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La Credenza Food Event

March 6, 2013

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La Credenza sells artisan Italian food. Everything is made in a traditional way. I was invited to their food event at Chelsea Old Town Hall today to sample some of their wonderful food: cheeses, extra virgin olive oil, charcuterie, antipasti, balsamic vinegars, panettone, rice and pasta. At the various stalls, producers would be on hand to describe their products and tell me about how they were made and what was special about them. And, of course, I could taste them.

This morning when I contemplated the trip into Chelsea, which would take me about an hour each way, I was slightly hesitant: the day job called as I’m quite busy at the moment – should I leave my desk? But then how could the Single Gourmet Traveller turn down the chance to taste some wonderful Italian food that’s not generally available in shops. La Credenza is mainly a wholesale outfit. So … I headed into town …

I love walking down the King’s Road. It’s not an area of London I go to a lot, but I like it. The Old Town Hall is familiar to me from the days when the popular Chelsea Craft Fair was held there, which I regularly went to. Today it was craft of a different kind housed in this lovely building: not ceramics and jewellery, but craftsmen making wonderful food products.

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First up, I found some cheeses. There were a whole range of cheeses new to me and I was soon tucking in and tasting. Then I moved on to a stall – Piada d’Oro – selling a kind of flatbread, which they’d warmed and filled with Parma ham, or mozzarella and tomato. I’d never associated flat bread with Italy before, but this comes from the north. Next stop was Riso di Pasta.

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This is pasta made from rice. The producer Viazzo have used a new technique to produce pasta which is made from 100% par-boiled rice, which is obviously brilliant for anyone who has a gluten problem. They gave me a taste and it had a different flavour to wheat pasta but a good texture. From here, I moved to a stall selling balsamic vinegar: Verrini Munari.

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There were five different vinegars for me to try. Tasting them by spoon, I first tried some red vinegar made from Lambrusco wine: it had all the sweetness one expects from a balsamic vinegar from Modena but a wonderful lightness and freshness too, as did the white vinegar I also tried, making them ideal for summer dishes. I moved on to the more traditional balsamic vinegars finishing with a glorious 25 year-old one. It felt akin to tasting good wine.

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The woman at the Bonamini stall was wonderfully friendly and helpful – but unfortunately I didn’t ask her name! Located near Verona in northern Italy the harvesting of the olives for their oil is carried out by hand to ensure they arrive at the mill intact. Using the cold extraction method they produce fine extra virgin olive oil. The woman explained there was a season from October to December for harvesting but the olives picked early – but obviously ripe – produced less oil but a superior, deeper flavour. The later ones are still good extra virgin oil but more oil is extracted and it’s a lighter oil – still good but also more suitable for cooking.

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At the Filippi pasticceri stall I ate some wonderful panettone made with extra virgin olive oil. There’s no butter or milk in the mix and it’s an exceptional light, moist and delicious sweet bread.

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At the L’Antica Cascina stall I sampled an award-winning cheese. ‘Each cheese is considered unique, in fact it is manually worked in the artisan way by experienced craftsmen as a piece of jewellery’ they write in their catalogue (which goes back to my suggestion this was another kind of crafts fair!).

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The woman explained the various methods and timing of seasoning the cheeses. Their famous Formaggio di Fossa di Sogliano DOP is buried in sandstone holes in the ground to be matured – a tradition that goes back centuries. I was also shown how the rind of the maturing cheeses should be cleaned with olive oil every 20 days to keep them moist and able to ‘breathe’.

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From there I moved on to taste panforte, an amazing soft salumi – ndujotto – which is soft enough to stir into pasta or spread on bread. There were other salumi and, of course, hams. Another stall had pasta varieties available only in Conran restaurants and shops at the moment – and this magnificent bread made with flour that comes from Matera in Basilicata.

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They also had some ‘outstanding’ rice – Acquerello – that comes in tins and I was given a large 1kg tin to bring home.

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The Oliveri stall had some great antipasti: jars of stuffed small peppers, artichoke hearts, olives, and they gave me a jar of their Extra Jam with Red Onions from Tropea to try.

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Finally, there was honey and Parmesan cheese.

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I was really pleased I’d overcome my early morning hesitation and made it into Chelsea. I very much enjoyed the La Credenza event. It’s such a great privilege to talk to producers of fine food and hear them talk passionately about where their products are grown, how they are prepared – and then get to try some. It’s also great to go to an event where the food producers are dedicated to preserving and honouring traditional methods with a view to producing the finest food. And it made me want to venture to still more parts of Italy!

From → Food Talk

11 Comments
  1. I never realised how beautiful the building is – what a lovely event.

  2. Such a nice way to spend the day!

  3. You must have had a marvelous time and so interesting as well.

  4. How nice you get to participate in such a fun and delicious event. Look at those gorgeous cheeses…and balsamic vinegars! All look so delicious. I love food that is prepared the traditional way. Somehow, food just tastes better that way. 😉

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