Needless to say, I got a little stalky. I started scouring the internet for information. I learned that Chef Ottolenghi is an Israeli of Italian and German descent, with a grandma who recreates her own little Tuscany there, down to the imported espresso she drinks every morning (though I am partial to the Elite brand instant coffee served in yellow mugs ubiquitous in Israeli households, I can't begrudge Ottolenghi's Italian grandmother her real-deal coffee). I also learned that with head chef Sami Tamimi, a Palestinian who, like Ottolenghi himself, is a handsome young gay man in stylish nerd glasses, he owns a series of vegetarian restaurants in London, with huge spreads of irresistible baked goods and menus based on fresh seasonal vegetables, prepared simply to bring out their best.
Ottolenghi posts on the Guardian, with their constant nods to Italian and Middle Eastern Mediterranean cuisines, that in my head I entertained ideas of going to London just so I could try his restaurant (and take pictures, and blog about it, obvs). The food, and the stories, resonated with me in a very personal way. So, when I found out Chef Ottolenghi was hosting a dinner right here in Los Angeles, at beloved animal, I jumped on it. Five courses, all vegetarian fare, eached paired with wine. (Note: four of those five were rosés, two of which where sparkling. Wine for a summer night after my own heart.)
|goat cheese ravioli with turmeric and pink peppercorns|
|milk pudding with toasted coconut and almonds|