palermo-pani ca meusa-porta carbone copy

As some of you know, I have written a whole book on Mediterranean street food and while researching it, I tasted almost all there is to taste on the streets of Spain, Italy, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt to name a few of the countries I covered. Most of what I tasted was great. Sometimes delicious and fun and sometimes more fun than delicious. But there were a few specialities I did not take to. In particular pani ca meusa, a greasy sicilian spleen sandwich. Nancy Harmon Jenkins who is one of the great writers on Mediterranean food and a friend couldn’t undrestand my repulsion but as much as I love spleen (my mother makes a divine braised version that I will blog one day that I am with her in Lebanon), I couldn’t see the point of this sandwich. Well, not until another great friend, Mary on whose farm we were staying, sent us to Porta Carbona where not only did I finally discover that a greasy spleen sandwich could be absolutely scrumptious but I was also able to convert Amy to it.

Read more >


london saj borek maker-rolling out dough copy

This morning I walked up to Hoxton Street to buy some fresh herbs from my Turkish shop — they are cheaper and more plentiful than at Waitrose. On the way back, I decided to check the jerk chicken stand on the other side to see if it was any good but it looked too dirty. So, I skipped my craving and continued back home and all of a sudden I fall on a woman rolling out dough for saj boreks in the window of a very modest café, just like you would see in Turkey. Amazing sight in the heart of east London even if there is a large Turkish community there. It was just after 11 am, so, not too far off lunch. I had to try one and fortunately the lovely looking saj maker took a shine to me and gave me a freshly baked one filled with spinach and cheese — she normally makes them ahead of time and reheats them which I am sure is fine but I prefer mine made on the spot. I had never had such a good saj borek outside Turkey, and she is now my most favourite person in the neighbourhood. All I can say to you is go and have some before she leaves! In the meantime, here are a few pictures of her at work together with a couple of video clips. I inadvertently turned off the camera halfway through filming hence the two clips. I really need to learn how to edit!

Read more >


tajrish-lamb's heads

On 8 May I will be teaming up with Stevie Parle at the Dock Kitchen for a lamb nose to tail dinner. The evening will start with the acceptable face of offal: a welcome drink served with delicious chicken wings marinated in Aleppo pepper, allspice, Lebanese 7-spice mixture and cinnamon, lemon juice and olive oil and roasted in the restaurant’s tandur oven. For starters, we will offer a mini offal mezze: poached lamb’s tongues stuffed with pistachios and served on a bed of lemony mixed leaves and herbs (I learned the recipe at one of Aleppo’s best restaurants, Zmorod); lamb’s kidney baked inside a potato (I found the recipe in Ambrose Heath‘s Meat); and Jerusalem Mix bruschetta (Sami Tamimi gave me the recipe when I was writing Mediterranean Street Food, initially a sandwich, I have smartened it up into a bruschetta for the dinner).

Read more >