Article
4 comments

Identita, London: The International Chefs Conference

Identita

I bounced back from Ireland to the International Chefs Conference, Identità, at Vinopolis. Traditionally held in Italy, it has been held in London for two years now, and is an inspiring couple of days, with chef demonstrations, talks, tastings, and an excellent selection of Italian produce to sample. More bijoux than most food conferences, there was a clear focus on quality and excellence. When I heard about it, I couldn’t resist going along for both days so cleared my diary, and made my way.

There is so much that I could tell you about, I’ll start with some photos and highlights.

Identita

A brilliant and hilarious demo from quirky Hong Kong chef, Alvin Leung. A self taught 2* chef who cooks at his Hong Kong restaurant Bo Innovation, Alvin cooked his interpretation of the English breakfast with lotus root stuffed with bone marrow, lotus seeds and 1000 year old egg. He kicked it off with a martini and his sous chefs name was Devil. He was funny, fresh, and inspiring. I found myself laughing a lot and desperate to try his food. What a commendation!

<Identita

A fantastic demonstration by Gennaro Esposito, a chef from Southern Italy where he cooks at his 2* restaurant La Torre del Saracino. He presented a dish cooked with a new shape pasta that he designed with Pastificio dei Campi, deemed a grand cru pasta by Italian food magazine Gambero Rosso. Having tasted it, and already a fan, I can absolutely agree and applaud that. Gragnano, the town where the pasta comes from, is to pasta what Parma is to ham. With perfect bite and body, it really puts other pastas to shame. If a pasta could feel shame, of course. I feel shame for bad pasta!

Identita

Identita

Meeting Gennaro Esposito after his demonstration about the pasta and his dishes after which he insisted I try some sensational charcuterie, as you can imagine I didn’t need much persuading. The prosciutto and salami were perfection, but the lardo, well that just whisked me to another place, far from London and Vinopolis. Slippery with a grip, rich as foie gras, and delicately flavoured with herbs. Gorgeous stuff.

Identita

Identita

A Grana Padano cheese and wine matching where three vintages of Grana Padano cheese wre matched with several wines. It was the first time I had tried a 27 month old Grana Padano and loved it’s crystalline crunch and rich flavour. The wines were excellent too, especially an outstanding Amarone.

Identita

A demo from Jason Atherton and he announced his new restaurant that will open in Mayfair later in the year – name TBC.

Identita

Meeting people from Slow Food Italy, trying the food, speaking to the chefs and learning so much – more on that soon, it’s a post in itself.

Identita

Crazy cresses, micro herbs and numbing buds. More on that soon too!

http://www.identitalondon.com/

Article
5 comments

Slow Food Market, London

I spent this past bank holiday weekend in London, and, intentionally had no plans, save unpacking, wandering and being nice to myself. I had read about The Cans Festival in Waterloo, a street art exhibition that sounded really interesting, so I popped down on Sunday evening. To my surprise I also found a Slow Food Market nearby! What a treat.

I’ve been a fan of the Slow Food movement for sometime. If you haven’t heard of it, it started in Italy 22 years ago and works to preserve the pleasure gleaned through food through preservation of the heritage, tradition and culture of food. They also work to protect biodiversity and the environment.

In their words:

Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. We believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.

We consider ourselves co-producers, not consumers, because by being informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production process.

This particular market was run by the London branch, and runs several times a year, although it was mentioned today that this may increase soon. There was lots of interesting proucts and demonstrations, some stalls I already knew from Borough Market & Marylebone Farmer’s Market, but some were new to me, including a stall selling Oliver’s English Perry (which I’d read about in Matthew Fort’s column in the Guardian recently), Mersea Wines & beers, Colchester Oysters, honey from Orchid Apiaries, Welsh cakes from Mootown and chutneys and mustards from Norfolk and Suffolk Speciality Foods. The full list is available here.

I caught a demonstration in which pea and ham soup (also known as the London Particular) was made and sampled. It was very informative (& tasty!) with lots of questions and answers on how to make the soup, heritage meats and using specific cuts of meat. I will be making this soon.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for these events in future, and I’ll be joining up to Slow Food London soon!

Ps. I have a backlog of recipes to blog this week – apologies to any readers who have noticed an absence of these in recent weeks!

Interested in the Cans Exhibition? I took lots of pics – The Cans Exhibition on Flickr.

[Read more]