#31 Food news: The best Italian deli in London

Forget gold rings – the real diamond of Hatton Gardens sits proudly at the top of Leather Lane like the crown jewels.

parma ham

Step out of the rain and into the sunshine! I used to work around the corner from Terroni & Son’s deli. In the heart of London’s Italian community – it was always a great place to have a browse, sometimes I’d even go in and get a coffee just for an excuse to stare at the Italian products and produce!

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The perfect way to transport your mind to sunny, relaxing, Italian-Mamma-food-filled holidays in Italy: the rows of lemoncello, the hanging Parma ham (even if they are plastic – British health and safety at work I presume – rest assured the real McCoy are under the counter), the regional wine, steaming vats of pasta and the bowls of olives all help to give you that holiday feeling!

Open since 1878, London’s oldest delicatessen has just won the status as UK Parma Ham Specialist 2013, with Aldo Zilli presenting the award.

Aldo zilli

Of course this was celebrated in Italian style with more Parma ham canapés than you can imagine and some top-notch Prosecco!

Canapes

Go ‘ave a butchers! Terroni and Sons, 138-140 Clerkenwell Rd, EC1R 5DL  (great for those on engagement ring hunts, when it’s all too much drop in for a coffee or a bottle of Lemoncello – depending on how much you’ve spent!)

TOP 6 EASY PARMA HAM CANAPES 

1 Fig, Parmigiano and Parma ham wraps

Cut 12 slices of Parma ham in half lengthways. Wrap 12 fig halves in a strip of Parma ham. Top each with 1tbsp of grated Parmigiano cheese. Then wrap with the remaining Parma ham. Grill for 3-4 mins.

2 Parma prawns with mango salsa

Mix 1 ripe chopped mango, a small handful of finely chopped cucumber and 3 tbsp coriander. Fill 6 dessert spoons or ceramic soup spoons with the mixture. Top with prawns wrapped in Parma ham.

3 Tomato and Parma ham bruschetta

Drizzle 6 slices of lightly toasted ciabatta or French bread with olive oil. Top with sliced tomatoes. Grill for 1-2 mins. Serve topped with Parma ham

4 Parma ham, avocado and goats cheese

Drizzle 8 slices of lightly toasted ciabatta or French bread with olive oil. Top with a slice of avocado, crumbled goats cheese, basil and a slice of Parma ham

5 Melon and Parma ham sticks

Cut 1/2 honeydew melon into 2cm cubes, wrap the cubes in thin strips of Parma ham. Secure with a cocktail stick.

6 Ricotta, pesto and Parma ham blinis (pictured above)

Top 12 blinis with a little ricotta and pesto. Finish with basil leaves and Parma ham.

Visit prosciuttodiparma.com for lots of delicious Parma ham recipes (not just canapés!)

#25 FOOD NEWS: Cake & bake show, pork loin makeover and coffee machine mania!

Every monday
Top 3 Britalian finds: Cake & Bake show 2014

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1: Choco passion – made in Italy

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Looking more like the rusty contents of a tool box, but with the crisp, crack of superior chocolate – a winning combo that screams, ‘Christmas pressie for dad sorted!’ A small spanner costs £2.99. www.chocopassionuk.com

2: Pig in the middle

Sausage rolls

The ‘Mediterranean plait’ sitting next to an ‘All day breakfast’ sausage roll at the Pig in the middle stand was enough to send my Britalian radar into overdrive. A fab savoury stand – great for balancing out the sugar high!

3: Sweet as sugar cakes

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I fell totally head-over-heels for the Sweet as sugar cakes business cards – especially as there was one with a cakey-version of my favourite fictional Italian stallion (!), Rocky Balboa. With a Rocky-themed hen night to my name,  I’m now thinking my wedding cake could have been very different if I’d seen this a couple of years ago! Probably lucky I didn’t.

http://www.thecakeandbakeshow.co.uk/london/

Coffee machine mania

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So we’ve finally given in and bought a Magimix Nespresso machine but I wasn’t bargaining on along with the deal of £120 for the machine, 16 pods and a milk frother I would also get an obsession with coffee machines in general!

A must-see for…erm…other coffee machine lovers is the coffee machine at Cafe Vergnano 1882 on the Southbank. It looks like the Ferrari of coffee machines. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it. A stylish coffee bar with a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere. And the coffee ain’t bad either! Well worth a visit.

