In these flabby pacific times, one of the biggest battles our society needs to wage is against bad food. With Operation Jamie already well underway, and its latest weapon a hybrid cooking store, I felt it was time for soldier Little to report for duty.
Baskingly pretty in pink, a minute’s march from Clapham Junction station, the Recipease kitchen-cum-food shop-cum-cookery school was fairly quiet when I poked my beak in. Browsing alluring heaps of shiny practical stuff and tempting shelves of wholesome yet delicious-looking ready meals, from fish pie to tiramisu, I began to feel the warm glow of Jamie Love.
However, my mission was not to gawp. I was here to delve deeper, to learn the dark art of pasta. Many a foolhardy novice has come a cropper with pasta machines, coating the house in flour and bleached elephant skin before returning it to live with the foot spa and fondue set, but I was here to make amends.
And I came, I saw, I learnt. I made pasta: spaghetti, tagliatelle, ravioli and tortellini, some of it not bad (I ate it). The chef, Taz, made some strange references to ‘bleu blanc’ and ‘000 flour’, but these were minor lapses. Overall, the spirit of the class, and the place in general, was lively, convivial and fun, with really good food at the centre of everything. And this place works because it immerses you in food. Even if you don’t prepare everything, you get back in touch with it, think about it, engage with it, start to live it.
With a maximum of eight in each group, the classes are very well monitored, and the pasta class, at £35 (others are as little as £25), with the fruits of your labours to eat on the night, some pasta to take away, and a glass of wine thrown in (more if required), is excellent value for money. But you can also pop in any time and assemble ingredients for selected recipes at their stations to take home and cook.
So, as Operation Jamie rolls on and the scale of the campaign broadens, I wonder whether he will ever put a foot wrong. But I love what he’s doing: the restaurants, the charities, the schools, the nation’s health, all of it. Show me someone who does more – you won’t find any in the House of Commons, that’s for certain. Go! Go! Go!
Recipease Clapham Junction
48 – 50 St Johns Road