Archive for the ‘General’ Category
Where do you go to get a bandstand? The Clapham Common bandstand looks an awful lot like a pair of bandstands that once stood in South Kensington Gardens… and there’s a good reason for that.
When South Kensington Gardens closed in the 1870s, its two bandstands were sold to Peckham Rye and Southwark Park – which already had a bandstand, so that one was uprooted and sent to Plumstead. And in the 1890s, when Clapham Common wanted a bandstand of its own, they decided to copy the South Kensington design.
Then came World War II, and the two originals were destroyed, leaving only the replica in place… until Southwark Park rebuilt their version, basing it on the Clapham Common replica that had been copied from them in the first place!
Our bandstand withstood the test of time, right up until the 1960s when it began to succumb to the inevitability of old age and the prospect of a long, slow drawn-own demise. Other than for the odd lick of paint it was abandoned to the mercy of the elements, and by the turn of the new millennium it was rusting and crumbling, strewn with graffiti and used only by pigeons.
Fortunately in 2003 the Clapham Society combined with the Friends of Clapham Common to persuade the London Borough of Lambeth to embark upon a rescue campaign and, supported by a hefty grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as a not inconsequential contribution from the local community itself it was restored to something like its former glory.
Happily the bandstand is now in use again and when it is in use it boasts an excellent café, which is a wonderful place to be when the sun is shining, the music is playing and you are in the mood for an enjoyable cup of coffee and a cake.
When you are in the mood for a pizza however you need not travel very far. For just along the road is the famed Eco Restaurant, recognised as one of the very best of the Clapham Old Town restaurants.
Our pizzas, of course, don’t look like anything you might find in Kensington or Peckham Rye. Whatever appeals to you when perusing our menu, at our Clapham restaurant you will find only the original versions every time.
One sometimes wonders how it is that any cinemas remain open today.
In the early days of film a trip to the pictures was about more than just entertainment. Often the flickering, black and white newsreels invariably accompanied by solemn commentary in an absurd male and middle-aged BBC accent were the only means the people had through which to keep up with what was going on in the world about them.
Even as late as the 1970s Saturday Morning Pictures for the children was a reasonable enough alternative to a television service that boasted the princely total of three channels.
But in the 21st century, with multi-channel satellite and cable television and film technology that is even accessible through PCs and mobile telephones, why does anybody pay money to go to the cinema?
The answer must lie in the unique experience that is the big screen, the popcorn and ice cream and the big surround sound.
Certainly in Clapham the Picture House is thriving and is considered something of a local legend, a totem for the local and sometimes not so local community. Needless to say some concessions to modernity have been made, like everywhere else today cinema-goers that choose not to partake of tobacco no longer have to share the recycled air of those who do. But for those for whom a miniature tub of ice cream is not the refreshment of choice there is the option of taking in a glass of beer or wine from the bar. No need for the unseemly clamour during the interval that one experiences at many theatres.
Of course nothing quite goes down with a glass of wine like a full and bountiful meal, and as such a thing is as yet to be provided at the bar of the cinema or along the isles by the usherette one must wait until the film is over before rounding off the occasion by supplementing the fine wine with some fine cuisine.
Of all the restaurants close to Clapham Picture House one of the best known is the Eco Restaurant, one of the very finest Italian restaurants in Clapham. Here one can enjoy fine pizzas, pastas or any of a good variety of other options.
Indeed there is no finer place to sit back, relax and talk about the film.
There is a legend, entirely unconfirmed, that mozzarella cheese was first discovered by accident when some cheese curds were inadvertently dropped into a pail of hot water at a Neapolitan food factory.
Mozzarella cheese, along with tomatoes, is of course an essential ingredient of the original Margarita pizza. It is made from the rich milk of the water buffalo. Opinions differ as to how, when and why the water buffalo was introduced into Italy; some believe Mark Anthony brought them into the country from Egypt as a gift to the Emperor Julius Caesar.
Another theory is they were introduced into Italy from India in the seventh century, whilst others believe they were brought by invaders – Normans or Greeks. The cheese product is sometimes called mozzarella di bufala in recognition of its source.
In the late seventies the Italian government officially recognized the mozzarella di bufala as a protection to consumers from the fraudulent practice of selling mozzarella made of cow’s milk at a higher price than the real thing. Later, in 1993, mozzarella di bufala became a protected cheese, regulated by the “Consortium of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana” which guaranteed the origin and legal standard of identity as made only from 100% water buffalo milk.
