Pig Out on Truffles This Season at Eco

Truffle

With some varieties fetching up to £110,000 a kilo, truffles are among the most expensive foods in the world. Known as white and black gold – for their rarity as well as their price tag – these much prized delicacies will be coming back into season at the end of September. To mark the occasion on of south west London’s favourite eateries Eco is adding a tasty crop of new dishes to its specials menu for the first week of October.

The restaurant’s talented culinary team have harnessed the unique musky aroma and distinctive flavour of truffles to produce such fabulous delicacies as pumpkin ravioli served with butter & black truffle; black truffle pan fried veal; wild mushroom & truffle risotto and tagliatelle al tartufo (tagliatelle with butter, truffle shavings and grated parmesan).

Fans of these earthy delights will also be pleased to discover that they have even found their way onto Eco’s celebrated pizzas, courtesy of a new addition featuring a delicious combination of fontina, porcini and truffle oil.

For anyone still not truffled out, these fabulous fungi can also be added to any house pizza for a supplement of just £2.50 per 5g.

Eco’s truffle dishes will be on their specials menu from 1st – 7th October and prices start from £12.95

Eco, 162 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7UG

www.ecorestaurants.com

For further information please contact:

Tom @ Jori White Public Relations Ltd

Tel:  0207 734 7001 or E-mail: thomas@joriwhitepr.co.uk

Rise & Shine at Eco

BREAKFAST at ECOEco hasn’t remained one of Clapham’s favourite eateries for over two decades by standing still.  Having celebrated its 20th birthday with a stunning refurbishment, it has now introduced some exciting additions to its menu.

Proving one of the most popular is its new weekend breakfast offering, bursting with the finest Italian ingredients and the most tempting Mediterranean flavours, which together take early morning fare to a whole new level.

Among the signature creations that have already found favour with locals and visitors alike are the Grilled Scarmorza, grilled sourdough with smoked scarmorza cheese melted over poached free range eggs, home-baked carved ham and hollandaise sauce. Carnivores meanwhile are in for a similar treat with the Totally Vegan, a veritable smorgasbord of smashed avocado, vine tomatoes, aubergine, grilled mushrooms, house beans and grilled sourdough.

Equally irresistible is Eco’s selection of frittatas, free range eggs cooked in the pan with spinach and parmesan, served with freshly baked sourdough. These little beauties come in three fabulous varieties, smoked salmon, crème fraîche, rocket and dill among them.

Breakfast at Eco is served every Saturday from 9am until 11.30am and Sunday from 9am until 10.30am.

Eco’s Great Gift Fufills a Knead

Eco pizzeria

To celebrate 20 years as south west London’s favourite pizzeria, Eco is making its customers an offer they really can’t refuse.

For two decades owner Sami Wasif and his team have devoted time, energy and resources to creating the perfect sourdough pizza. Now Eco is giving customers the opportunity to recreate these masterpieces at home by supplying them with a sample of its naturally fermented mother dough. What’s more, they are doing so completely free of charge.

All people need do to take advantage of this complimentary gift is to call or email ahead so that Eco has sufficient supplies of dough pre-packaged for pick up.

Using a process it has honed over the years – and which is in fact based on methods that date back to pre-historic times – Eco’s mother dough is the key ingredient that makes its pizzas unrivalled in terms of taste and texture. Combining different flour types, this living, breathing organism is left to rise in two stages (the first for a minimum of 12 hours), thereby delivering a full-flavoured, crispy base that is light and easy to eat.

Most common mass produced breads are made using dried, quick active yeast which was first used during World War II to speed up the dough fermentation process. Some half a century or so later and people are realising that these products are inferior in taste and lacking in nutritional value, leading them to seek out naturally fermented breads instead. With Eco now offering customers the chance to sample its infinitely superior dough in both the restaurant and at home, this movement will continue to gain momentum.

