Danilo Cortellini at The London Foodie Supper Club:
An invite along to the London Foodie, Luiz Hara’s supper club to meet Danilo Cortellini was an easy accept. Sarah, my companion for the evening, has already reviewed Danilo’s cookery book and I know she’s cooked a lot more than the Pasta and Bean soup that she made for the purpose of the review. And, of course, we’d heard of Danilo from MasterChef: The Professionals. In his role as Head Chef at the Italian Embassy in London, I am sure he is frequently expected to produce banquets of Italian food. Finally, Luiz’s supper clubs are always great events – held in his own stunning home in East London – the sort of place where you make new friends and bump into old ones!
We arrived in time for canapes of sweet chilli marinated Sicilian red prawn with a light fresh burrata mousse and tiny tomato and mozzarella crispy arancini. All washed down with a Bicicletta – a traditional Italian cocktail made with lemonade and pecorino wine.
Downstairs in the open plan kitchen dining room was a hive of activity. As we were taking our seats for dinner, the chefs were busy plating up what Danilo described as a totally inauthentic dish. Italians, he told us, never mix fish with cheese. But our plateful of marinated mackerel with fresh mozzarella and asparagus, with a little confit tomato on the side, was a delicious way to start the meal.
There were actually 5 small starters. Next up was a comforting bowl of polenta with bacalao served in ice cream tubs- I believe it was made using mais Corvino cornmeal – a traditionally milled cornmeal that retains the whole corn niblet and so is flecked and nuttier than the refined type you and I buy from the supermarket.
Pallotte Cacio e Ova was a fascinating dish of tiny bread, cheese and egg balls. It’s a traditional dish from Abruzzo, Cucina Povera – and probably evolved as a way to use up leftover stale bread and bits of cheese. Danilo’s version was pretty, delicious and actually, I didn’t miss the meat at all. Both Sarah and I are planning to try making this one at home;)
I’m sharing the recipe for the multicolour Ricotta Tortellini di Burrata at the bottom of this post. I’m not sure I’d ever make the multi coloured version, though it was stunning and Danilo assured us that it was really very easy
‘all you need is to make a sandwich of the three different kinds of pasta’
As someone who can just about make fresh pasta Sicilian style – and has never made a filled pasta before – I think I’ll practise with normal egg pasta before I try my hand at something fit for His Excellency. The version we had was made with fresh ricotta. Danilo told us that he sources ingredients like ricotta and burrata from the UK as they don’t travel well.
Our dish was finished with a light, fresh tomato sauce with just a touch of fresh marjoram.
The final starter was a lemon risotto with courgette flower, spring onion, broad beans and fresh peas. It tasted delicious – and there was just a bit of me that was pleased to see that even in the hands of a master, risotto just doesn’t plate beautifully!
Our main course was Veal Cheeks Pizzaiola with Swiss chard and extra virgin olive oil crushed potatoes. The veal was meltingly tender and the piquant pizzaiola sauce worked well as an accompaniment. Crushed potatoes with olive oil and a black olive crumb added a little texture to the dish. Despite all that had gone before, this plateful left me longing for more.
And more came, in the form of a pre dessert of yoghurt mouse with caramelised apricot and pistachio crumble which was a lovely, if substantial palate cleanser.
Then Danilo’s chocolate tiramisu which was something of a hybrid of a chocolate mousse and classic tiramisu.
If you’d like to try Danilo’s Tortellini di Burrata at home, I’ve been provided with the recipe. You can find this recipe and more in his book, 4 Grosvenor Square: The Menu of the Italian Embassy in London
All in, a lovely evening of food. I was an invited guest but the London Foodie supper club evenings are £45 (on a BYOB basis). And, I suspect everyone would agree that they are tremendous value for money!