Cantinetta is a restaurant in Putney which has newly risen out of the ashes of The Phoenix. Apparently an ex Nobu chef is cooking there so with it being practically on my doorstep I was keen to try it out and so I did yesterday, treating a longtime girlfriend, an exhausted mother of young twins, to lunch. Hmmm, well what can I say, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either. Decidedly mediocre, actually. I had a tuna carpaccio which consisted of four small put not particularly thin slices of tuna and a side order of zucchini fritte which I normally absolutely love but these were limp and a bit soggy. My gf had spaghetti vongole which, I’m told was pleasant but not outstanding in any way. Then we shared a polenta cake with creme fraiche which was quite dry, didn’t taste fresh and came as a truly tiny portion. Hey ho. The restaurant was pretty empty with just two other tables occupied. Maybe not altogether surprising. But anyone can have a bad day, so I’ll give them one more chance to make an impression over dinner tomorrow. For the moment, I’ll keep an open mind….
I do love my food and even more so since I stopped smoking five years ago. Food is so grounding, so sociable and enjoying it for its taste rather than just for fuel is such a heavenly luxury. Good food is a treat for your body which works so hard to carry you through life and a wonderfully nourishing indulgence for your soul too. But often, I think, we eat entirely the wrong kind of food, non food, really, and that just makes us fat, miserable and very unhealthy. The worldwide obesity problem is a worrying reflection of a society which is too addicted to instant gratification and careless of the outcome. Doctors believe that this may now well be the first generation where parents outlive their children. The human race is eating itself to extinction. What a totally gross thought!
People often ask me how I stay slim despite my very healthy appetite and sweet tooth. The answer is quite simple, on an every day basis at home I eat delicious but very healthy food but at weekends or when I go out to eat with friends or to a restaurant, I indulge myself in perhaps more complex food in moderate portions. At home I eat minimal dairy produce, minimal wheat, no meat apart from fish (sustainable, of course!), no fried or fatty foods and I try to cut down on sugar where I can, so no fizzy drinks and juices. So it goes like this: In the morning I have a couple of glasses of room temperature water with a bit of lemon squeezed in, followed by a soup bowl full of freshly chopped fruit of any or all varieties excluding banana. On to this I sprinkle a heaped tea-spoon of sprouted flax seeds (from the health food shop) and a couple of tablespoons of oats mixed with sunflower and pumpkin seeds which I have lightly soaked in water the night before to make it more digestible. On to this, I blob a table spoon of goats’ yoghurt. Afterwards – and by now I’m pretty full!-, I might have half a slice of rye bread with a small amount of fruit spread (again, from the health food shop. I like cherry the best) or a bit of Manuka honey and with it a cup of coffee in which I have just the smallest splash of oat milk (Oatley).
For lunch I’ll have another two glasses of room temperature water, then perhaps a bit of vegetable soup or maybe another half slice of rye bread or a rice cracker or two with some houmous (my current favourite is piri piri houmous) and my own version of tabouleh on top of that. My tabouleh consists of a bunch of well chopped flat leaf parsley, two or three chopped up small salad onions, a bit of chopped up fresh tomato, maybe a few chopped sundried tomatoes and quite a lot of finely chopped garlic. Sometimes, if available, I’ll add a bit of chopped mint. Then I drizzle this whole chopped mixture with a bit of lemon juice. Delicious, especially served with houmous! Another easy slimming lunch is two sliced hardboiled eggs with sliced cucumber and some ground black pepper over the top on corn crackers. Very filling and low on the cals.
In the evening, again two glasses of water, then we’ll have grilled fish maybe, with either lightly steamed vege (no butter on top, just the crunchy sweetness of the vegetables) or a massive salad or we might have a delicious vegetable chilli or a vegetable stir fry, some soup or very occasionally some lovely pasta with just the tiniest bit of sundried tomato and garlic sauce stirred through and again with salad or steamed vege on the side. The trick is to have a huge plate of salad and/or vege and a tiny amount of fish, pasta or whatever. It all tastes so good, heathy and filling and even the Gorgeous Husband is well into this type of eating. After supper, we each might have a couple of small pieces of chocolate or even a couple of mini meringues, a bit naughty as they really are sugary but very low in cals and a little bit goes a long way and fulfills any sweet cravings.
Now salads can be seriously boring but not ours! We throw whatever we can lay our hand on to at the time into it. So often there’ll be a bit of chopped romaine lettuce, a handful of spinach leaves, some chopped salad onions, some halved mini vine tomatoes, a chopped or sliced yellow or red pepper, some cut up sundried tomatoes, maybe some cucumber, maybe a few sliced olives if there happen to be some in the fridge, maybe a bit of chopped up pickled beetroot, hald a chopped or sliced avocado, probably some steamed asparagus, steamed mangetout and maybe some steamed baby carrots too. Then to top it all off possibly some toasted pine nuts or maybe a little bit of crumbled feta and definitely loads of chopped garlic. Then the whole thing gets drizzled in lemon juice or maybe olive oil mixed with lemon juice. By now it is a huge salad bowl full and boy, does it fill you up and as for the taste? Unbeatable! Yum Yum.
So with a diet like this, it is really easy to be ‘good’ and stay slim. Basically you can eat as much as you want and all it does is plump up your skin and make your eyes and hair shiny. Great! And then, when we go out or at home at weekends, I’ll be quite happy to order that steamed treacle sponge pudding with custard or get stuck in to the cheese platter. And a glass or two of wine is absolutely obligatory at weekends too! Cheers, to your good health!