A woven world

It is always a pleasure to watch the world pass by from Eco. To have our customers bring us news from their worlds, their views and perspectives and how we interact with eachother as people on a micro level. It is interesting to realise how little we credit the true impact of who we are and the flow of change we bring about every moment of our lives from when we are brought into it until the moment we leave it.

To have a restaurant is a blessing because we can effect change in a greater scale through our interactions. That we can provide you comfort through your palette, a place to rest, to be and spend time with your friends, family, lover or colleague. These interactions with eachother and self add further dimensions to the being that we refer to as Eco; which is a collection of our memories, moments, dramas, comedies from over the past 20 years.

Our Pizzas are a Right Royal Delight

Pizza SpiningOne of the most colourful characters in the short history of modern Italy must undoubtedly be Queen Margherita of Savoy.

Born in 1851 Margherita, daughter of Prince Ferdinand, Duke of Genoa and Princess Elizabeth of Saxony, married her first cousin Umberto, Prince of Piedmont, in 1868. The only child to the marriage was the diminutive Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples, later to become Victor Emmanuel III of Italy in a reign that was to last almost to the end of the Italian monarchy (his son Umberto II acceding to the throne just in time to see the nation vote to become a republic in 1946).

In 1878 Umberto became King of Italy and Margherita the Queen consort. Both ruled until 1900, when Umberto was assassinated by an anarchist.

Although nobody knows the real truth of the matter, stories abound that the royal marriage was not a happy one, and that there were in fact more than two people in it. Umberto, it is said, was actually in love with another woman with whom he is alleged to have fathered a child. In an eerie parallel of a more recent situation, Margherita was loved by the people despite being spurned by her husband, her wisdom and cultural awareness lending much to the young cause of Italian unification.

Her place in pizza history was sealed with a tour of the Italian Kingdom in 1889 where she is said to have been intrigued by the sight of peasants eating this large, flat bread seasoned with olive oil. As the story goes she tried it herself and liked it very much, causing much flapping amongst Italian court circles who believed it to be demeaning for the Queen to be seen in public eating peasant food.

Undeterred, she continued to indulge her passion and eventually summoned the chef Rafaelle Esposito who baked a special pizza just for her comprising tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and herbs – the red, white and green of the Italian flag.

Thus was the Margherita pizza born, which today is held by the purists to be one of only two or three “real” pizza dishes.

At Eco Restaurant, one of the most well-known and popular restaurants on Clapham High Street, the still famous Margherita is baked on a light, nutritious dough base which is healthy as well as delicious and brings out the taste of the sumptuous toppings to the full. It is truly a right royal delight.

Variety is the Spice of Life

SpicesI will never forget the expression of confused horror on my father’s face as he contemplated the price list upon the wall at the fish and chip shop in Liverpool. For there amongst the mushy peas, pies, saveloys and pasties was a little local delicacy that went by the name of “fish”.

“What kind of fish do you sell?” he asked the girl behind the counter.

She looked at him a little bemused, and gestured with her hand to indicate a marine life form given to swimming through the water.

The whole experience was a real culture shock to my London-born father. Down here in the Smoke we have a choice between cod, rock (dogfish), skate, plaice and haddock to name but a few.

We have already seen how the earliest eating houses served only one basic meal of the day. Try to imagine a busy street featuring only one make of car, and only one model in only one colour. If in your despondency you should retire to the pub for solace try to envision your reaction to the news that it only sells one brand of beer.

Thus it is with pizza, where the fresh ingredients are brought together to form a topping oozing with flavour, whether your preference happens to be pepperoni, four cheeses, seafood or spicy hot. It is the measured blend of all these toppings that brings out the pizza as a whole and that makes it what it describes itself as.

It would be a boring restaurant that merely offered “pizza”, without any description as to what has gone into it. After all, people are different and we all have different tastes.

