So…we were in London and I count my lucky stars for having witnessed Danny Boyle’s peculiarly spectacular opening ceremonies firsthand. We soaked in any Olympic event we could get our hands on tennis, gymnastics, basketball, swimming thanks to the fine folks at NBC. I am in awe of our athletes and frankly NBC’s coverage and have savored every moment of the Olympic games since returning. And yet there is a food story here too.

When you think of London, much like when you think of LA, food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Luckily, the food scenes in both towns have been changing over the last ten years.

I heard much about Yotam Ottolenghi in the blogospherethrough his wildly successfulcookbooks,but didn’t imagine his vegetable wizardry until we ate at his shop in the tony section of London, Belgravia. What he does with butternut squash requires a confession booth. Simply, he applies Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences to clean, real food and then ratchets it up with original, exotic combinations. The larder at Ottolenghi offers homemade ketchup, seeds for salads, salts, and more. The man has a palate that demands more out of a bite and shows us how to get there too. This green bean salad comes alive with walnuts and the curious ingredient – orange peel. I prepared it twice since returning and even for my friend Jacinda and family visiting from Texas. So easy and so delectable; the recipe is below!

Mention Dinner by Heston to Londoners and you get alot of ahh Heston Blumenthal.. he’s an eccentric. We expected something over the top for the lunch, but instead were served modern, perfected meals resurrected out of England’s historical cuisine. Manly meats confidently prepared with less sizzle and more substance – lesson for us all. One thing that separates the London restaurants from those in Los Angeles – foie gras. Yeah we went there with this number called Meat Fruit – mandarin gelee coating a chicken liver & fois gras parfait. Check out the presentation.

As closing ceremonies approach, I’m sad to lose the fever of the Olympic games and yet happy to get my evenings back. Thanks London for the golden memories, welcoming spirit, cucumber tea sandwiches, pubs, meat fruit, seeds for salad, and frizzy hair weather.

[recipe]

 

gold and orange and green

preptime: 15 minutes serves 6

3/4 lb french or green string beans

3/4 lb snow peas

2-3 oz walnuts*

1 orange

1 bunch chives, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 T olive oil

2 T hazelnut or walnut oil (or another nut oil)

  • Toast nuts in 350° oven for 10 minutes. Cool and rough chop.
  • Blanch beans for 4 minutes in salted water, cool under cold water in colander.
  • Repeat process for snowpeas but blanch only for 1 minute.
  • Remove the zest from the orange with a knife being careful not to cut into the white pithy parts. Slice thinly. You can use a zester for this, but I found that the knife process produces more zest.
  • Mix all ingredients together. Adjust seasonings and serve at room temperature.
*recipe calls for hazelnuts with skins on. After roasting, use towel to remove skins. I imagine the lighter flavor of hazelnuts would allow the orange peel to shine even more. I used walnuts because they were on-hand and seemed easier.

crunchtimewarp:

  • blanch beans and peapods together – start with beans and add peapods in pot for last minute.
  • use zester for orange peel.
  • blanch vegetables and mix dressing day in advance. Assemble with walnuts just before serving.

recipe inspired by Ottolenghi cookbook and modified, converted to US measurements, and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com.

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