This year like never before, London is one of the most popular destinations for Italian tourists. The recent Olympic games have made it a place to rediscover, with tourists straying far from the beaten path that we all know. I must admit that I’m not immune to the charm of the British capital and I spent three days touring areas that aren’t on the usual tourist check list. I was on a quest to find Italian excellence. And London turned out to be the perfect place to find it. The city is home to about 100,000 Italians, including students, workers and expats who bring their families with them.
The Baglioni Hotel London in Hyde Park was my home base for this stay and my gorgeous room was literally my Italian refuge during my British escapades.
I was able to meet and chat with Antonio Bufi, head chef at the Moreno at Baglioni, the premier foreign restaurant of the great chef, Moreno Cedroni, which has opened its doors to the London public on 22 October. As Antonio explained, the dishes served are typically Italian and Marche with Moreno’s avant-garde twist. Classic dishes that are full of emotion and Italianism. From tempura scallops to cuttlefish with clams and courgettes, tortellini with liquid parmesan with a balsamic tomato and tartar jelly. There is also a special focus on fish carpaccio.
Chef Bufi assists the executive chef at the Andrea Vercelli hotel and his very Italian kitchen staff.
During our chat, I was able to get some advice on where to find authentic made in Italy products in this cosmopolitan metropolis and this is when our Italian tour really took off.
We travelled just a few hundred feet to the Whole Foods in Kensington. Whole Foods is an American supermarket that is a paradise for food lovers. It mostly sells natural and organic products. You can find everything here from bread to meat, wine to artisan beer. And it is on the shelves of this mouth-watering shop that we find a lot of Italian products, particularly in the cheese case, one of the most popular products in the world. It’s here that our glorious gorgonzola DOP, parmigiano reggiano and even an aged asiago take center stage amidst a sea of cheddars and stiltons. There is also an excellent selection of Italian wines in the wine section on the ground floor with Veneto and Piedmont varietals at the top of the list. (Whole Foods Kensington – 63-97 Kensington High Street ).
Next we leave Kensington to make our way to Notting Hill and Pescheria Mattiucci, a real fish boutique as it’s described by its owners. Opened in one of the most emblematic neighborhoods of London, with sister sales points in Milan and Naples, the fish shop owed by brothers Luigi and Gennaro offers Londoners a real taste of the fish caught every day in Southern Italy twelve hours away from the Mediterranean on the tables of the Anglo-Saxon capital. Not only is the fish fresh but there are culinary treats to recreate a true Neapolitan atmosphere in British homes. (Pescheria Mattiucci – 8 Blenheim Crescent).