My son’s birthday isn’t for another couple of weeks, but with my daughter living in Worcestershire, planned holidays, etc., the logistics of organising a family get-together to celebrate Jonathan’s birthday meant an early start. But then who’s not happy to begin celebrations early!
I suggested we all go to Corto Italian Deli, remembering the wonderful birthday meal they put on for me last year. Corto is a family favourite, we go there a lot: for morning coffee, lunch and to buy Italian foods like their wonderful cold meats, cheeses, pasta and homemade cakes, and the family’s favourite – taralli.
My family has such an addiction to these little bread biscuits from Puglia that we’ve even had a ‘taralli tasting’, buying them from different shops and supermarkets and having a tasting in the garden one summer’s evening, but the ones at Corto are definitely our favourite. And Nicola & Rachael bought up all Romina could find last night to take a large bag full of packs of taralli back to Worcestershire.
We ate early, partly because of having two and a half year old Freddie with us, but also because Nicola & Rachael had to drive back to Worcestershire after the meal. I’d booked a couple of weeks ago and agreed a price with Romina to provide a selection of antipasti, main courses and have a birthday chocolate cake for dessert. A table for six was ready for us and soon food was being put on the table.
Baskets of bread and a selection of cold treats were put at each end of the table. There was crisp Sardinian bread, ciabatta; tomato bruschetta, spinach & risotto rolls, and gorgeous little rolls of grilled aubergine filled with mozzarella & tomato.
Then there were the Italian meats and cheeses, freshly cut onto the serving board.
I don’t know anywhere better to buy cold meats. Corto have even won an award recently from a Parma organisation for the quality of their meats and cheeses. We all tucked in enthusiastically to this fabulous antipasti. We asked for a bottle of prosecco as a birthday celebration warrants fizz. Though to be honest, my family can think up a reason to open a bottle of fizz anytime. Corto always serve excellent wine and it’s a great place to be certain of a good wine, if you want to order by the glass. This was a fine prosecco as was the bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo that we had to follow. I just asked Romina to serve us what she thought best because in a good place you can trust that you’ll be served something good at a reasonable price.
There was a choice of 4 mains. Nicola & Rachael took the vegetarian option of ordering the ‘porcini mushroom risotto with saffron’ and also the ‘trofie with fresh pesto’ to share, so they could have some of each.
Lyndsey also had the mushroom risotto and gave me a taste; it was really delicious. Meanwhile, Jonathan had chosen ‘beef lasagna’ while I took Romina’s recommendation of the ‘penne with Tuscan ragu’, which was a pork based ragu with a touch of citrus in it. It was really good.
Freddie was happily making his way through his not-so-child-sized but actually quite large plate of penne with beef ragu. Freddie spends a lot of time in Twickenham’s Italian bakeries and restaurants and has even learned to say ‘caio’. This love for Italian has spread to gelato. As he finished his pasta he said loudly, ‘I want ice cream.’ I’d ordered the cake for dessert but Romina didn’t miss a beat and headed straight to the fridge. Soon a smiling Freddie, having thanked her, was tucking into a bowl of vanilla ice cream. For the rest of us there was a gorgeous chocolate cake topped with fresh fruit, chopped nuts and some whipped cream.
It was a wonderful meal and lovely evening, and really special to get the family together. There’s also something very nice about going to a familiar place you know you like a lot, run by friendly people who really care about what they serve you, so that everything about it is a perfection.