As the unexpectedly summery summer turns to drizzly miserable autumn we inevitably yearn for the hearty comfort food we ate at home as children
As the unexpectedly summery summer turns to drizzly miserable autumn we inevitably yearn for the hearty comfort food we ate at home as children. Such dishes – often served with a good dollop of nostalgia – have been enjoyed by generations of diners with very little variation, so playing with fireside fare recipes is a delicate business.
Therefore I was relieved when sampling the food of Marylebone’s latest culinary addition: Dieci. Head chef Cristian Gaimarri used bold flavours prepared with the passion becoming of a man eager not just to indulge the patron but to represent a proud gastronomic heritage.
Pictured above: Fillet of venison served with polenta Taragna style and juniper sauce
This was epitomised by the stand-out dish Tortellini Marubini, simple pasta encasing tender beef, pork and veal, cooked in its own consommé and offset by a hint of saffron. It had a deep, rich and wholesome flavour and what’s more it evoked the warm, comforting feeling of a home Christmas, perhaps not surprising given the recipe was 500 years old.
Fine dining often defines itself by putting sophistication over pragmatism. This is all well and good for those dining purely for association, however, there is a growing demand for simplicity on the plate as the nights draw in.
Pictured above: Almond tart
It takes courage to present dishes that are time honoured; the recipes need to be respected and diners will inevitably expect the dish to be a certain way – the way they remember it from their grandmother’s kitchen. As an ambassador for rustic northern Italian cuisine Gaimarri doesn’t hide behind fusion or complex over statement and the food is better for it.
The experimental escapades of many modern chefs have attracted their fair share of column inches and curious diners. While such menus are glorious distraction celebrating the power of the kitchen to reinvent, the contrast they provide throws fresh light on cuisine we consider homely and take personally.
Speaking with Gaimarri, his sense of mission and place was clear. When cooking recipes from his native Ceroma Gaimarri was cooking ‘from the heart’. His heartland should be proud.