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Stir it up magazine March 2015

The Italian Job THE MELTING POT How to get your Italian meal off to a great start 26 MARCH 2015 >>TOZI cicchetti feast According to Mintel, 45% of UK consumers visit pizza, pasta and Italian restaurants when eating out, so it’s fair to say the fresh taste of the Mediterranean has widespread appeal. However, some Italian-inspired eateries lack imagination when it comes to their starters, churning out the usual classics such as melon and Parma ham, and tomato and mozzarella salad. Here, five chefs share their thoughts on what antipasti will have your diners crying “Bravissimo!” Felice Tocchini, a Tuscan-born chef, who owns two award-winning Italian restaurants in Worcestershire www. felicetocchini.com Antipasto when translated means ‘before the meal’, and has always been used in Italy as an “ice breaker”, I will try to explain what I mean: If you imagine a group of people that have not met each other before, in this country they will meet at the bar for drinks to socialise before sitting down for dinner; in Italy we tend to go straight to the table, therefore having a variety of dishes that people need to share and pass around forces guests to talk to each other. The variety of dishes will make sure that everyone will have something that they will like. Apart from the usual cured meats that are always available in most antipasti selections, the array of dishes served are based on fresh local seasonal produce and will include anything from vegetables, to cheeses, meats, flowers, salads, fish and so on. In this country it is very difficult to reproduce most of the Italian dishes, simply because we do not have the same high quality ingredients; the lack of sunshine is to be blamed for this, (there is no way that we can have a tomato in this country that taste as good as they do in the south of Italy, but on the other hand we have asparagus that the Italian envy), therefore we can only apply the Italian idea and create dishes using our best locally sourced ingredients. Anything goes when we talk about antipasti: deep-fried elderberry flowers when they are in season, anchovy fillets wrapped in sage leaves, salmon carpaccio with orange and garlic, a goat cheese pannacotta with vinsanto marinated walnuts, and so on. You need to create a plate of different dishes that will start a conversation. Daniele Pampagnin, concept chef, TOZI Restaurant & Bar, London Victoria www. tozirestaurant.co.uk Diners in 2015 are interested more than ever before in provenance – they care about where their food comes from and that it is of high quality and made from the best ingredients, sourced where possible from local or small producers. At TOZI, one of our best-selling antipasti remains the grand selection of cured meats and cheeses. This features lesser-known Italian cheeses such as the ‘Testun al Barolo’, a hard cheese from Piedmonte made from cow’s milk and matured in barrels under a layer of Nebbiolo grape husks, the grape from which Barolo wine is made. We source our cheese and cured meats from specialist Italian delis in Pimlico and Borough Market who work with small-batch producers – the dish is a hit simply because the quality of the prime ingredients we use is really high and they speak for themselves, so we have no need to add any gloss or fancy frills to the dish. The recent growth in popularity of juicing and the renewed interest in the Mediterranean diet as a healthy lifestyle choice means British diners are eating more and more vegetables and pulses – they are no longer seen as purely a side dish on a menu, but central players in their own right. This is where the antipasto comes into its own. At TOZI we offer lots of vegetable antipasti, such as the Wild mushrooms, Beans, Spelt, Pecorino and Endive salad which uses seasonal ingredients and a play on textures, ensuring full, fresh flavours – minimal garnishes are required. Our zucchini fritti are also incredibly popular – small shards of fried courgettes in a very light crispy batter – a quirky, fresher alternative to heavy chips. Finally, one lasting trend that endures in the capital is sharing plates, and the TOZI concept revolves around the ethos of sharing and enjoying food amongst friends. Our antipasti are all small plates which allow diners to try a little of everything and order as they go depending how hungry they are – as the saying goes, variety is the spice of life! Felice’s carpaccio ...45% of UK consumers visit pizza, pasta and Italian restaurants when eating out...


Stir it up magazine March 2015
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