Roman Supper Club

Life has been very busy lately here at Mondomulia, what with attending foodie events, visiting food markets, trying out London restaurants and cafés and testing out new recipes at home! Not to mention, organising two weddings, looking for a new home, participating in running races and, of course, having a full-time job as advertising account manager!

Oh well, I cannot complain, as this is a very exciting time of my life and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for me! Photographing and blogging are stimulating my creativity so much, as well as giving me the opportunity to meet many talented people!

One thing I discovered thanks to my blog, is the “underground world” of supper clubs! I wasn’t convinced at first, but I kept reading positive reviews and curiosity won me over. As you know, I attended Yummy Choo Eats Mauritian Supper Club last month, which didn’t disappoint, and convinced me to attend other clubs!

On Twitter I came to know about the Back Door Kitchen, an Italian duo formed by Roberto (the chef) and Fabio (the photographer) organizing themed supper clubs every month. Among their past events there have been Spanish Tapas dinners and Italian food and wine tastings.

Their next event was a Roman Supper Club; one quick look at the menu and I decided to book the ticket! I was born in the “eternal city” and lived there for 25 years, yet I am not an expert of Roman cuisine. My mum is not originally from Rome and I grew up eating dishes from her hometown Trieste, so I was very curious to taste a Roman menu. Besides, at £25 for a starter, two first courses, three second courses and one dessert, this supper club was a great deal that I simply couldn’t miss!

My fiancé decided not to come, because most of the menu included meat or fish, but actually there was a vegetarian at the dinner, who had a special menu prepared for her – so if you are vegetarian or vegan and feel that this is precluding you from attending a supper club, it’s worth asking the chef first if they can adjust the menu for you! :)

Three of my Italian friends decided to join so it became even more of an Italian night! Fabio, Roberto and Assunta (who has been helping out the Back Door Kitchen team for a few months) greeted us at the door with a complimentary glass of Prosecco. All the other guests had already arrived, in true Italian style we were the last ones to arrive (and also bit late, ooops)!

We started with Carciofi alla Giudìa con crema Cacio e Pepe (deep-fried artichokes with a cream made from traditional Roman cheeses). The fried artichoke is one of the most famous dishes of the Roman Jewish cuisine, while “cacio e pepe” is traditionally a condiment for pasta made of Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper. Roberto merged together the two recipes and added a “cacio e pepe” sauce to the artichokes, which worked out wonderfully.

We then tasted the 1st of the main courses – my favourite dish of the night – Gricia con cipolle caramellate. Roberto made the fettuccine and served them with “guanciale” (Roman pancetta), caramelised red onions and Pecorino Romano cheese. The pasta was cooked “al dente”, which is how the Romans like it! A simple dish without overpowering flavours: just a few good ingredients that work perfectly together.

The 2nd pasta was Gnocchi alla Carbonara di Zucchine (homemade potato and flour gnocchi with a courgette carbonara sauce and saffron). Again, carbonara is a typical dish of the Roman cuisine, which Roberto has re-invented with courgettes (replacing pancetta) and a hint of saffron. I was very impressed that he made the gnocchi, something I’ve only ever seen my grandma doing! Roberto’s gnocchi were big and he makes them this way to hold the cooking better and remain thick (and they don’t crumble in the boiling water).

Italian lunches have several courses and can go on for 4-5 hours, something that fills my Indian fiancé with dread every time! The Back Door Kitchen supper club was true to traditions and lasted more than 4 hours! This is because Roberto cooked everything on the night, to ensure the food was well cooked and hot. As the supper club started at 20:30, we only finished eating after midnight, with some of the guests having to leave for fear of missing the last train home.

As a second course, we had three tastings: Saltimbocca alla Romana; Seppioline ripiene di broccoli ripassati e crema al nero di seppia; Baccalà con crema di ceci, rosmarino e pancetta.

