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My Week in Italian Food

October 23, 2016

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I haven’t written a My Week in Food post for a few weeks and thought it would be fun to do it for the week just ending as I’ve been out more than usual, but to old favourite places already written about on the blog. It’s nice to take the chance to highlight them again, plus revisit a couple of recipes too. Regular readers will know how much I love Italy and Italian food but this week has had a particularly strong Italian flavour – hence the adjustment to the title of the post this time!

Monday – Art & Risotto

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I went to a talk on the Art Deco period at the Victoria & Albert Museum in the evening and decided to have an early supper at one of my favourite places, Orsini, which is conveniently situated opposite the museum. I chose a special of the day: a gorgeous risotto with courgettes, cherry tomatoes and baby prawns. It was delicious.

Tuesday – Pizza Lunch

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My friend Elsa was coming from north London to Richmond in the morning and suggested we meet for lunch. She took a bus to Twickenham and we went to another favourite restaurant of mine, Masaniello in Church Street. Owner-chef Livio comes from Naples where his family ran a pizzeria so he knows a lot about making a good pizza. I chose a simple Margherita and it was fabulous and perfect for lunch.

Wednesday – All Round Italian

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Well, Wednesday was so Italian I could have thought I was in Italy. Grandson Freddie and I headed to our usual and favourite café for morning coffee (well, not coffee for 20-month Freddie!), Your Bakery Whitton, where Italian baker Stefano produces the most wonderful breads, cakes and pastries. Freddie and I shared a croissant (one of the best I know) and as we were finishing, we were brought a plate with an arancino – a gift from Stefano who had been making them in the kitchen that morning; a new addition to the bakery products.

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Arancini come from Sicily. They’re rice balls with a filling of ragù, peas and mozzarella (or sometimes other fillings like prosciutto, mushroom, sausage), which are coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Unlike the similar supplì from Rome, which are bite-sized, arancini are quite large – somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball. Stefano’s were gorgeous; really excellent. Freddie loved it too and was determined to have his share. I bought two more to take home so Jonathan & Lyndsey could try them in the evening.

In the afternoon Fabio came and I spent an hour speaking bad Italian to my ever patient teacher. (You see, the Italian theme continues.) Fabio comes from Palermo so I told him about Stefano’s arancini. In the evening I met friends Lesley & Colin at another old favourite Italian restaurant, A Cena, where I hadn’t eaten for quite a while. It was nice to go back. I had a Sicilian starter of Panelle with a cauliflower Puttanesca.

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I took a trip further north with my main course and had Fegato alla Veneziana – that gorgeous Venetian dish of fried calves’ liver and onions, served with polenta.

Thursday – A Home-made Risotto

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I made a large risotto for Jonathan, Lyndsey and myself in the evening. One of our favourites – mushroom and chestnut – but with the addition of some pancetta this time and some dried porcini mushrooms as well as the fresh ones. I put the soaking liquid from the dried mushrooms in – it makes a kind of mushroom stock – as well as my home-made chicken stock, so the risotto was full of flavour and a huge hit with the family.

Friday – One Can Never Have Too Much Good Pizza

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Jonathan was working from home so they could make a quick escape down the M3 late afternoon for an early getaway to Cornwall where their half-term holiday was to begin. I suggested he needed a good lunch before a 4-5 hour drive so we went down the high street to Masaniello (I obviously can’t keep away) for a quick pizza. I had a different pizza from Tuesday, this time with artichokes, ham and olives; Jonathan chose one with spicy sausage. The pizza was great and we said ciao to Livio too, and it was very nice to see him.

Saturday – Lunch in Sevenoaks

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I drove down to Kent in the morning to see my brother and family. I took my niece and nephew (Clara [13] & Leo [11]) out for lunch in Sevenoaks. The excellent Valentina‘s has become a default destination: it’s where we go now without question. We all love it. The food is very good and the service friendly and helpful. Leo and I both chose a lovely pasta dish with Tuscan sausage, baby spinach and a mascarpone sauce. Clara had a very good salad with large prawns and squid.

Sunday – Fallback Ragù

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There’s always some Bolognese ragù in my freezer. I make a large amount and freeze individual portions. It means if I want to make something like lasagna – as I did this evening – then the bulk of the work is done and it’s really easy to make a little béchamel sauce, soften some lasagna sheets, and put it all together for a tasty, comforting supper.

I hope you enjoyed your week in food as much as I did mine!

7 Comments
  1. We were back in Twickenham for a couple of weeks earlier this month and ate for the first time (on your recommendation) at Masaniello. The meal was delicious and the wine reasonably priced and well chosen. So thanks for that. We have eaten well at A Cena also. Spending so much time here in Burgundy we do get a bit blasé about food and expect to eat well. In the UK we have often eaten dreadful meals and therefore tend to be a bit circumspect about eating out, so I say ‘thank goodness for the Italian community in Twickers’ who have managed to stay close to their roots and maintain their respect for good food.

    • Thanks so much for the feedback. I’m glad you enjoyed your meals. Masaniello is consistently good and just the same even if Livio isn’t in the kitchen (he has another restaurant in Barnes), which is just how it should be. It really is a favourite of mine. I’m also delighted that we have so many Italians in Twickenham bringing us wonderful food.

  2. A wonderful week of eating Italian! Your home-made risotto looks wonderful. I also love mixing fresh and dried mushrooms, plus like you mentioned you get that lovely mushroom liquor!

    • Thank you, Mimi. I’m lucky to have so many good Italian restaurants nearby but also love making risotto 🙂

  3. I have to come to London just so I can try all these wonderful looking restaurants. Your risotto looks fantastic.

    • I hope you do! I’m lucky to have so many great places within walking distance as well as into central London.

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