In Parma – or In Parma by Food Roots, if we’re spitting it proper – might be seeing a lot of me this year. In a true “how did I not know this was here?!” affair, this brilliantly authentic Italian restaurant is nestled in Charlotte Place (which, unfortunately, is not marked on many maps*).
Thankfully, once found, you feel as though you’ve become the winner of a treasure hunt. In Parma’s “Food Roots” concept is one every foodie can appreciate: the aim is to serve authentically high quality products that have been sourced strictly from small producers. In fact, they are the only entity in the world dedicated to European Protected Designation of Origin products and have had almost 1000 of their products awarded the status of PDO and PGI by the European Commission (certifying the area and methods of production and designates them as rare and artisanal food).
In their country-chic space, the passionate staff – educated to the nines – will further educate and entice you through every course. Beginning with a glass of Lambrusco (!) served in a bowl-like fojeta, every plate that was placed in our line of attack wowed with all of Food Roots’ intentions. The core of the ‘wow’ are In Parma’s various sharing platters of charcuterie and cheese. Encouraged to smell our way through the Culatello from Zibello, 24 month aged Proscuitto Crudo from Parma, and Lardo from Colonnata, the simplicity of the preparation somehow turned into quite a consuming experience. By the time we stuck our forks into Red Cow, 12 month old, 24 month old, and 36 month old Parmigiano-Reggiano we were scribbling under-the-table love notes to Reggio Emilia.
After shared plates of homemade Tortelli D’erbetta and (gluten free) polenta trailed us towards spontaneous combustion, we also managed to share a few bites of their dessert selection. I tell you, the tiramisu is the lightest I have ever laid lips on.
Go. Gorge. Tell your friends.
* Directions: Across from the Duke of York on Rathbone Place (closest tube station: Goodge Street).
For as much as I want to keep Chiswick an untouched and unpopular place (because it is my omgfave!!!), the time has come for me to have a love-fest over Sam’s Brasserie and Bar. Just off Chiswick High Road, Sam’s is located in the Barley Mow Centre and – as the name infers – keeps a 100-seat redbricked brasserie and 55-seat bar tucked far enough away from the high street to give it cult appeal. With the addition of high ceilings and steel girders, it also has beautifully eclectic visual draw.
The atmosphere at Sam’s is equal parts professional, friendly, and absent of pretention. We scrutinized the menu (which changes daily) while knocking back an interesting blend of warm and cool seasonal cocktails, settling on a Colston bassett stilton, beetroot, walnut and pomegranate salad with maple dressing as well as Lambs belly fritters with pumpkin puree and salsa verde. While the salad was well-balanced and exquisitely sparked with maple sweetness, the fritters lacked a strong enough flavour to encourage me to finish the plate.
Thankfully, the mains blew us away. First, chargrilled lake district venison, fondant potato, spiced red cabbage, and chesnut puree. A succulent and tender dish that I managed to steal more than a few forks of. Thankfully we had the foresight to order the spiced red cabbage as a side; the buttery zest of this dish deserves an award of its own. Tucking into – my own dish of – roast partridge, orange & thyme, bacon, cavolo nero, and soft parmesan, I found yet another dish that makes your stomach jump out of your body and run around screaming like a child on Christmas morning. Cavolo nero grips onto thyme even more so than kale and makes for an excellent pairing.
Knowing that it can be quite the finicky dish to execute, I ordered the treacle tart and mulled wine ice cream while my dining partner indulged in a gargantuan sticky toffee pudding with salted carmel ice cream. Praise is due for the wafer-thin crust of the former and the stodge deficit of the latter. Fuss-free and fabulous.
I would happily eat (and drink) here any day of the week; for its dulcet environment, menu…and for the love of Chiswick.
Having an incurable case of wanderlust, I also have a somewhat disillusioned view of poor travel experiences. Deadly Cambodian tuk tuk racing, the black slopes of Switzerland; throw ’em at me, it’s part of the adventure! I can take almost anything…until it comes to food. Plane food, to be precise. From the genetically modified crackers to the mutant proteins, plane food is one of those things that – unless you’re in first class – we tend to simply grin and bare.
Recently, I was invited to preview the opening of Heathrow’s brand new concept eating and relaxation area in Terminal 5; their answer to the aforementioned food woes. The hub airport have created a pop-up park designed to give passengers a relaxing space to de-stress in and ‘picnic’, in effect. Many of Heathrow’s eateries have launched pre-flight menus developed for al fresco dining in recognition of the positive effect food and drink can have on our relaxation and wellbeing.
The menus, in fact, have been developed to include picnics you can have packaged to stay fresh and take onto the plane with you. Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food, pictured here, has created a three-course ‘takeaway’ menu that offers a variety of choices including salmon salads, cheesecakes, and roasted Hereford beef. In fact, with well-being in mind, Gordon Ramsay Plane Food have created a delicious ‘Healthy Heights Picnic’ (£14.95) packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and expertly crafted whole foods to keep you full and fresh during your travels:
Beetroot, carrot and chicory with pomegranate dressing
Mango, avocado and smoked chicken salad
Fromage frais yoghurt and plum ripple with toasted home-made granola
Not forgetting the avocado and crab Maki rolls from Itsu or Caviar House‘s fish tartar canapés made from Norwegian salmon (of which I could eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), Heathrow have successfully reminded us that our holiday always starts at the airport. There is a reason why this savvy airport is continuously awarded the ‘World’s Best Airport Food & Beverage’.
If you follow me on Instagram (@lelalondon), you were likely to have seen me upload much more food porn than usual this past week. The explanation? I have been more than pleased (and visually inspired, it seems) by a five day trial of the Zenergy meal plan service.
Zenergy is simple; a great choice for those who are too busy, too unhealthy, or too inadequate in the kitchen (ahem), Zenergy delivers healthy, fresh and nutrient-packed meals in a carefully customised and calorie-controlled plan. Offering a satisfaction guarantee, you receive a hamper early each morning with your full day’s temperature-controlled meal boxes. You are, respectively, encouraged to ‘recycle’ the hampers at your door each succedent morning. (High five, eco goddesses!)
Every meal was delicious. They suggest you pace each ‘box’ roughly three hours apart, but my schedule means some stretches of time reached over five hours. Remarkably, I was not hungry. Their head nutritionist, Sara Mehrabdi, truly has a handle on the oft-debated balance between protein, carbohydrates, and feeling full. More than that, she creates food that I happily devour when I am not ravenous, because I know it is ‘fueling’ me. Now four days past my trial, I have noticed an unexpected but positive shift in my eating habits that has me craving more green-coloured food than the hypnotic chocolate-coloured offerings of yesterdays. For that alone, I think Zenergy would be a fantastic, painless detox for absolutely anyone.
So here we go, what you’ve all been waiting for, last week’s food diary (minus the glass of water between every ‘course’).