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London Underground Restaurant #9 - Cucina Cinzia

Cucina Cinzia

Few if any Supper Clubs can boast a chef especially flown in from Italy, their suitcase loaded with local produce and an inexhaustible enthusiasm for their regional cuisine. That is what is on offer at this innovative partnership between the delightful Jill and chef Cinzia of
Florence, Tuscany.

Last Saturday, Dr G and I headed to well-heeled Fulham for the first supper club evening of Cucina Cinzia. We had a real sense of excitement; being their first event, it was hard to know what to expect.
We arrived at the elegant home of Jill, an American who has lived in London for the last 11 years with her husband and two children. First impressions were good – we were soon welcomed into Jill’s beautiful family home, offered a glass of Prosecco and personally introduced to
each of the other guests.
It felt as if we were taking part in an old friend’s dinner party, such was Jill’s personal welcome, except that we did not know any of the guests or the host!

Cinzia joined us in the living room where we were served the “Stuzzichini” (or aperitifs). These were dainty cheese pizze and parmesan cheese straws; they tasted fresh and delicious and were the perfect accompaniment to our Prosecco.

Cinzia speaks little English, but her enthusiasm to communicate goes beyond any language barriers. Being half-Italian, I learnt a little about the language from my grandmother and more recently in Genoa as part of my
Business and Italian degree. I loved being an Erasmus student there
despite carelessly blowing my whole year’s budget in about 3 months
eating out. It didn’t bode well for a career in Finance…

I put my rusty Italian to some good use. Despite my faltering grammar I was soon chatting to Cinzia about Tuscany, her passion for food (she greatly admires Japanese food), her beloved Tuscan cuisine, and about the dishes we were about to sample that evening. Her enthusiasm was contagious.

We were then served our antipasti “Tris di Crostini” – a trio of Crostini Toscani (made from chicken livers), Leek & Gorgonzola Crostini, and Dittini di Mousse al Finocchiona. The latter, and my favourite of the three, was a delicate pastry filled with a mousse made from Finocchiona.

Finocchiona is a cured Tuscan salami, marbled with fat and flavoured with wild fennel seeds. It is aged between 5 and 12 months, and is made of 50% lean meat (pork belly & shoulders) and 50% fat (pig cheeks). The
flavour of this salami was intense and utterly delicious, and it worked
remarkably well in the mousse and pastry.

Our next course was “Zuppa di Farro” (Spelt Soup with Cannelini beans and Leeks) – I was initially intrigued by this dish but was pleasantly surprised by how creamy and delicately flavoured it was. It was a deliciously hearty soup with the cannelini
beans and fried bacon giving it a real lift. I loved the delicate but
wholesome flavours of this soup.

Pennette al Frantoio di Marco” was served next. The pennette pasta was accompanied by a delicious sauce made with olives from the grove of Cinzia’s brother-in-law Marco. We were also offered some highly concentrated olive oil to drizzle over
our pasta. This had also been pressed from olives at Marco’s grove.

This was one of the simplest but also one of the most sensational dishes of the evening – it encapsulates what for me is the essence of Italian food – the very best ingredients cooked in the simplest possible way.

A gorgeously decorated platter of “Frutta Fresca” (fresh fruit) was served prior to dessert and worked well as a palate cleanser.

Torta di Ricotta e Pinoli” (ricotta and pine nut cake) was served with “Mousse al Caffe”. The cake was deliciously moist and creamy. This was also a clever combination as the delicate sweetness of the ricotta cake contrasted well with the light and slightly bitter flavour from the espresso

I felt privileged to have experienced Cinzia’s cooking, Jill’s generous hospitality and the company of some very charming diners. Cucina Cinzia is a real gem of a supper club, and one that I am certain will be
over-subscribed in no time.

Verdict – One of a kind, I cannot think of any other supper clubs offering such authentic and delicious Tuscan dishes as Cucina Cinzia. For real Italian food in London this is definitely the place to go. A great
addition to the underground dining scene in London. Highly recommended.

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