I love that Italians are so expressive, they have immense pride for their heritage and take joy in sharing that love.
When Nuffang and Zomato (your local guide of what's great to eat), invited me to an Italian cooking masterclass with renowned Chef Pietro D'Agostin, followed by a tasting menu I was already dreaming about the Italian food he would whip up.
The event was at Evoluzione, the beautiful airy restaurant in South Kensington's boutique Hotel Xenia, a 99 roomed boutique hotel in Kensington that opened last year. Now can we all marvel at how beautiful this hotel is...
The event was to preview and celebrate the launch of a new series of six 'Guest Chef Events', in which every six weeks guests will be able to share the tastes, traditions and talents from across Italy (North-South).Guests will be taken on a wonderful journey through different Italian regions, tastes and traditions.
The unique creations and wonderful food combinations that chefs create will be available for one night only. So if you want to go, have a look at the end of the post to check out the chefs and available dates.
Our chef for the evening was the wonderful Pietro D'Agostino; known by many critics as an "imaginative interpreter of local cuisine".
One of the reasons I personally liked his approach was the passion he clearly had for his cooking, using seasonal produce and being incredibly inventive with his dishes.
Once inside the hotel we were seated at a dedicated show-cooking station, I was lucky enough to sit next to the lovely Hannah from AdventureHan and the charming Hassanain, we had the perfect view for watching the comings and goings from the kitchen.
First up we were presented with fresh bread and the best olive oil I think I have yet to try Frantoi Cutrera.
Now you may well be thinking come on Lucy it is only olive oil, but that is were you would be wrong, one taste of this and I was transported to Sicilian rolling hill tops. This olive oil tastes of nature and is a great accompaniment to bread.
Our starter was Noodles Scallops, beautifully presented by resident Chef Andrea Angeletti. The perfect mouthful of the sea.
Followed by King Prawns (onion salad, orange and almond sauce) presented by Chef Pietro D'Agostino.
For me this was the highlight of the entire meal. The onion, orange sauce and prawns was a perfect combination. A taste explosion of summer.
Next up was by Pietro too, Blac Cod (potatoes, lettuce, capers marinated in Masala Wine)
This was lovely and helped to cleanse the palate. The ingredients had a great balance and the capers were a lovely addition.
Each course was served with a beautiful Italian wine.
The next dish was entitled 'Just Pasta', but I am not sure that can ever be true; it was sea food ravioli, capers, Sicilian wild fennel and pistachio from Bronte by Andrea.
Both Hannah and myself at this point were rather full and the thought of a further dish and two desserts did leave us wondering where on earth we were going to put it all.
But ever the professional foodie somehow I found space.
The Turbot, artichoke, calamari and roasted aubergine was a great main dish to finish on. I am not sure what the calamari was coated in but it melted in the mouth. The roasted aubergine sauce was delicious.
I am definitely going to try and replicate the roasted aubergine sauce at home, it would be a perfect accompaniment with chicken.
What followed were two wonderful desserts by Pastry Chef Manuele Francesco.
The Almond mouse was perfect and light. The banana and raspberry dessert was gooey and moist, the sauce gave the perfect tartness.
The perfect way to end a wonderful evening is with more chatter and delicious chocolates.
I am really not sure how the four hours went by so quickly but I felt like I had been on a wonderful journey through Sicily with friends.
I had a truly wonderful evening and I really cannot recommend Evoluzione Restaurant enough, I have eaten in lots of Italian restaurants in London and this scores incredibly highly.
From £65 per person; you can't go wrong, you get a welcome aperitif, a dedicated show-cooking and a wonderfully authentic chef meal.
The next Guest Chef event at Hotel Xenia is on Tuesday 21st April 2015. To see other dates check out below.
Hotel Xenia translates to hospitality and it is certainly true, I will definitely be going back. Banish the soulless London hotel stays and book yourself a luxury stay at Hotel Xenia to create the perfect weekend break.
Future Guest Chef Events:
21st April Mario Demuro Basilicata
26th May Teresa Buongiorno Puglia
24th June Luca Collami Liguria
14th July Andrea Incerti Emilia- Romagna
8th September Donato Episcopo Veneto
21st October Paolo Barrale Campania
25th November Stefano Masanti Lombardia
Thank you very much to Hotel Xenia and Evoluzione restaurant for a wonderful meal. My meal was complimentary for the purposes of a review, but this is an honest and fair reflection of the wonderful restaurant and my meal.