Restaurants may have been closed for what feels like an eternity, but that hasn’t stopped the Michelin Guide from doling out a load of fresh stars for 2021. That means there are 66 London restaurants now considered to be the holy grail in dining, seven of which are brand-spanking-new to the list. While the buzz makes us want to book a table immediately, you can get a flavour of what some of these culinary destinations are all about in lockdown, too – by ordering their grub.
If you haven’t already gone meal-kit mad, dive in at the deep end with one of these very fancy offerings. Or forget about faffing around with velouté in your rusty old pan and get in a very posh takeaway. Then you’ll just have to beg your housemate to hang your handbag on a bespoke stand, pull your chair out for your arrival to the table and rearrange your napkin as you nip for a toilet break between courses. All totally normal behaviour.
Here’s a complete list so you can fine dine from home.
As much as I enjoyed eating traditional Italian foods when I was younger, I lived with the idea that American desserts were superior to Italian desserts. Sure, Italians had Tiramisu and Gelato, but those were nothing compared to raspberry topped cheesecakes, towering chocolate layer cakes, and fudgy brownies. There were very rarely surprises and creativity in Italian desserts as far as I could see.
This post was originally published in 2014 and has be revised for accuracy.
The Italian restaurants I went to offered the same list of Italian desserts (Panna Cotta, Tiramisu) and I was slightly disappointed when offered the usual cantuccino or two with coffee after lunch at my nonna’s house. Even worse were the lunches where I was given—gasp!—a bowl of strawberries. Where were my chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and apple pie a la mode?!
Italians, I was convinced, were great when it came to pasta and pizza, but missed the mark when it came to Italian desserts.
Since learning to bake and living in Italy, however, I’ve learned to appreciate the simplicity of Italian desserts. I’ve realized that often the best way to finish off a multi-course meal is not with a slice of pie but rather a few simple delicious biscotti (or cookies); not necessary an ice cream sundae when you have a scoop of pistachio gelato that tastes exactly like toasted pistachios; and you do not really need a three-layer devil’s food cake when you have a Italian dessert called Torta Caprese!
Torta Caprese, for those of you who don’t know, is a chocolate cake made with ground almonds that originate from the island of Capri, near Naples. Its ingredients are simple– only eggs, butter, chocolate, and almonds—and makes for a very dense and intensely chocolatey cake. The use of ground almonds gives this cake a certain richness and another layer of flavor, means that this cake is a great Italian dessert for Italian food lovers who cannot eat gluten.
Following a Torta Caprese recipe is actually a bit less time consuming than your average layer cake. It is extremely simple and elegant in its presentation, and the perfect Italian dessert for a dinner party, birthday, or special occasion. I like to serve this Italian dessert with a dusting of powdered sugar, but I bet whipped cream and raspberries on the side would be good too. Now I’ll share my favorite Torta Caprese recipe with you – enjoy!
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan. In a small pan, melt the butter and let it cool.
In a food processor, finely grind the almonds and chocolate. Separate the eggs, putting the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in another large bowl.
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat the egg yolks with the sugar until very thick and pale; then add the almond chocolate mixture and the butter and beat together.
In another bowl, with cleaned beaters, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. Whisk one-fourth of the egg whites into the mixture. Fold in the remaining whites gently and spread the batter evenly in the pan.
Bake the Torta Caprese for 50 minutes, or until it begins to pull away from the side of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool the cake completely before releasing the sides of the springform pan. Dust the cake with powdered sugar and serve the best Italian dessert. Serves 8–10. (Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine).
Today’s post is sponsored by Notino and is all about glamping essentials and everything you should pack for a glamping trip. One of the benefits of glamping over camping is that you don’t need to pack nearly as much stuff! Most glamping sites will provide you with all the basic equipment you will need so …
The Royal Academy of Dance is London’s elite marine corp of quick-stepping jive daddies. They are, quite simply, the best at boogying. This year they want to help you. They’ve seen you ‘dancing’, thrashing around like a terrified chimpanzee in a coal mine. And they’ve said: ‘enough’. It’s time to teach you how to get down.
RAD@Home is a new and entirely free service, established to rid the capital of its lumbering, rhythm-free groovers. Aimed at cooped-up school students, but open to anyone, the high-energy ‘Step It Up‘ classes will be beamed out across the internet every Tuesday and Thursday at 12.30pm, starting today. Sound a bit too frenetic? Maybe the ‘Silver Swans‘ session, every Wednesday at 1pm, is more your tempo?
People taking part will also get the chance to ‘ask a dancer anything’, with famous groovers offering themselves up for interrogation after classes. They say ‘anything’, but keep it dance-related, yeah? You probably can’t ask who they voted for in the last election, for example.
‘The Royal Academy of Dance is committed to promoting a love of dance in everyone, of any age and of any ability, wherever you are across the globe,’ said Dame Darcey Bussell, who you might recognise from the telly. ‘Dance is such a creative, artistic activity that helps us all express our emotions while boosting positivity, wellbeing and keeping us fit.’
