Archive for the ‘General’ Category
It’s the oldest gag in the book. The “seafood diet” – see food and eat it.
Real “seafood” is in fact, quite simply, anything edible by humans that comes from the sea. It can refer to fish, or shellfish, or indeed any form of plant life that has its origins in the oceans, such as seaweed or kelp.
Research has shown that there are considerable health benefits to be gained from eating seafood on a regular basis. Meat from the sea is both low in calories and high in protein. What fats it does contain are of the oily variety that protect the heart from the adverse effects of saturated fats.
Scientists are also widely of the view that a regular intake of seafood boosts the functionality of the brain, and in particular can help children suffering from ADHD to concentrate more effectively.
As a source of highly digestible protein seafood can assist in muscle development, and it is also a valuable source of minerals such as iodine and selenium. Shellfish in particular is a good source of zinc, an important element for growth.
Of course none of this would be of much use to the connoisseur of fine foods unless it was actually pleasant to the taste. Fortunately seafood is extremely pleasant to taste, and the different and distinct flavours that one obtains from mussels, cockles and whelks to name but a few, not to mention prawns and squid, do actually blend together very well to create a number of exciting dishes such as the Spanish delicacy paella.
When brought together as a topping for pizza it is collectively known as Marinara, and it is one of the most popular pizza options available.
At the renowned Clapham pizza restaurant Eco cuttlefish, octopus, squid, mussels and king prawns are combined to create one of the restaurant’s most sought after offerings. Served as it is upon a light, healthy base Eco’s Marinara really is truly exquisite.
Which goes to prove the point that there is some food one really cannot see without eating.
“Cakes is cakes” was once a saying in certain parts of London. The message was that no matter how ornate, extrovert and creative was the morsel in question it was, when all was said and done, still a cake. There was a place at the table for cakes, but they were always eaten in the same way, in similar quantities and on the same kinds of occasions.
It would be difficult to look at the range of cakes that are available for special occasions at Eco, the increasingly popular Clapham pizza restaurant, and dismiss them all as being in any way similar, or routine and mundane.
The fact is that for an establishment that specialises in producing some of the finest, tastiest and most nutritious pizzas in the whole of London Eco is surprisingly good at making cakes as the Celebration Cake Menu clearly reflects.
When you arrive at the Clapham restaurant having asked for a speciality celebration cake to be serve alongside your meal it will be here waiting for you. It can even be accompanied by a message of your own choice.
But it is the menu itself that fires the imagination and arouses interest. The various options could not be more diverse, and their content and composition is outlined in such scrumptious detail that anybody reading it whilst hungry would find themselves in serious jeopardy of wanting to devour it rather than waiting for the cake itself.
Pride of place on the menu goes to Eco’s gorgeous Victoria Sponge, with three layers of delicious sponge each interspersed with vanilla butter cream and preserve. Unlike many restaurants and cake shops Eco offers the option of raspberry or mixed berry fillings as well as the more conventional strawberry.
Then there is the glorious Banoffe, again with three layers of sponge and between them two levels of delicious toffee and banana.
Eco also offers a Carrot Cake with a walnut sponge and tasty cheese frosting, or a mouthwatering Black Forest Gateau with cherry liqueur, whipped cream, chocolate mousse and maraschino cherries, as well as an alluring Profiterole Pyramid.
All of these succulent offerings come in various sizes, from six servings per cake to an incredible seventy.
If this sounds unusual fare for a pizza restaurant to be offering, please remember that Eco is no usual pizza restaurant. The staff here go out of their way to make your visit a special and memorable one, whether you are just passing by and feeling peckish or whether you are celebrating and important birthday with friends and the ones you love.
Supporters of the South London football team like to taunt their fierce East End rivals with the admonition: “If you’re South of the Border, you’re well out of order”.
The message has menace as it spells out to Hammers fans that they should refrain from following their team across the “Border”, that is the River Thames, when playing a match against Millwall.
South London is not generally so unwelcoming of visitors, but the Thames certainly represents a clear delineation between it and those communities to the North of the water, which comprise not only North London per se but also the traditional East End, the affluent City and the charismatic West.
Because it represents one clearly definable “quarter” of our capital as opposed to the larger, more diverse conglomeration that lies to the north, many consider South London to be the poor relation. The City and its surrounds in particular boast an explosion of culture – with its nightlife, pubs, clubs and restaurants – of which those on the opposite side of the bridge can only dream. The South Bank may stand as a monument to tasteful modern (and sometimes not so modern) architecture, but the cosmopolitan glory or Soho, Piccadilly and Leicester Square is still a very cold swim away.
