Notes from a culinary [and alcoholic] weekend

This weekend started in the best of ways: with a visit to Taste of London, thanks to a colleague who kindly gave me her free tickets, and a lot of prosecco. I had only attended the Christmas edition of Taste of London before, and I can say that the summer one is way more alcohol orientated. So much so that, by the time I remembered that I have a food blog and it would have been nice to take notes and photos, it was already too late and I was slurring away. I can’t remember much of the evening; I can tell that the beef at Le Gavroche’s stand was tender, moist and flavoursome, and it would melt like butter in your mouth. I won’t comment on the overpriced, tiny portions as that’s how Taste of London works anyway, and it would be no news to anyone.

As I was downing my umpteenth drink and enjoying my first scotch egg ever, I noticed these two gentlemen and their very stylish stall. I actually went over to them to tell them they were very fashionable and asked to take a photo; despite my poor state, or maybe amused by that, they graciously agreed.

 

In case you were wondering, Kamm & Sons produce and distribute a ginseng spirit. I haven’t tried it, but I loved the care they put in their stall — it was by far the most eye catching and tasteful.

After more Chinese cooking on Saturday — a prawn dumpling and noodle soup Gok Wan’s cookbook only refers to as Happiness In a Bowl — it was time for some traditional Italian food. I’m quite ashamed to say that, despite being born and bred in Rome, pizza and fresh pasta are two things I’ve always failed at. While my bread is lovely, my pizza could be used as a weapon. I bought a pasta machine in December for the only reason that “every real Italian owns one”, tried to make some tagliatelle that turned out as a slimy blob, got scared, put the machine in the cupboard and never used it again. I then read that La Cantina del Ponte, an Italian restaurant not too far away from Tower Hill, was organising pasta making workshops at a very reasonable price. I attended [the only Italian in the group. Shame on me!] and learned quite a lot. A few tricks I wasn’t aware of:

  • Instead of using 100g 00 flour and 100 egg [1 egg], use 50 00 flour and 50 semolina, which is less finely ground. Apparently you can substitute the 00 flour with plain flour.
  • Don’t add salt at this stage as it will “cook” the egg. The salt only goes in the water you use to cook the pasta.
  • Make you dough the day before, wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the fridge overnight.
  • Once you’ve cut to the desired shape, let it dry; the more humid the day, the longer it will take.

Thanks to their advice, I regained courage and had another go at pasta making. I made tagliatelle, which is what my mum prepares for special occasions. They came out perfect!

After this success I am very tempted to repeat the experience and attend some other workshop in the same restaurant.. bakery maybe! It would be nice to be able to make pizza as well..

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