Friday, 3 May 2013

Identità Golose - The Lunch Of A Lifetime

On sunday I was lucky enough to have been invited to attend the self titled "Identità Golose - Lunch of a Lifetime" at The Georgian, the most prestigious of 28 restaurants inside Harrods.
Identità Golose was created by Paolo Marchi, an Italian journalist and all-around 'grande formaggio'. The idea being to showcase the best of Italian cuisine and the talents of various chefs. At the "Lunch of a lifetime", there were 7 chefs, with 13 Michelin stars between them - without doubt the most invisible stars I have ever been in a room with at any one time.

Being an Italian run event, organised by Italians and attended by mainly Italians, it was manic. But then I would expect nothing less.

When I arrived, after battling through floods of tourists all the way up through each soulless floor of Harrods to floor 4, where the restaurant is (strangely you have to go through the children's clothes section to get to it) I wasn't even asked wether I was on the guest-list but instead was just offered a drink, which i was pretty happy about really. Disorganised at it was, I wasn't going to complain about free wine and beer.

So the introductory speeches took place, while I stood uncomfortably and pretended I knew who the hell the man talking was and then before I knew it we were being asked to sit down. I had no idea which of the numerous tables I was supposed to be sat on, so naturally I referred to the sign with a seating plan on. However at this point I had no idea this was incorrect. Great.

The Cerea Brothers demonstrating how they made their dish.
Hoping that Nigel Barden, who was hosting the event and who I was the guest of, was going to be sitting next to me shortly, I made small talk with the (antisocial) people on my table. It was now that I realised Nigel was actually sat on table 1. At this point I was ready to leave but I sat tight as I had a glass of beer, a glass of fizz and now the first white wine of the day infront of me, so I had enough to keep me occupied at least.

As the first cookery demonstration was taking place (each chef showed how they prepared each course before it as brought out) I was ready to drink myself to death, just as something to do. So I was SO PLEASED when a nice lady appeared out of the alcohol induced mist and said "Are you Nigel Bardens guest? Come this way, you are meant to be on table 1". I have never heard a sentence so sweet.

At this point the event turned from a total Itastrophy (Italian Catastrophe) to a great time. I finally had some interesting company and some good conversation.

The first Starter came out - Saffron infused poached egg with courgettes and mussels, cooked by Carlo Cracco. This matched really nicely with the Vermentino DOC from Poggio al Tesoro, although I found the dish a little too clever for it's own good.

Michelin starred Luciano Monosilio - the most Italian
looking Italian chef in the world.
The second dish was much more to my liking; Salted codfish salad with smoked potato mousse by brothers Enrico and Roberto Cerea, along with a delicious Gavi di Gavi from Villa Sparina. A clever but without trying to be a total smart-arse type of dish. Some lovely textures and the wine worked brilliantly with the flavours of the fish.

By this time, it was already coming up to 3pm. The event started at 1pm and we were on course 2 of 7. I had a train to catch at 5, normally leaving yourself 4 hours for lunch would be enough but I was getting nervous.

Luciano Monosilio from Hotel Rex in Rome was responsible for the next course, an absolutely delicious take on Carbonara, using diced pigs cheek. This was the best Carbonara I have eaten by a long way, really delicious. This was paired with Birra Moretti, which Nigel Barden tried to assure everyone during his introduction was because of the beer's unique flavour and nothing to do with the fact that Moretti were one of the sponsors of the event...
To be honest, it did actually work pretty well though.

Next up was was Davide Scabin with 'Pasta Shake', something that I have never come across before. With Davide explaining that the problem with serving pasta to so many people is that the sauce can become sticky as it sits out and loses it's creamyness (the word creamy was used a lot), these plastic tubes with squid ink pasta and roasted peppers in the bottom half and a cup of anchovy sauce and black truffle (truffle was bound to pop up somewhere with this many Michelin chefs around) were served. The idea is that when you are ready to eat, you take out the cup of sauce and pour it over the pasta, put the lid on and shake it!
This worked really well, it was a nicely informal touch to the whole event and it tasted fantastic.

Pasta Shake!
Notice the guy in the red shirt looking on, longingly.
Sadly at this point, I had to leave and get my train, which was a shame as the event had gone from being a total bloody nightmare to being a really fantastic lunch.

The Lunch of a Lifetime looked good, sounded good and mostly tasted good but lacked good organisation and order. I'll book a later train next time...

With any luck, Identità Golose will be returning to London again next year, so it's well worth keeping an eye out for tickets. This year tickets were going for £150, which works out at just over £21 per course, including wine and as much Moretti as you can handle. Not bad value and worth experiencing if you get the opportunity.

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