Restaurant Review: Ottolenghi

My most recent dining experience certainly has been a long time coming. Having been a fan of Yotam Ottolenghi ’s fresh and innovative style for years (and the proud owner of all of his cookbooks) I finally found the time for a candlelit soirée at Ottolenghi Spitalfields. Expectations were dangerously high. It was a busy Thursday evening and the restaurant was already bustling with action. Inside, the décor is modern and minimalist but with touches of originality; mismatching candlesticks on each table, a rustic feature wall. With bags and coats hung up for us, we sat down chatting away and were handed the menu.

We ordered a bottle each of craft beer, and were given freshly baked sour dough bread with a generous dish of Iliada extra virgin olive oil to nibble on, whilst we drooled over the menu. The food is all served on small plates so there isn’t a set starter or main course, but the opportunity to mix it up and try a little bit of everything. Ideal. We went for a zingy green and yellow bean salad with coriander seeds and capers, which was crunchy, fresh and full of flavour. Next up was hands down the best aubergine dish I have ever eaten (and that really is saying something as I am ardent about the aubergine!) It was roasted in thick slices, drizzled with lime yogurt, and served with a generous handful of chopped chilli and toasted almonds. The texture of the aubergine was so succulent, it was almost meaty, and the earthy flavour married perfectly with the heat from the chilli and the cooling lime yogurt. Divine.

A small pause to sip our beers, and take in the atmosphere, before we were on to the hot dishes; first up was the Urfa chilli lamb rump with sweet corn, feta and olives. Urfa is a dark crimson Turkish chilli pepper and has a sweet, spicy and smoky flavour. Used as a marinade for the seared lamb rump, the Urfa paired excellently with the saltiness of the feta and olives, and the sweetcorn chunks added the necessary crunch as well as a touch of colour to the plate. Finally, my favourite plate of the night: braised leeks with a smoked onion purée, goat’s cheese and sour cherries. The dish was packed full of flavour; a big punch from the smoky onion purée, the tartness of the goat’s cheese and the earthy flavour of the leeks. For me this dish defines Ottolenghi ’s cooking style: adventurous, packed full of interesting flavours yet exceptionally well-balanced.

For the finale, we were invited to go up to the dessert counter, to see what sweet treats the kitchen had prepared that day. It was a close call between a sumptuous looking apple cake with maple syrup butter cream and a lighter orange chiffon cake topped with coconut frosting. The orange cake won out after a tip from the waitress, who assured me that the sponge was as soft as it looked. Zesty, fruity and exceptionally light, it was a lovely dessert to satisfy any sweet tooth and the perfect way to end an outstanding dinner. Hats off to Ottolenghi and his team, I will certainly be going back for more.


Written by Chloë Riddle



Iliada Olive Oil


Graham Norton’s Book Launch

Last week, on Wednesday 14th October, we had the privilege of catering for a canapé reception party to celebrate Graham Norton’s book launch at Liberty’s on Regent Street. What an incredible venue it is! Founded in 1875, the department store is renowned for its vast collection of quality and luxury goods: from unique prints and fabric designs to beautiful and intricate jewellery. Liberty’s Tudor style façade is a well-known sight to Londoners and tourists alike, and we thought that its magnificent interior made the perfect setting for this exciting event. The bright atrium and sweeping staircases, dark wood panelling and ambient lighting created a nostalgic atmosphere in which guests enjoyed a glass or two of Invivo wine; a brand that is sponsored by Graham Norton himself.


Book Publisher Hodder & Stoughton hosted the launch of Mr Norton’s debut novel, ‘Holding’, which is a gripping tale of secrets and heartbreak set in his native Ireland. Parsons Creative Food provided a selection of canapés for the 100 guests, including our Walnut Goats Cheese Sable with Slow Roasted Tomato and Pesto, Fillet of Lamb on Mint Shortbread with Shallot Jam and Beetroot Cured Salmon on Dill Blini with Avruga Caviar. All of which were served on our modern black and white platters decorated with a selection of flowers from New Covent Garden Flower Market.


