Saturday, December 14, 2013

Little Italy Kitchen

A hypothetical question for you my dear reader: what would you do in the unlikely event that a couple of stupid guests turned up to your carefully-prepared supper club over two hours late? Yes, TWO HOURS. I tell you what, I personally would not be best pleased. I would be incandescent with rage in fact, tell the disorganised duo where to go shove it and never again would they be allowed to darken my doorstep.

Well this is what makes Andrea - mastermind behind the wonderful Little Italy Kitchen based right here in lovely Levenshulme, a much greater man than I. When Bailey and I dragged our sorry selves to the supperclub after realising (due to a very polite and in no way incandescent with rage tweet from Andrea) that it started at 1pm and not 7pm as we for some reason had thought (the word "OOPS" is the world's biggest understatement), he and his partner and our host for the day Derek, welcomed us in with open arms. Not only that but Andrea went back to the beginning and recooked all the courses we had missed (minus the ravioli, which Andrea and Derek had eaten - good for them!) but still kept the other three punctual guests entertained with extra little nibbles. What a guy.

First up we were presented with an Aperetivo of an elderflower cocktail and some beautiful Italian nibbles which I eventually stopped feeling sheepish enough to enjoy very much. My favourites were the chilli breadsticks and sun-dried tomato toasts.

Next Derek presented us with two different Antipasti - spicy Nduja Dough Balls for Bailey which like all delicious things disappeared in about two seconds.

My pescatarian alternative to the dough balls was the Baccalà Fritters - great big chunks of air-dried cod in a light, and crispy batter. Marvellous.

Had we not been a pair of plonkers and been on time we would have at this stage received a Primo in the form of a Pumpkin and Pine Nuts Ravioli which I was assured by the other guests was phenomenal. Andrea showed us a picture and it looked awesome, we will have to keep our fingers crossed that he puts something similar on a future menu!

The Secondo was probably the course I loved best - King Scallops with Cannellini Bean Purée, Samphire, Chilli, Honey and some additional Smoked Pancetta for the meat eaters. Everything was so carefully cooked and delicately flavoured with the star definitely being the plate-scrapingly good bean purée. Renowned bean hater and potato lover Bailey said it was "like a more delicious mashed potato".

After arriving two hours late it would probably have been rude to lick the plate.
One of the bites Derek brought out for the guests who had to wait for us idiots to catch up was little squares of Focaccia which was a crunchy-on-top/pillowy-underneath, salty, olivey delight.

Finally we were back in sync with the other guests and it was time for my favourite course in any meal - the Formaggi. Yes, that's right - CHEESE!!!! Andrea had carefully selected some of his favourite Italian cheeses, including a very pongy Taleggio which had been lovingly brought all the way back from the motherland. Not only that but we were treated to not one, not two, but THREE homemade chutnies including a candied quince that Andrea served WARM! Totally amazing cheeseboard times!

The night was now drawing in and it was time for a gorgeous Dolce course called Drunken Pear Towers. These pears were beyond drunken, they had been on a week-long bender soaking in spiced red wine and tasted incredible. They were served on top of a pile of deliciousness in the form of a frangipane cakey tart thing and loads of mascarpone before before being drizzled with chocolate. If I didn't sound like a terrible Greg Wallace I would say it was LIKE EATING A CUDDLE. A badass, Italian cuddle.

To round off the super dooper meal we had proper Italian coffees and home made nutty truffles accompanied by good chats, also known as "top bantz", with Andrea and Derek - they really are great people.

I have to say apart from the food and great hosting on Derek's part there is another reason to visit the Little Italy Kitchen and that is their house is pretty much the best place I have been. It is a lesser-known fact that aside eating food, my other main hobby is gawping at pictures of beautiful but quirky houses. Levenshulme is particularly good for quirky house spotting and before I even met Andrea I'd already had my eye on his abode which is just round the corner from us. My favourite book is Bazaar Style by Selina Lake and can't tell you how many hours I've spent drooling over its pages, so to see Andrea and Derek's home (which looks like it is straight out of one of Selina's photo shoots) with my own eyes was very exciting. Ask them for a tour of the house and, like I did, ask them loads of questions about all of their things - everything has a fascinating story behind it and they did it all themselves - it's AWESOME.

Little Italy Kitchen was such a great supper club that we immediately started looking into going back (only partly to show Andrea that we are capable of turning up on time for things), especially when we heard talk of Rabbit Ragouts and Rum Babas. If you love any of the following things: proper Italian food, having a great time, beautiful homes, great gardens, good people, then please book yourself onto one of Andrea's supper clubs. He cooks from the heart and just loves to look after his guests which is a winning combination!


  1. Good job you hadn't just eaten a full english! Sounds fab, good for you and for them, can't see many professional chefs being so accommodating :)

    1. Very true indeed! We were actually asleep embarrassingly...


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