Fortunately at Eco Restaurant, one of the most popular Clapham restaurants, the customer is spoilt for choice. Whatever topping takes your fancy, whether you like your pizza folded or open plan, or even if you prefer pasta or something entirely different, there is something at Eco for everybody.

Our Clapham is Big, Our Pizzas are Grand

ClaphamWhilst doing a little research into the history of Clapham I was a little taken aback by the following description from Wikipedia:

“Clapham has numerous public houses and several small shops; including a post office, Chinese and Indian takeaways, fish and chips, a florist, a hairdresser; also it has two churches. It has its own lower school for children aged 4–9, Ursula Taylor Lower School. In the nearby village of Oakley is Lincroft Middle School for children aged 9–13. It has three pubs, the Horse and Groom, the Fox and Hounds and the Star, as well as these there is also a club called "Clapham Club". There is also an Italian restaurant, Bellini’s.”

A post office? A florist? Two churches and one school?

And just one Italian restaurant?

It took a few moments for the penny to drop. Wiki is in fact describing another Clapham, this one in rural Bedfordshire. It would appear to be most famous for hosting the airfield from which the legendary band leader Glenn Miller took off on his last fateful flight, never to return.

Our Clapham, by contrast, doesn’t have an airfield to call its own, although it is a reasonable travelling distance from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. It has lots and lots of shops – florists, post offices, hairdressers – and churches and other places of worship of all denominations and faiths. It has many schools, and more pubs than even Oliver Reed in his prime could have visited in an evening.

And as for Italian restaurants, although it is not the only one in town Eco Restaurant’s faithful band of regular visitors will tell you that it is the best restaurant in Clapham, indeed many swear that our fine team of staff serve what is in actual fact the best pizza in London.

It may be a bit of a hike from Bedfordshire, but we have the busiest train station in Europe so if any of our Clapham brethren should feel the call of pizza and Bellini’s is closed there will always be a warm welcome for them at the Common.

Sometimes Writing about Pizza isn’t all Black and White

PizzaThere isn’t an obvious connection between the home of the pizza and an English soccer team from the East Midlands currently dwelling somewhere mid-table in the Npower Football League One.

So those not in the know might be surprised to learn that the mighty Juventus, one of the true giants of Italian football, “borrowed” their famous black and white strip from the not quite so legendary Notts County.

Hard though it may seem to credit, Juve originally plied their trade in a fetching pink shirt with a black tie, and did not want to be confused with Palermo who, incredibly, played in the same colours. And so, in 1903, they asked one of their team members, John Savage, if any of his English connections could find them a more appropriate kit. Savage had a friend from Nottingham who was a big Magpies supporter, and he duly supplied Juventus with a full set of County colours.

And so the unlikely connection between the oldest surviving professional football club in the world and one of the greatest and most famous was born.

That could have been the end of it, but in early September last year Juve chose Notts County in preference to Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan or Manchester United to celebrate the opening of their new stadium with a friendly match which finished in a 1-1 draw. But in spite of what they would have considered a disappointing result the Turin side did at least get to wear the black and white shirt, with County playing in their blue striped away kit.

Turin of course is one of the big pizza heartlands of Italy, one of its most popular dishes being the pizza al padellino (originally from Tuscany), a small “pizza for one” baked in a round dish in such a way that the edges maintain a particular crispiness that sets off the succulent topping so well.

Now Clapham is probably a place less immediately associated in the annuls of world cuisine with the glorious pizza, but fare to compare can be found if one looks hard enough, in one of the most popular restaurants in Clapham.

Eco Restaurant in Clapham Common serves one of the tastiest and most sought after pizzas in the capital. With a light nutritious base and a wide range of delicious toppings to choose from Eco is well and truly in the champions league.

Enjoy a Pizza at the Clapham Thermopolium

PizzaThere would appear to be an element of dispute as the whereabouts of the first restaurants, and to the time that they appeared.