Perhaps because there is so much to see and do in such a small area the tube network exists overwhelmingly on the North side. As a counter, most of the capital’s overground trains and all of its tram network serve the comparatively uncongested, though still vibrant South side.
The Time Out writer Alan Rutter rather uncharitably observed: “South London is a place that is not too London – a waiting room for people who aren’t quite ready for the real thing yet! London lite, if you will”.
But when all is said and done there is only so much hustle, and so much bustle, that one can take at any given time. And when one tires of standing on a crowded tube train, strategically sandwiched between the midriff of the most obese man in Christendom and the underarm of the most conscientious objector in the land of deodorant, one can always escape across the Border for a few stops before partaking of the spacious, wide-open delights of Clapham Common, taking in some real air whilst reflecting upon how wonderful it is to be alive.
And when hunger strikes one can take a relaxed stroll along to one of the many good restaurants in Clapham, like the popular Eco Restaurant, purveyor of delicious pizzas and pastas as well as some very fine wine.
It is the eternal conundrum – you love Mediterranean cuisine but you can’t decide which sates your palette the best – pizza or pasta.
Trawl the Internet and you will find websites, blogs, community forums and chatrooms dedicated to the cause of resolving this thorny issue, with conflicting opinions aplenty. Meat and vegetables on a doughy base or pieces of wheat cut into shapes and smothered with succulent sauces?
In the case of pasta it is very cheap – supermarkets almost give the stuff away in economy sized packets, and it costs little more even if it is wholewheat or in multiple colours. Boil it in water for a few minutes with a pinch of salt to stop it sticking to the saucepan (unless you use non-stick) and then simply pour on the sauce of your own choice or else top it with something soft, mushy and spicy.
This, of course, is the point often missed during this most essential debate. A pizza, by definition, is what sits upon the base. Is it a Margherita or a Napoletana? A Marinara or a Fiorentina? A pizza is, of course, defined entirely by its ingredients.
Pasta on the other hand is in itself rather bland. It is what one pours over pasta that lends it its character. With a Bolognese it is tomato and mince, on other occasions it can be creamy bacon, mushrooms in sauce or almost anything else one can think of. But the pasta itself is just that.
Wheat, of course, is not a product that is exclusive to Italy or to the Mediterranean. Indeed a friend from the North East swears that it originated in “Durum”.
Nonetheless the huge array of sauces – tomato-based, creamy, chilli and so many others – lend pasta an unmistakable Italian “feel”.
Interestingly, despite being more difficult to make and more expensive to source pizza invariably comes out on top whenever a poll is conducted. Where Italian food is concerned pizza continues to be the standard bearer.
But at Eco Restaurant, one of the more popular Italian restaurants in Clapham, they play it safe. An impressive and diverse array of pizza options is supplemented by an extensive range of pasta choices, from ravioli dishes to spaghetti, with sauces from wild mushroom, through seafood to spicy chicken and zucchini.
There is one other advantage that pizza has over pasta that we omitted to mention. It can be eaten on the move, or whilst standing up. At Eco, with our generous seating plan and well-organised booking system, that is unlikely ever to be an issue.
…so the song goes.
The man who made it famous, the late Dean Martin, was so conspicuously Italian that one wonders just what he felt he was doing when he anglicised his name (from Dino Martini, although he was born Dino Crocetti in Ohio in 1917).
But Martin or Crocetti, the essence of the song remains the same – that’s love, and love and romance are emotions that one instinctively associates with the Latin way – to the dreamy cultural allure of the Eternal City to the intangible beauty of the spoken language itself.
Dean Martin of course was far from being a lone ambassador of Italian amore. The old crooner Frank Sinatra sang about it, da Vinci painted it, Michelangelo sculpted it, Verdi composed it, Rossini wrote it, Zeffirelli directed it and sex symbol actresses Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren exuded it on the silver screen.
Even the modern convertible couch was the creation of an Italian, one Bernard Castro back in the earlier days of the last century.
Indeed when Italy was born as a nation united under the House of Savoy in the late nineteenth century it was shaped in the romantic vision of the Risorgimento by the great patriots Garibaldi and Mazzini.
Perhaps this is the reason why the Italians put so much love and affection into their food. At Eco, the Clapham pizza restaurant, one can sense the passion that goes into every pizza and every item of food that is brought to the table.