The “saltimbocca alla Romana” are chicken breasts cooked in a white wine sauce with Italian cured ham, mature cheddar and sage. They were my second favourite of the night: the ham wrapped around the chicken makes it very tasty, while the white wine, cheese and sage add extra flavours.

The second tasting was char-grilled squid stuffed with broccoli sautéed with garlic and chilli and a sprinkle of homemade squid ink sauce on top. I don’t like squid very much, but this combination which broccoli cooked with garlic and chilli, which I love, worked well. Another original and successful pairing was the salted cod with chickpea cream, rosemary emulsion, crispy pancetta and toasted bread. it made you want to dip the bread into the cream (aka. fare la scarpetta)!

As usual, I am not satisfied until I eat the dessert, so I was very happy when finally the time came to taste the Crostata con marmellata di arance e limoni, a tart of homemade orange and lemon marmalade. Sweet and sour flavours combined with a buttery and crunchy base, it was so good I helped myself to a second slice!

Such a long and filling meal called for espresso, never mind that it was almost 1am! A good caffè (and ammazzacaffè) is required at the end of a good dinner. And anyway, I needed it to stay awake during the long journey home on London’s night buses! It was a late night, but it was so worth it! I had amazing food, made new friends and, for one night, lived a true Roman experience!

Don’t miss the Back Door Kitchen Food and Wine Pairing event on Sunday 22nd of April.

Read more about The Regional Cuisines Series - Rome on Edible Experiences

My Roman Holiday

Hello! I’m back from a long weekend in Rome, during which I immersed myself fully into the wedding planning, ate a month’s worth of carbs, saw my fiancé complete his first marathon, ran the Roma Fun 4k race, helped my 92-year old grandma make gnocchi and met the fabulous girl behind Un’Americana a Roma blog.

They were busy and eventful days, but also full of fun, love, sunshine and good food!  I started off on Friday with a visit to Villa San Nicola, the chosen venue of my wedding. Located in the outskirts of Rome, it has big gardens and a small lake with ducks and swans. It was a wonderful sunny day and I fell in love with the place!

I also went shopping for wedding favours, which in Italy are called bomboniere and come with sugar-coated almonds called confetti.

In preparation of Sandy’s marathon, we embarked on a “carbs’ marathon” – I felt compelled to support Sandy in this one as well! ;) I had dinner at the Roman bloggers’ favourite hangout place Open Baladin, where you get the best burgers and beers of Rome! On Saturday we went to a typical “trattoria” in Testaccio: Da Bucatino. Of course, I couldn’t leave without tasting their signature dish “Bucatini all’Amatriciana”, an enormous plate of perfectly cooked (“al dente”) bucatini in tomato sauce with bacon (“guanciale”). You even get your own bib, so that you can pitch in your pasta without worrying about dribbling sauce all over your clothes! :)

There was also a lot of homemade food: my mum’s pizza and my grandma’s potato gnocchi!

A Saturday afternoon stroll with my friends in my local neighbourhood of Ostia Lido, meant stopping at the famous Paglia Bar and Bakery. They only do “krapfen”, fried doughnuts filled with custard cream, chocolate or jam, but they are the BEST of Rome! In 30 years, I cannot recall ever seeing the shop without a queue!

Then yesterday it was St. Joseph (Father’s Day in Italy) and to celebrate I bought a tray of Bignè di San Giuseppe. Similar to what in Naples is called “zeppole”, in Rome we have bignè (beignets), choux pastry balls fried or oven cooked and filled with cream. As I didn’t have time to visit the famous Pasticceria Regoli, I bought them from my local bakery, but didn’t miss out a bit: they were heavenly!

More sweets and coffee were of course part of my Roman diet! :)

Finally, it was Marathon Day and I’m happy to report that Sandy completed it in under 4h30′, despite pulling a calf muscle halfway through and injuring his right knee! It was amazing meeting him at several checkpoints along the route, cheering him up together with the rest of “Team Sandy” and even running alongside him for a few meters! I am so proud of him for achieving this incredible result!

See you soon, Rome! I’ll be back in the summer!