When I heard that most of my favourite brands were coming over to present themselves to the UK market, I knew I HAD to be part of the debut. These were brands that accompanied my daily cooking for 18 years whilst I lived in Folgaria, brands that were regularly on my shopping list for my Italian recipes and ones that I have missed dearly since living back in the UK.
I was invited by Ciao Gusto to a dinner at a very special restaurant, that of Giovanni Rana, the man who makes the most delicious tortellini and who, until that evening, I had only spotted on Italian television. I knew with all of the products that were to be present the meal was going to be fabulous.
I was right, the restaurant is beautiful and well worth a visit, I loved being able to watch the chefs through the windows as they rushed around the kitchen getting all of the preparations in order.
We started our evening with Bocconi & Bollicine – mouthwatering bruschette with Medusa octopus and another with a tuna and sun dried tomato topping, there were two brands of prosecco that I know well from my time in Italy, Zonin and Santa Margherita, both of home do a lovely range of wines too.
It was a traditional Italian meal and that means lots of courses, the portions are small to allow for a taste and not designed to fill you up, however you do fill up as it’s all so delicious.
For starters we had Giovanni Rana’s tortellini and Fritters made from polenta with Aurichio cheese, all accompanied with Barilla Arrabbiata sauce which is a lovely tomato sauce with a kick to it.
The next course to be served was a tagliere, this is a board of cheeses, salami and Italian cured meats. This is served with fresh breads including focaccia and Misura rosemary crackers.
Then it was on to the Pasta & Rice after all, what Italian meal would it be if these two dishes weren’t included? Giovanni Rana served some exquisite Ravioli with Amalfi lemon and Ricotta. We had a risotto with sausage and Tastasal and the showstopper Barilla Cannelloni with asparagus, aurichio and beschamel sauce.
Desserts were a delicious panna cotta with cherry jam and Fabbri Cherry Fruit, a tiramisu and a Dairy free gelato with biscuits.
After dinner wasn’t forgotten and true Italian tradition coffee, herbal teas and the maestro, Vecchia Romagna Brandy in it’s wonderful triangular bottle was served.
All of the Ciao Gusto products can be found at Ocado online shopping
I had a ball and was even more delighted when a few weeks later I received a hamper full of all of the wonderful products! I’ve been cooking with them and will be showcasing my recipes one at a time but as a sneak preview, look what I’ve been up to.
Cannelloni with ricotta, spinach and ham
Meatballs in a tomato and sweet pepper sauce
Disclosure: I was invited to an evening of degustazione by Ciao Gusto and sent through a hamper of the products to try. All opinions are my own.