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08 Sep 2015
Authentic Italian Tastes Meet Eager UK Palates
The very best flavours come from achieving the perfect balance of passion, patience and progressive thinking. This is no easy task, but is something our gastronomic partner, Lello Favuzzi, accomplishes with apparent ease.
As head chef of renowned London restaurant, L’Anima, Lello’s hunger for expressing his Italian heritage through food is matched only by his desire to bring new flavours to the table. And now, with a little help from Menabrea, he’s introducing a few lucky Brits to the true Italian way of enjoying his food… and our birre.
We recently collaborated with the chef to host a series of Slow Dining Suppers: intimate events at which fifteen to twenty guests share an evening in true Italian style. At these occasions, Lello’s unique delicacies are enjoyed over several hours, with breaks between courses to allow guests to get to know their fellow diners a little better.
Fittingly, the first Supper took place at L’Anima itself. We invited friends from across London to spend an evening eating, drinking and relaxing with us, while sampling Lello’s incredible creations.
Naturally, the evening began with a glass or two of cold beer. Our guests ranged from seasoned lager lovers who gratefully accepted a dark, mildly bitter ambrata, to those who sheepishly admitted they’d usually prefer a glass of wine, and good-naturedly opted for a crisp, well-balanced bionda. One or two beer sceptics were pleasantly surprised at how beautifully the pale, hoppy bionda lager with its citrus undertones brought out the best in Lello’s aperitivo – succulent pork belly and crisp, savoury pizza. At least as disarming as the mouth-watering food and drink was Lello’s twinkling Italian charm and, as perfect strangers chatted like old friends, it was soon clear that this was going to be a very special night.
From a small open kitchen behind the two parallel tables where guests sat chatting, Lello lovingly cooked and plated course after exquisite course – such as his delicate ‘Drunken’ oyster, a succulent morsel battered in beer and placed beside a swirl of tangy foam.
As the evening wound down, Lello pulled up a chair and chatted easily around the table, as relaxed as a man who hadn’t just prepared a sublime five course meal for twenty hungry guests. When it came time for the exchange of cards, hugs and handshakes, we reflected on how simple the ingredients of a good night really are: good food, good beer, good people, and taking the time to enjoy it all properly. Perfetta.
Following the success of this first Slow Dining event, we decided to take our Suppers north. Scotland’s natural passion for food and drink made it the natural choice, with Edinburgh’s old town providing the perfect backdrop. Alongside his ‘Menabrea Drunken Oyster’, Lello’s other custom creations featured beef fillets from Orkney, crab from Troon, mussels from Shetland, Lanark cheese and squid from Scrabster.
At Divino Enoteca, the rough-hewn stone walls of our candle-lit basement setting could not have contrasted more starkly with the sleek modernity of L’Anima café, as we were escorted to the dining room by the warm, smiling figure of manager Alessandro Tidei. But, from the moment we laid eyes on the long, elegantly laid table, with fireplace at one end and wine cabinet at the other, we knew it was going to be another wonderful night.
By the time brand manager Alasdair Bayne and the Italian Consulate General stood up to make their toasts, the bonhomie in the room was palpable, and it genuinely felt as though we’d just about made an ‘extended Italian family’ out of a disparate collection of journalists, business people and marketing folk. Honoured as we were to have amongst us some of the most respected figures of Edinburgh’s Italian community, Lello’s food was, once again, the star of the show. From the first bite of beef tartare, to the fiery red Sicilian prawns, to the last spoonful of liquorice ice cream, seasoned foodies loosened their belts and nodded their heads contentedly. This particular meal felt, in part, like a celebration of the best of Italy, in synthesis and partnership with the best of Scotland’s larder. As authentically Italian as the beer in our glass and the food on our plates was the pace and convivial feeling of the meal, and it was that as much as anything else that made this “Slow Dining Supper” a very special occasion to be part of in Scotland’s buzzing capital city.
"The unmistakable symbol of Italian excellence."