Truffled Potato Cream Soup

I was staying in Berlin for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany.

I had various meals and snacks while I was there. One dish I really enjoyed was the Truffled Potato Cream Soup from Vapiano.

I did feel a little guilty going to an Italian restaurant while staying in Germany, but when you realise that Vapiano is a German restaurant franchise company headquartered in Cologne. The chain’s restaurants offer Italian food adhering to the fast-casual principle, it certainly has some German food credentials.

The service was simple, in that you ordered from a screen, took a buzzer and then collected your food from the kitchen. So when my buzzer buzzed, I headed to pick up the soup.

The truffled potato cream soup, was seasoned with oregano and nutmeg garnished with fresh spring onions and croutons.  This was a pimped up simple soup for the Christmas market. The soup came with a couple slices of bread.

It was a really nice soup, which I really enjoyed eating. I was tempted to have another bowl.

Pollo Cacciatore at Bella Italia

I was out for a meal at Bella Italia at Cribbs Causeway. It’s being a while since I was last here, but I do remember have an excellent meal here back in June 2021. I did notice that Bella Italia at Cabot Circus which has been closed for a while, is now going to be a Bao Burger. I found that branch lacked character and atmosphere, whereas the Cribbs Causeway branch has a little more character and charm. They’ve updated it over the years and though at some time it had a classic Italian trattoria feel to it, today it is slightly more of a Italian inspired funky look.

We had booked, which having arrive, made sense, as the place was rather full. We were given a friendly welcome and we were shown to our table.

I looked over the menu. I didn’t think it was as interesting as it was back in June 2021, but there were some dishes I did like the sound of.  In the end I went with the set menu, and I had a starter of Mushroom Crostini, which I enjoyed.

For my main I did initially think about having their new(ish) Pinsa Pizza.

With a bigger, thicker, crispier base, this traditional premium Italian Pinsa is hard to beat

I suspect if they had a white base pizza with mushroom and truffle then I would have gone for that. In the end I decided I would go with a pasta dish and I chose the Pollo Cacciatore – Roast chicken, pancetta, chestnut mushrooms and red onions tossed with pappardelle pasta in a white wine and tomato sauce. I did look at the image on the online menu and liked the look of the dish.

The dish which arrived didn’t quite look like the picture on the online menu!

This is what I received.

This is what the online version looked like.

Having said that the pappardelle pasta was cooked well, and I liked the mushrooms and red onion in the dish. I could have quite easily lost the chicken though. The sauce was tasty and I had some extra parmesan added which enhanced the dish.

For dessert I had the Tiramisu.

Overall I did enjoy my food and I enjoyed all three dishes I had from the set menu. I think after having such an excellent meal back in June 2021, I was a little disappointed. I think that it didn’t help that the dishes I received on my table didn’t reflect what was on the menu. Maybe they shouldn’t publish photographs of the dishes on the website. I probably will visit again at some time.

Mushroom Crostini at Bella Italia

Mushroom Crostini

I was out for a meal at Bella Italia at Cribbs Causeway. It’s being a while since I was last here, but I do remember have an excellent meal here back in June 2021. I did notice that Bella Italia at Cabot Circus which has been closed for a while, is now going to be a Bao Burger. I found that branch lacked character and atmosphere, whereas the Cribbs Causeway branch has a little more character and charm. They’ve updated it over the years and though at some time it had a classic Italian trattoria feel to it, today it is slightly more of a Italian inspired funky look.

We had booked, which having arrive, made sense, as the place was rather full. We were given a friendly welcome and we were shown to our table.

I looked over the menu. I didn’t think it was as interesting as it was back in June 2021, but there were some dishes I did like the sound of. 

In the end I went with the set menu, and I had a starter of Mushroom Crostini.

This was chestnut mushrooms cooked in a creamy porcini sauce served on toasted ciabatta slices.

Apart from the fact I think it may have been sitting for a while as the toasted ciabatta was a little soggy. I really did like this dish. The mushrooms were cooked well and the sauce was rich, savoury and had an excellent mushroom flavour.

This was an excellent starter and so much better than the similar sounding Funghi Arrosto mushroom starter I once had in Leeds in 2019.

I would certainly have it again.

Incomplete Tiramisu

I was out for a meal at Bella Italia and I had a dessert, Tiramisu.

An italian classic! Espresso & Marsala soaked sponge layered with sweet mascarpone cream and finished with Amaretti biscuit crumb and a dusting of cocoa powder. 

Tiramisu

Yes, I also did wonder where the Amaretti biscuit crumb was too!

One of the issues I find sometimes in places, is you read the menu, order the dish, the menu is taken away and then you receive your dish. You feel something is not right. You then later review the menu, and in this instance you realise that the Amaretti biscuit crumb was missing. It also did not look like what was on the online menu.

I have found that this sometimes happens too often. It has happened before at Bella Italia up in Leeds with a mushroom dish I ordered, then I did complain.

I was a little disappointed with the look of the dish. The photograph doesn’t really show how sunken the Tiramisu was. It did look like it had been in the fridge for a long time!

As a Tiramisu it was okay. I think there needed to be a stronger espresso and Marsala flavour in there. The missing biscuit crumb would have added some much needed texture.

I had this as part of a set menu (so about £3.50) but this was not worth the price of £5.99.

I don’t think I would be ordering this again in the future.

