Jamie’s Italian

My celebrity crush is Jamie Oliver. Well, him and Daniel Radcliffe. I like Jamie Oliver because I find his enthusiasm and passion for food endearing and his mannerisms charming.

He’s had a bit of bad press lately because in a an interview he complained that even though he takes five weeks’ holiday a year, his wife Jools wants him to take more. He added that he doesn’t think she understands his career and what he wants to continue to do – i.e. save school dinners, tackle obesity, etc.

Inside Jamie’s Italian you can watch the chefs at work in their kitchen

Poor Jamie. I think he was just having a rough day and let his guard down. We all have ups and downs in our relationships; it’s just a shame his get shoved into the media spotlight at every twist and turn. The price of fame, ‘eh?

Regardless of what he might say off the cuff, I love his recipes (ok, and might love him a little too) and own just about every cook book he’s ever written. The recipes are always simple and easy to cook and none of them have let me down yet. Plus, they taste delicious.

Me enjoying the summer Pimm’s tiramisu

Some might say he’s a sell out as he’s slowly opening his chain of Jamie’s Italian restaurants around the world – there’ll soon to be one in New York, Sydney, Dublin, St Petersburg – after his successful chain in the UK. But hey, he’s a businessman and Jools can hardly complain if all he’s doing is ensuring his four children have a bright future ahead of them.

Yummy risotto balls

Anyway, I love the Jamie’s Italian restaurants mainly because they’re no fuss and reasonably priced, meaning you don’t have to save eating there for a special occasion like some other famous chef’s restaurants… nor do you have to remortgage your house to pay for a meal.

The stuffed peppers cost about £4

We went to the Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden which even at 10pm was busy although we only had to wait for five minutes for a table. The plus side of going at this hour is that there aren’t any kiddies about – I’ve been for lunch before and you can hardly hear yourself over the chorus of screaming babies.

Dave’s pasta. Our three course meal, including wine, came to under £60 – very reasonable

The decor of the restaurant is modern-rustic, which is an oxymoron but accurate. The tables are wood, the chairs metal and low lights hang from the ceiling, with caves carved out into the sides of the restaurant walls for booths.

The restaurant’s modern-rustic interior

It was like my iPod was plugged into the speakers, with Massive Attack, Adele, Radiohead and Empire of the Sun provided as background music.

We ordered risotto balls and red peppers stuffed with anchovies and cheese for entree. Both were scrumptious and although I thought the peppers would be served warm they were cold and provided an unusual taste but were yum nonetheless.

For my main meal I had the special’s lamb salad, which tasted like seasoned biltong and complimented the green salad leaves and lamb jus it was served with.

The simple yet tasty lamb salad

Dave enjoyed the tuna fusilli pasta – which is apparently Jools Oliver’s favourite. He followed it with the lemon curd and I wolfed down the summer Pimm’s tiramisu which tasted exactly like Pimm’s although with the texture of a tiramisu. Divine.

Dave’s lemon curd that tasted both bitter and sweet

We chatted with the waitress who said she’d just got transferred down from the restaurant in Manchester and had met Jamie when he’d opened the restaurant up there. Of course, I couldn’t help but ask what he’s like in the flesh.

‘He seemed genuinely grateful that we’d like to work for his company and I was impressed with his attention to detail,’ she said. ‘He makes sure all the meat is sourced sustainably and he bought the limoncello from a small vineyard in Italy because it’s the stuff he likes.

‘Plus, he just loves his food and wants his customers to enjoy it too. He actually loses money on the truffle risotto because the ingredients are so expensive but he just wants ordinary people to be able to enjoy it.’

And there you go, that’s what I love about Jamie Oliver. He’s just an ordinary guy who grew up in his parent’s pub and loves his food. And it’s this passion that shines through, minus the pretention, that makes Jamie a great cook.

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