Pork loin make-over: Pork valdostana

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Always up for a double whammy of pork – this recipe of pork loin wrapped in Parma ham, served with English garden runner beans (fresh from the freezer from Mummy ‘E’s’ summer crop) topped-off this Britalian feast.

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Serves: 4
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20-25 mins

1kg new potatoes, quartered
4 x 225g pork loins
8 slices Parma ham
Handful rosemary sprigs
4 thin slices of fontina cheese or Brie
2 tbsp seasoned plain flour
25g butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp red wine
Runner beans, trimmed, sliced on the diagonal and steamed

1 Preheat the oven to 220’C, 200’C fan, gas 7.  Par-boil the potatoes for 7 mins until softened, drain and set aside. Meanwhile trim the loins of most of that fat. Flatten the meat slightly with a rolling pin.

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2 Place 2 pieces of Parma ham, slightly over-lapping on a work-surface or chopping board. Top with a small sprig of rosemary and a piece of fontina cheese or Brie. Place the chop on top and wrap the the Parma ham around the pork loin. Repeat with the remaining loins. Pick the the leaves from the remaining rosemary and set aside.

3 Dust the pork loins in the seasoned flour. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan. Put the loins in the butter, cheese-side down and cook for 1 min. Turn over and cook for a further 2 mins, until browned.

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4 Pour the red wine over the loins and bring to the boil. Transfer the contents of the pan to a small baking dish and cook in the oven for 15-20 mins until the pork is cooked through.

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5 Ten mins before the end of cooking time shallow fry the potatoes with the reserved rosemary leaves until the potatoes are crisp, golden and cooked through. Serve with the steamed runner beans and the pork with the juices spooned over the top.

#17 FOOD NEWS: Jamie’s Involtini, pizza at Franco Manca & Save or Spree: Piccalilli

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN…

Every monday

Jamie’s  Involtini

Always up for sharing his love of Italian food, I found this little starlet in the latest issue of Jamie mag that had to be tried:

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Makes 12

3 long aubergines (straight ones work best)
2tbsp olive oil
6 sundried tomatoes in oil
15g basil leaves, plus extra handful, to serve
50g pine nuts, toasted
3 anchovy fillets in oil
1 1/2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
10 parma ham slices
2 x 125g balls of mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces

1 Slice the aubergines lengthways into 5mm-thick pieces, trimming the skin from the outer pieces to give you flat finishes on both sides, then brush them with oil.

2 Heat a griddle pan over a high heat and, once hot, griddle the aubergine slices for 3 minutes on each side, until char-marked and tender. Set aside.

3 In a food processor, blitz the sundried tomatoes, basil leaves, pine nuts, anchovies and extra virgin olive oil until you have a spreadable paste. Season with freshly ground black pepper and pulse again to combine.

involtini steps

4 Lay a slice of parma on top of each aubergine strip, tearing off the excess to use again, and spread on a little sundried tomato paste. Take a piece of mozzarella and basil leaf, place it at one end of the strip, then roll up and secure with a tooth pick. Serve immediately.

To get 6 copies of Jamie mag for £9.95 (half the recommended retail price) visit http://www.jamieolivermagazine.com

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Get pickled: Save or Spree!

When The Italians last came to stay,  our vast choice of dips and ‘Il pane morbido!’ (‘The soft bread’) got everyone in an arm-waving frenzy of appreciation. I love seeing Mamma Romeo’s reaction to some of our British favorites, so with our hols to Italy just around the corner I’ll be taking Piccalilli to see what she makes of this great British table-topper.

Save

Haywards Piccalilli

As a kid, I remember this being on our table and marveling at the colour! My mum knew her pickles! Haywards piccalilli always came out when there were cold meats on offer. As a youngster I don’t think I was even brave enough to try the ‘yellow stuff’, now as an adult I can’t get enough of it! This tangy piccalilli is the perfect partner for pork pies and pasties but don’t forget it at your next BBQ, the zingy gerkin flavour also works wonders with a burger. Priced around £1.89 for 460g www.haywardspickles.co.uk.

Spree!

F&M

Firstly I love the name: Piccadilly piccalilli. Fortnum and Mason’s version of this classic is a lovely mix of red peppers, silverskin onions and green beans. A fairly subtle flavour, the delicate mustard heat comes through. Top crostini with mortadella and a little dollop of this piccalilli for a delicious Britalian snack or canape. A pantry jar costs£7.95 for 575g www.fortnumandmason.com.