The whole thing is part of RAD’s very admirable ‘Step Into Dance’ programme, a city-wide attempt to provide better access to dance for a diverse range of young people. Great stuff. For more information about the classes look no further than here.
Maybe you’ve been telling yourself you’ve been doing alright in lockdown. Walking the same route around the park everyday isn’t so bad. You’ve got to know your Tesco Local security guard, that’s nice. You even get excited about doing ‘movie and takeaway night’ on a Friday. It’s fine: a bit like living in the suburbs. Maybe you’ve even thought about moving to the suburbs.
But you and I both know that deep down something is brewing within you.
Have you been starting to feel a bit… weird? A little twitchy? Like your internal chemistry is crying out for something vital and life-giving?
What you could be jonesing for, friend, is London. Proper London. Open London. The London where you eat Pret for dinner on the tube between work drinks and a Tate Late. The London where you have three birthdays to attend in different corners of the city on the same night. London with the tourists and landmarks and really good culture and food.
There’s only one way to be sure though. Take this helpful quiz, designed by the Time Out staff, to determine if you are indeed having London withdrawal symptoms.
1. When someone mentions a Tube station do you automatically calculate what changes you’d need to make to get there, even though you haven’t taken the Tube in eight months?
2. When the bins next to your local KFC gets tagged by an extremely half-arsed graffiti writer do you find yourself standing in the road, appreciating it like the vital street art it definitely is?
3. Is the perennially under-dressed bottom half of your body bitter because the top half gets to wear shirts sometimes?
4. While you’re still confident that you could ‘do’ an escalator, you’re not sure if you could just step onto one without looking anymore?
5. Can you no longer even remember the five basic types of London Tourist? (If not, they are: Spanish backpackers in Camden searching for Amy Winehouse’s home; Primark Pilgrims; fans of BBC’s ‘Sherlock’; Italian lads called Matteo getting sucked in by two-for-one deals in Shoreditch; old couples silently eating spaghetti in Angus Steakhouse before a matinee.)
6. Moreover, does the thought of Angus Steak House no longer inspire derision, but instead a hard-won sense of respect for a legendary London brand that would actually be quite nice to visit now, probably?
7. Do you now remember Shoreditch as a kinetic, fashionable hub for media disruptors instead of a desultory roundabout, popular with hen nights and misinformed students?
8. Do you walk past a shuttered pub – literally any pub – and think ‘ooh, wouldn’t it be nice to go in there?’
9. Could you no longer say with any deal of certainty what Tube lines connect at Liverpool Street?
10. Ever have a dream about any of the staff in that Pret A Manger by your office? Yeesh.
11. Six quid for a pint of beer in a room full of friendly people? Woof! Absolute bargain!
12. Have you visited Canary Wharf in the last few months and walked around the skyscrapers as a day out? And did it legit feel like being on holiday in another city, rather than an arduous schlep around probably the most soulless bit of London?
13. Ever find yourself clambering to the front of a socially distanced crowd in Victoria Park, to catch a glimpse of a busker ‘doing’ Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church’?
14. Have you sat down in the evening to a hearty, richly spiced meal that you’ve spent an hour preparing, only to wistfully reminisce about inhaling a Five Guys between work and a show?
15. Can you even remember the last time you chuckled at the name Cockfosters?
16. That photograph on your camera roll of Waterloo Bridge at sunset? You’re thinking of posting it to Instagram aren’t you? Unironically.
17. When your old regular bus whizzes past you as you take your daily walk, do you have to stop yourself from smiling and waving, as if at an old friend?
18. Have you recently opened up the government’s map of live Covid cases, zoomed out a bit from your postcode and thought, ‘Oh that’s right, my neighbourhood is in London!’?
19. Do you sometimes wonder how that super-enthusiastic Jesus-loving evangelist outside King’s Cross is doing?
20. Do you ever open Citymapper to plan hypothetical journeys that at some point you might want to take? Do you then feel an overwhelming, crushing sadness that can only be extinguished using red wine or Disney’s ‘Moana’?
21. Have you started to imagine that were the city to reopen tomorrow you would immediately do a hedonistic tour of all the most vital bars and clubs in Peckham and Hackney, even though you know full well that young people make you nervous and the music they play is just noise anyway, really?
22. Do you miss ‘the hustle and bustle’ of Oxford Street?
23: In an attempt to recreate the anarchic, feel-good atmosphere of a Prince Charles Cinema screening, have you started throwing spoons at your TV?
24. Have you in the last six months purchased a deep-fat fryer in an attempt to ‘rustle up’ your own spin on Chick ‘N’ Sours’ ‘Disco Wings’, only to use it once, burn your wrist and then abandon the project?
25. Are you fretting about whether your Nando’s loyalty card could actually expire?
26. Does the fact you no longer commute mean you have a panic-inducing backlog of unlistened-to podcasts just sitting on your phone?
Let’s be honest, the fact you’ve taken this quiz and read to the end suggests that you are indeed having London withdrawal symptoms. Our suggested remedy: pootling around Soho on Google Street View with your face pressed up against the screen. And then order some food from your favourite restaurants. Or go on an actual virtual tour of a big gallery.