From Jamie’s Fifteen to Jamie’s 5, the nation’s favourite chef has cut down on recipe ingredients for his new TV show and now brought the dishes to his restaurants.
I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s new TV show religiously. I admit that I used to be rather annoyed by him but since so many new TV chefs have arrived on the scene, each more irritating than the last, he now seems a paragon of mature TV cheffery. And I do want to eat everything I see him cooking, and I can’t say that about many of his contemporaries.
But what we see on TV we can’t always believe, so the news that most Jamie’s Restaurants are now serving dishes from his new book Quick & Easy Food. had me scurrying over faster than he can say’bish, bash, bosh!’.
I chose the St Martin’s Jamie’s Italian, a modern high-ceilinged place, as far from being a traditional clichÃƒÂ©d Italian as can be, but it smelled right. A warm, welcoming aroma.
Not all the book dishes are on the menu, and the menu varies slightly lunch to dinner, but as there were three of us we were able to share a selection.
Celeriac rave is rather more French than Italian, I’d have said, but it’s one of my favourite things in any language. Here it came with a juicy tangle of very decent San Daniele prosciutto whose warm softness married well with the nicely fresh, crunchy yoghurt/tarragon/mustardy celeriac. Simple as can be and all the better for it.
Mussels are not something I think of as particularly Italian either, perhaps it’s just that I have never eaten mussels in Italy? These were Welsh mussels, look you, poached in cream and cider, that well-known Italian drink. Delicious all the same, the mussels as plump as a well-punched pillow and the sauce with its garlic and chive overtones nicely grippy so it clung possessively to the mussel meat.
Crispy squid and smashed avocado seems a rather odd idea but it works, although the squid wasn’t terribly crispy, it was tender though. Even so it was still stiff enough to scoop up the avocado with its lively chili backbeat.
Better still was the lemony courgette linguine, which was the very essence of simplicity and fine flavour; the courgettes had bite and the citric kick was spot on. Plenty of fresh mint too, courgettes really do love mint in their mix.
Cooking a thin piece of steak properly is all but impossible at home I find, the pan is never anywhere near hot enough. This means that by the time the outside has taken on the proper degree of caramelization, the centre is overcooked and grey. They must have some seriously hot burners in Jamie’s because the sizzling steak and fries with garlicky cherry tomatoes, aubergine, basil and fries was absolutely perfect.
A small amount of steak, which was just the right amount, it wasn’t a meat eating challenge but almost a seasoning to the dish as a whole. The fries were as good as Maccy D’s, yes I said it. They were that good.
What else? Well I loved the Aubergine penne arrabbiata. I already make this at home, but Jamie’s version was much better than mine. I see from the book that he confits the chili and blanches the aubergine, this must be the secret and I’ll definitely try it.
And we had truffle tagliatelle, this is not in the book but is a real winner all the same. We could smell the truffle before it hit the table, proper truffle and not truffle oil, with the tagliatelle well cooked, firm to the bite and not slimy.
This pretty much finished us off, so no dessert.
People often mock(ney) Jamie but he didn’t get where he is by not knowing what he’s doing. And he is a proper chef, trained and everything, and that shows in his recipes and in his restaurants.
Good on yer Jamie. Keep it up mate.
Photos from the book