Thursday, 11 October 2007
San Lorenzo at Osteria dell'Arancio, Chelsea
Just a few words on the very enjoyable wine and cheese tasting evening I was lucky enough to be invited to last night at the Osteria dell'Arancio on Kings Road. San Lorenzo specialise in importing gourmet and artisan Italian produce into the UK - they're kind of the Italian Brindisa, only perhaps not quite as eye-wateringly expensive. And last night a select group of London food bloggers (and those who had been so desperate for a freebie they had filled in the online form on the San Lorenzo website, like me) were treated to an entire meal based around cheese and honey.
Being quite a cheese fan myself, more so free cheese, I once again arrived embarassingly early and immediately started enthusiastically on a very nice Italian champagne - not Prosecco, our hosts were quick to point out, which is inferiorly produced and not the same thing at all. Then once a few hours had passed to allow the Italian guests to arrive fashionably late, we were seated and tried a sample of the 5 cheeses & honeys that were to be incorporated into our meal that evening. These included:
Castelmagno d.o.p, with Forest honey - strong and slightly bitter on the roof of the mouth like a mature cheddar, with a firm texture.
Bagoss and Chestnut Honey - The cheese had a very interesting crumbly texture and a sweet, slightly spicy taste, but the honey was extraordinary. I'd never really paid much attention to the flavour of chestnuts, but this was a minor revelation - it tasted of smoke and autumn leaves. Very seasonal.
Parmigiano Reggiano d.o.p extra aged 36 months and Acacia Honey - Not just any old parmesan, we were quickly told, but one aged for three years, which is quite unusual outside of Italy. Parmesan is apparently still made in the same way today as when it was first invented in something like the 14th century.
Best of all though was something called Testun al Barolo - this was a creamy, complex cheese with a rind covered in pressed grapes. In fact its flavour is so unique it was not paired with a honey at all - and still managed to be my favourite. It's very difficult to describe the taste, as it seemed to give various different flavours in the mouth and as aftertaste, in turns sweet, smokey and spicey. Quite an experience. For a cheese.
The following meal combined a few of the above with, in turn, artichoke salad, risotto, beef fillet and finished with a cake made from the chestnut honey. Sorry for not going into too much detail but after about 5 glasses of the champagne my memory started to fail. I think I enjoyed them though, as I don't remember leaving any on my plate.
So thanks again to the good people at San Lorenzo, particularly Sara, and here's hoping the people of London all get the opportunity to try Testun al Barolo some time soon.