Porchetta Bianca Pizza

I was staying in Wimbledon at the Hotel du Vin and had dinner a couple of times in their Italian themed restaurant. I had a nice starter of Ministrone Soup. I even surprised myself and went for a pizza for my main course, the Porchetta Bianca Pizza.

This was a white pizza topped with slow roasted pork belly with rosemary, mozzarella, mascarpone, white truffle oil and pecorino.

The base was really nice, as this was a white pizza there was no tomato on the base. There was ample toppings, and I did like the flavour of the pork belly, which contrasted well with the mascarpone cheese.

This was an excellent pizza, I would have liked more truffle oil though.

Alongside my Pizza I went with the Zucchini Fritti, which was thin strips (or shoestrings) of courgette deep fried. They were rather moreish.

Homemade Gluten Free Fritto Misto

One thing I do quite like is seafood in crispy batter, what the Italians call Fritto Misto.

So after enjoying my recent attempts at gluten free Frito Misto, I thought I would cook it again. I went with the recipe I had used before.

Again I used the mixed seafood mix from Lidl. As part of their Andalusian range, Lidl had a bag of frozen prepared mixed seafood. It contains pieces of skin-in cod pieces, anchovy fillets, squid rings, chopped Indian squid and peeled shrimp. As I said before I do think there could be more shrimp (prawns) in there, but it is a good mix of seafood. I did take some of the squid rings and cut them into smaller pieces.

I took the seafood and defrosted it in a bowl and removed any excess water. I coated the seafood in seasoned flour and then left it for a while, a couple of hours all in.

I cooked the seafood by deep frying in hot oil. The end result was a crunchy coating on the seafood. This was then seasoned with a little salt.

Fritto Misto

I was staying in Wimbledon at the Hotel du Vin and had dinner a couple of times in their Italian themed restaurant. The restaurant was in the Orangery, and to be honest the air conditioning was turned up a little too much for me, as it felt quite chilly.

On another evening I looked over the menu and went with the Fritto Misto for my starter, which was also available as a main course.

The dish comprised deep fried squid, tiger prawns, mullet and anchovies, set on a bed of ailiol and served with lemon.

The dish was garnished with some chilli and herbs. I am not sure how authentic the chilli is, something I see at Wagamama on their chilli, squid. I picked off the chill and squeezed some lemon juice onto the dish.

The batter was thin and crispy. You could taste the fish in the dish. The aioli was a little rough, but was okay.

Time for some Ministrone Soup

I was staying in Wimbledon at the Hotel du Vin and had dinner a couple of times in their Italian themed restaurant. The restaurant was in the Orangery, and to be honest the air conditioning was turned up a little too much for me, as it felt quite chilly.

For my starter I went with the Ministrone Soup. I don’t usually order soup, but I decided I would try something different and go with the soup this time.

This was a chunky vegetable soup with orzo and cavolo nero, served with toasted Altmura bread.

Well that was what was described on the menu. The soup was dressed with parmesan cheese and some fresh pesto. The soup was full of flavour, but I did wonder where the orzo pasta was. 

Minestrone is usually a thick soup of Italian origin made with vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice, sometimes both.

I did enjoy the soup, but I think it was missing something. I did mention this, and the manager came over, but the explanation was rather weak, it would appear I was supposed to as for extra orzo. How would I do that if I assumed the soup with come with orzo. Ah well, I still enjoyed the soup.

More Gluten Free Fritto Misto

One thing I do quite like is seafood in crispy batter, what the Italians call Fritto Misto.

So after enjoying my recent attempt at gluten free Frito Misto, I thought I would cook it again. I decided though, this time, to try a slightly different recipe.

Again I used the mixed seafood mix from Lidl. As part of their Andalusian range, Lidl had a bag of frozen prepared mixed seafood. It contains pieces of skin-in cod pieces, anchovy fillets, squid rings, chopped Indian squid and peeled shrimp. As I said before I do think there could be more shrimp (prawns) in there, but it is a good mix of seafood.

I took the seafood and defrosted it in a bowl and removed any excess water. I coated the seafood in seasoned flour and then left it for ten minutes. 

I cooked the seafood by deep frying in hot oil. The end result was a crunchy coating on the seafood. I think this was better than my previous attempt.

Gluten Free Fritto Misto

Gluten Free Fritto Misto

One thing I do quite like is seafood in crispy batter, what the Italians call Fritto Misto.

Though I have bought the Lidl Fritto Misto from their Italy week quite a few times, the reality is that it’s okay, but not good. It’s mainly squid, in a crispy batter. Also, the other downside is, it’s not gluten free.

As part of their Andalusian range, Lidl had a bag of frozen prepared mixed seafood. It contains pieces of skin-in cod pieces, anchovy fillets, squid rings, chopped Indian squid and peeled shrimp. Personally I think there could be more shrimp (prawns) in there, but it was a good mix of seafood.

I took the seafood and defrosted it in a bowl and removed any excess water. I coated the seafood in seasoned flour before coating in a gluten free batter and deep frying in hot oil.

The batter I made from gluten free plain flour, egg and milk. Mixing to a consistency that ensures a smooth coating of the seafood. As well as the seafood I added some prawns and cooked those as well.

Overall I was quite pleased with the dish, it was better than the Lidl Fritto Misto I have had before. The only issue I did have, was that the batter didn’t stay as crisp as I would have liked.