Dining Fables video from Caldesi In Campagna in Bray
Italian cuisine is one of the most beloved and widely appreciated cuisines across the globe, and for a good reason. From classic dishes like pasta and pizza to lesser-known dishes, Italian cuisine is a force to be reckoned with. However, finding authentic Italian food in the UK can be a challenge at times, with many Italian restaurants serving Americanized versions of traditional dishes.
At Caldesi in Campagna, located in Bray, the UK, run by the local legend, prolific cookbook writer, and TV chef Giancarlo Caldesi, diners can expect authenticity and creativity to come together in perfect harmony. The restaurant boasts a menu filled with authentic Italian dishes, made using traditional ingredients and techniques, offering diners a truly unique and memorable dining experience.
The meal at Caldesi's starts with a selection of homemade bread, including rosemary focaccia, parmesan grissini, and simple brown bread. The focaccia, with its soft pillowy texture and bold rosemary flavor, was a standout, but it was the parmesan grissini that truly stole the show. These thin and crispy breadsticks were loaded with the rich nutty flavor of Parmesan cheese, making them a perfect accompaniment to the flavorful antipasti that followed.
The antipasti course featured the carpaccio of marinated beef fillet with mustard lemon dressing, rocket, and Parmesan shavings. The quality of the beef was impressive, with the fillet incredibly tender and melting in the mouth. The mustard and lemon dressing added just the right amount of tang and zing, without overpowering the subtle flavor of the beef. The rocket and Parmesan shavings provided a bit of bite and an extra peppery flavor to round out the dish. The dish was a feast for the eyes as well, with the thin slices of beef arranged with care and the mustard and lemon dressing drizzled over the top with an elegant swirling pattern.
One of the highlights of the meal was the surprise amuse-bouche, arancini, made from porcini mushrooms and pecorino cheese served on a bed of creamy celeriac puree and flaked almonds on the side. Arancini is made by turning risotto into a ball, stuffing it with cheese, and then rolling it in a breadcrumb coating before deep-frying. The nuttiness of the almonds and the earthy robustness of the porcini mushrooms complemented each other, with the celeriac puree adding a smooth velvety texture that rounded out the dish. It was a perfect example of how creativity and authenticity can come together to create a unique and memorable dish.
As someone who loves sea bass and pasta, I was intrigued to see how these two flavors would come together. Upon receiving the dish, I was immediately struck by the vibrant colors - bright yellows, pops of red from the tomatoes, and flashes of green from the herbs - which made for a stunning presentation.
The ravioli itself was freshly made, with a tender texture and filling that was carefully incorporated to create a seamless and delicious bite. I was pleased to learn from my server that this dish is always made fresh on the day and cooked to order, arriving at the table in peak pasta perfection. The use of sea bass in the ravioli was a stroke of genius, as its subtle flavor elevated the dish beyond many pasta dishes I've had in the past.
Lastly, the lemon butter sauce was a standout element of the dish. It was crafted to add a delicious brightness without overpowering the delicate sea bass flavors. The balance of tangy lemon and rich butter created a sauce that felt both light and fresh, yet indulgent and extravagant. Overall, I highly recommend trying the sea bass ravioli at this restaurant - it's a unique and memorable pasta dish that's sure to impress.
or the main course, I opted for the lamb two ways - slow-cooked shoulder and herb crust cutlet, served with carrot cream and potato cake. The lamb cutlet was cooked to perfection, with a herb crumb that added an irresistible crunch. The slow-cooked shoulder of lamb was the real showstopper, having been cooked for seven and a half hours with bones and fat intact to intensify the flavour. The meat was incredibly tender and flavourful, and the fat almost dissolved on the tongue. The potato cake and carrot puree added an extra layer of texture and contrast to the dish, making it a well-balanced and delicious meal.
Giancarlo and head chef Gregoria's knowledge and experience were evident in the quality of the lamb dishes. The slow-cooking process and the herb crust on the cutlet elevated the lamb to new heights. The potato cake, similar to the French Dauphinoise potatoes, added richness and texture to the plate, while the sweet and velvety carrot puree provided a contrast to the bold flavours of the lamb. Overall, the dish was well-balanced and delicious, and a true testament to the expertise of the restaurant's culinary team.
In conclusion, Caldesi in Campagna offers diners a truly unique and memorable dining experience. The restaurant's commitment to authenticity and creativity shines through in each dish, making it a must-visit destination for anyone who appreciates traditional Italian cuisine. From the homemade bread to the flavorful antipasti, every dish at Caldesi's is made with care and attention to detail, ensuring that diners leave feeling satisfied and content. So, the next time you're in the UK, be sure to make a reservation at Caldesi in Campagna for a truly unforgettable culinary experience.
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