We discovered a special ful cart when visiting friends in Cairo. Ful is made from dried broad beans, cooked overnight in a cylindrical pot, then served warm in a little bowl, along with tahini, chopped salad, green chilli, olive oil, a wedge of lemon and flatbread. For savoury-lovers like us, it’s a sustaining, delicious way to start the day. There’s still that tradition of specialisation in the Middle East – someone might serve just one dish, and that’s all they do for 40 years and it’s simple – and still miraculous. We first tried ful in Damascus in 2009. The ful-seller we like in Cairo has moved his cart around a bit since Egypt’s revolution, but recently he has been based on Youssef El-Gendy Street.
Working men’s cafés are some of our favourite places and La Cova Fumada (The Smoky Cave), near the market in Barcelona, is among the best. It comprises just one room that looks as if it hasn’t changed since the 1940s – with the whole family cooking in the open kitchen, from the granny to the grandson. When in Spain we try to fit in as many meals as possible; we’re professional eaters! Here we might have bombas, deep-fried potato cakes with minced beef in the middle, served with a punchy aioli and a paprika sauce. Other favourites include wild mushrooms with local sausage and small artichokes, cut in half, boiled, then grilled on the plancha – simple and delicious.
We’d hop on a plane to Istanbul to eat lunch at Kantin. It would be flatbread with blanched broad beans, artichokes, grated Turkish cheese, a sprig of mint and some purple basil, baked like a pizza. We also love their version of kokorec which they make with lamb’s intestines wrapped round sweetbreads, cooked in the oven and served on toast with a sprinkling of oregano. We would have it with ayran, a yogurt drink, or an aniseedy raki. Unusually for Turkey, the chef, Semsa Denizsel, is a woman.
Primeur is near our home in London and we would go there in the early evening for glasses of natural wine and plates of charcuterie. When the weather’s fine, the doors are opened onto the tree-lined street. If it was spring, we would choose the seasonal sparkling wine Festejar. The menu changes all the time but we would also have chicken livers on toast with crème fraiche and chives, if they are being served. All the food there is simple and beautifully executed.
As night fell, we would head back to Spain, to El Campero in Barbate. Its speciality is tuna. In Britain we’re used to eating the loin or belly – there they use the whole fish, including all these hidden bits; there’s an amazing muscle of meat by the eyebrow. But we would have tuna belly, because it’s fatty and melts in the mouth. We like encebollado: belly cooked slowly with onions – accompanied by a glass of fino manzanilla sherry. The fish market in Barbate is fantastic; little old ladies queue up there for specific cuts of tuna. To celebrate 15 years of Moro, we took our chefs to Jerez and had lunch at El Campero, so it has happy memories for us.
Sam and Sam Clark were talking to Alex Peake-Tomkinson