The “Consortium for the Protection of the Buffalo Cheese of Campania" is an organisation of approximately 200 producers which, under Italian law, is responsible for the "protection, surveillance, promotion and marketing" of authentic mozzarella cheese.
Here in the UK one leading Clapham pizza restaurant prides itself on the nutritious and authentic ingredients that go into making its pizzas some of the finest and most sought after in London. Eco Restaurant, in Clapham High Street, specialises in making pizzas which combine a light and healthy base with fresh, nutritious ingredients to make a meal to remember.
Take a trip to Eco, recognised by most to be one of the best restaurants in Clapham, and witness for yourself the taste of true mozzarella on a full-flavoured base that allows the topping to truly express itself.
Italy is famous throughout the world for its history, its art, its culture, its music and its contribution to world cuisine. But what else do we know about it?
Here are a few lesser known facts about this fascinating nation:
- The average Italian family has 1.27 children.
- The Italian flag is inspired by the French tricolore introduced by Napoleon’s invasion in 1797.
- Two independent nations reside wholly within Italy’s borders – San Marino and the Vatican City.
- The modern Italian language has its origins in a region of Tuscany.
- The Italian contribution to science includes the electric battery, the barometer, nitro-glycerine and wireless telegraphy.
- The name of the electronic unit of measurement “volt” derives from Alessandro Volta, who invented the first battery in 1779.
- The Italians invented the piano.
- The average Italian consumes 26 gallons of wine per year and half a pound of bread each day.
- Italy is the fourth most visited country in the world, with over 40 million visitors each year.
- Twelve of William Shakespeare’s plays were based, in whole or in part, in Italy. They are Romeo and Juliet, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, Antony and Cleopatra, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Winter’s Tale and Julius Caesar.
- Despite its German-sounding name, Cologne originated in Italy.
- The age of the average Italian is 41.
- Italy has the highest number of cultural sites recognized by UNESCO World Heritage.
- Italy has three active volcanoes – Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli.
- Family recreational activities in small villages include taking the traditional Sunday passeggiata (a family stroll).
- The three colours of the Italian flag represent the three virtues – hope (green), faith (white), and charity (red).
- Before Rome became a republic and an empire, it had seven kings.
- “Ars longa, vita brevis” is a common saying in Italy. Literally translated it means “art is long, life is short”.
- Whilst the official language is Italian, French and German are also spoken in some regions.
- Of all the Italian restaurants in Clapham, Eco Restaurant is demonstrably the most committed to providing healthy and nutritious options on its menu and eco-friendly solutions to waste disposal.
Captivating though all these facts are, you will only need to remember one of them when planning your next meal out in London.
Who is the Clapham Cook?
Let us begin with a clue. And you’ll see when you start to follow this story that clues are an essential part of what it is all about.
The clue is that today we know where the Clapham Cook is to be found – in a restaurant in Clapham Common. Whenever a pizza is ordered by a hungry patron, the Clapham Cook is there, just waiting to leap into action and showcase his not inconsiderable culinary talents. But it wasn’t always that way.
An earlier Clapham Cook was called Eliza Dunn, and she walked out of her job at the Todd residence in Clapham without having worked her notice and hadn’t communicated with her employer since except to send for a trunk, which had been packed some time before.
Wondering whether was any connection between her wilful disappearance and that of a clerk at a local bank, Hercule Poirot set about his investigations and discovered that Ms. Dunn had been sent away by a lodger at the Todd residence, one Mr. Simpson, who as it happened worked at the same bank as the missing clerk.
When Ms. Dunn’s belongings arrived at her new abode without her trunk a train of events was set in place, at the end of which Poirot’s investigations resulted in the arrest of Simpson who had boarded an ocean liner bound for America, and the recovery of the missing bank clerk’s body in Ms. Dunn’s missing trunk.
There is nothing quite so mysterious about today’s Clapham Cook. He and his team can be tracked down at a top Clapham pizza restaurant called Eco, where every last one of them can be banked on not to disappear until the work is done.
The expert team at Eco are all fine upstanding citizens whose only crime is to produce pizzas and pastas that put all others in the neighbourhood to shame. But don’t take my word for it, please come along to Eco yourself and investigate.
