Last week I was in a room with Yottam Ottolenghi and I was giddy like a school girl. He was at Camino, Oakland with his coauthor Chef Ramael Scully promoting his new cookbook Nopi. I have only known about Ottolenghi for two years, but in the short time have become a big fan. I’ve eaten at his restaurant Nopi in London and cooked amazing food from his cookbooks. This guy makes vegetables sexy.
Upon arrival at Camino, we were treated to drinks and snacks with the opportunity to get our cookbooks signed by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully. With a glass of rose wine in hand, I waited my turn to meet. I thought it was ironic because I read Ottolenghi’s recent blog post that he isn’t a fan of rose wine. I didn’t want to try to maneuver my book and my wine so I finished it up before I reached him. Part of me also didn’t want him seeing me drinking the rose wine. With a few words shared, I got my cookbook signed and a photo taken.
The lunch we would be eating today were items carefully prepared by the Camino kitchen using recipes from the Nopi cookbook. Before the official sit down lunch, we had three passed appetizers that came around multiple times.
Fried baby artichokes and parsley with pink peppercorn aioli.
Halibut and bulgar tartare with preserved lemon salsa and Jerusalem artichoke chip on endive.
Burnt green onion dip on flatbread.
The popular bar at Camino was open and they were shaking up two specialty cocktails while we were snacking.
Sparkling wine cocktail with Cocchi Americano and homemade vin d’orange
Nopi Coriander Martini with vodka, lime, coriander, and cilantro.
After some time eating, drinking, and being merry with friends, I had the courage to go back to the chefs to talk to them some more since it seemed they finished all the autographing. I went to recommend a place for Ottolenghi to grab tacos in Oakland since he mentioned he really wanted one at a talk he gave the night before. I talked to Scully about his Malaysian heritage and where he likes to eat. He like me is a big fan of Momofuku. One of my friends was also having a special moment with Ottolenghi. I give him a lot of credit because in the past two weeks, he’s eaten at Ottolenghi restaurants in London three times. We took another photo.
We returned to our assigned seating with table cards before the first dish was served.
We had baby carrots and mung beans with smoked labneh and crispy flatbread.
Our entree was smoked lamb loin and leg with eggplant purée, jalapeño sauce and daikon pickle. Earlier I watched the lamb being cooked in the Camino fireplace.
We were served a side of mixed cauliflower with golden raisins, capers, and almonds to share. This was the one dish I requested seconds for.
Our meal was accompanied with white and red wine to pair accordingly
Allison, host and co-owner of Camino brought out the chefs to say a few words.
Coffee service came out with dessert which was popcorn ice cream with caramelized popcorn and black pepper.
I had an amazing meal and overall experience at the Nopi luncheon. Chef Scully fuses a slight touch of Asia to the Mediterranean cuisine of Ottolenghi that inspires me to cook from the Nopi cookbook. Russ, chef and co-owner of Camino did an excellent job interpreting the food of the Nopi cookbook.
It was an absolute privilege to be there and document the day. Thank you Allison and Russ and everyone at Camino for hosting this event!