Viewing entries tagged
moroccan

A Jelfian Odyssey

Comment

A Jelfian Odyssey

Beetroot

We were plunged into the depths of the most labyrinthine of Moroccan souks with a texturally titillating starter of spiced chickpeas, roast Chantenay carrots flecked with crunchy pomegranate gems and creamy curd.  It was not a long journey thence to the Welsh influenced Moroccan tagine, a sublime encounter with meat (possibly reared by one of the dinner guests himself) rendered almost molten after a three hour simmer.

Butternut Squash

Then, tossed on the tides of wine dark seas, we were carried away. We hugged the North African coast for as long as we could, before migrating across the undulating hills and majestic mountains to Southern Italy for a Marsala-imbued tiramisu. The brawn (in the muscular sense, not gelatinous pig's head) evident in the hand- whipped mascarpone elevated the dish further - quite unreplicable by any kitchen machinery. The plank of cheeses that had, tantalisingly, been perfuming the room, was brought before us, where the Mont D'Or led to much fantasising about entire rooms plastered with its moreish viscosity.

Brussels Sprouts

It is a great shame that the refried beans from the last visit failed to make an appearance. I can only assume that this was a conscious decision in order to allow a full coverage of fur to develop before extricating them from the fridge for medicinal use or a kimchi style delicacy.

Pomegranate

Each guest launched him/herself into a dulcet kazoo cacophony. Renditions of Katy Perry's I Kissed a Girl and Amy Winehouse’s Rehab were boldly modernised and subtly nuanced. Unfortunately, mastering the kazoo did not come as naturally to some as to others, and attempts to challenge the traditional method of kazooing included pursing one’s lips in flautist style, blowing from the other end, and, from one unlikely crystal meth abuser, filling the hollow with water in bong style.

Carrot

Post dinner, we journeyed further north and, interestingly, back in time to the Iron Age, where the Hootenanny, famed for its reggae and hip hop nights, was facing a hairy invasion of retired Celtic warriors. In a show of true masculinity, clothing was scarce and moobs were on full show, quivering brawnily (the gelatinous pig’s head kind, not the muscular) along to the stirring beats of the three competing drummers. Caught in their own time loop, and not ashamed to recognise they were on to a good thing, they singled out the crowd's favourite 12 minute song and played it on repeat for the entire evening.

Peppers

The journey ended here for the adventurers to rest and recover before the next leg of the journey, even further north.

 

NB: Photos are for visual stimulation only and are in no way related to the feast.

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

Comment

Momo - Restaurant Review

Comment

Momo - Restaurant Review

IMG_4479.jpg

Momo - Restaurant Review Multi-coloured light shines through the stained-glass windows of the ceiling in triangles, and everywhere there are glass lamps, carved wooden symbols, and ornate mirrors.  In the middle of all this opulence there is a feast of tiered pastries and sweets crowned with luscious fruits, layered gold henna-d tea glasses, as well as Persian rugs, bronze statues and intricate silver vessels…even the answering machine has a Moroccan accent.

Momo - Restaurant Review

It’s like stepping into a restaurant off the Jemma el-Fnaa - almost.  But then there are a few things that sending you hurtling back to the western world:  the giant green chair outside belongs more to a car boot sale than this North African sanctuary, the bathrooms (including hand dryer) have been sprayed with rust-coloured sparkles, and the music projected into this emporium is more of a late night Kiss-FM mash up than Berber folk.

Momo - Restaurant Review

We were seated around a marble table next to the gold focal display dripping with glucose-laden delights, convenient for us to salivate over (figuratively only, of course) throughout the meal.

Momo - Restaurant Review

But as one of my dining companions noted, we had ended up being seated at the only wobbly table in the room -dangerous, if you’re as clumsy as I am.

Momo - Restaurant Review

The restaurant was empty for the first half hour, meaning that service was good – efficient but not intrusive, and with waiters at our exclusive beck and call.  This was not a sign of any absence of quality, but rather people’s lack of awareness that Momo does brunch.  The popularity of brunch in London has soared over the last few years but there is only a handful of places that stray from the omelette/bacon/pancake norm.

Momo - Restaurant Review

On previous trips to Morocco I’ve eaten so much at breakfast that I’ve managed to continue the whole day, camel-like, without any other meals.  It’s good to be able to continue this tradition in London, especially considering the dearth of decent Moroccan restaurants here.