Must go: Franco Manca 

When Giuseppe told me he going Franca Manca with friends, I must admit, I didn’t pay much attention – I was out with the girls and that was that. However when he came back and said the pizzas were delicious, they only cost around £5 each, they’re ready in about 10 minutes flat and his part of the bill was £15, I suddenly found myself listening!

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This reasonable bill included a pizza and beer each (it seems an Italian boys outing is a little different to a group of English lads hitting a er… restaurant where the cost might rocket due to the amount of alcohol consumed, ‘extras’ were a pizza to share and a shared dessert – sounds like they had more of a girlie night than me).

Franca Manca prides itself on their slow-rising sourdough and blast cooking method in a ‘tufae’ – a wood burning brick oven. It sounds like a rustic no-frills kind of place – exactly how I like my Italian restaurants in London.  If you’re lucky enough to have one of the 9 branches near where you work, at £5.90 for Tomato, Mozzarella and basil pizza,  it also sounds perfect for a Friday lunchtime treat.

Pizza photos: http://www.francomanca.co.uk

#15 FOOD NEWS: Britalian semifreddo, coffee Vs tea: ice wars & a touch of culture

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN…

Every monday

 

Britalian semifreddo

Nigella brought this amazingly quick base for ice-cream to my attention with her oh-so simple and oh-so delicious no churn coffee ice-cream. Let’s just say I’ve taken that idea and ran [sprinkled, drizzled, chopped, shaken and stirred] with it!

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100ml Marsala wine
1tbsp caster sugar
1/2 x 397g can condensed milk
300g double cream
3 x 35g snack packs Whitworths tropical mix
75g glacé cherries, roughly chopped
1 x 300g readymade cherry cake

You will also need

1L freezer-proof mould/ loaf tin

1 Heat the Marsala wine and caster sugar in a small saucepan, until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for 1 minute, then leave to cool.

Marsala

2 Whisk together the cream, condensed milk and 2 tbsp of the sweetened Marsala until soft peaks form.  Stir through the through the tropical fruit and glace cherries.

Cream steps

3 Slice the cherry cake into triangles and strips if you are using a rounded mould or cut into rectangular slices if you are using a straight sided mould such as a loaf tin.

cake steps

4 Spoon a layer of the cream mix into the bottom of the mould (See Britalian Tip), dip the cake pieces in the Marsala and layer on top of the cream. Repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of the cream mixture.

5 Freeze for 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve dip into a bowl of hot water for 2-3 mins and invert onto a serving plate, dip in hot water again if it needs freeing-up a little more.

Britalian Tip

I must admit I had some fun and games getting this out of the mould – I needed to dip it into the hot water a few times (step 5). To make life a little easier you could line your mould with clingfilm or make life even easier and serve in scoops – just as delicious!

Iced coffee Vs cold tea

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We love an iced-coffee in the UK – the sun merely needs to poke out of the clouds and we’ll be running for an iced frappe-frapaccino with extra ice. And who couldn’t resist with condensation-laden images lurking around every corner, from newspapers to bus stops to huge billboards [to food blogs!], these images are everywhere, but now it looks like it might just be time for tea:

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For beautifully cold brewed tea simply spoon 5-7 teaspoons of your chosen tea leaves into the Green Cold Brew T glass bottle, fill up with cold water, put in the silicone filter stopper and refrigerate for 3-6 hours. £20 www.whittard.co.uk

Gerardo Dottori: The Futurist view (& a lovely lunch!)

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Discover Dottori in style at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art. His bright, bold aeropaintings really stand out, reflecting the excitement in the 1930s for new technology and flight – a source of  inspiration for exploring perspectives of the land from above.

Estorick Cafe Photo

Top off your visit in the landscaped garden cafe; there’s not many galleries in London where you can walk into the cafe and order an authentic Antipasto all’Italiana of Mozzarella di bufala, Parma ham, roasted vegetables, cheeses, olives and salame Milano! Gerardo Dottori: The Futurist View 9th July – 7th September, £5 per adult. www.estorickcollection.com

Words & recipe photos: Angela Romeo. Coffee photo: Yeko Photo Studio/Shutterstock