Eating out: Morito (Little Moro)

Posted in: Featured, Reviews

On returning from not one, but two trips to my (half) native Andalucía this summer, reality struck: My insatiable appetite for all things Spanish had to be addressed by means that didn’t involve an Easyjet flight, time off work or wads of cash. Cue: Morito, one of My Favourite Places picks.

MoritoExmouthMarket

It seems my restaurant hit list grows faster than I can tick it off, and I like to tick. As a result, there are few places I have the luxury of returning for seconds. Morito is one of said few. Big sister, Moro has long reigned in my Top 5 Eats. So, a no booking tapas addition to the Spanish / Arabic prodigy of Sam and Sam Clarke has proven cause for celebration. I’ve dragged chefs there, written café con leche fuelled articles, and brunched with friends over countless negroni sbagliatos. All in the name of inspiration. Here’s my pick of the best bits:

The star dish: Chicharrones de Cádiz – slow roasted pork belly with cumin & lemon. Rich, cumin spiced pulled pork, cut with fresh, tangy lemon juice. Perfection.

Morito London Tapas

Puntillitas (poon-tee-yee-tas): Fried baby squid with sumac. Squid as it should be, yet so rarely is. Not a whiff of chip shop batter smothered rubber-bands. To be clear, I’m not knocking chip shop batter. Fish and chips are a British delicacy I wouldn’t be without. But squid should be dense, yet tender, and semi-wrapped in salty, lemony crispiness. In my opinion.

Ajo blanco: Velvet almond, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. I dithered on whether to include this one; it’s possibly not to everyone’s taste. Super rich, the almond is so potent it could be extract from a bottle. Ajo blanco is a Spanish classic however, and true to Moro form, the olive oil and vinegar umami bring an interesting contrast to the palate.

Morito, London. Ajo Blanco. Wholesome Seduction

And Crispy aubergine with miel de caña (nice honey). One to try / play with at home / copy / steal. Watch this space.

Morito, London. Tortilla. Wholesome Seduction.

Tortilla (tor-tee-ya) de patatas: Spanish omelette. Not something I’d normally have; Dad’s recipe can’t be beaten. Or so I thought. It was a must for fellow eater Daze however, and glad am I. I’m in danger of gushing here, but this is probably the best tortilla I’ve ever eaten. Sorry Daddy.

Be warned, low fat options these are not. Varied in ingredients and nutrients, and utterly  addictive in their uncompromised comfort food ecstasy way, they are.

And last but in no way least, the café con leche (strong Spanish latte) is worth a trip to Exmouth Market in its own right. It’s as good as any single origin, locally roasted barista serves up in London’s finest coffee establishments.

Morito Exmouth Market Cafe con leche

But of course, there are three staples on a Spanish menu: coffee, vino and beer. So much so, they’re often cheaper than water. ¡Viva España!

 

 

Curb-side Cuisine, my EP Magazine feature article

Posted in: Featured, Reviews

Street food has gone way beyond lukewarm chips and cardiac arrest kebabs. In fact, our global love affair with bin top dining appears only set to blossom. American Slider bars, churros huts and oyster shacks worthy of a Michelin star now grace everything from luxury festivals to car parks. The less salubrious the back street, the more kudos, it would seem; anything to be considered vaguely underground, guerrilla or pop-up.

ClareGarciaStreetFood

Instead of pouring gargantuan wads of cash into premiums, rents and rates, street concepts can be set up relatively speaking, with little capital outlay and reasonable pitch fees. Consequently, the mobile dining craze is increasingly a labour of love, not to mention bambinos. Passionate cooks armed with inspiration from their Gap Year, fresh faced Michelin trained chefs and multi-cultural Britain at its best: recipes as Amma made them.

GreenGoat.WholesomeSeduction

No doubt in part due to our globe-trotting nature, we Brits are more discerning than ever when it comes to our fuel, shunning sugar strand sculptures and biblically proportioned menus in favour of simple, fuss free food done well. A shift that is evident beyond the tarmac: Burger & Lobster, Byron and Mooli’s are profiting from the pared down trend. Mark Hix recently opened Tramshed, serving nothing but chicken or steak, and Shoreditch’s Chicken Shop is the brainchild of Nick Jones. Think Soho House meets KFC.

