Lucie Loves... Food // An Italian cookery masterclass with Theo Randall
A small group of us – made up of foodies, including Tiki Chris, a popup chef in the form of A Little Lusciousness - Rosie, travel & lifestyle lifestyle bloggers: Pretty Hungry - Bianca Bridgesand fellow northerner, Heroine in Heels - Laura Hyatt and other lovely folk – met in the bar of Theo’s restaurant, on a quiet Tuesday evening, to sample a few pre-dinner cocktails.
I tried a Fig on Flight ~ home-made fig-infused gin, Maraschino liqueur, Crème de Violette and egg white, and a Martini d’Amalfi ~ home-made lemon-infused vodka, fresh lemon juice, elderflower syrup and limoncello.
I would of gone for a Negroni (which is a bit similar to an Old Fashioned – one of my favourite cocktails…) but I asked the guy behind the bar what he recommended and went with that. It’s good to mix it up every now and again.
When Theo’s masterclass was about to commence, we piled into one of the private dining rooms to learn how to make a decent risotto. I have made many a risotto over the years, but I can’t say whether or not it was any good. I think by the time I’d finished stirring it, I was so hungry that I’d have eaten a small horse…
If you’re interested in learning to cook or know someone who might be, Theo’s Masterclasses cost £250 per person, include a coffee reception, cookery class, wine tasting session and a sit down lunch and are held on selected Saturdays from 11:30am to 4:15pm.
Good risotto starts with the rice, explains Theo. This bag of Carnaroli rice is like the creme de la creme of risotto rice. Wikipedia actually have it down as the “the king of rices.”
He then explains that you should never melt butter in the pan first – as your whole risotto dish will be tainted with the taste of butter. Theo instructs us to use olive oil instead, and then add a few chunks of butter at the very end.
For those of you who like to treat yourself to a new cookbook, check out Theo’s latest offering – his second cookbook: My Simple Italian.
As Theo stirred and stirred, we chatted about other beautiful – yet simple, Italian dishes and seasonal foods – and got really passionate about Polenta (see above pic of Theo stirring!)
Another tip when cooking risotto is to prepare your vegetables/other ingredients before your start cooking. Otherwise, neglecting your rice, while you chop veg, could impact the texture and taste of your risotto. Theo also suggests to parboil your veggies, so that they don’t affect the temperature of your rice as it cooks.
We snacked on these very more-ish chunks of courgette coated in a light tempura batter, as we waited for our bowls of courgette and spinach risotto. The risotto (not pictured as I must have been too hungry by this point to capture a photo and prioritised eating it instead…) was bloody good!
And now for dinner…
Antipasti ~ Cape Sante - Pan-fried Scottish scallops with sage, chilli, anchovies, herbs and vinegar with fried polenta and braised cime di rapa
Primi ~ Ravioli di erbette - Ravioli of mixed greens with sheets ricotta and sage butter
Secondi ~ Arrosto di faraona - Wood-roasted Guinea fowl stuffed with prosciutto di Parma, thyme, lemon zest and mascarpone, on pagnotta bruschetta with new season Italian peas
Dolci ~ Torta Caprese - with toasted almond ice cream
Theo is unmistakably British, but his love of Italian cookery and high-end, rustic cuisine, often leaves people wondering whether he’s actually Italian. He hates formality and pretence. The food we enjoyed was simple and delicious. Fresh and not too fancy. Perfect portion sizes, seasonal ingredients, and presented beautifully. I particularly loved the plates and tea cups at Theo Randall. Yes, I’m a geek for all things dinnerware.
Each course was accompanied by a different wine, and introduced by Head Sommelier, Vittorio Gentile. Hegave us a real taste of Italian wine-making at its best, and sparked off conversations around the table about trips to Italy.
Fancy dining at Theo Randall? They do a two-course set menu from £29 per head and a three-course set menu from £35. Keep an eye out for their special offers.
Words & Photography © Lucie Kerley
Thank you to Theo Randall at InterContinental and Sauce Communications for a fantastic evening. I look forward to coming back.