Mr Norton himself was charmingly dressed in a dark velvet jacket complete with pink handkerchief, and his charismatic personality buoyed the atmosphere. After a brilliant event, we are very much looking forward to reading our very own copy of ‘Holding’, and rumour has it that we can also look forward to a television series based on the book. A huge thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for using Parsons Creative Food; we look forward to working with you again soon!


Graham Norton's debut novel 'Holdings' on display

Graham Norton’s debut novel ‘Holdings’ on display

Walnut Goat's Cheese Sable with Slow Roast Tomato and Pesto

Walnut Goat’s Cheese Sable with Slow Roast Tomato and Pesto

Our Floral Platters ready for service

Our Floral Platters ready for service

Anyone for a Lobster Bagel?

Anyone for a Lobster Bagel?

Hodder & Stoughton Books
Invivo Wines
Liberty London

A Local Food Experience in Paris

Paris: the gastronomic capital of the world. Famous for its world class chefs and Michelin starred restaurants. However, unless you have booked more than a month in advance, and have the spending power of a city banker, the world of haute cuisine is daunting for some and inaccessible to most. But as Parson’s Chef Chloë discovered recently, Paris’ food culture is everywhere and able to be enjoyed by everyone…

One of the best and worst things about being a chef is that you get used to waking up at the break of day, and this habit can be difficult to change even when you’re on holiday. I recently went away to Paris, and, unable to sleep in, I decided to head out for a morning stroll to the local food market. As I walked through the 12ème arrondissement to the Marché d’Aligre, I watched as Paris slowly came to life: a young Chinese girl helped her mother set up chairs on the street outside their restaurant, tourists piled out of a hostel in search of a quick caffeine fix after a late night and everywhere the hum and buzz of traffic flowing throughout the city.

As I turned onto Rue D’Aligre, the relative tranquillity of the main street melted away and I was bombarded by the sights, smells and sounds of a bustling Parisian food market. Stalls lined each side of the pavement, laden with a colourful array of fresh fruit and vegetables. Sellers called out to passers by, “Carrotes! Fraises! Abricots!” and bartered with frumpy old French dames over the price per kilo of borlotti beans.


One of many fruit and veg stalls, Aligre Market, Paris

Behind the stalls, the permanent shops had thrown open their doors, revealing trays of fish on ice beds, their scales shining in the sunlight, or wheels of aged cheese sat proudly on wooden crates, the air around them pungent. There was a different boulangerie at every turn, from the traditional French to a family-run Levantine bakery selling baklava and flatbreads. A coffee bar called Café Aouba opened up onto the street, and the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans permeated the air around it, beckoning me in. I bought a bag of coffee grounds from Costa Rica to take back to the team at Parsons, ordered ‘un café’ (an espresso in France) and knocked it back stood at the little wooden bar overlooking the street.

At the end of Rue D’Aligre there is a Marché Beauvau (covered market) with permanent stalls. Roast suckling pigs rotate slowly on spits next to one butchers stall and rows upon rows of French and Belgium beers line the crates of another. France is renowned for its sensational patisseries and this market does not fail to deliver; the dessert display at a little patisserie called Jojo & Co is a work of art in itself.


Jojo & Co Pastries, Aligre Market, Paris

I spent a wonderful hour wandering through the market, absorbing everything, imagining dishes to create, and tasting the odd apricot (they were in season when I visited in July and so abundant that every seller was trying to shift their stock). I left the market laden with enough French cheese, fresh vegetables and handmade pastries to feed a small army, and the feeling that I had experienced Paris’ affordable culinary culture from a local’s perspective. Think I’ll save that trip to Le Cinq for next time.


Jojo & Co Patisserie


Cafe Aouba on Timeout

Top London Caterers, Spring 2016

Spring has officially arrived and for London caterers, events are hotting up. And it’s no exception in the Parson’s Creative Food kitchen. Below we’ve shared some photos from an event we recently catered for: a large canapé party to celebrate the opening of an exciting new building in central London. We made a range of canapés from our popular menus including a Thai fish cake, smoked cheddar beignets and a bamboo cone of coconut calamari.

The evening was a huge success and the feedback extremely positive. We cater for all kinds of events at Parsons and if you would like to see examples of our current canape menus, as well our hot and cold buffet and fine dining food please click here.

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