Despite several trips to idyllic Italy, we have never tired of its diverse landscape, achingly good wine and simple but delicious food. Last Friday we unfortunately were not on the banks of Lake Garda or trekking the undulating hills of Umbria, but attended an equally pleasing dinner courtesy of Sacla’, the Italian Food Company and The Friday Food Club. The evening was organised to showcase Sacla’s new range of fresh produce and celebrate the brand’s 20th year. The parmesan on the pasta (ok, groan) is that not only would The Friday Food Club (Lee & Fi) be preparing the meal that evening as part of their renowned Supper Club, but they would be teaming with Masterchef Professionals Winner 2009 Steve Groves, Ex River Cottage Head Chef Mark Lloyd, renowned food terrorist John Quilter and private caterer Lily Simpson.
The Mediterranean sun-gods shone down on us, as we were welcomed to the evening with a refreshing glass of Bruno Giacosa Extra Brut Spumante, on the al fresco terrace of the Auriol Kensington Rowing Club in Hammersmith. The Spumante was light, effervescent and biscuity in taste. We immediately relaxed us into the celebration. The hubbub of Friday evening revelry from pub goers below us and enchanting views over the Thames made us giddy with anticipation as we mingled with twitterati friends. The attentive waiting staff glided in between guests offering platters of sage puffs, quails eggs with artichoke and basil sauce, poached mussels pesto cream crumb and goats cheese and tomato pesto calzoncini.
The amuse buche was a coriander pesto pea fritter with spiced green sauce. The coriander pesto, using cashew instead of pine nuts is part of the Sacla’ Italian range, however the pre-starter felt Asian inspired. The crisp fritter dipped in the sauce had a superb bite, and the kick from the heat had a satisfying warmth. It was served with a Roero Arnies 2010. The wine was flaxen in colour with delicate apricot and citrus aromas. It had an intensity which married well with the fritters.
The primi platti was Sacla’ fresh Trofie pasta with cherry tomato and wild garlic sauce and shaved aged parmesan. I enjoyed this dish as it was probably one of the truest to the Sacla’ range. Endorsements by people we trust are great, but I had been sceptical as to whether we would have the opportunity to try any of the range in its true, naked, no bells and whistles form. Foodies do not like to admit we buy ready made meals, or eat take away. Keith and I lead busy lives and we sometimes have to take shortcuts at meal times, especially on a Friday night post a sociable Thursday evening. We could imagine ourselves on an evening off from the kitchen, tucking into a bowl of comforting pasta smothered with a rich, tangy vine tomato sauce, sprinkled with fresh basil and parmesan shavings.
Secondi platti consisted of arancini and pork bitterballen served with spicy red pepper sauce and rocket pecorino salad. The delicious breadcrumbed risotto spheres were crisp on the surface and then oozed seductively with molten mozzarella. The spicy red pepper sauce fired subtle heat bullets, dissipating the richness of the balls. The pork bitterballen (a Dutch mince cutlet) was equally tasty. We felt that maybe the arancini and bitterballen were a little too similar in texture. We would have been perfectly happy eating one or the other. This course was accompanied by Nebbiolo D’Alba a fantastic, mellow, strawberry hued wine, bursting with summer berries. I could not resist the hypnotic, allure of the ripe bouquet.
For dessert we had bison grass vodka and mint pannacotta with candied pistachio and summer berries. Lee was concerned for the wobble, but he needn’t have been as it had the perfect Jessica Rabbit swagger. It was deliciously light and creamy with a sexy, boozy bite but underlying hint of refreshing mint. The candied pistachio provided a crunchy texture whilst the fruity summer berry offered bursts of sweetness.
The Supper goers of the evening were ablaze with commendations. In the morning, the Twitterati fired praise and pleasure for Sacla’, Friday Food Club and Team’s hosting efforts. Another fabulous evening was had by all, so a special thank-you to Lee, Fi and Claire Blampied (Sacla UK’s Managing Director). We look forward to lazy suppers with wholesome bowls of Sacla’ fresh pasta and authentic sauces accompanied by a splash of red wine.
Sacla’ Fresh Range – available in Selfridges, Waitose and Opodo