According to some it all began in eighteenth century France, when a guy by the name of Boulanger, a soup vendor, opened a shop selling a variety of broths and dishes that could be partaken of on the premises. The sign over the shop read “Restaurants”, meaning restoratives, and the term caught on and eventually made its way into the English language about a century or so later.

Prior to this food had been available to eat in at sundry taverns and coffee shops, not least in England, but these had tended to serve just the one meal of the day rather than customers being offered a choice. According to one English writer the coffee shops “are a resort for learned scholars and wits; others are the resort of dandies, or of politicians, or again of professional newsmongers, and many are temples of Venus.”

But the French claim is disputed by many historians, who point to much earlier examples both in Ancient Rome and eleventh century China.

Roman citizens visited what was known as thermopolia, small restaurant-bars which had storage vessels physically built into the counters, in which food and drink were contained. Communal dining of this kind formed an important part of the social interaction enjoyed by the Roman population. In Pompeii alone 158 thermopolia have been identified, giving some idea of the scale of the phenomenon across the Empire.

And in China a culture of eating houses serving a wide variety of dishes emerged in Kaifeng, the northern capital during the earlier part of the Song dynasty. This spread to Hangzhou during the latter half of the dynasty, of which it was written “The people of Hangzhou are very difficult to please. Hundreds of orders are given on all sides: this person wants something hot, another something cold, a third something tepid, a fourth something chilled; one wants cooked food, another raw, another chooses roast, another grill”.

It is the availability of choice that seems to define the restaurant as opposed to the mere tavern or coffee house. Today one has a wide choice available not just on the menu of every restaurant, but also between types of restaurant. In the cities in particular foods from all around the world are on offer, from Indian and Chinese to Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The world is your oyster, or indeed your curry, your paella or your spring roll.

The Eco Restaurant in Clapham Common caters for those whose love is pizza, although a large number of other dishes are sold and all are prepared and cooked to our demanding high standards. We’ve come a long way since diners had to sit at the counter and eat from communal bowls, but our own little thermopolium is as popular and as friendly as any restaurant ever was.

Our Pizza Towers Over the Competition

PizzaI was perplexed when my little niece told me, so adamantly, that she wanted to go to Italy. Not France, not Spain, not Germany – nor even America to visit Disneyland, Australia to view the Opera House or the Middle East to seek the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Definitely Italy.

It was unusual for a four-year-old to be so definite and assertive about these things. Curiosity inspired me to ask why.

The attraction was, apparently, because there was a tower there. Not any ordinary tower, furthermore, but one that is made of pizza. It was a leaning tower. The Leaning Tower of Pizza.

Her eagerness to experience the delights of this unique architectural delicacy persuaded me to find out more. I had not, after all, ever been to Italy, and had never experienced the unlikely pleasure of a sightseeing trip to a 183-foot margherita.

She was wrong about the tower, of course, but the Leaning Tower of Pisa nonetheless has a fascinating history. Not least the fact that it actually took 177 years to build, plenty of time in other words to have commissioned a full survey into the condition of the subsoil and the required depth of the foundations.

Despite its height the tower has a foundation of a mere three feet. To compensate for its tilt, which clearly manifested itself before the build was even completed, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other. And then, in 1282, construction was interrupted by a battle in which the native Pisans were defeated by the Genoans.

The seventh floor was completed in 1319, and the bell chamber was finally added in 1372. The final design managed to harmonise the Gothic appearance of the bell chamber with the Romanesque style of the building itself. There are seven bells in all, each representing a note on the musical scale.

The Eco Restaurant Clapham, by contrast, does not lean to one side and did not take anything near 177 years to build. Nevertheless it attracts its own steady stream of visitors, although most come less to see the sights or to savour its architectural originality (much though we are rather fond of it) than to sample what many insist is the best pizza in London, with its healthy light base and fresh, healthy ingredients.

Indeed in an age of fast-food mediocrity, we believe a restaurant like ours is a tower of strength