Did you know that Italy currently produces more wine than any other country in the world?
According to the most recently available figures around 21% of the world’s wine exports originate in Italy, against 19% each for France and Spain, 8% for Australia and 6% each for Chile and the United States of America.
By a pleasant coincidence Italy also happens to be the home of the pizza. Despite the tenuous claims of various Mediterranean and Middle Eastern nations and the admittedly impressive volumes now consumed across the pond, pizza is as naturally associated with Italy as sauerkraut is with Germany or paella with Spain.
So it is natural to enjoy a pizza with a good wine.
Eco Restaurant is a popular Clapham restaurant that boasts not only the tastiest and healthiest pizzas for miles around but also some of the finest wines commonly available.
Whether your taste is for sparkling or still, red or white, sweet or dry, Italian or non-Italian – this finest of Clapham Old Town restaurants has something for you to enjoy alongside some of the most wonderful food that you will find anywhere in South London.
One of the particular favourites is a classic Pinot Grigio Principato 2008, a fresh Italian dry white with gentle floral and citrus aromas. This fine wine is available by the glass as well as by the bottle.
Another star turn is the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene NV, for that special occasion or even just for the sheer fun of it. Orignating from the Veneto region of northern Italy, this wonderfully fruity sparkling wine combines ripe pear aromas with crisp green apple flavours to provide a refreshing and lasting experience.
For those who like something different there is the Doricum Cattaratto, Santa Eufamia 2008 from Sicily, light and crisp with a flavour of orange and almond.
A pizza seems almost made to be partaken of with a good bottle of wine, although the range of beers, spirits, coffees and soft drinks available at Eco Restaurant in itself leaves one spoilt for choice.
It is the combination that makes the experience particularly special, and a pleasant and nourishing evening meal at Eco one that you will remember for a very long time.
It is perhaps a tad bizarre that no matter which culture we look to, almost anywhere in the world, the “starter” forms an integral part of the dining experience.
Of course when we eat at home, often with our plate on our laps and the television commanding our attention, we will content ourselves with a sole course of whatever it is we have cooked up. But in a restaurant, when we are enjoying a meal with family or with friends, the starter portion is somewhat obligatory.
In our cosmopolitan age the starter is known by many names. The hors d’oeuvre is the French version, although it can differ in the sense that it frequently includes the pre-meal nibble, such as the canapé, which can be taken standing up, alongside a drink and in conversation, or even instead of a main course of food.
In some other Western societies the starter is referred to as an entrée, although confusingly in some parts of North America the same term is in some cases used to describe the main meal. Where this is the case the starter is often called an “appetizer” in order to differentiate it from the main course entrée.
The Italian antipasto on the other hand has a much more precise and formal application. Usually comprising cured meats, cheeses and olives, antipasti (the plural of antipasto) represent the official beginning of the meal and are invariably served when one is seated at the table.
At Eco, one of the most respected Clapham North restaurants, a long and varied, not to mention impressive, list of antipasti have pride of place on the menu. Seafood, bruscetta, duck vermicelli and tortellini to name just a small few. Invariably they give us a tantalising hint of the high-quality cuisine that we can expect when the main course arrives.
As in all good restaurants in Clapham the diner can expect that every bit as much attention will be paid to the quality and presentation of the antipasti as will be to the scrumptious main course that every customer comes along to enjoy.
A good meal out should be a civilised, unhurried experience. With good wine and good company it can be an occasion to remember, in an atmosphere to savour.
Everybody knows what a pizza is. But mention the word “calzone” and expect dumb blank looks from all but the most dedicated aficionados of Italian cuisine.
Literally translated, calzone means “stocking” or “trouser”. But this is not a cause for undue concern, what a calzone really is is a folded pizza stuffed with all the ingredients more usually associated with the conventional item. The calzone is folded before it is cooked, encasing the goodness of the ingredients within.
Sometimes the calzone has its practical advantages. Italian street vendors sell them, often quite small in size, to be eaten by people on foot whilst walking or standing still.
Although strictly Italian in origin, different nationalities have produced their own variations upon the theme. In the United States the emphasis is very much on cheese as the primary or even the sole ingredient, and any sauce is provided on the side as a dip.
In Scotland calzone is sold in kebab shops filled with doner or shish meat, usually accompanied by a generous helping of onions. Legend has it that it is sometimes flambéed with a dash of Scotch whisky.
