Pranzo Delitalia, Supper Club, Manchester

This weekend I went to my first ever supper club, and what an absolutely delightful experience. I first found out about Pranzo Delitalia on Twitter, they called themselves the Secret Supper Club – very intriguing indeed. I had made contact with Valerio (one of the two fine hosts,) who told me that after their recent trip to Italy to visit family they were coming back to Manchester with new recipes, authentic Italian ingredients and a desire to cook up a storm in the kitchen for some hungry food bloggers. Excited and armed with a bottle of Italian red for the hosts, off I went…

Pranzo Delitalia is run by a cool and trendy young couple, living in Manchester city centre. On arrival we were greeted by Valerio, who met us at the door and escorted us up to their very stylish first floor apartment. Our coats were hung and we were seated. A charming yet modern, open-plan kitchen and living area – with a table in the middle set with beautiful white crockery, fresh flowers and cute little napkins hand-wrapped with strands of wicker. An apt playlist of Italian music was playing through the speakers and we were offered soft drinks to accompany our meal (they don’t have a licence to serve alcohol, but if you do wish to drink it you’re welcome to take along your own.)

Cooking for us on the night was Nadia – Valerio’s other half who’s joined him on his trips back to Italy to attend cooking courses there and pick up all the insider tips from the experts – Valerio’s mother and Grandmother. Nadia does all the cooking for their Supper Clubs, and what a talented lady she is.

We had been sent the menu a few days in advance, so it was clear the hosts were well-prepared to feed us a delightful Italian feast. And so it was.
 
The Food

Antipasto – Melanzane alla Parmigiana

Cooked aubergine and caciocavallo cheese covered in Nonna’s passata 

I am a real fan of aubergine because of it’s versatility, so to image it cooked with cheese and tomato passata sounded wonderful. The aubergine itself had more bite than I had expected, but this ‘al dente’ style served the dish really well, as sometimes when overcooked aubergine can by soggy. It was thinly sliced and lightly covered in a rich, beautifully seasoned homemade passata. The cheese was a finely grated dusting on top – a sharpness to it that cut through the rich tomato really well. Portion size was perfect, as there was also a fresh baked loaf, soft butter and olive oil to accompany.

Primo – Tortellini alla Panna

Meat-filled parcels of tender pasta prepared in a rich cream sauce

After a short wait, allowing some time for us to properly acquaint ourselves with the other guests, it was onto the next course. This time we were treated to homemade pasta – light, yet rich in colour and the flavour the pasta itself was absolutely beautiful, as good as I have eaten in some top Italian restaurants. Gently filled with soft Prosciutto, this has got to be the ultimate Italian combination. The rich cream sauce was just a very, very light coating – apparently exactly how it is supposed to be served the authentic Italian way in Emilia-Romagna. And just how Valerio’s mother serves it. So delicious and well executed I could have eaten the whole thing three times over.

Secondo

Filetto di Maiale – Emilia-Romagna pork fillet cooked in a rosemary and white wine sauce served with potatoes

Our plates were cleared and after another break we were suitably ready for the next delight. Thin and tender pork loin wrapped with the most delicious stuffing, including sage and other herbs. The sage was pungent but went well with the light rosemary and white wine sauce. The sauce itself was a delicate accompaniment and not too heavy at all. The potatoes were served mashed – creamy and buttery and very well seasoned. As a second course I thought this dish was perfectly balanced between the natural saltiness of the meat, the fragrance of the fresh sage and the rich and creamy potatoes. Lovely portion size too.

Dolce – Panna Cotta alla Vaniglia

Vanilla seed and passion fruit panna cotta

After our tastebuds had been relished to a wealth of savoury delights – it was time for something sweet. As my sweet-tooth isn’t as finely tuned as others, I was very pleased to see there was passionfruit involved in the dessert course, as it adds a slightly tart sharpness. Some of the other guests, whom which confirmed their sweet-tooths are well exercised on a regular basis (naming no names), confirmed this dish also hit the spot for the sugar-lovers. Served with a lovely homemade ginger biscuit and a dollop of fresh cream. The Panna Cotta was light, creamy and the vanilla came through nicely which balanced well with the tart of the passion fruit. Five completely empty dishes (and the same can be said for all of the courses) confirmed this was a winning dessert for all. Delicious.

Overall the menu, cooking, setting and ambiance of the whole night was really enjoyable. I would highly recommend Pranzo Delitalia Supper Club to anyone in the area who is looking for a dining experience a little bit different to the usual restaurant dining. Both Nadia and Valerio were welcoming and friendly, making us feel right at home from the outset. I think they did a fantastic job of the whole evening and would certainly consider returning for more Supper Clubs at their place in the future. Thanks very much to them both for all their efforts.

