JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bloggers' lunch at Books for Cooks

Lunch yesterday with Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups, her friend Sue from Texas, and Karen of Bake My Day. Tanna and Sue have been in Europe visiting their blog friends, including Karen, so I wanted to find somewhere special to meet, because just about anything could be an anti-climax after eating at Angelika's new kitchen in Vienna!

We met at Books for Cooks in Blenheim Crescent, just off Portobello Road. This little shop is a food blogger's paradise - more than a shop, it has a kitchen/diner at the back, domestic in scale, where they test the recipes book by book. Yesterday it was 100 Great Tapas by Pippa Cuthbert.

Three courses for £7, or two for £5 - no choice, just what's up on the board. And to drink, water from a tap (the best kind), or wine from the proprietors' own vineyard. So three courses it was, a bottle of red, and an enamel jug of water. Even before the food arrived, out came four cameras, capturing the lunch for the blogosphere. That's one of the great things about a blogmeet - everyone takes it as read that the food is worth photographing. No-one whining, "Oh mum, do you have to?" or "That is SO embarrassing" etc etc. We probably were embarrassing, but we were all having far too good a time to notice.

To start, various crostini. Home-made tapenade, a wonderful caramelised fennel and onion & goat's cheese. Then lightly spiced meatballs with orzo. Orzo looks like rice, if you're not inspecting it too closely. Tanna spotted straight away that it wasn't rice, and told us that orzo, which I'd never had before, is a type of pasta. Good. Worth seeking out.

Pudding was cake and coffee. The sweet girls cooking lunch could see they'd never get a straight answer out of us over what cakes we'd like with our coffee - and so they prepared us a tasting plate of all four. I liked the lemon sponge best, Karen preferred the meringue, Tanna gave her chocolate-coated banana cake to Sue, and concentrated on the pineapple cake instead.

It was a wonderful lunch - Tanna's laughter is infectious, there was food to enjoy, stories to tell, the pleasure to come of browsing in the bookshop. Later, laden with shopping, we crossed the road to the Spice Shop, a tiny space crammed full of spices from all over the world. More shopping. And then I had to go. I left the three of them to explore the delights of the Portobello Road on a market day. I hope that London was all they wanted it to be.



Katie Zeller said...

How fun to meet for lunch!
I'm sure you all had a wonderful time - and those desserts didn't look too bad either...

Joanna said...

Yes, a blogmeet is just great, thoroughly recommended, because it's not like having lunch with a total stranger, there's a lot that's already been shared.

But if you're thinking of going to Books for Cooks for your lunch, just be sure to notice the traffic warden lurking in the photograph - that area is a driver's nightmare. Sue was mystified when I said traffic warden, so I asked her what she would call a man issuing parking tickets - meter maid! Can anyone tell me what Americans call a male meter maid???


Cottage Smallholder said...

I visited Books for Cooks earlier this year on our foodie day out in London but didn't try the food. What a marvellous cookery bookshop it is, the perfect place to while away a few hours.

I visited the Spice Shop too and picked up a few things that are waiting in the wings to be blogged about.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I don't really know of the other ladies but meeting Tanna must have been great. She comes across as being genuine, good fun and with a good story or two. Sounds like it was a wonderful day.
To save leaving two comments the tip with the flour and the 0% yogurt is great.
Thank you, Amanda

Kalyn Denny said...

How fun. I'd love to meet Tanna also. Wish she would come to Salt Lake (hint, Tanna.)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

A beautiful write up you almost make us sound like ladies but we were having too much fun! And it went on all afternoon and into the wee hours.
Thank you so much for the wonderful spot and guidance around Portabella Road area. I think we then did a little jewlery damage, discovered a fabulous fish monger (supplies the royal family), Clark's bakery (oh wow) and even found Whole Foods.
Great afternoon!!

Anonymous said...

It was so much fun to meet you! The lunch with you was a highlight of our visit to London. And I Googled the term "meter maid" and found out that the US Dept. of Labor calls this position a "meter attendant." Very gender neutral, don't you think?

Joanna said...

Hi Tanna, Hi Sue,

Glad you got back home safely - and that you found good places to shop after I went off to the library. Now I'm looking forward to reading your posts (and Karen's) about all your adventures, and seeing the pictures.

SO glad to know that he's called a meter attendant! As you say, very gender neutral.

And I know what you mean, Tanna, I'm not normally what they call "a lady who lunches" - but I was really pleased to play the part on Friday

See you next time?

Ilva said...


Karen Baking Soda said...

See, that's what happens when you don't have access to your laptop during travelling, I'm late to the party!

Haha, can't decide which I like best, the meter maid or a lady who lunches (well we did use knife and fork didn't we?). Thank you Joanna for securing us a table at Books for Cooks and joining us for lots of fun and shopping. If you ever come to Holland, let me know!

Joanna said...

Ilva, you're always welcome here - perhaps come over next time your husband is working in Oxford?

And Karen, glad you're home safely, and reunited with your laptop!


thepassionatecook said...

i've never had food at books for cooks... and after ordering from the spice shop over the phone a few times, i've been planning to go to there for the longest time... you should have told me!