Monday, April 09, 2007

Do Carluccio's do meat?

When I suggested Carluccio's as a thank you for driving me back home LLcT actually heard Gaucho's and started dreaming of plates and plates of meat. When I had to shatter his illusions and explain that Carluccio's was a great Italian which even though I'm sure does a fine line in meat it's more famous for fresh pasta and mushrooms, he was visibly disappointed. But he needn’t have worried as we were all very well catered for.

As we perused the menu, we tucked into a a tin of savoury bread and D and T enjoyed the plump olives. I started with one of their blackboard specials Torta Pasqualina which was a savoury tart filled with spinach, egg and artichokes.

D wanted calamari but they had none left so instead went for the arancini di riso siciliani - the deep fried risotto balls filled with either melting mozzarella or a meat ragù. I'd always wanted to try these but had been put off by the whole deep fried nature of them and I definitely don't mean this in a “healthy my body is my temple” sort of way but in a “big scary chip pan on fire in a confined space” sort of way!

Aranchi are generally recommended as the perfect dish to make with leftover risotto or even good enough to make risotto for it. Though I admit I have to admire the fact that you can make two fabulous and yet totally different dishes from the same pot of risotto. It has the sort of minimalist appeal that I very occasionally strive for.

Wild horses wouldn't persuade LLcT to partake in such evils as risotto as he just wanted a big meat fix. This was achieved by ordering a plate of Parma Ham for starters and then a double portion of Beef Carpaccio for his main. Meat heaven!

I think we felt that we should redress the meat balance and D opted for probably Carluccio’s signature dish – Pasta con funghi - their own egg pappardelle with fresh and wild mushrooms. I am sure Antonio would be delighted with her. I went for the tortellini all ‘emiliana which is small filled parcels in a ham and cheese sauce. And everything was just as it should be, the risotto balls were delicious, I only tried the mozzarella one as the ragù one looked suspiciously tomato-y and I would definitely have these again especially if someone else is doing the deep-frying bit.

My savoury tart was vibrant, dense and just felt like spring in every mouthful. Carluccio’s do a very fine pasta and these two were no exceptions and the meat went so fast that I can only assume that it was satisfactory.

D finished with some mixed berries in an elderflower jelly which looked so sweet and I would absolutely try that at home. I just had the strawberry ice cream which was pleasingly strawberry-y and rounded off everything nicely. A perfect end to our Easter feasting.

Carluccio’s do what they set out to do serve delicious, authentic, fresh and seasonal Italian food in a buzzy environment, two Italian forks for them.

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