 


I was invited to Pranzo Delitalia on a complimentary basis as they were looking for a critique on their food from a food blogger’s perspective. I can however honestly say that I would love to return to one of their Supper Clubs in the future as a regular guest.

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Get Involved – The English Italian Awards

ScottishItalianAwards2014_for greenBkrgrd

As the launch of the English Italian Awards is nearing (Spring this year), I thought I would share with you some further details on the awards themselves and the ‘low down’ on what’s involved. A little bit more of the ‘nitty gritty’, if you like, on these new kids in town!

I met face to face with Michael MacFarlane – the Press and Events Coordinator for the awards, as well as Michael Allen and Warren Paul the Event’s Organisers. Three lovely, humble, down to earth guys who love food and spectacular events, and who are on a mission to find England’s best Italian food spots. After all, being Scottish, they have already done this in Scotland – so now it’s our turn…

The awards are free to take part in, and any Italian business can enter (as long as the business uses Italian produce or is Italian run – you can enter). Once you have registered your interest, you will be sent a Voting Pack from the Italian Awards team. Then – the race begins, voting opens in Spring and the task then is to ask your customers to vote for you! The top 5 venues with the most votes for each category will be entered into the final – which involves an independent judging process. The Gala Awards final will be held later on in the year, a big event with lots of press and even Italian chef Aldo Zilli present on the night as celebrity judge!

Below is a full list of this year’s categories:

  • Favorite Italian Business
  • Best Italian Restaurant
  • Best Pizza
  • Best Pasta
  • Best Bistro
  • Best Multiple Operator
  • Best Fish and Chips
  • Best Front of House
  • Best Newcomer
  • Best Wine List
  • Best Family Restaurant
  • Most Romantic Restaurant
  • Best Marketing Team
  • Best Restaurant Design
  • Best Deli
  • Best Barista
  • Italian Chef of the Year
  • Best Ice Cream Parlour

When I met the team, I put a few questions to the guys, before chowing down on some scrumptious Italian food in Manchester. Over dinner we discussed their plans in detail, but I have summarised the most important pieces of information below. Remember, for a little more background on the awards, you can click here to go to my previous post. For now, here is all the detail you need to know on how to get involved:

Q. How do restaurants/businesses sign up to be nominated for an English Italian Award?
A. They simply have to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or email us (events@paramountcreative.co.uk) and let us know they want to be involved. We will then send an information pack out when voting opens in Spring.
Q. Can restaurants/businesses apply for multiple categories – if so, how many?
A. There are no limits how many categories a venue wants to go for.
Q. Are there any geographical limitations? I.e. Manchester area or UK wide?
A. No limitations, venues across the whole of England can compete should they wish to.
Q. Who decides the short list?
A. The public vote decide the short list, the top 5 with the most votes go to the final.
Q. What happens next?
A. The top 5 are then individually judges by a panel of industry experts and scored on a scorecard which is also created by the experts. The winner of each category will be chosen within the 4 week judging process, and announced on the Gala Awards night.
Do you think you have what it takes to win one of these prestigious awards? Or do you know of a venue who would compete well against others in some of the categories?  THEN GET INVOLVED! THE BEST MUST WIN!
If you have any further questions, please contact:
The Italian Awards | info@italianawards.co.uk | www.italianawards.co.uk | 0141 774 5272

The Italian Awards come to Manchester

english-logo

So, the day is almost here. Tomorrow is the day I finally get to meet Michael and the team in person – the organisers of The Italian Awards UK. In their own words;

“Italian Communities across the UK are a vital and integral part of our hospitality industry; everyone has their own personal favourite Italian, and here at The Italian Awards we aim to recognise the true favourites across the country.

We strive to recognise excellence, and pick out the very best in categories ranging from “Best Pizza” to “Best Interior Design”. Giving initial voting power to the general public allows us to generate finalists that truly are the nation’s favourites, battling it out to become the best of the best.

Come join the family and help us decide this year’s worthy winners.”

Exciting concept, right? Well, this year, 2015, is the very first time The Italian Awards are coming to Manchester. Usually based out of Glasgow, the awards are a spectacular event celebrating all things Italian food in the UK. I’m am delighted to tell you that I have been chosen as an official blogger for the awards. I will be helping Michael and the team along with Taste Today and a few other great bloggers from the Manchester area. The awards themselves are set for September this year…Very exciting times!

