Northern feast

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Vitello Tonnato for 2


Spinach & ricotta malfatti with butter & sage for 2


Grappa panna lighter with strawberries for 2

Whoever says they like Italian food, is making a gross generalisation. At every level of magnification, the cuisine you see is unique: from day to day, from mother to daughter, household to household, village to village, town to town and region to region: people cook differently, and have their own way of doing things that has speciated to become distinct from the neighbour’s. Even if you zoom right out, to view the whole of Italy, there is a line to draw between the North (delicate, rich, decadent, indulgent) and the South (vibrant, bright, earthy, fresh). Both are cuisines to celebrate – today, we’re celebrating the finesse and subtlety of Northerly cooking


The timing of this feast is easy. The detailed recipes are here, but in essence:

  • The vitello tonnato is best plated as last minute as possible – but can sit for 10-15 minutes without suffering. You can plate it after seating, or just beforehand and wither bring it to the table, or let it get there before you do.
  • The malfatti will take less than 10 minutes to cook – bring a pan of well-salted water to the boild as you prepare the vitello tonnato.
  • The Panna Cotta (‘Panna lighter’ – it’s made with yoghurt rather than cream) should be dressed with the strawberries just before being served But if you like, you can turn it out onto a plate beforehand, and have them waiting in the fridge: take advantage of the hot water before the malfatti go in it, and use it to loosen the pana cotta in the event it is hard to turn out (normally, it isn’t)

ENJOY – I like to drink wine from where the food came from – and in this instance, would splash out on a fine Barbaresco or Schioppetino to compliment the vitello tonnato and the malfatti.