Posts Tagged ‘Restaurant in Clapham 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.

Where Else Would a Visitor to Lambeth Walk?

Lambeth WalkThere is a place you may have heard of down South London way called Lambeth Walk. It’s a good couple of miles from our restaurant in Clapham Common, but it has a bit of history that is well worth reflecting upon.

In fact the Lambeth Walk is not just a street. It is also a popular market, a song, a dance, a walk, two films and a photograph.

The song, “Doin’ the Lambeth Walk”, is a music hall classic and was written by Noel Gay for the 1937 Douglas Furber musical “My and My Girl”, not to be confused with the later American musical of almost the same name, which starred Judy Garland. The song is usually accompanied by a walking, strutting dance which is, indeed, the “Lambeth Walk”.

In 1939 “Lambeth Walk” was released as a film starring Lupino Lane, who had first popularised the dance a couple of years before. In the meantime the song somehow caught on in the United States, where it was adopted by a number of well-known orchestras and eminent performers, including the legendary Duke Ellington.

So just what does any of this have to do with pizzas?

Well, Lambeth of course is the borough in which Clapham resides (actually part of Clapham Common falls within the borough of Wandsworth, but it is maintained by Lambeth by mutual agreement). Although not in the East End, thanks to Gay and Furber Lambeth and in particular its walk have established themselves in the public mind as a part of the Cockney culture.

It’s all a bit different now, much of the borough becoming gentrified and plush eating houses having replaced the traditional cockle stalls as the place to go for a bite to eat. But you can still hop, dance or strut along to Eco, one of the really good restaurants in Clapham, if you want the exercise before enjoying one of our delicious and healthy pizzas.

Pasta Sauce, Please!

Pasta SauceEco Restaurant in Clapham Common is rightfully known for its succulent, nutritious and healthy pizzas.

And yet for those who like a bit of variety, or to whom pizza doesn’t appeal, we are highly regarded for our range of other dishes, not least our extensive selection of pastas.

To some gnocchi, zucchini, pappardelle, maccheroncini, tortellini, vermicelli, bigoli, fusilli and casoncelli may read like the first few names from a Euro 2012 soccer team sheet, but to those in the know they are some of many exciting varieties of pasta or pasta dish that are widely enjoyed around the world today.

Most pastas are made from durum wheat, although some varieties can be made from wheat flour or buckwheat flour. Other ingredients include water and sometimes eggs. In its native Italy pasta is usually enjoyed al dente, meaning “firm to the bite”, in other words not excessively soft. Pasta made without eggs (dry pasta) has the advantage of enjoying a shelf life of two years or even more.

Generally speaking pasta comes in three forms – long pasta (such as spaghetti), short pasta (in shapes such as penne or rigatoni), or minute (also called pastina, used mostly in soups). It is sometimes available in wholemeal, and sometimes in different colours when pigmented by tomato, for example, or spinach.

As well as the excitement value that comes with variety, there is sometimes a logic to the different shapes and sizes. The ability of a pasta form to hold a particular sauce, for example, is often dependent upon its shape. A classic example is ravioli, which is sealed to encase minced meat, cheese or other fillings.

At Eco, recognised as one of the finest Italian restaurants in Clapham, we serve a wide range of pastas topped with the finest meats, fish, seafood and vegetables and tossed and served in some of the most creative and mouth-watering sauces that it is possible to imagine.

Come along and try it for yourself.

No Matter How Different, It’s Still a Pizza

vito3 The pizza is a major chapter in the rich history of world cuisine that is still being written.

With its roots in Italy but with derivatives and distant cousins to be found amongst the Greeks, Phoenicians, Egyptians and a host of other peoples, and with wholly new variants reporting present throughout the last century or so on the other side of the Atlantic, the pizza manages to be simultaneously both proud Italian creation and cosmopolitan international phenomenon.

Which leads us to ask what fascinates us most about the pizza, whether it is its versatility that allows it to manifest itself in so many forms and guises, not only with so many diverse toppings and flavourings but also its different shapes, sizes and forms. Or whether it is its uniformity that reassures us that thick or thin, round or square, meaty, fishy or vegetarian it remains nonetheless a pizza.

Pizza can be enjoyed in thin crust or deep pan format, or stuffed with cheese around the outer edges or not as the case may be. It can be round, square or oblong – even elongated. It can be folded or unfolded, served whole or in individual slices. Some establishments now even offer pizzas that are half one topping, half another. The Americans serve it up as a pie put one can also find microwave pizzas, mini pizzas that can be consumed whole and even pizza flavoured crisps!

Rumours that pizza is soon to be marketed as a beverage remain as yet unconfirmed.

At Eco Restaurant, the premier pizza restaurant in Clapham Common, we have our own concept of this world famous dish. We serve something we like to call nice pizza. Or healthy pizza if you prefer, or nutritious pizza or appetising pizza. Too us it matters not too much what shape, nor which name by which it goes. We know it is how a pizza tastes that distinguishes quality fare from the ordinary.

And What Goes UNDER the Sauce?

making 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.

Pizza, the International Italian Dish

Everybody knows that pizza is essentially an Italian dish, notwithstanding the fact that other Mediterranean nations have at various points in time and history produced flatbreads of their own which may have borne a tentative resemblance.

And yet how many people know that several nations have paid the dish the ultimate compliment by inventing their own unique versions and derivatives?

The Australian pizza, otherwise known as the Australiana (yes it’s true!) is usually made by adding bacon and egg to the traditional Margherita, but for those whose wish to go completely ethnic it can sometimes also feature kangaroo, crocodile and emu meats.

In Brazil a version is offered as a dessert which can include banana, pineapple or even chocolate.

The Indian pizza may opt for paneer in place of the conventional Italian mozzarella, and is also available in a tandoori chicken topping.

In Israel a meat-free kosher version is available for those who follow religious dietary observance that forbids the mixing of meat and dairy produce. Some Middle Eastern spices are also added to give the pizza a particularly local flavour.

Local toppings in South Korea can include Bulgogi (a marinated barbecue beef) or Dak galbi (marinated chicken mixed with stir-fry vegetables in a chilli pepper paste).

Spicy chicken and sausage based pizzas are very popular in the eastern regions of Pakistan, although the dish is still relatively unheard of in the west of the country.

Meanwhile in the United States the presence of large Italian and Greek communities has ensured that pizza is a mainstream and popular food, though many local and regional versions have emerged with their own special character.

At Eco Restaurant in Clapham Common meanwhile, traditional Italian pizza remains the order of the day, although pasta, risotto, salads and a whole lot more also adorn the enticing menu. An extensive range of foods and wines are available to a wonderful traditional and cultural experience for all to enjoy.