Photo credit: http://scottishitalianawards.co.uk
Aldo Zilli, photo credit: http://www.scottishitalianawards.co.uk

I should also tell you that they have a celebrity judge on board, who joined them last year in Scotland and will again this year in our very own Manchester… The one and only Aldo Zilli! (@AldoZilli on Twitter). If you don’t already know, Aldo Zilli is an award winning celebrity Italian chef and restaurateur. He was the founder and chef-patron of some of London’s most exciting and innovative restaurants, Signor Zilli, Zilli Fish, Zilli Green, Zilli Café and Zilli Bar. He has also done consultancy work to help out other famous Italian restaurants such as Prezzo, and he has released many fantastic Italian cookery books. He’s also done countless TV appearances, and in 2012, he helped launch the upmarket Italian restaurant San Carlo Cicchetti in Manchester and London’s Piccadilly. He is now in partnership with San Carlo Group, who have 14 restaurants in the UK and four overseas. IMPRESSIVE!

Please keep posted for more regular updates on this wonderful affair. After tomorrow’s initial meeting, I will be able to tell you much more about our plans. If you think you can add value to the awards in any way, please feel free to contact me on sophiesscran@gmail.com, and I will be happy to see if there is something you can assist us with!

Ciao for now!

Sophie -x-

My Artisan Selection box has arrived!

My Artisan Selection Box from http://compareyourartisan.com/
My Artisan Selection Box from compareyourartisan.com #artisanselection

My beautiful #ArtisanSelection box from compareyourartisan.com has arrived, and first off I must say the delivery service was super-prompt. I can get a little impatient when it comes to food (because I love it so much, duhhh), so it was great they didn’t keep me waiting long at all!

I went for “The Foodie” – 8 assorted foodie-friendly Artisan selection items from their lovely range, and I let them surprise me, so had no idea what it was going to contain. It was as if they knew about my obsession with obscure and specialty teas (stemmed from a visit to Nepal in 2011) so I was delighted to see a box of wild, organic, hand-picked Mountain Tea from Greece… I have never seen anything like it, super intrigued… Cannot wait to try it. It also seemed a bit like magic that the box featured a chilli sauce – if you know me, you know I am obsessed with spice. These guys really do know their buyers & suppliers well, and I’m impressed already.

The box features a range of wonderful products, some local to the UK and some from as far afield as Italy & Greece! Details listed below:

~ Riverside Lifestyle Strawberry & Lavender Jam: riversidelifestyle.co.uk

~ Chilli Drops ‘BollyGood’ chilli sauce: chillidrops.co.uk

~ Urbangrains Organic Mountain Tea: urbangrains.net

~ Hasting’s Ketchup Company Lemon Ketchup: hastingsketchup.co.uk

~ Via Emilia Crema per Crostini di Olive Nere (Black Olive Crostini Spread): viaemilia.net

~ Agnes Rose Raspberry Vinegar: agnesrose.co.uk

~ Bonilla a la Vista Patatas Fritas: bonillaalavista.com

~ Breckland Orchard Cherry & Plum Posh Pop: brecklandorchard.co.uk

I will be trying each item in turn, keeping you posted on what each one tastes like. I’m excited already. In fact, I think I fancy croissants with Strawberry & Lavender Jam for breakfast. Yum.

If you guys have any ideas or recommendations, please use the comments below to post them.

In the meantime, follow CompareYourSupplier (@UK_CYS) on Twitter for updates & information on their artisan selection boxes.

Love, Sophie -x-

 

Fusilli salad with Pork & Herb Chipolatas

Fusilli & Herby Pork Chipolats  photo 5

Super simple. Easy peasy. Delicious. Serves 2. Sometimes I make extra, knowing that this is sooooo scrumptious, I want it again for lunch the next day…. Go on, you know you want to!

What you need:

  • generous glug of olive oil
  • 150g Fusilli pasta
  • 4 pork chipoloatas (I use Waitrose British pork & herb)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • handful of frozen peas (or petits pois)
  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • grated Parmesan (to serve)
  • handful of chopped fresh herbs flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do:

  1. Cook to Fusilli in a pan of well salted water for 10-12 minutes, or until ‘al dente’. 
  2. Slice the chipolatas into chunks and heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan,  fry the sausages over a medium heat until golden brown.
  3. Add the sliced shallots and garlic to the frying pan and toss together with the chunks of sausage.
  4. Add the peas to the pasta for the final 2 minutes of the pasta’s cooking time, and toss the sun-dried tomatoes through the sausage mixture to warm through.
  5. Drain the pasta and peas and then add to the sausage in the frying pan, ensuring all the pasta is coated.
  6. Season well with salt and pepper and stir through a handful of the parsley, grate over the Parmesan.
  7. Serve hot or cold, for lunch or dinner. Enjoy -x-