I am not Italian, and thus not tied to any particular region – but if I were, it would be Lazio. For three generations, my family have had a house in Sperlonga, once an obscure fishing village, now a popular summer resort, located on the Lazio coastline, near equidistant between Rome and Naples. Here we feast on the bounty of both Lazio and Campania. Fish from the markets of Gaeta, mozzarella from the South, wild mushrooms from the hills that surround Rome.
For your meal you will need:
A large pan for boiling, and a large pan for sautéing
Not strictly necessary, but a pair of tongs are near invaluable when cooking pasta
The detailed recipes for the dishes are below, but in essence:
- Allow both mozzarella and tomatoes to come to room temperature, then eat
- Once eaten, saute your mushrooms, and cook your pasta. Mix the two together, and pig out on ‘little piglets’
- Dress your salad, either before eating the pasta or immediately after
- Let your pie also come to room temperature, and feast
Buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes
Buffalo mozzarella originates in Campania, just to the south of Lazio, but is imported daily by vans driving the freshest mozzarella north over the border, to be sold kerbside in the towns leading up to Rome. My preference is always for larger balls – the flavour may be the same as smaller ones, but texturally they are a world apart. The freshest mozzarella should squeak between the teeth and be rich but with enough acidity to cut its own fat, here complemented by merinda tomatoes which themselves are saline, crunchy and acidic.
Your pack serves two and contains:
- 1 x 250g buffalo mozzarella
- Merinda tomatoes
- Spectacular olive oil
- Allow both the mozzarella and tomatoes to come to room temperature
- Place them both on a plate, or a board, and add the basil
- Serve with a small bowl of coarse salt, and the olive oil, and a sharp knife, so that each person may season their own food as they eat
- A wedge of bread is a tremendous addition here, to wipe up the milky, oily and transcendental juices that have leaked from tomatoes and mozzarella
Fettuccine ai funghi*
*this is a wild seasonal product and availability is not guaranteed. If we cannot source fresh porcini, we will substitute with an equally delicious wild mushroom.
Fettucine is the Roman version of tagliatelle – rolled a smidge thicker and cut a smidge narrower than its Emilian cousin. Come early Autumn, every weekend in Italy finds hordes of keen fungaioli (mushroom hunters) out searching the woods for precious funghi. In Lombardy they put them with polenta; in the Veneto, a fine risotto; in Lazio perhaps the best of all – sauteed with butter and garlic, and tossed with rich noodles.
Your pack serves 2 and contains:
- hand rolled fettucine
- freshly foraged funghi, sliced
- olive oil
- butter with a few thin slices of Italian garlic
- finely chopped parsley
- grated parmesan
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and salt well (10g salt per lt)
- Finely slice the garlic
- Heat your widest frying pan over your biggest burner till very hot (smoking)
- Add the mushrooms to the pan, shake it to settle them
- Add the oil to the sauté pan, leave to fry for 1-2 minutes until golden
- Toss the pan to put, as much as possible, the uncooked side of the mushrooms in contact with the metal
- Drop the pasta into the boiling water, and stir well (it will take 3 minutes or so)
- Add the butter & garlic to the mushrooms - continue cooking until the mushrooms are a deep gold, then season generously with salt and pepper
- Just as the pasta is nearly ready, add enough of the cooking water (a ladleful) to emulsify the butter in the mushroom pan, as you shake it
- When the pasta is ready, drain it (reserving some of the cooking water) and add, along with the parsley, to the mushrooms. Add more cooking water as needed to thin the sauce to the texture of cream
- Cook together for a minute, until the sauce is thick enough to cling to the pasta yet loose enough to be delicate and glossy
- Plate, and top with the parmesan
Roman Lettuce & my mum’s dressing
I love all lettuces, and each has their peculiar charms, but if forced to choose a favourite, it would probably be Roman (Romaine) lettuce – crunchy, fresh, with a hint of bitterness, it is all I could want in a leaf. In Sperlonga, my mum makes a dressing – simply the best oil and the finest lemons, seasoned with a hint of their zest, a whiff of garlic, salt & pepper. It took me years to get the knack; now, I give it to you.
Your pack makes a side for 2 and contains:
½ Romaine lettuce
A tub of the world’s finest lemon dressing
- Put the lettuce in a bowl
- Season with a pinch of salt, and pour over the dressing
- Mix well (preferably by hand)
Burnt ricotta & sour cherry pie
If you take a stroll through Rome’s Ghetto (tied with Venice for the oldest in Europe), and turn onto the Via dell Portico d’Ottavia, you will come across an old bakery – Pasticerria Boccone – with an equally old oven. Everything that goes into it comes out scorched by the heat, with a delicate & delicious burned crust. Perhaps the best thing to come out of it is their ricotta pie, flavoured either with dark chocolate or, as here, bitter amarena cherries. Look at us – we’ve even burned your food for you.
Your pack makes a dessert for two, and contains:
- 2 hefty wedges of burnt ricotta & sour cherry pie
- Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature
- Place on plates, or directly into hands, and eat
ALLERGENS: all packs are prepared in a mixed kitchen, we cannot guarantee the absence of ANY allergen. All packs of this dish contain dairy, gluten, alliums, eggs, celery, and nuts.