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London @Nopi – Day 8

For my birthday I got this cookbook, signed by the Nopi-chefs

I wasn’t sure which shift I had today, but I left for the early one. This way I could celebrate my birthday in the afternoon and evening.

This morning the streets were more crowded on my way to Nopi. Now I know why last Friday the streets were this quiet, and there were no running business man in front of my door. Last Friday was Good Friday, also a Bank Holiday. This also explains de ‘Vlasmarkt’ scent: people went out on Thursday evening because the weekend had already started.
I’m learning here :0)

I really still have to get used to the cars and buses riding on the ‘wrong’ side of the street. When I want to cross the street I always watch the left first and then want to cross, but cars come from the other side! I’m happy I still have all my toes, it has been very close a few times.

Today was (and still is) my birthday. I knew this was going to happen :0) so I bought some Belgian chocolates before I headed to London, to treat the Nopi-staff. 1 kilo… gone in a second :0) . I was relieved they didn’t taste odd: I held them in the fridge in my apartment which smells really strange. The owner of the apartment is from Ethiopia and he keeps some strong smelling dishes in his fridge. I’m happy those 5 plastic bags where I put the pralines in helped!

After wishing me a happy birthday, Carlos disappeared for about 5 minutes and then came back with a by Ottolenghi signed Sweet cookbook, nicely wrapped. After I opened it, he wrote something in it and the other chefs did the same. I love this birthday gift! From now on this book Will be the showpiece of My cookbook shelf.

Stoving some onions and carrots for the Persian love rice

I really enjoyed today. I helped Andrea in the meat section. I made chickpea pancakes batter and a mango sauce. Then I helped Francis cutting carrots and onions for the Persian love rice.

Then Calvin came to ask if I wanted to help him. Calvin is the executive chef in the Ottolenghi group. I think he has a really cool job: he tries new recipes and if these are good enough to serve, he introduces these in the restaurants. He makes sure the menus never bore and keeps on searching for refreshing ideas (… a bit jealous here … ).

Lavosh with burned butter labneh (also known as Gini’s labneh :0p

Today I had the honour to help Calvin with this. In Nopi they serve smoked mint labneh with the lavosh. He wanted to reinvent this labneh, make a summer edition. He explained his idea and we made it together. He wanted the result to be a refreshing, never-tasted-before, tzatziki, based on burned butter. But… it didn’t turn out very well. With my Greek roots I have made kilo’s and kilo’s tzatziki in my life (and I’ve seen my father making tons of it). So I did some suggestions. Really cool how he trusted me and let me do my thing. He stuck to the burnt butter base and I could figure out the rest, using the ingredients we agreed. The result turned out to be a really good dip! :0)))
And do you know what’s really really cool? They’ll put it on the Nopi-menu, under the name ‘Lavosh with burned butter tzatziki’ (I would have called it Gini’s tzatziki ;0)  But if I have to be completely honest, I think ‘burned butter tzatziki’ sounds more fancy B-)

Today they also shot an introduction video in Nopi. They’ll use it to welcome new staff. They also took a shot from the kitchen and staff, so I am kind of eternalized (do they call it like that?) in Nopi.

At about 16h I had some staff lunch and then I left. I took the metro to Clapham Common where I walked in the park and wandered back to the next metro station to go back to Soho. But in stead of that, I ended in Green Park, which is actually really nice. I sat on the grass and enjoyed the last sun (tomorrow its going to rain). When I got hungry I decided it was time for another yolo. You don’t turn 35 every day, right? I followed chef Francis’ advice and went to ‘Burger & Lobster’ where I had the lobster burger with a Gin Tonic (told you I was going to yolo :0)

I went back home, happy and satisfied.
I had a birthday I will not forget easily…