Few people are neutral about pizza. For those who enjoy it it is an experience to savour, a taste to enjoy to the full. All the ingredients that comprise the delightful topping fuse seamlessly into a finished product that is a masterpiece well worthy of consigning to canvas, carving in marble or even of composing an opera about.
The Italians may be a fun-loving people but there are two things that they do take very seriously indeed, and one of them is sport.
The is no greater sporting event than the Football World Cup, and the Italian nation has won it on no fewer than four occasions – 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 – more than any other country apart from the legendary Brazil. Names such as Baggio, Baresi, Maldini, Cannavaro, Totti, Zoff, Rossi and Zola are familiar to anyone anywhere in the world who follows the Beautiful Game.
But Italian sporting achievement does not begin and end with soccer. Italy is famed for its cycling prowess and has won more World Cycling Championships than any nation other than Belgium. The Giro d’Italia is a world famous event well known to all cycling enthusiasts.
Italy’s basketball league is one of the very strongest in Europe, and the national team was triumphant in the prestigious Eurobasket competition in both 1983 and 1989. The country holds a similarly respected position in the world of volleyball.
It was not terribly long ago that the Italian Rugby Union side was regarded as, well, one of the softer touches in the sport, but since joining the Five Nations (thereby transforming it by definition into the Six Nations) the team has learned and grown, and each year that passes sees it present a more potent challenge than the last. In this year’s competition Italy defeated France, once the world champions and still a respected force in world rugby.
It may come as a surprise to some to learn that the Italian cricket team is ranked 25th in the world. It may only be a matter of time before the men in white are doing battle on the world stage with the likes of India, Australia and the West Indies.
But the “local” sport beloved on so many Italians of a certain age is bocce, a variant of the French pastime of boules and widely enjoyed by retired men in the parks of the big cities.
The reader will recall there were two things that Italians were said to take seriously. The other, of course, is food, and wherever in the world Italian people go, and settle, the cuisine travels with them and is received with gratitude by the incumbent population.
Here in London we are no exception, and we are proud to play host to such wonderful and enticing culinary venues as Eco Restaurant Clapham.
Eco provides the finest gastric experience imaginable for the connoisseur of Italian cuisine. When it comes to cooking, the people at Eco are mindful of the fact that it really isn’t a game.
Much interest abounds in the almost limitless options that exist for topping a pizza. Sauces, meats, fish, vegetables, fruits and savouries blend with cheese, tomatoes and other traditional ingredients to create recipes restricted only by the confines of one’s imagination. Whether you are holidaying in Sicily or resident amongst the large Italian community in the hectic, fast-moving major cities of the USA, there is something somewhere to satisfy every taste.
But it is not only the toppings that are available in a range of different varieties. The base itself is an important and integral part of the overall pizza experience and how the taste is brought out can often depend upon the consistency, texture and density of that that lies beneath.
The traditional Italian pizza is baked on a flat, round bread. However in Sicily the crust is usually thicker, and the American variant is square in shape.
Thicker still is the pan or deep pan pizza that has become popular in the United Kingdom. Some restaurants have travelled beyond this concept in recent years and actually stuff the outer rim of the crust with cheese.
For some however a thinner crust is preferred as a means of bringing out and emphasising the flavour of the topping. The thin crust option is popular in New York, where the slices tend to be rolled out in a way that leaves them not only flat but also wide. This option is usually made with high gluten flour and the slices are sometimes folded over before eating.
In Greek cuisine the emphasis is on producing a based that is enriched with herbs, complimenting well the natural flavours of the topping.
Pizza can also be produced on French bread, and this option is often used by bakeries and delicatessens which sell the product by the slice as a snack rather than as a complete meal.
One way of creating a special and unique flavour is to cook the base in a wood-fired brick oven. Brick oven pizzas are usually fairly small in diameter and have the advantage of cooking relatively quickly, always helpful when a high turnover is required.
At the popular Eco Restaurant in Clapham Common much attention is paid to the base of the pizza, ensuring that a healthy product is always delivered that has the effect both of emphasising the flavour of the delicious toppings and of producing a nutritiously balanced meal. It is an attractive option for those who wish to protect the waistline whilst at the same time satisfying a discerning palette and a hefty appetite.
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be a pizza delivery boy for one of the takeaway chains?
The writer is a bit long in the tooth to be contemplating embarking upon a new career, but it does rather come across as one of those occupations that may one day have a “Confessions Of….” film produced in its honour.
