Evoluzione, London

5.07.2015

No, I have not been to Italy. Before you ask me the question, and yes I do enjoy Italian cuisine. Fair to say I can cook a mean pasta dish. Is there a way for us to experience the Italian flare with no more than a tube ride? Perhaps that is indeed what restaurants can become at times, explorating the journey through food.

Located inside the atrium of hotel Xenia, restaurant Evoluzione is headed by Michelin star awarded Italian chef Andrea Angeletti (don't worry, I've not heard of him before either). From now until the end of the year, Evoluzione is running a series of guest chefs event taking you a gastronomic journey throughout Italy. For our special journey, Chef Demuro Maria took us a culinary journey across his home region of Basilicata with a five course dinner paired with wine.

Greco Mater DOC, "Le Paglie" Cantine Cerrolongo, Italy 2014

Primitivo Matera DOC, "Akratos" Cantine Cerrolongo, Italy 2012

Caprese by the glass

Augbergine Frittella in Paper Surprise

Sphere of Swordfish

We were greeted with wine and canapés upon arrival with an added glamour of a pianist playing in the background. "Le Paglie" and "Akratos" was non stop flowing, personally I did not like neither of the wine. Caprese is a Italian salad composed of tomato, mozzarella and basil resembling the colours of the Italian flag. In a way, it tasted like the topping of a tomato pizza minus the base. Inside the paper surprise revealed an aubergine croquette which was moreish. Sphere of swordfish was not bad despite the fish was a bit overcooked and the tomato sauce accompanied nicely.

Tasting Menu

Bread Selection

As we eagerly waited for the culinary journey to start, we had some bread to nibbled on. Firstly, no butter nor olive oil. Were we supposed eat the bread on its own? No idea. Secondly, it wasn't good. It was cold and dry. You can judge how good a meal will be by their bread, saying so my expectation immediately lowered a lot. As for the menu, it doesn't give you much clue to the meal.

Evolution of Traditional Pasta Cozze E Fagioli

Greco DOCG, L'Ariella, Vinosia Italy 2013

Soon, amuse bouche of evolution of traditional pasta cozze e fagioli was served. This was totally not what I had in my mind. The presentation is a representation of the sea (froth) and the land (purée of beans made with 22 different kinds of beans) from the region of Basilicata. Admittedly, chef Mario Demuro explained Italian would not cook or eat pasta like this. This was to flow with the evolution of modern cooking. I thought this was weird and confusing the dish, foam with a hint mussels flavour and a bean purée. Very bland and no texture. In all seriousness, not all food can be modernised. Paired with a fine wine of Greco DOCG, "L'Ariella" Vinosia, Italy 2013.

The Potato Lays The Egg

Very intriguing name of the dish, the potato lays the egg. A thick slices of potato hollowed out in the middle top with a yolk encrusted with crispy porcini, when cut into it the yolk oozes out. Sat underneath is a cheese and cauliflower sauce made with Caclocavallo cheese, a speciality cheese from Chef's home region. The dish has a few different textures with a strong flavoured cheese thin, for me it doesn't shine at all and it was a first to see a slab of potato as a centre piece of a dish. Paired with Rosato d'Aglianico IGT, Vinosia Italy 2013, which was surprisingly good.

Cream of Broad Beans

Initially I thought this was going be a soup from the name of the dish, cream of broad beans. It's a pasta dish with broad beans purée, drizzled with chicory pesto and topped with pine nuts(?), breadcrumbs(?) and crushed Crusco peppers. The pasta itself is very good (al dente), beans purée doesn't seem to be a good sauce base since it can be bland. I would just skip the purée and have the pasta with the pesto and the other crispy elements which definitely would be a tasty dish. It was again paired with Rosato d'Aglianico IGT, Vinosia Italy 2013, normally rosé is not a wine choice I would make at a meal but it is a change for once.

Lamb Chop

Where do I even begin, beside dessert this was the most sounding dish. Lamb chop stuffed and wrapped with pancetta, tasty, moist in the middle but a bit dry around the edge. I didn't like the spinach flan, it has the right texture but it feels wrong to be a flavour of spinach and to be on this dish when probably it would have been a better accompaniment to have spinach itself. It tasted very eggy, not much spinach coming through. The vegetable Macedonia although it lacks excitement but was cooked well. Supposedly it had an Aglianico reduction, I didn't really get much of it on my plate. It was paired with Aglianico del Vulture DOCG Riserva, Caselle Cantine D'Angelo, Italy 2007 which again was average.

The Soil..

This was the best dish of the night. Brownies crumbled into pieces sitting like soil, with strawberries sorbet, lemon, meringue and edible flowers scattered on top. The brownies was more of a cakey texture than to the chewy texture that I like and it wasn't too sweet. I would have preferred the brownie as a whole rather than crumbled, I still polished the dish off at the end. Paired wonderfully with Greco di Bianco DOP, Ceratti, Italy 2007, this was my favourite wine of the night. A dessert wine made by partially dried grape.

Chef Mario Demuro

The Team

Chef Mario Demuro appeared between each courses to explain the idea and story behind each dish. You can feel the love he has for his home region, his passion for food and his dedication to cooking. At one stage he even showcased a masterclass on pasta making, shamed that I was seated at the back so I was unable to acknowledge the skill. All wines drank on the night was from the Basilicata region of Italy and so are most of the speciality ingredients.

Overall, the tasting menu was quite disappointing. Nothing surprised me and honestly I like traditional Italian more than the so called modern Italian cooking. It doesn't showcase the fantastic food of Italy, losing the flavour of wonderful Italian ingredients. It was a great evening hosted by Zomato and Evoluzonie. What's more important was the interests of food shared by the bloggers which made it a fantastic night. Thank you.

Score Rating: 2.5/5
Price: £65/person for the guest chef event

I was invited by Zomato as part of the #zomatomeetup bloggers event.

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http://www.hotelxenia.co.uk/evoluzione.html

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