The other day we told you about Culinary Mischief – the underground dining experience presented by iL Tocco Food set up by chef Gabriele Bertaccini, and since their next event was to be held in London, we thought we would go down and join in with the feast and report back.
The location was announced the day before to keep and element of secrecy to the event – well it is underground dining after all – and we found out that we were going to be dining in the Library at the London Marriott Hotel, County Hall in Westminster.
Having started with sparkling wine, we moved into the Library – since this was to be a more intimate affair of just 30 guests, there was no seating plan, just one long ornate, elegant table so everyone could mix and meet someone new.
The menu was a celebration of Italian spring ingredients, spread across 6 courses with 6 matching wines and boy was there a lot of food, no fine dining portions here – all 6 courses were big portions. Gabriele introduced each dish with his natural charm; although we only wish they had introduced the dishes before they brought them out, it was too tempting just to get stuck in straight away. A mint and pea soufflé was light and intense, and an asparagus soup was wonderfully creamy with the addition of a quail’s egg mixed into it.
But the stand out dishes for us had to be the butternut squash gnocchi, it was dripping in butter, it was sweet, rich and creamy – it could have only been improved if we had had more of it rather than the radicchio that it came with. Having told us that the radicchio would be sweet, we were all left a little disappointed to find it rather bitter. It was matched with a superb, Chardonnay ‘Grand Cru’ Sicilia IGT, Rapitala. The other winner was the veal chop – now remember this was our fourth course at this point- so we were a little unsure how we were going to tackle the huge chop that was presented to us, but after we had had one taste we knew it wasn’t going to be hard. Served on ‘Cacioavallo’ infused polenta and ‘Caponatina’ a sweet and sour dish of Sicilian aubergine, wine vinegar and sugar I couldn’t get enough of it, even when I was fit to bursting I could have just kept going had my trousers let me.
We finished with a lemon sorbet which had hints of Campari and a lavender cream in a crispy roll and frozen berries dipped in sugar and of course a limoncello! Apart from some slightly interesting music choices – a mix of Italian opera and at times Europop and a bit of a struggle with the logistics of the bread basket it was a splendid evening. Good company, great food, delicious wines, just how the Italians would like it!
Culinary Mischief has now left London, their visits are always short but sweet, so keep an eyes peeled and ears to the ground and make sure you get yourself a ticket for the next feast – you won’t be disappointed.