When it comes to ingredients, pretty much anything goes. Anything, at least, that one might associate with the more conventional flat open pizza. At Eco restaurant, home of the Clapham pizza, calzone is available with chicken and green chilli, goat’s cheese and zucchini, and aubergine and red pepper, as well as in the traditional ham and mozzarella form with mushrooms and garlic.
Also available from this noted Clapham pizza restaurant is the simple folded pizza, available in delicious chicken and ham, mozzarella and avocado, or ham and mozzarella.
As the world becomes a smaller place and we all become increasingly familiar with the subtleties of world cuisine, it is reassuring, not to mention very convenient, to be able to find that world on our doorstep and to enjoy all that it offers us.
Imagine a drink – an innocent, non-alcoholic beverage – the impact of which on society was so potent that its consumption was banned by a once-mighty empire in the hope that insurrection and revolution could thereby be avoided.
Murad IV was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire between the years 1623 and 1640. He was, by all accounts, something of a worrier. Today we would probably describe him as seriously paranoid.
Legend has it that he was oft given to patrolling his realm in disguise, so that he could overhear what members of the public were saying about him. It is said that on one occasion he wandered into a tavern and observed his subjects as they sang and were merry as they became progressively more intoxicated.
He then happened upon a coffee house, where he overheard the sober citizenry therein complaining about life in the Empire and indeed about Murad IV.
The solution suggested itself to him in a blinding flash. He would ban coffee. The coffee houses of Istanbul were closed down and those discovered consuming it in defiance of his orders would be beaten. Anybody unwise enough to offend a second time would be sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the Bosphorous. Which seems fair enough, bearing in mind they had already been warned.
Today we take a slightly more relaxed view about the whole thing, and coffee is enjoyed as a stimulant and in its own right as a good-tasting, refreshing drink.
Although it has its roots in Ethiopia coffee found its way into Europe via Italy. This is why wherever in Europe we happen to be most of the options available in coffee houses and restaurants have a revealingly Mediterranean sound to them – mocha, americano, latte, macchiato, cappuccino, motta and expresso to name a few.
The Eco Restaurant in Clapham Common is a place where a nice cup of coffee is always to be found, along with a selection of teas, wines, spirits, soft drinks and liqueurs – including, of course, some of the finest liqueur coffees.
They can all be enjoyed without fear of drowning.
Most people would agree that the explosive growth of ethnic cuisine in the United Kingdom over the past four decades has altered the British culinary experience beyond recognition.
It was within the lifetimes of many of us who are still around today that restaurants invariably served only domestic fare. Without wishing to decry British cooking (a well-cooked roast with all the trimmings can still be a surprisingly enjoyable experience), the lack of variety that was on offer must have been quite depressing for those given to eating out on anything like a regular basis.
One of the first ethnic options to become widely available to diners in the UK was of course Italian. The arrival of ristorantes and trattorias presented Italian food as the Italians prepare it to an audience whose only previous encounter with the genre will often have been with a tin of spaghetti with cheese and tomato sauce from the local convenience store.
Italian cuisine in the UK does actually date back much further than most of us would probably appreciate. The first Italian restaurant was in fact opened by one Joseph Moretti, a Venetian by birth, off London’s Leicester Square in around 1803.
An early café restaurant going by the name of Salvo Jure was opened near Spitalfield Market in 1859, and Bertorelli’s came to Charlotte Street in 1912.
But the real period of growth began in the 1970s, and by 1998 there were around 5,000 Italian restaurants in the United Kingdom, of which some 2,900 were pizza or pasta establishments.
One of the better known eateries in the capital is the Eco Restaurant, one of the fashionable Clapham Old Town restaurants in a desirable part of South London.
Like all good restaurants in Clapham Eco has worked hard to build a reputation for excellence and a growing following of loyal patrons who return frequently to get some more of the sublime Italian cooking that is always on offer.
Eco’s pizzas are specially made with the nutritional health and well-being of the customer always in mind. Only the finest and freshest ingredients are sourced and the final product is always a nutritious and balanced meal.
Eco Restaurant continues in the proud tradition of the pioneers of domestic Italian cuisine in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Now, as then, the aim is always to produce the finest and most wholesome food in a form that is forever an enjoyable and pleasant experience to eat.