).

Mmmmm… (one on the bottom right is spinach scramble).

I was floored at San Miguel: (1) The menu was so extensive that had to get our iphones out and make a shortlist in order to knock some of the options off; and (2) Not all tapas dishes at San Miguel were the same price.

But the food, atmosphere and service were so good, I forgave them.

Fabulous and undersold on the menu was the spinach and mushroom scramble “revuelto de Espinacas”. Does that sound appetising to you? We ordered it because we thought we should order some vegetables. The scrambled eggs with spinach and mushroom, however had another depth of flavour altogether – coconut…? This was the dish we saved till last… even after the flaming chorizo.

Hmmm, flaming chorizo. A great Spanish food now with a slightly caramelised coating (thanks to the flaming.) Look real flames (hadn’t expected that from the menu description either.)

Makes a slightly caramelised outside to one of Spain’s best ingrediants

We also chose scallops. Don’t often see those on a tapas menu so even though I am getting slightly irritated by every Michelin-wannabe plonking pan-sear-fried-diver-caught scallops on their over-written menus. Scallops are great, but they are easily described with one word and do not make a chef great. (I’ve cooked scallops; that says it all). However, back to San Miguel: Scallops wrapped in bacon; no pretentions; great.

The staff were actually lovely, all of them, not a single gripe; risking burning so that we could photograph flaming chorizo; piling their arms with more dishes than I was trained for silver service and allowing us to eat churros even in the day time (and why not?)

Oh yes… churros. I hadn’t mentioned them. Fried Carbs. Hot Fried Carbs. Hot Fried Carbs in sugar with hot chocolate on the side. (Why aren’t Churros more famous?) The San Miguel Churros were a particularly thin brand that I would have preferred with a rich black coffee, but maybe that’s just not Spanish.

HOT FRIED CARBS IN SUGAR

HOT FRIED CARBS IN SUGAR

San Miguel Tapas Bar & Restaurant: 18 Greenwich Church Street, London SE10 9BJ

Peas have been Upgraded

A review of Nando’s the Restaurant in Greenwich Pier

If you can spot the sangria I am going straight back

If you can spot the sangria I am going straight back

I was happy to be going to Nando’s this week and in turn to blog about how great it was in an I’m-not-a-food-snob sort of a way. Sunday evening brought disappointment number one: they had run out of sangria. Oh, yeah. The world was ending along with the Olympic Closing Ceremony… there was no Sangria at Nandos.

It has been a souless few days since then. Peering into restaurant windows, seeing the Mexican on the Heath advertising that they now serve San Miguel beer on tap… and thinking, “but not sangria?” (they probably do, actually but I was busy right then).

You may have been led to believe that sangria was invented to go with something other than peri peri sauce. You should rely less on Wikipedia for your facts.
It’s long, it’s mellow, not too sweet, and is actually better than beer in many circumstances – especially ones featuring hot food. The Brahma beer I had instead might have been great, in fact it was the beer I used to enjoy with a Nando’s before I discovered sangria. But it wasn’t sangria.

Disappointments two and three were shared amongst my friends, who found that their loyalty cards were no longer accepted, and that the halloumi had run out. (Can anyone explain to me why this last oversight was a problem?)

I did enjoy my a quarter chicken medium-hot with ratatouille and a good fair chunk of my husband’s chosen side dishes including ‘rugged pea mash with whole peas, parsley, mint and chilli’. Isn’t it great how peas have been upgraded since they were something convenient to have with fish fingers? Is anyone else sure that they are never ever going back there?

I finished with an elegant Portuguese tart. This is one of the great simple eating pleasures in life and is also done very well at Boulangerie Jade. Such a tart cannot be soggy. It must be crisp, flakey and custardy or else it is nothing but a bland mash of wannabe carb. Nando’s tart hit the mark. I had it with black coffee in huge pool of a cup, hence drowning my non-sangria-d state. I tasted some of the bottomless frozen yogurt, but on the whole, I’d be skipping most the dessert menu.

The Nando’s on Greenwich pier virtually sits underneath the stunning Cutty Sark, and has with huge windows overlooking the Thames. On a hot deep blue evening, this location is something else, even if you have no hope of getting a seat in the roof garden.

Nando’s Greenwich Promenade, King William Walk, SE10 9HT

A little bit of ciabatta-nose-up-turnedness

A review of Red Door Gallery & Cafe in Greenwich SE10

In the forest of teapots, in the land of Red Door; underneath the greater luminary (the 70’s paper light shade) and the lesser luminary (the ornate pre-victorian one), my husband and I did eat 2 sandwiches (one each) and a slice of chocolate cake.

