Birra Moretti

As well as liking real ales I also do like Italian beers, especially when I am eating Italian food. I have always thought when eating a particular cuisine that you drink what would be drunk with that cuisine in that country. So when I was eating an Italian meal recently at a branch of Bella Italia I took the opportunity to have an Italian beer, this time I had a Birra Moretti.

Birra

This was a very nice Italian beer, full of flavour and perfect with the Italian food and Italian-esque atmosphere. It was stronger in flavour than some Italian lagers.

Peroni

I do like a lager now and again especially in the summer or early autumn. It’s not as though I don’t like a good real ale, but during the summer, a bottle of lager reminds me so much of my travels to France and Italy back in the 1990s.

One of my favourite bottled lagers is Peroni.

When I am at an Italian restaurant for lunch I often choose Peroni over a glass of wine. It has a distinctive taste and freshness and I really find it very refreshing.

Calamari

Once place I do seem to frequent a fair bit, is Bella Italia. Mainly as it is convenient and also they accept Tesco Clubcard deals. Yes it is a chain and they probably use some kind of step system for cooking, but compared to some traditional Italian places I have eaten it isn’t that bad.

One thing I seem to order from the menu a lot is the calamari.

They coat it in parmesan before deep frying it. Sometimes it can be overcooked (not how I like it) but generally they do get it right.

I also quite like the pasta and pizza at Bella Italia too.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro

I do like a lager now and again especially in the summer. It’s not as though I don’t like a good real ale, but during the summer, a bottle of lager reminds me so much of my travels to France and Italy back in the 1990s.

One of my favourite bottled lagers is Peroni.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro

When I was at an Italian restaurant for lunch I chose Peroni over a glass of wine. It has a distinctive taste and freshness and I really find it very refreshing.


Alba Ristorante Part Two

I was recently lucky enough to go to dinner at the Alba Ristorante in London with some friends; not just once, but enjoyed it enough the first time to go for a second meal. Unlike a lot of Italian restaurants I have been too, the menu here was not full of pasta and pizza, on the contrary it was very different and as a result much more interesting and refreshing.

For my first visit, I had the Smoked Duck Salad followed by the Calves Liver. The Italian name for the calves liver dish was Fegato alla griglia con spinaci & patate; in English, grilled calves liver with spinach & saute potatoes.

grilled calves liver with spinach & saute potatoes

I am not normally a great fan of liver, lambs liver is quite strongly flavoured and pigs liver much too strong. Most of the time it appears to be served as liver and onions and the liver is dry and tough. However I had read many reviews about calves liver so this was an opportunity.

I was impressed.

It was beautifully cooked and was delicious. The flavour was exquisite and the accompanying spinach and potatoes were done well too. The texture was fantastic, it almost melted in the mouth. It had been grilled to perfection and was medium as was recommended to me and as asked for by me. As you can see it was a good size portion which surprised me as the dish was from Alba’s fixed price menu.

It was so good that on my second visit I was tempted to have it again.

Alba Ristorante Part One

I was recently lucky enough to go to dinner at the Alba Ristorante in London with some friends., not just once, but enjoyed it enough the first time to go for a second meal.

I will review our meals over a few blog posts over the next few days (or well at least over the next week or so).

Unlike a lot of Italian restaurants I have been too, the menu here was not full of pasta and pizza, on the contrary it was very different and as a result much more interesting and refreshing.

For my first visit, I had the Smoked Duck Salad followed by the Calves’ Liver.

smoked duck breast with lambs lettuce & Italian orange slices

Well to give the dish, its proper name, petto d’amamtra all’arancia or in English, smoked duck breast with lambs lettuce & Italian orange slices.

The duck was very thinly sliced and had a delicate flavour which was slightly overpowered by the orange and the dressing.

However it was still delicious and I enjoyed it very much.

Risotto

Risotto

In a large frying pan, place some olive oil and butter. Then add some finely chopped onion, red pepper, courgette and pancetta.

Soften the onions.

Bring up the heat.

Add the risotto rice and ensure that the rice is coated in the oil and butter.

Add a splash of white wine.

Now add some chicken stock.

Keep topping up with stock to ensure that the rice doesn’t dry out.

Once the rice is virtually cooked, add a large handful of grated parmesan, some chopped parsley and some freshly ground black pepper.

Serve, garnish with a few slices of lemon.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro

I do like a lager now and again especially in the summer. It’s not as though I don’t like a good real ale, but during the summer, a bottle of lager reminds me so much of my travels to France and Italy back in the 1990s.

One of my favourite bottled lagers is Peroni.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro

If I am at an Italian restuarant for lunch I will often choose Peroni over wine. It has a distinctive taste and freshness and I really find it very refreshing.

Bella Italia

I quite like Bella Italia, yes I know it is a chain and they use a range of pre-made ingredients in their cooking and it’s all systems and less about flair and passion. Even having said that compared to other places I enjoy the food, the service, the atmosphere and the Italian’ess.

I was there on Monday for lunch and had an enjoyable meal. I started with the calamari and unlike other places which serve pre-cooked rubbery squid rings, at Bella Italia they do use the whole squid. However they do seem to overcook it, it would  be much better if they cooked for half the time that they do. Still nice, but not how I like it. It arrived with lemon and mayonnaise.

I had pizza for my main course, a Quattro Stagioni, the four seasons; pepperoni, smoked ham, roasted mushrooms and artichokes. It was quite nice, I prefer the pizza from Pizza Express, but this is so much better than the pizzas you can get in other (so-called) pizza eateries. The smoked ham was too salty for me, so that went off, but the mushrooms and artichokes were done well. The pizza base was just right, thin and not too crispy or too soggy. The tomato sauce was slightly too salty, but did taste of tomates. I would have liked a little more cheese.

The pasta dish ordered by my other half was very nice as well, Penne Funghi Pancetta. which was pancetta bacon, mushrooms and penne pasta sauteed in a creamy cheese sauce.

We had soft drinks and left before we could have coffee as we were pushed for time.

The service was fine, though it did take a little time for our main courses to arrive, and it felt like they had been waiting for a while.

Overall it was a nice place for lunch and I would make a return visit.

The Italian Academy of Cooking slams Italian restaurants in the UK

The Italian Academy of Cooking has launched a scathing attack on the standard of Italian restaurants abroad.

It says two-thirds of the restaurants they reviewed mistook the ingredients or the preparations.

Italians are very proud of their cooking and their recipes, rooted in many different regions and traditions.

But when they travel, most stay well away from Italian food and with good reason: some 60% of Italian restaurants abroad are awful, the academy says.

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