Momo - Restaurant Review

We ordered tea to start – Moroccan mint for me.  The metre- high, admirable yet worrying, yellow stream brought back memories of Marrakech and the numerous carpet salesmen, antique vendors and herbalists who had poured out the perfumed nectar, laced with tooth-rotting sweetness, into patterned tea glasses on gold trays, in the hope of seducing us into buying their goods.  The menu is extensive, with innumerable pastries, sweets and traditional Moroccan tagines.  The absence from the menu of traditionally cooked eggs was refreshing (of particular interest to me after I wasted £13.80 on a limp and bland two-egg omelette at Christopher’s in Covent Garden – I shan’t be darkening their doorstep again).

Momo - Restaurant Review

I ordered the Full Moroccan Breakfast (sans poached egg) which consisted of batata hara, merguez, turkey bacon, coco beans in charmoula sauce, garlic-cooked mushroom-filled roast tomato. The potatoes were soft, and had soaked up the piquant sauce, while the merguez were salty, spicy and juicy, the turkey bacon crisp, the mushrooms delightfully garlicky, and the beans flavourful and comforting.  I’d order Moroccan breakfast over British, any day.  Over all, the dish worked well, but it could have done with a touch more salt to draw more flavour out of the starches.

Momo - Restaurant Review Momo - Restaurant Review

My dining companions were content with their orders, too: scrambled eggs on toast with cured beef, cumin and fine herbs,

Momo - Restaurant Review

and tchaktchouka: merguez, spiced peppers, tomatoes with a fried free range egg, the latter bubbling furiously for five minutes or so after arriving.

Momo - Restaurant Review

After all this, we rolled off our chairs to examine more closely the array of decadent offerings.

Momo - Restaurant ReviewMomo - Restaurant Review

Much to my disappointment there were no baklava (or “balaclava” – rather embarrassingly, the malapropism slipped from my mouth).  We plumped for the praline mousseline horn, admittedly more for its inelegance of name than for its advertised flavours.

Momo - Restaurant Review

 

This tactic, however, worked in our favour: the pastry was crisp, flaky and filled with a light, and not-overly sweet, praline cream.

Momo - Restaurant Review

The maghrebine pastries were also exotic in appearance, looking somewhat as though they were made of play dough, as my dining companion observed.

Momo - Restaurant Review

This is how we ranked them: in first place, the shiny brown- coffee- bean- on-steroids shaped delicacy; in second place, the almond paste ball nestled in a yellow flower-shaped pastry cup, and stabbed with a nut; in third, the lurid frilly sea-monster (whose green resembled rather disconcertingly that of the giant green chair outside the restaurant).

Momo - Restaurant Review Momo - Restaurant Review

A few mint teas later we tore ourselves away from the Moroccan den.  All in all, the experience had all the necessary qualities of a good brunch: interesting, good quality and decently-priced food, an ambience of decadence and luxury, and good service.   Or maybe I was just seduced by the endless streams of sweet mint tea…

Suitable for: Smart dates, friends, family, vegetarians, brunch, lunch, dinner, cocktails, business lunches, afternoon tea, something different

Food: 8/10

Ambience: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Loos: 6/10 - I walked into the men's.  For future reference this sign = women's:

Momo - Restaurant Review

Momo on Urbanspoon

Comment

Beware Gluten-free + Recipe for Moroccan Style Chickpea Salad

3 Comments

Beware Gluten-free + Recipe for Moroccan Style Chickpea Salad

IMG_65821.jpg
Moroccan Chickpea Salad
Moroccan Chickpea Salad

Yesterday, with cupboards almost bare, I resorted to the very strange assortment of ingredients remaining & concocted this salad.  It's low GI, wholesome, healthy, super quick to make, involves minimal cooking and is addictively flavoursome.

Moroccan Chickpea Salad
Moroccan Chickpea Salad
Moroccan Chickpea Salad
Moroccan Chickpea Salad

Ingredients

250g halloumi cheese cut into 1 cm cubes

1 tbsp. olive oil

400g chickpeas, drained

1 red onion, finely sliced

50g drained, sundried tomatoes, cut into narrow strips

150g cherry tomatoes, halved

40g fresh coriander, including stalks, finely chopped, plus a few sprigs extra for garnish

½ green chilli, finely sliced (optional)

Dressing

3 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. harissa

3 tsp. sundried tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Fry the cubes of halloumi in the olive oil until they are golden brown.
  2. Combine all the salad ingredients apart from the dressing, the chilli (if using), and the extra coriander for garnish.
  3. Mix the dressing ingredients until well combined.
  4. Shortly before serving the salad, mix the salad with the dressing, and sprinkle with the coriander and chilli.

