What a shame Datte Foco didn’t have a more central location. Or a more stylish look. Or a more hospitable welcome for the stroller mums of Stoke Newington. Or more business savvy. Or more of a story to sell to the food media. [Read more...]
When I received Arcangelo Dandini‘s shopping list for the SpagWednesday alla Matriciana pop-up dinner last October I was relieved to see the great Roman chef’s instructions were clear and reasonable; the ingredients, all easy gets.
I knew I could count on Melograno Alimentari in Holland Park for the very best Italian meats, cheeses and pasta and Andreas Fine Fruit & Vegetables in Chiswick for the highest quality Italian tomatoes, organic lemons and basil. It was reassuring to learn the chef had packed his own prized guanciale (cured pig’s jows), extra virgin olive oil, dry spices, two hard cheeses and home-grown herbs and tomatoes in his hand luggage.
What I failed to grasp is that “straightforward” is not an Italian word. [Read more...]
I don’t look at Massimo Riccioli of Rome’s la Rosetta and see only a truly great chef. I follow his outsized gestures, expressions and whimsy and see a comedian, a throwback to the stars of classic Italian cinema. I imagine a first-name celebrity: Say only Massimo and it can mean only Riccioli.
I was deeply disappointed by the news that Massimo had left Massimo, the glitzy London restaurant and oyster bar at the ritzy Corinthia Hotel. But I am grateful that before returning to Rome he revealed to me a secret to his culinary stardom as well as a hope for the future. [Read more...]
These days it’s easy to pick out the Italian expats on Stoke Newington Church St. They’re the ones picking their jaws up from the pavement after having spotted the words DATTE FOCO – slang for “light yourself on fire” – spelled out in white letters on the shop window beside the Three Crowns pub. Datte Foco could be interpreted here in the baking or eating sense. But many Italians recognise it as a Roman way of telling a friend, good-naturedly, to go burn in hell. [Read more...]
The technique used by Rome’s renowned Caffè Sant’Eustachio to produce an astoundingly thick, foamy head of crema atop its signature Gran Caffè is a closely guarded secret. Screens on each side of the Astoria espresso machines block the view of nosey cafenatics seeking a peek at any covert manoeuvres performed by the baristas. Author/blogger David Lebovitz suspects that a small amount of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is added to the water to agitate the foaming action as espressos are pulled. My contacts at illy in Trieste and the incomparable Caffè Terzi in Bologna agree that some form of foaming agent is used. If so, the powder is likely added out of view and the screens are merely props in a theatrical illusion.
The City of London was founded around 50 AD, when Emperor Claudius and his Roman army built a fortified settlement on the River Thames. Nearly 2000 years later, the scent of a quieter Roman invasion is wafting through the Londinium air, rousing knowing noses from their morning misery and lunchtime lethargy and pointing the way to the nearest of 5 bakeries emitting the heady fumes of pizza bianca romana. [Read more...]