Monday, May 29, 2006

dinner at fifteen

you all know how much i love jamie oliver, the original naked chef. you may even recall my giddy delight at meeting him personally (see picture above!) at the book signing of jamie's dinners in manhattan or my gushing praise for fifteen the first time i dined there when i was visiting london last november.

well i just had yet another wonderfully indulgent jamie oliver experience and i can't sing enough praises of jamie and his different ventures. h surprised me by securing reservations to dinner at fifteen at short notice. he even got us a table downstairs in the restaurant so i could try the vegetarian tasting menu. the only booking available this bank holiday weekend was sunday at 6:30 pm so he took what was available. we starved all day in anticipation of the big meal. we arrived a little ahead of the time despite london underground delays.

a jamie-oliver-look-and-sound-alike greeted us and asked us to wait at the bar till our table was ready. we sipped champagne while we waited on the ground floor where the trattoria is located. this is the floor that serves rustic italian food but there are very few tables and they are very hard to secure.

we watched a chef prepare a lovely platter of anti pasti - the cheeses, the cured meats and the grilled vegetables looked very tempting indeed. within five minutes we were shown to our table downstairs. we were seated in between a middle aged british couple on my left and an elderly american couple on my right. they had already started chatting with eachother at the bar upstairs and since we were seated between them, we happily joined the conversation as well. the american gentleman was also in finance so he and h chatted away on all wall street stuff.

to get started, i was served a spoon of marinated betroot with herby mascarpone and another spoon of ribbon zucchini with vegetable crudo. the zucchini spoonful was especially zesty as it was dressed in a lemony peppery dressing.

my second course was fifteen's fantastic salad of beautiful buffalo mozzarella, green figs, funky leaves, toasted whole almonds and eight year aged balsamic. i love fresh mozzarella cheese and this was the best of the best.

third course was cappellacci. this is a type of pasta stuffed with stinging nettle, baked ricotta and lemon zest in a butter broth. i had never tasted nettle and found it to be a bit bitter but nice and crunchy.

fourth course was arancini di roso - that's saffron and horse mushroom rice balls stuffed with mozzarella and finished with pea shoots and a tomato and basil sauce. it was a welcome change from the usual risotto i normally order at italian restaurants.

i could hardly eat by the time we got to the cheese course for which we were served a gentle british cheese called dorstone - it's a fresh, sweet, gentle cheese with ash rind and is served with organic medjool dates and fresh chutney.

and finally, dessert. we had amadei chocolate tart with new season strawberries and vanilla ice cream. the dark chocolate was simple heavenly.

the american couple left before we did so we said goodbyes and wished them a wonderful week in london. they had just arrived from america that morning so were understandably jet lagged. we asked for the bill a few minutes after they had left while we continued to chat with the british couple exchanging central london restaurant recommendations.

our bill showed £0.00. at first i thought it was a big mistake. the waitress had a weird smile on her face and we couldn't figure out what was going on. the british couple also got a bill which said £0.00. we were all in total shock. after a minute of allowing us to be in shock, the waitress understatedly informed us at the american gentleman who had just left the restaurant had settled the tab for all three tables. i gasped. we debated endlessly on why why why but then slowly his sheer generoisty and kindness of spirit began to seep in. wow. thank you. thank you. thank you. we don't know what we did to deserve this amazing treat other than be interesting conversationalists throughout the evening.

i remembered when i woke up this morning that h had scribbled the address of my blog and given it to the american gentleman who had been very amused that i was taking pictures of the food and not of anyone else. h then explained to him that i had a blog and asked him to check it out.

so, mr.john lewis, if you still have the scrap of paper and found my blog and are reading this post, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your unbelievable generosity. last night was definitely an unforgettable evening for us all. it's definitely a story that i'm going to be telling many times over in my lifetime!

ps - my only disappointment last night was jamie wasn't at the restaurant. i learnt from one of the waitresses that he had just celebrated his birthday on saturday and that he was spending the weekend with jools and the girls. good for him!


Blogger Sam said...

That's an incredible heart-warming story, Lulu. Thank you for sharing.

10:07 pm  
Blogger Amy Sherman said...

Knowing you and H. it doesn't surprise me a bit. Your charm and warmth turly does win over complete strangers! Can't wait to see you next month.

2:57 am  
Anonymous Ezra said...

I understand why any right-thinking man would buy you dinner, but I am puzzled why he also paid for h!!

I have never understood the whole Jamie Oliver fascination until now - what a spectacular meal that looks like!

7:26 am  
Blogger futureguru said...

wow each course looks fantastic and what a surprisingly wonderful way to end the evening!

2:53 pm  
Blogger Lulu said...

LOL! thanks ya'll. sweet and funny comments.

10:07 pm  
Blogger Alice Q said...

What a great sounding meal! I just stumbled over your NY Blog while on the 101 Cookbooks site, and the followed the link to the London blog. I will check back and will put you on my link list. I have my own little local blog for San Diego (a little far flung I know) at - please come visit! Cheerio!

1:54 am  
Anonymous Trisha D said...

I have so much fun reading this -- even tho this is my first comment, when come to visit London one day, I will def be eating at this restaurant -- it is 9am here and I am DROOLING over the food at Fifteen!! And what an incredible man to pick up the tab -- that is an amazing story. Lots of love to you across the ocean.

5:25 pm  
Blogger Mimi said...

lulu you looks so pretty! I love meeting authors I met Jumpha Lahiri when she was in nyc she signed my namesake book which by the way did you read? xx <3 M

4:59 pm  
Blogger gs said...

lulu,that was a great story.did the generous couple get in touch with you?

12:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

goodness, jamie oliver can single handedly run a kitchen and he never ceases to amaze me... you're so lucky

2:32 pm  
Blogger Lulu said...

hi alice,
nice to meet you virtually! i would love to live in san diego - i visited a few times and just totally loved the laid back vibe there. checked out your blog and have bookmarked it. the artisan cocktails sound very delicious!

hi miss.T,
what a plesant surprise to see a comment from you - had no idea you were reading the blog :) hope you are well chica. miss ya!

hi mimiamiga
i LOVE jumpha lahiri and have read all her books. i am still waiting for mira nair's namesake to be released. you know a friend of mine sent me an email to try out for an extra position in the movie (they were looking for indian women in new york - just as basic as that!) and i was lazy and didn't do it when i was in new york!

hi dad,
actually, yes. mr. john lewis did email h and we're going to be in touch with him now. great that he read my blog but i think he was a bit annoyed that i referred to him as 'elderly' - got to really watch my words ;)

8:40 am  
Anonymous Anthony Stepancic said...

Hey can you give me the phone number and name of the restaurant where u met the Jamie Oliver sound and look a-like. I would like to offer him some work email is

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Blogger Sumitha said...

Wow,lucky gal you met Jamie Oliver!It would be a dream come true for me!

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Blogger beth said...

Wow. Such a cool story. It inspires me to be more generous. I'm new to London and can't wait to try Fifteen.

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