Looking For The Perfect Food
My wife and I attended a Gala Dinner entitled Looking for the Perfect Food. Since childhood, I have had a personal mission to seek out the perfect jam roly poly. I had it once and it was superb, but ever since nothing has matched up to it. I know it’ll be my tastes that have changed just as much as the roly polys.
Often these days we are rushing about and eat only as a way of refuelling, so it was interesting to spend an evening with people who see food as an important part of family and culture.
Having a three-course dinner, created by the Head Chef Demian Mazzocchi at the Osteria dell’Angolo restaurant in the shadow of Westminster Palace, is a great way to seek perfection. The exclusive evening was to celebrate one of the oldest and healthiest of foods in the world: extra virgin olive oil.
The mission: to create a menu showcasing a different extra virgin olive oil for each course. The oils, naturally, all emanating from Italy. Even though European production occurs in Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Serbia, Albania, San Marino, Cyprus, Slovenia and Malta as well.
My mission: to sit down, drink wine, chat to complete strangers and enjoy myself. Think I could manage that….
Risotto con broccolo “Romanesco” e baccala mantecato all’olio ‘Olitalia’
That’s a sublime risotto with Romanesco broccoli infused within it, cooked in a Venetian style. This broccoli is the green spirally cauliflower that uses the Fibonacci number system when it grows (Google it!). The olive oil used was Olitalia.
There was a generous serving, but sat here in the heart of an Italian evening, chatting food and lifestyle with our new Italian friends, I watched them enjoying the differing textures of the dish. Even though, as one of them whispered to me, olive oil is not traditional in risotto, they cleared their plates in no time, adoring it. I did likewise. Olitalia is, however, the world’s most widely distributed olive oil brand and no meal should be without it - even if it’s just used for dipping chunks of bread into!
Costata di Manzo con timballino di patate, datterino confit, salsa rucola, aceto balsamico olio ‘Terre Alte’
This gorgeous rib-eye steak rested on extra virgin olive oil fried potato and confit cherry tomatoes. The rocket sauce and aged balsamic vinegar added punch, whereas the Terre Alte extra virgin olive oil provided a fruity sweetness followed by a pepper hit.
The melting meat vanished far too quickly even though the portion was not small in any degree.
Terre Alte extra virgin olive oil is from an area of southern Tuscany known as ‘Meremma’ - a location that, along with its traditional harvesting methods, makes the oil’s fruity taste (albeit with a hint of artichoke) and its green to golden yellow colour.
This could not get any better. Could it? Oh, yes...
Crostino dolce con gelato all’olio ‘Redoro’ e rosmarino glassato
Sweet Crostino bread with Redoro extra virgin olive oil ice cream, garnished with a little rosemary.
That’s basically, ice cream on toast! A slight hesitation from me. Peter Kay’s cheesecake and garlic bread sketch coming to mind: ‘Ice cream. On toast? Ice cream. On toast?!’ But it’s more than that. The Crostino bread was drizzled with more of the Redoro - produced in the hilly areas of the province of Verona and having a golden green colour (if that’s possible!) with a fragrant, fruity bouquet - and I ate it like it was a canapé: holding it and biting into it. It was a bizarre sensation of textures: crusty bread and soft ice cream; warm and cold; savoury and sweet. We all agreed this was something special, something extraordinary. My wife is not a fan of desserts but she said it was one of the best things she has ever eaten. She has repeated this non-stop since. And I can’t help but agreeing with her.
Mind you - she never tasted the original jam roly poly that I did, all those years ago. Ah, memories...
Olive Oil is good for you. Fact. Italians have known this for centuries and these three examples of cuisine show how olive oil - quality Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil - can not only be an ingredient but the star of a dish, creating something unexpected and delicious.
By the end, everyone was smiling. I certainly think we found the perfect food...