I will always regret it. The year must have been 2002, perhaps even earlier. I had rented a flat in Barcelona to test recipes for my offal book and was there for 3 weeks. During that time, I could have easily gone to El Bulli whenever I wanted. I had a well-connected friend who would have organised it for me — in fact he had organised an amazing offal dinner at Can Fabes and an exquisite lunch at Ca L’Isidre where the owner gave me their recipe for tripe. But El Bulli was far and I was not so taken by molecular cuisine after a disappointing meal at the Fat Duck. So, I didn’t even try to get a booking. Then it became incredibly difficult to get in and now it is closed. Since then, I decided never to miss eating at a restaurant I was interested in even if it means travelling. Last year I went to Noma and I am just back from Faviken where I had the most amazing dinner followed by a terrific breakfast in the most serene if slightly ascetic atmosphere.
My first impression as I flew to Stockholm was both good and bad. Good because despite the plane being packed with children, it was a surprisingly restful flight with hardly any noise and lovely service — I should have added beautiful manners to the title of this post; every Swede I met on this trip was delightful except, that is, for the gruff sandwich tart lady (you will find her later in the post). They are really the most charming people in Europe! The bad impression which thankfully was fleeting was due to my vision of all Swedes as tall, blond and beautiful and there weren’t many on the plane. But this changed as soon as I landed. Wherever I went, I had to stop myself staring at gorgeous men and women. Fortunately, I was able to stare at the beautiful young man in the picture above taken at Saluplats Husman in the fabulous Hötorgshallen as he served us the most delicious meatballs and a wallenbarger (a very soft large meatball made with veal, eggs and cream).
Yesterday, my new best friend (I love making new best friends), Susan Hack, wrote up a post about our koshari meal at Abu Tareq in Cairo and other street foods I like and she rightly said that my favourite, together with koshari, is fiteer, so, I thought I would post about an amazingly good fiteer I had recently (sadly not with Susan) in Sayida Zeynab. I had seen and tasted almost eveything I wanted to in the two days I was in Cairo except for fiteer, so, I asked where was a good fatatri (fiteer maker) and was sent to one that did not look promising, dark and dingy and without any character but it was the only one and I decided to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did. Their fiteer was just perfect and even though I was going to lunch an hour later, I couldn’t resist eating far more than just the taste I had promised myself. I nearly finished the simple fiteer topped with eshta (Arabic clotted cream which in Cairo is made with buffalo milk) and honey in the top picture and had far too much of the fiteer mushaltat (several fiteers, one inside the other) in the picture below. Totally scrumptious.
Three years ago I was in Dubai filming a food/travel TV show for Abu Dhabi TV with the wonderful Tariq al-Mehyas. And the first thing I did when I got there was to spend 3 fabulous days in Sharjah as the guest of the brilliant Sheikha Bodour al-Qasimi who organised for me to cook with, or to be more accurate watch a group of lovely Emirati ladies cook Emirati dishes including the scrumptious lgeimat (saffron-flavoured fritters served drizzled with date syrup) you see in the picture above in the Sharjah Heritage House.