In the same ‘Too Kool for Skool’ vein, websites and glossy marketing are being shunned in favour of less static and more interactive blogs and Twitter. And the resulting word of mouth can spread like wild fire. Lucky Chip, Pitt Cue Co. and Meat Liquor started out as two-man vans, only to be propelled into The Fashionista Restaurants To Do List as a result of their Twitter fame. Oh, and the Hereford Steer beef and Dalston Tommy K, of course.

FROM THE US OF A, TO OZ, TO US.
KOGI BBQ VAN @kogibbq
Where it all began. Roy Choi launched his Mexican and Korean BBQ genius in the US. Fans, more vans and social media followed. There was no going back.

BEATBOX KITCHEN @beatboxkitchen
Rashid brought the US food truck craze to Oz.

MEAT WAGON to MEAT LIQUOR @themeatwagonuk
Yianni would pitch up his Peckham Meat Wagon and only then tweet his location. Brave? The Twitter love and consequent word of mouth proved so strong, queues were guaranteed around each South East London block. Chicken Cottage must have been up in arms. Two years on and the queues have moved to the back of Bond Street. Yianni may have taken on an exorbitant W1 lease, but he’s remained firmly on the no-booking policy bandwagon. Sorry.

Patty&Bun.WholesomeSeduction

PATTY & BUN @pattyandbunjoe
Yup, another burger van – with triple cooked chips. Patty & Bun link with Street Kitchen to create gourmet pop-up clusters.

STREET KITCHEN @streetkitchen
Jun Tanaka and Mark Jankel of Pearl and Notting Hill Brasserie led the way with their British Bistro airstream and remain at the forefront, fuelling the City and London 2012. #CelebrityChefVan #100%BritishProduce #MichelinGourmet #AirstreamStyle #FoodToGo

CHURROS GARCIA @churrosgarcia1
Spanish doughnuts and chocolate dipping heaven. No relation, but just as Abuela made them all the same.

HORN OK PLEASE @Horn_Please
The genuine article. Pani puri and samosa chaat, just as you find them in India. Minus the Imodium.

GREEN GOAT FOOD @greengoatfood Sustainable fish worthy of starched white table cloths and a hefty price tag. In a box for a fiver.

So what does this mean for retailers and food service? Take inspiration from the one or two-man operations discussed and have some fun. We live in the cultural melting pot that is Britain, do we not? Some of my favourite and simplest recipes have been passed on by families from my travels, by colleagues, by grannies or through my own Hispano-Celtic heritage. Some of the most coin-worthy café menus I’ve created have come from said list. I guarantee there’s a wealth of portable dining on your payroll.

Don’t get hung up on costumes or theme days. Most street concepts are little more than a sheltered table, two giant pots, even bigger personalities and a stack of eco-friendly take-away boxes. With smearing, wrapping and packing at lightening speed – sellers, take note!

WholesomeSedcutionCurb-sideCuisine

To be clear however, life is a beauty pageant – gastronorms of slop won’t fly. Street vendors and retailers increasingly showcase offers worthy of an art gallery. If the food is the real deal, it will speak (and smell) for itself. When all is said and done, you’re bringing nourishment and relief to the working day, enjoy it. If you feel a burning desire to promote your pop-ups via Twitter, so much the better.

This article first appeared in the October issue of EP Business in Hospitality. View the online version here: www.epmagazine.co.uk/curb-side-cuisine/

Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

Posted in: SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

30 balls
150ml milk
75ml sunflower oil
Pinch sea salt
250g tapioca flour or starch
1 egg
125g of parmesan, grated

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 . In a pan, bring the milk, oil and salt to the boil.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the tapioca flour. Mix well with a wooden spoon and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Transfer mixture to a bowl, add the eggs and knead well.
  4. Add the grated cheese and keep kneading until the dough is smooth.
  5. Grease your hands with oil and roll into small balls – 1 tbsp per ball.
  6. Place the balls on a baking tray greased with oil or lined with baking paper and cook in oven for 20 mins or until brown.

Serve warm as they are or with dips. Salsa, cream cheese or even Dulce de Leche all work. We love the caramel against the salty parmesan. See below.

Tapioca flour can be found in most Asian shops and most supermarket World Food aisles. Or so we’re told.

Roberta’s tips on Dulce de Leche Pao de Queijo:
With your hands (not a knife) break the balls slightly, taking care not to split  into two halves. Pour in a teaspoon of Dulce de Leche. Eat whole.