Friday 31 August
We took Elizabeth out for her last night before leaving, as we knew too well what she'd be facing in terms of airline food. We chose a good little restaurant in Islington (one of Elizabeth's favourites) named Ottolenghi, where the seating is family-style and the (mainly Mediterranean) food is served like tapas. The Brits are currently in love with tapas, and lots of non-Spanish restaurants serve even the entrées as small plates. It reminds us of Sydney, Australia, which was similarly in love with yum-cha (what we would call dim-sum) where our friends Tom and Lea once took us out for "Greek yum-cha" (what Greeks would call mezes).
For our first course we chose cold stuff "from the counter," so we could eat that while our hot "from the kitchen" courses were prepared. There were three cold dishes: roast aubergine (eggplant) with saffron yogurt and a dusting of pistachio; fresh peaches with buffalo mozzarella, parma ham, rocket (arugula) and endive in a balsamic dressing; and an escabeche of cod with brunoise vegetables and pea shoots (soapy lees).
Light things looked most tempting that night, so we chose a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (Morton Estate 2003) to go with them, and then with our next four hot dishes: panfried lemon sole with broccoli shoots and skordalia; seared tuna on a salade niçoise with black olive beurre blanc and a cute little quail egg; salt-and-pepper soft-shell crab with pickled vegetables, miso cucumber, and wasabi mayonnaise; and grilled scallops in a scallop shell with saffron potatoes, samphire (a type of seaweed), and aioli.
And finally, because with small plates you can get away with it, we went on to desserts: fresh figs in vin santo with mascarpone, and a lemon curd tartlet. Elegant, seasonal, and tasty. Everybody had some of everything (nicely, with no ugly fights) so we all shared a delightful evening.