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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Dine Around the Dome, intu Trafford Centre

Last Thursday evening, I got to stand-in for the wonderful M-Dog at what was honestly one of the best food events I have attended. As M-Dog was off on his jollies, lapping up the sunshine, he was unable to attend, so that’s where Sophie’s Scran stepped in.

We were to ‘dress for dinner,’ and arrive promptly at 6:30 to dine for 7:00, starting in the 360 Champagne & Cocktail Bar for welcome aperitifs (Elderflower Martini’s). And boy were they delicious – the perfect mix of dryness, sweetness and a little sourness from the lemon garnish, they were honestly delightful. It was at this point we could acquaint ourselves with each other; there was about 15 of us in total, all female and all bloggers. This was with the exception of Justin the PR Manager and Jason the photographer! At this point I did wonder if M-Dog would fit in with this fabulous but rather ‘girly’ mixture of Fashion, Beauty, Mummy, Lifestyle and Food bloggers… but then I remembered he’s a dog. When foods on the table, he isn’t fussy in the slightest!

Our first stop was Café Rouge, a lovely little French restaurant on the first floor of intu Trafford Centre’s Orient. On the menu here was Ceviche de Salmon. Atlantic Salmon slices cured in lime and marinated in chilli, red and spring onion, finished with fresh coriander, olive oil and served on baby gem lettuce. This really was a delight – so fresh, clean and a great hit of coriander which I loved. The paired wine was a lovely Saint Etalon Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and tangy which went perfectly well with the fish.

Next port-of-call was the wonderful Carluccio‘s, for a sensational array of anti-pasti style dishes which were all ready laid out on the table, waiting for us to just sit down and dig in. I absolutely love sharing plates – so was in my element here. The dishes on offer were; Pepolata Arancini – crispy fried pepolata (a delicious Italian red pepper sauce) and mozzarella rice balls, served with a (rather addictive) red pepper mayonnaise for dipping. Also served was Caponata, a traditional Sicilian aubergine sweet and sour stew served chilled with toasted focaccia for dipping. And to accompany, a selection of Salumi (thinly sliced meats from Carluccio’s deli), Parma ham, Milano Salami, Napoli Salami, and a delicious herb-roasted ham. The whole selection really was to die for – and went wonderfully well with the selected drink – Aperol Spritz, refreshing and very summery. It felt like we were dining al-fresco.

As if this wasn’t enough, we were only half way through our Dine Around the Dome experience! Just a very short walk across the way to the very vibrant Las Iguanas. Here, we feasted on the following dishes: Mexican spice-dusted corn chips with tomato salsa and the juiciest Peruvian olives. Empanandas in two varieties lamb and mint which was fantastic, and also brie and mango, which I was sceptical about at first but actually really enjoyed it. A lovely Mango and pecan salad which was really fresh and complimented all of the other dishes well. Churrasco Skewers – honey glazed chicken and halloumi served with Manioc root fries. I wasn’t too keen on the fries, I found them heavy and quite oily, but the halloumi and chicken on the skewers were sensational – especially the cheese which was juicy and soft and not rubbery in the slightest! The drink of choice here was the fantastically fruity Mando Collins (Absolut Mango vodka, triple sec, orange & mango juices, topped with lemonade). The most refreshing cocktail I have tasted in a while!

By this point my tummy had stretched a little and was somehow ready for the next and final savoury course of the evening. We were treated to authentic, homemade Japanese and Korean dishes at the lovely Wokooshi – an independent, family-run restaurant in the heart of intu Trafford Centre’s China Town. We started with a Korean dish called ‘Beef Bulgogi’ which was amazing – the Beef is marinated in Korean soy sauce, sugar and black pepper then cooked on a sizzling hot plate. Wrapped in a lettuce leaf and dipped in a hot sauce – this was a seriously tasty dish. Next was the salmon Teppanyaki, which was cooked to perfection. The owner came out to talk to use about the dishes, and told us how they buy the salmon whole, then use the whole fish for the various dishes on the menu (such as the sushi and this Teppanyaki dish). Another Japanese dish served was sizzling Seafood  Udon Noodles, which had lovely scallops and king prawns. The final dish was Korean – Spicy Chicken Bibimbap, made with steamed rice served in a hot stone bowl topped with chicken, carrots, kimchi, mushrooms, bean sprouts and seasonal greens. It is then mixed at the table with chilli paste and a fried egg. I must say, I love spicy food but this was a little on the too-hot side for me! However, as it was the owner who served the dish for us at the table, he did say that other pastes were available so the dish wasn’t always this hot. Served with a stunning Sake (Sho Chiku Bai Nigori Sake), a light Japanese Black Beer (Asahi Premium) and the most delicious sparkling Sake (which was like Japan’s answer to Processo, honestly, this was so delicious. That’s the Processco shortage sorted!!)

After this epic journey from France, Italy, South America, Japan and Korea – it was up to the The Captain’s Lounge for desserts. We picked our desserts at random – and I just so happened to pick one of my favourites – Tiramisu! Homemade by Pesto – yet another of the Trafford Centre’s restaurants. Up in the lounge we all enjoyed our desserts, Nespresso coffees and an Espresso Martini. Absolutely delicious.

Overall this event was fantastic. It was really well organised and the hosts seemed to genuinely want us to have a great time, it was clear in the way that they looked after us so well.  A big thanks to them all for making sure it all ran so smoothly. I will certainly look in at the Trafford Centre’s dining hotspots in a different light going forwards, knowing now that they do have bespoke and original menus. I especially cannot wait to return to Wokooshi with my boyfriend to try out their Sushi and that heavenly sparkling Sake!

View from the Captain's Lounge, Trafford Centre. Photo Credit Jason Lock
View from the Captain’s Lounge, Trafford Centre. Photo Credit Jason Lock

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. This was a PR and Marketing event and as such all meals and drinks were complimentary.
Picture © Jason Lock Photography, www.jasonlock.co.uk

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-

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-