Like a great Movie Debut, I decided the first Conversation of the year shall be named "The Orsini Connection". Back in September of last year our first stop on our trip to Europe was London. We had decided to stay in a small lovely Hotel, The Rembrandt by the Victoria and Albert Museum and walking distance to Harrods! Yes, Yes, Yes, strolling in the area was divine and made us feel oh so Royal! From fancy Boutiques, to Pubs, Restaurants and yes one special store that sold Kitchen Stoves that cost as much as a Mercedes Benz in the States. Of course I was excited over the thought of how much fun I would have creating Recipes, while realizing usually the people who purchase them have professional Chefs. Oh well, remember the idea in your mind can be dreams of enjoyment and certainly fascinating Conversations. LOL!
After checking into our Hotel we set out on foot to check out places to have Dinner over the next few days. Virtually a few steps from the Hotel we came upon Orsini. A small Italian Restaurant with a rustic feel like you would see in a Trattoria in Italy. We decided to take a look for a possible choice for Dinner the next day. Having a cup of Espresso and a sweet would give us time to look over the menu as well. As we approached the door we saw a couple sitting with a man who was busily telling a story with such enthusiasm. Being a people person I could see the enjoyment he was having sharing this story. I was watching and really wanted to just take a seat and listen as well. I was surprised as he caught my eye and immediately excused himself from the table and asked if he could help us. I explained we had just arrived and asked if we could order an espresso and sweet. Absolutely, come on in he gestured as he introduced himself as Leonardo. He told us of the sweets he had and we decided on the Cannoli with our Cafe Macchiato.
A few minutes later, he was back with the coffee's and sweets and then sat down with us. He inquired where we had traveled from and what we thought of London so far. I told him of our backgrounds and my Husband being Italian and thus a connection began. He was excited to hear of our upcoming trip to Italy. He had explained he had opened the Restaurant with his wife (from Naples) and his in-laws. He was actually an Engineer by trade and had worked in Abu dhabi. The Family had decided on moving to England and begin a Family business one that he, his wife and son could enjoy and have his in-laws to be part of it as well. He suggested that we come back the next day so he could prepare a special dinner that would excite our tastes for our trip to Italy.
We were so happy as we left knowing we would be enjoying a great meal and sharing good conversation with a fascinating man. The next day was an enjoyable sight seeing day which included a tour of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Seeing the London Needle and of course shopping! We were so happy to actually see Buckingham Palace as the Queen was away. I guess she didn't get the memo I would be in Town. LOL! The Palace is truly a majestic place and the outdoor grounds are magnificent.
As we approached the Restaurant that evening we were so excited for our Culinary experience to begin. Leonardo was there to meet us and brought us up to the front of the restaurant so he could keep an eye on us, as we enjoyed each course. He started us out with a delicious Antipasto atop a Carving Board with Prosciutto, Salami, Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, Bruschetta and Pecorino Romano Cheese with Honey to dip the cheese in. They were served individually as seen in the opening picture.
We then moved on to an Eggplant Tart which was like our eggplant parmigiana but in stacks as opposed to a tray where they cut in portions. This presentation looked great. The skin was left on the eggplant and had the consistency of a crispy baked potato and it was delicious!
Next was a Trio of Pasta. On the left was Ravioli with A Bolognese Sauce with Pasta Neapolitan in the middle and Rissotto Porcini Mushrooms with shaved Parm on the right. On a separate dish was Lasagna with homemade Pasta sheets and Sauce. At this point after tasting the homemade bread and several glasses of delicious wine we were content and wanted to leave room for Dessert. Leonardo had been coming over and was ready to go on to a meat course and we had to tell him we could sample that on another visit. Throughout the meal he had visited and we shared stories of our Families and traditions One favorite was that of my Mother-in Law hanging Fresh Sausage on a Wire Hanger in the Kitchen Window to dry out for Soppressata. Whether you live in Italy, London or Brooklyn (where my Husband grew up) Italian Families like Leonardo's carry on the tradition of making food and conversation the focal part of family life.
We looked forward to our sweets for Dessert and certainly were not disappointed. Once again tastefully presented came a board with Cheesecake, Ciambellone (a cake made by his Mother in Law) Gelato and cookies and of course Cafe Macchiato.
I made a Toast to Leonardo to a new Friendship and that "the meal was only exceeded by the charm of our Host". To describe Leonardo's personality, would be to equate his soul is Food. The evening for us will always be remembered and hopefully we will return and make this Special Connection again.
Grazie Leonardo per una splendida serata!
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
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