Greater and lesser luminaries

We were strangely uptight. Was it my husband’s work weighing on his mind, or was it the lack of cake for sale? (We arrived very late in the day). Or was it because the seats at the front of the cafe were facing the barista/waitress/owner as if we were on a panel interview? There were 3 of them and two of us. So I guess that makes us the interviewees.

There were other seats. There was a throne like sofa facing in the opposite direction, but then they might have spotted me taking sneaky pictures of their interior to report back to you. There was a lovely sunken tea room at the rear (I do mean lovely, not remotely lose-able oneself in, but some how labyrinthine nonetheless.) but that was full.

On our other side, sitting in the pretty window bay we were swamped by paparazzi. Thousands of tourists stopped to take photos of us. I had no idea this blog was so famous.

What am I saying? Of course the blog made the big time. It’s great. The only catch is that I think these people didn’t realise it was BlackheathCoffeeShops blogger in the window… I think they were just taking pictures of the pretty facade. Rude really.

We made 2 good choices having fluffed the seating plan. Mine was a smoked salmon, cream cheese basil bagel. Now how many times have you eaten smoked salmon with pesto and never thought to eat it with fresh basil? What is it about smoked salmon? Does it go with everything, likea sort of fabulous socialite of the food world who’s a little bit wet on her own?

My husband chose the goat’s cheese and sundried tomato ciabatta. I have to admit to a little bit of a ciabatta nose-up-turnedness  going on here. I would rather choose good bread than something a bit stodgy with an Italian name – as if that changes anything (Bognor Regicci; Johnito Majorato). But you knew when I said “Goat’s cheese and sundried tomato” that we were talking something good, didn’t you? And they didn’t fluff it neither– not the singlest drip of intrusive spread or overactive dressing.

Tea arrived in an enamel teapot, nice touch, and poured into my grandmother’s teacup. Well it’s been a long time, but one generation’s faux pas is another’s cutting edge so I sipped. I believe the contents were Twinning’s Earl Grey. This is good.

Can you see the enamel teapot hiding behind grandma’s teacup?

There is no theme to the ‘gifts’ and arts and crafts on the wall. Some I loved, some I err… I did not. I think the point is that Red Door is a work of art in its own right. It’s a sketch book of a coffee shop, rough around the edges with sparks of brilliance made all the more intriguing by demonstrating the thinking behind the art (ooo – I think I will plug one of my pages here … about time I got something selfish out the blogging process. For sketch book – click here (NOW! – no excuses)).

We were instructed by our interviewers that we could only order dessert when we had finished our mains. Finishing the main course was not a problem or hadn’t  you been reading up until now? It was unfortunate that we were so late for the full cake selection which left us with chocolate cake. This was referred to by the owner as ‘you would like a slice of that monstostiy would you?’. Chocolate cake is not what I would normally choose but the cake was light and fresh with no pretensions of ‘death by’; and gratifyingly 2 different types of icing (one within, one out) both meltingly soft. So the cake box is ticked too.

Service was also quirky and fun. No pretensions

Red Door Gallery

10 Turnpin Ln, London, Greater London SE10 9JA, UK

You all keep asking where the pictures are.

You all keep asking where the pictures are. And I’m meant to be an artist so there’s something wrong, right? Here i present my Q&A, questions posted for the artist by the artist on the subject of: “Why no pictures?”

Why would an artist use a standard header picture from wordpress?

What can I say? I have one visual part of the brain, and one wordy part of my brain, and never the twain shall meet. (yes – pendants, I know that’s a misquote.)

Fortunately for a food blogger, my wordy part of the brain connects well with my eating side. Frankly if my eating side did not connect well with other things, I would struggle with most every day tasks.

Why don’t I paint a picture of Blackheath and use it as my header?

Because dear reader, Blackheath is twee. This is not an insult to the village that I love to pop into (quite regularly as you may have noticed from this blog), but this is not the sort of art that I do. Maybe one day I will see an angle or a light that suits my style actually on the heath, but this is yet to occur, and even if it does there is no guarantee it will work as a header or suit my blog. See my commentary on my painting of the Champs Elysees at http://alexpaintings.com/#/europe/4537246510 for my philosophy on how I paint something already famous or definably beautiful.

If you’re still not happy, I’m sure I have Constable’s phone number around here somewhere for you.

Surely I should do a montage of all my paintings or photos of the village as a header.

No.

Sorry, you wanted something more verbose? Well, let me put it this way: if you find any montage anywhere that you think looks nice – not to mention arty, fun, draws you in, adds value… please post the link in the comments below and I will see if they will sell me the copyright.

I promise that I will try and upload an iphone pic to any further reviews.

Short version of this blog: My writing isn’t good enough for you? Go buy yourselves ladybird books.