Imagine. The telephone call comes through and someone somewhere feels the calling of a Spicy Hot One with extra mushrooms, a bottle of coke and a portion of garlic bread with mozzarella. The meal is cooked and your job is to get it, as warm as possible, to an address on the other side of town. The moped is primed and ready, the food is safely in the box, and you are ready to go.
The stresses and strains of negotiating heavy traffic always have the potential to assert themselves, even if the busiest time for pizza deliveries does fall well outside the rush hour.
Then, when you arrive at your point of call, you need to check the address. Hopefully it is the correct one – misunderstandings often happen over telephone, especially if the customer and the person taking the order speak different languages.
Hopefully, too, the person who answers the door did actually order the pizza. Mischief makers and people wishing to settle scores are an occupational hazard in the takeaway pizza business.
On the other hand, the customer could be a beautiful young lady…
The highly popular Eco Restaurant Clapham though operates according to a slightly different principle. It too organises deliveries, but as a luxurious eat-in premises the focus of this service is on large orders with ample prior notice given. The larger part of its operation caters for visiting customers who will relax and eat an unhurried meal, made from fresh, healthy ingredients on a light, nutritious base.
At this top Clapham pizza house an extensive range of toppings is available, from the traditional to the original and imaginative, with ingredients and flavours skilfully blended to create an unforgettable taste and then served either on a flat or folded base.
Without a doubt it is worth getting on your bike for.
Eating out can be a spontaneous decision or a carefully planned event.
When the aroma of melting mozzarella wafts out from the door of the pizzeria and you haven’t eaten for hours it is understandable that you might be tempted to take a look inside to see whether there is an empty table.
Sometimes there will be. At other times it might be too busy. Maybe the only table remaining is somewhere you really don’t want to be sitting.
Or else there may be no seats but you are next in the queue. The group at Table 7 are staring at empty dessert dishes and chatting. You hope and assume that they will leave soon but then, after fifteen minutes of doing what seemed to be very little, perhaps even opening and closing their wallets, they order another coffee.
This is why is so often a good idea to reserve a table. The manager of the establishment knows you will be coming and the table you have reserved awaits you when you arrive. Being aware of your imminent arrival will have given him or her a better opportunity to assess how busy things will be at that time, and how many staff need to be deployed. All in all the whole thing is more organised, more civilised, and you and your party are less likely to end up huddled around a table that is too small, or sharing one with the Battersbys.
At Eco Restaurant, reckoned by many to be the finest of those restaurants close to the Clapham Picture House, you can use the handy online booking form provided on the restaurant’s own website to select not only a time, but also the seat of your choice provided it has not already been reserved.
Your meal is an important and integral part of your evening out. Don’t leave anything to chance, reserve your table and enjoy some truly excellent food in a relaxing and pleasant environment at the Eco Restaurant Clapham.
There is something about the humble pizza that brings out the exhibitionist in a certain kind of person.
Probably amongst the zaniest of all the adventures to befall the world-renowned Italian dish is the clamour to produce the largest pizza ever. That is a pizza even bigger than the previous largest pizza ever.
Let’s get the all-important facts and figures over with. The largest pizza ever made was 121 feet in diameter, and was constructed by Norwood Hypermarket in South Africa back in 1990. Its ingredients included a massive 4,500 kilograms of flour. A previous effort in 1987 was built in Havana, Florida before more than 30,000 spectators, who between them devoured it after it had been cut into no fewer than 94,248 slices.
In the United States approximately one hundred acres of pizza are consumed each day, or about 350 slices per second.
There are around 61,300 pizzerias in the USA and 10,000 in the United Kingdom. Each man, woman and child in America eats on average 46 slices of pizza every year.
Annually over five billion pizzas are sold around the world. A recent Gallup Poll found that children between the ages of 3 to 11 prefer pizza to all other types of food.
And last but certainly not least, how many people know that October is National Pizza Month? Designated as such for the first time, in 1987 – by the US Congress no less (allegedly) – the occasion is particularly celebrated in the States where families take their children out for pizza meals and have even been known to indulge a little themselves!
Meanwhile at home, normality abounds. Eco Restaurant may be the finest pizza restaurant in Clapham Common, but it doesn’t have seating for 30,000 and none of its famously nutritious pizzas come anywhere close to being 141 feet across.
Nevertheless as “proper” pizzas go ours are the healthiest and tastiest for miles around.
When you come to appreciate just how good our pizzas truly are statistics, records and dedicated pizza months really are not that important at all.