Lockdown has really made me appreciate the luxury of someone else preparing fantastic food for you. London’s food scene is part of what makes it one of the most exciting cities in the world, and my thoughts are with all the incredible chefs and restaurant owners who have been forced to close their doors over the previous few months.
I’m eagerly awaiting, therefore, the reopening restaurants such as Hide in just a few days time: “a restaurant and bar by Hedonism Wines and Ollie Dabbous. Set over three floors, flooded with natural daylight and enjoying views across Green Park…” whose menu showcases high-quality seasonal food that is sourced as locally as possible from trusted UK suppliers. At Hide here’s a focus on making everything they can in-house from charcuterie and bread to jams, juices and pickles. Quality is everything.
While I awaited the real thing reopening its doors though, I was delighted to try Hide at Home’s delivery menu to whet my appetite. On a beautifully sunny Thursday evening last week, dinner made it’s way to me, all the way from Hide’s kitchen, and it did not disappoint.
Two brown paper bags with Hide’s logo artfully stamped on the outside contained portions of everything I needed to have a decadent dinner party for one…
To nibble on there were Giarraffa green olives with garlic, lemon and rosemary and Hide seeded sourdough bread with whipped salted butter. The olives were meaty and juicy, the bread delightfully sprinkled through with poppy seeds and hazelnuts and delicious slathered with the generous portion of soft whipped butter.
I couldn’t quite justify the washing up involved in plating up three individual courses at home, so I went rogue and piled my starter of fennel, Sussex Slipcote, toasted pistachios and pickled elderflower salad; my main dish – baked aubergine with olive oil, tomato, smoked mozzarella and parmesan; and my side of steamed greens with garlic and olive oil on the plate together and headed out into my garden to tuck in and enjoy the still-bright sunshine.
The baked aubergine was a real explosion of flavours: layers of meaty, creamy well-seasoned aubergine was complimented with silky mozzarella and elevated by generous chunks of tangy artichoke and a rich tomatoey sauce. I felt like I was grazing at an Italian deli counter: the flavours were all incredibly well developed and I could almost taste the sunshine in the ingredients.
This was perfectly accompanied by the fennel salad that should have been my starter. Thin slivers of fennel were swirled in with Sussex Slipcote, a fresh, soft, creamy cheese, and combined with toasted pistachios to make up the most decadent of mouthfuls. Tangy pickled elderflower lifted the whole concoction to lip-smacking heights.
The steamed greens (side) were unremarkable, but unsurprisingly so, given the distance they had travelled from Hide’s kitchen to mine; and the addition of anything green makes any plate of food instantly more appetising so I appreciated them for their ascetics and their nutritional value and ate them up like a good girl. I took great pleasure in mopping up tangy, creamy, tomatoey remnants from my plate with more of the Hide bread and spent a moment in quiet reflection, giving thanks to the people who know how to cook more dishes than pesto pasta and vegetable curry (my staples through the lockdown.)
Dessert was a perfect little strawberry and vanilla custard tartlet (like the ones that catch your eye in French boulangeries), almost too pretty to eat. But not quite. Delicious. It was such a treat having dinner delivered to my doorstep that wasn’t laced with the guilt that accompanies an oil-laden takeaway. This was Michelin star quality food, prepared with love, and gratefully enjoyed in my verdant green garden. Maybe lockdown isn’t so bad after all…