(Serves 4 as an accompaniment)

BEWARE GLUTEN-FREE!

1 in 100 people in UK is coeliac .  1 in 20 people in UK is diabetic (http://www.diabetes.org.uk/Documents/Reports/Diabetes-in-the-UK-2012.pdf).

According to the Telegraph, 1 in 5 people is buying gluten-free products, but only 5% of these are buying the products due to coeliac disease.  The most common reasons for a non-coeliac buying the gluten-free products are listed as: “digestive health”, “nutritional value” and “to help me lose weight”.  These consumers are misguided. Everyone who can is cynically taking advantage by jumping aboard the gluten-free bandwagon: the British gluten-free market is worth £238 million annually (Food Standards Agency) and grew by more than 15 per cent last year. In the US, it is worth around $2.6 billion, a growth of 36 per cent since 2006, with predictions that it may double in size in the next two years.

It’s great that the gluten-free options are increasing for those who have coeliac disease, but the products that are tailored specifically to exclude gluten (bread, biscuits, pastas etc.) and targeted at non-coeliac sufferers are actually detrimental to one’s health.

Gluten-free does not mean that a product is ‘virtuous’ or in any way superior to its glutenous counterpart.

Unless you are coeliac, your body needs the vitamin B, iron and folates that are in gluten-containing grains such as barley, spelt and kamut. That is not to say that these should be had in excess, but they should not be entirely avoided.

Gluten-free products which have been made to substitute for the real bread, pasta, biscuits etc. may be worse for you than what they purport to replace: in order to imitate the gluten contained in their counterparts, the products have to be messed around with a lot more, often resulting in a significantly higher level of fat than their “normal” equivalents. For example, the gluten in bread allows it to maintain its shape and softness; to achieve the gluten-free equivalent, manufacturers often use additives like xanthan gum and hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose or corn starch. In addition, extra sugar and fat are often also added to make products more flavoursome.

It is not just the shops that are propagating the gluten-free message, taking advantage of people’s ignorance, but food bloggers and recipe websites are doing it too. The internet is saturated with gluten-free recipes, and more and more cooks are incorporating gluten-free recipes into their books.  Clearly, not a bad thing for coeliac sufferers.  There is, however, no transparency.  The breads that are made in imitation of the glutenous equivalent use a combination of flours.  For example, the Doves Farm’s gluten-free brown flour, with muted-tone, paper bag packaging promoting a wholesome brand image – consists of potato, rice, tapioca buckwheat, carob, sugar beet fibre, and xanthan gum.  Doesn’t sound too bad, you might think.  In fact, these combined ingredients create a product much higher on the Glycaemic Index (GI) than white flour.  The GI is not a fad diet but a measure of the rise in a person's blood sugar level following consumption of a carbohydrate.  The NHS recommends diabetics to have a low GI diet as low GI foods break down more slowly and are less likely to cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels in contrast with high GI foods.  A low GI lifestyle is not solely beneficial for diabetics but for everyone.    Carbohydrates with high GI cause glucose and insulin levels to surge.  The body releases the hormone insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. If sugar is not quickly used for energy, insulin removes it from the blood, and it is then converted into triglycerides in the liver. These triglycerides can then be stored as body fat.  Standard white bread has a high GI of 71 on average.  Gluten-free white bread has a higher GI of 79.  Clearly, GI isn’t always a measure of other benefits that are derived from a product, but the fact that shops, companies, bakeries and bloggers are promoting gluten-free products as a virtuous substitute is deeply misleading – they are, in fact, pushing a product that spikes the levels of glucose in a consumer’s blood, causing fat gain, aiding the onset of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

So the question is why is “low GI” not trending? Why is #glutenfree posted on almost 3,000,000 photos on Instagram, and #lowGI only 18,000? Gluten-free products are not necessarily beneficial for your health. Surely there should be greater focus on the GI factor as well as greater transparency in relation to gluten-free products.

3 Comments