This isn’t the first time the head-chef of L’Anima and almost-Michelin stared Francesco Mazzei has appeared at this blog (nor will it be the last I suspect) but this appearance is definitely a special one.
When I caught wind of an event, catch-ily titled SpagWednesday, organised by the foodie and all around good guy Mr Daniel Young of youngandfoodish happening around my 29th birthday I couldn’t resist the temptation to have Mr Mazzei cook me my birthday supper. Mazzei was ‘popping-up’ at a 1950’s greasy spoon style caff on the northshores of the City of London for one night only, serving the classic spaghetti vongole (clams+chilli+parsley+garlic+oil +long strands of spaghetti).
For my Australia readers who may not have had the privilege of visiting a London working caff they are special breed of hospitality. All welcoming and warming without any fuss or finesse. Usually the location for a morning-after-the-night-before full English breakfast or a simple plate of heartwarming food usually accompanied by chips. Décor usually includes laminate flooring and tables and black board menus – the tea is usually great, the coffee is almost without exception terrible, the toast is hot and white and slathered in margarine.
Spaghetti Wednesday was held at Andrew’s which sit’s happily on Gray’s Inn Road and myself and five of my crew to were delighted to come along to goggle-up three delicious courses of Italian favourites matched with some ‘cult’ wine. Masi Masianco 2009, a pinot grigio/verduzzo blend.
I do so enjoy events such as this, the atmosphere in the room is infectious, the venue’s always a tad ridiculous and the food ALWAYS delicious. I guess it’s the combined effort and enthusiasm (and expert organisation) that makes them such good value and great fun. Delicious food in unexpected places.
First course was pizza in the focaccia tradition, more northern with a more bread-like crispier base. One slice of Pizza con i Carciofi alla Romana and one sandwich of Pizza con Porchetta di Ariccia which we all oooh and aaahed over long after it had disappeared from our plate and into our bellies. We are told the portchetta itself is imported ‘illegally’ straight from mama Italy - where ever it hails from the marriage of slow roasted pork and rosemary is not a flavour easy forgotten.
But what were here for, the main event, Vongole was next and with Mazzei & co (L’anima’s Lelo and Claudio) buzzing away in the kitchen, the plates began to wiz out onto tables. And after watching a few tables of people dive into their dinner our plates were delivered. It was a vongle where the pasta was al dente and the flavours of the shellfish and parsley were complimented by a buzz of chilli that tempted you to lick your place. It was all too soon slurped away and all you had left was a pretty pile of shells.
The cherry on the SpaghettiWednesday cake was of course a dessert course of tiramisu (pick-me-up). Even though we were told by Mr YoungandFoodish that he had been unsure about the selection of tiramisu for the menu because ‘it was a bit naff’ it is my favourite dessert and L’anima’s execution was perfection. The mascarpone was so light, the hint of masala laced coffee was sweet with the finish of bitter cocoa. Yum!
Thank you to Mr & Mrs YoungandFoodish, Francesco & team from L’anima as well as the hard working staff of Andrew’s (who I saw working away the next day when I popped my head in) and my dear friends helping welcome in my 30th year of life in style.
Ps. Check out the video below ;)