When I went out on Thursday night to celebrate the 160th birthday of the Cirio tomatoes brand with Antonio Carluccio, I didn’t expect to end the evening with him giving my bump a crafty pat. Some pregnant women have that kind of thing happen to them all the time (not necessarily courtesy of Carluccio) but I’ve only had someone grope my bump once, and that was an incredibly drunk woman at a Manic Street Preachers concert.
I won’t say I was entirely happy about it, but he was a friendly chap apart from that, and even had his photo taken “with the two of us”, so I’ll let this one slip.
In case you hadn’t guessed, this wasn’t an evening just with Antonio Carluccio and me, but a press event for Cirio tomatoes. I am a big fan of the brand already as they sell passata in small cartons which are perfect for using to spread as a tomato base for homemade pizza, without any wastage. My blogging friends have also raved about the high quality of their tinned tomatoes, although I have never tried them (I want to now though). Antonio Carluccio confirmed that they are the only brand he has ever worked with, because he has enjoyed Cirio tomatoes since his days in Italy.
Carluccio gave us a cookery lesson on the evening by cooking two very simple dishes for us: first up was Pappa al Pomodoro, which is a dish of stale bread, tomatoes, olive oil, stock and basil, cooked until soft and then chilled and served with more olive oil and basil.
His second dish was mussels cooked with tomatoes, garlic and wine, and served with olive bread.
I tried the Pappa al Pomodoro, doubting how much I’d like it, but it was delicious and refreshing and I actually went back to swipe a second portion (I blamed the bump)! I didn’t want to risk trying the mussels due to my pregnancy but I must say they smelt delicious, and I heard several of the other guests raving about them.
After our cookery lesson, Carluccio indulged us with a Q&A session. Although I hadn’t a question in mind for him, when someone else asked about the impact of Italian food culture on the UK, I couldn’t resist asking him what his favourite British food is. I would not have guessed he would choose a bacon roll, but that is apparently his favourite dish. However, he then started waxing lyrical about other British classics including steak and kidney pudding and our wild game.
Overall I had a lovely evening and can’t wait to use the Cirio products to recreate the Pappa al Pomodoro at home. I love simple dishes which taste great and this was no exception – it should be perfect for one of our meat free Monday meals.
For the rest of this week, which is the start of my maternity leave (yay, I finished at work with a lovely meal with some of my colleagues) I am intending to spend some time filling the freezer and cooking healthy and nutritious meals we can enjoy al fresco in our garden, which has finally been finished (photos to follow as soon as we sort out the plants).
My plan for meals this week is as follows:
- Monday – Simon Hopkinson’s cheese pie with salad
- Tuesday – plaice with lemon and capers, courgette and potato cakes
- Wednesday – venison meatballs with tomato pasta
- Thursday – as long as I am feeling mobile enough I have another press event to attend, with Youngs fish
The weekend is TBC as it’s Andrew’s birthday next week and we want to celebrate, but where and how depends somewhat on whether our little one decides to make an appearance …
Here’s a picture of our first al fresco breakfast this morning: