i found myself at mrs marengo’s on a monday afternoon. there perched on a high stool and reading the glamour magazine i lunched on a bowl of salad and some fruit and nut bread. mrs marengo’s salad list reads more like a list of ingredients. take for instance butternut, lentils, poppocini peppers, caramelised red onions or grilled courgette, aubergine, slow-roasted tomatoes or peaches, rocket, blue cheese, pine nuts and celery, so in a way you aren’t quite prepared for the intense flavours and contrast of textures and tastes that meet your mouth.
the tomatoes are baked to the point that their flesh is soft but they hold their own – their cut sides sprinkled with herbs (perhaps thyme) and some garlic. the long thick slices of aubergines with their grill marks are heavy with the taste of olive oil. at the bottom of my bowl is the peach salad. the crunchy celery compliments the honey-sweet peaches, the pale green bringing out the ruddiness of the peaches even more. the pine nuts along with the blue cheese add richness to the salad and some lone rocket leaves provide a peppery and sharp kick. the lentil salad is slightly garlicky and along with the caramelized onions there is a hint of balsamic. here the butternut adds a note of comfort. i mop up the dressing that sits in the base of the bowl with some fruit and nut bread – apricots and brazil nuts to be precise. the bread is dense and very filling. i love the addition of the citrus in the water jug – a slice of lemon and orange. it’s refreshing and reminds me much of another erstwhile home – scottsdale in arizona where water was always served with lemon or oranges.