Friands at Lantana

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You may have noticed the proliferation of New Zealand coffee shops in London. “No sir, we don’t serve lah-tays. Would you like a flat white?

“Biting into them, you get a delicious marzipanny-macaroony nut hit”

Apparently friands are to New Zealanders as teacakes are to Brits. At least, they would be if the British still ate teacakes. These (originally French) almond buns, a close cousin of the financier, arrive in pretty oval shapes, with inclusions (at least at Lantana) of a variety of different toppings. We dutifully try the pistacio and pear varieties. On another occasion, I saw date and hazelnut versions, so your mileage may vary, though I suspect all the different ones on offer are delicious.

They remind me of my mum’s almond cake, made without flour to be kosher for passover, though these are dried and less pudding-like. Biting into them, you get a delicious marzipanny-macaroony nut hit. The icing sugar on top is unnecessary (is it ever not?), as they have a deep sweetness that makes me think I couldn’t manage another without feeling very nauseous. That said, as an indulgent (second) breakfast [we arrived here right after the Turkish Eggs as Kopapa], one certainly hits the spot.

I think it’s fairly likely that these would be easy to replicate at home, but with the fantastic coffee (as you might expect from any of these Kiwi joints), and the other treats on offer – including savouries – I’m sure I’ll be back.

Ajo blanco at Copita

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I’d seen people complaining online about the size of the portions at Copita (arguably simply missing the point about tapas, but obviously there is an extreme case where even tapas is too small), with some commentators complaining about the “thimbleful” of ajo blanco. In this particular case, I don’t think they could possibly be justified. Ajo blanco is an almond and garlic soup, served cold. If that sounds really rich, that’s because it is.

“The bartender simply said ‘You’ve been here before'”

Copita cuts through the richness with beetroot, a sprinkling of green herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil – yes, even the olive oil serves to make it less rich – so I’d struggle to get through any more than the small bowl you see above. And anyone who complains about this being a thimbleful must have very fat fingers, which, granted, you’d achieve by eating soup-bowls of this!

To be honest, when I say “struggle to get through more” I still would – because this soup is absolutely delicious. Rich, yes. Creamy, yes. But also woody, almost mushroomy. The beetroot adds freshness and texture, and it teeters on the fence between being savoury or sweet – you could almost imagine this as a liquid filling in an Artisan du Chocolat chocolate!

I love it. In fact, when we ordered a carafe of wine and two portions of ajo blanco, rather than getting weird looks and an explanation of how to order tapas, the bartender simply said “You’ve been here before”. When I come back, I’ll definitely be ordering another mini-bowl of this, and I’m sure I’ll come away satisfied by it!