The sun is always shining on the Caldesi lunches, and our latest lunch was no exception. Blue skies greeted guests as they arrived at Caldesi in Campagna in Bray on Friday 28th February for the seventh Maloney’s Budgens Seasonal Lunch.
Giancarlo created yet another inspired menu using seasonal ingredients found on his visit to Maloney’s Budgens in Ascot and his Italian background was clear for all to see in his choice of Mediterranean menu: from bruschetta with mushrooms, prosciutto and cheese to spaghetti with smoked trout, chilli, garlic and cream, customers were delighted by the sheer variety of tastes and flavours presented during the 8-course taster menu.
Customers’ enjoyment was enhanced by the very fact that the fixed price menu was set at the extraordinary value of only £20, made possible by the fact that Maloney’s Budgens donate all of the ingredients to showcase the high quality of the food that they sell, and what can be produced with it. Giancarlo was in particularly buoyant mood, entertaining and educating his guests in his inimitable style, explaining the origin and cooking methods of the food presented.
These lunches deliver consistently on so many levels that almost every guest had been to more than one of them before. Customers are never disappointed, the menu is beautifully balanced and the portions filling, whilst the event provides a great opportunity to catch up with friends in an exquisite, relaxed and friendly environment.
Unfortunately this time Vince Maloney was unable to attend the event, but commented: “This event has grown from strength to strength. We hope customers will appreciate the quality of the foods that we supply and will be inspired to come in store and see for themselves what is right on their doorstep and what can be achieved using simple, quality ingredients.”
So why not try to recreate some of Giancarlo’s mouth-watering dishes from the day, in your very own kitchen? Just pop along to Maloney’s Budgens for your ingredients and off you go! Here’s two to start with: keep an eye on the website for further recipes from Friday’s lunch.
Bruschetta con crema di funghi, San Daniele e Grana Padano
(Bruschetta with mushroom paste, San Daniele and Grana Padano)
Makes 3 bruschetta
350g mushrooms, sliced
50ml extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
Salt and black pepper
50ml double cream
3 slices of pugliese bread 1cm thick, toasted
3 thin slices of San Daniele
12 shavings of Grana Padano
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat and when hot add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Fry for just a minute and then add the mushrooms and cook them on a high heat, tossing or stirring frequently. When the water from the mushrooms has evaporated, and they have become browned and slightly crisp they are ready.
Allow mushrooms to cool then puree with a blender or a food processor adding cream and butter, then return the heat and cook for a further 2-3 mins, check seasoning.
Spread mushroom puree over toasted bruschetta then place San Daniele slices and Grana Padano shavings on top and serve.
Mozzarella in carrozza
(Deep fried mozzarella sandwiches)
Originally made without anchovies or basil (but better with one or the other in my opinion), this salty little fried sandwich is served as an appetizer. Many people prefer to use cow’s milk mozzarella to buffalo mozzarella as it is less watery but if you drain the cheese in a sieve or lay it briefly on kitchen paper the more flavourful buffalo mozzarella makes these little sandwiches even more delicious. The name of this recipe translates literally as ‘mozzarella in a carriage’. Though no one seems to know where the name comes from, milk was once carried in wooden caskets and during its journey it would sometimes turn to cheese. Serve as they come or with the winter tomato sauce.
1 x large 160 g ball buffalo mozzarella, cut into 1 cm slices
8 slices soft white bread, crusts removed
3 eggs, beaten
8 anchovy fillets (optional)
Handful of basil leaves (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
300 ml sunflower oil, for frying, or use a deep-fat fryer
100 g of ‘00’ or plain flour
150 g fine breadcrumbs, for coating
1 quantity of winter tomato sauce (made with 1 x 400 g can tomatoes) to serve (optional)
Place the mozzarella slices in a colander for at least 10 minutes to drain off some of the water. Lay four slices of bread onto a work surface and brush the top of each slice with a little beaten egg. Lay mozzarella slices on top and, if using, half an anchovy in each quarter and the basil leaves. (If you’re not using anchovy or basil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.) Lay a slice of bread over the top and press down to seal. Put the sandwiches in a flat dish and cover with kitchen paper. Weigh them down with a heavy plate or dish and leave for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours: this will help seal the slices together.
Heat the oil in a high-sided frying pan deep-fat fryer. Dust the sandwiches in a little flour and tap off the excess. Dip into the beaten egg and coat with breadcrumbs. Fry until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper for a couple of minutes and serve with tomato sauce on the side, if using.