I was privileged enough to be invited by Zomato to a Guest Chef Event at Hotel Xenia’s gorgeous restaurant Evoluzione. The restaurant’s resident chef is Andrea Angeletti who boasts previously being awarded a michelin star. Every six weeks an Italian Guest chef each from a different region of Italy is invited to showcase their skills for an exclusive evening of food and drink.
The guest chef of the evening I attended, which was the third event of eight, was Teresa Buongiorno of Osteria gia Sotto l’arco. Osteria gia Sotto l’arco was established in the fifties as a simple family tavern, now after two generations is an elegant restaurant overlooking the main square of Carovigno. Located in the region of Puglia (also known as Apulia) in the south of Italy (if bad at geography, like I am, it’s the heel of Italy’s boot). The restauranteurs are husband and wife team Teodosio and Teresa Buongiorno. Teodosio personally chooses ingredients each morning and Teresa creates traditional, innovative but simple dishes which change regularly due to the seasonal offerings of the region.
I was first to arrive at Evoluzione, I mingled, drank Prosecco and ate delicious canapés as we waited for all the guests to arrive. To amuse our taste buds were bruschetta, vegetarian meat balls which I think were actually made with bread, and a lovely little cheese and tomato calzone.
We were lead into the beautiful dining room which has a seated counter area. I bagged a seat here so I could get a front row view of the chef. As well as being a fan of food I really enjoy meeting the chefs too. So to be sat and able to engage with a chef is a real pleasure for me. The resident chef, a translator, Teresa and her husband all stood and introduced their selves and welcomed us to the evening.
First course was a very quirky presented broad beans and chicory. We had a demonstration of how the chicory had been transformed into a sponge. It had been put into a canister, squirted into a bowl and microwaved. Magic! I really liked this dish, I enjoyed the different textures and liked how such simple ingredients had become so exciting.
Next course was my favourite, Burrata, an Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream, served warm covered in delicate crunchy strands of pastry. This was accompanied by dry cured pork and a tomato sauce underneath the cheese. The cheese was amazing! Inside the mozerella shell the texture of the cheese resembled marshmallow, the type you get inside a tunnocks teacake, it was delicious! A really surprising dish, again such simple ingredients but the dish made such an impression. There was a brief demonstration for this dish too, showing how simple it was too assemble.
The next dish was traditional homemade pasta. Orecchiette (which resembles a small ear) is home-made pasta typical of Apulia. I actually participated in making this pasta. It was not easy. The chef skilfully rolled out a sausage of dough, sliced off a cm and spread it with a knife to make the ear shape. I sliced off some of the silky dough and made a fairly good attempt of an ear shape (dumbo’s) but discovered it was far harder than it looked. Incredibly the pasta is hand made everyday at her restaurant. That’s dedication! The pasta was served with mussels and peas. Great combination and perfectly seasoned too.
Next course red snapper, potato and vegetables. Another delicious course. It was my first time trying red snapper, the fish taste was mild, which I like, and slightly sweet. The potato was perfectly smooth and the combination of vegetables worked well with the dish.
Dessert was up next, a delicious little ricotta cheese sponge cake with white chocolate and forest fruits. I really enjoyed the dessert and the accompanying wine which tasted of almond worked so well. A really lovely comforting dessert.
I had such a lovely evening and was sat a seat away from the chefs husband. He spoke very little English and he looked on so proud of his wife. I managed to communicate with him, I was curious to know if this is the type of food that he eats at home and he said yes! What a lucky man!
If you want authentic lovingly made italian food in a stylish setting then Evoluzione is the place to come.
The next Guest Chef event at Hotel Xenia will be on 24th June 2015
For more information http://www.hotelxenia.co.uk/Guest_Chef.html