Tuscan food fantaics Late July 2021


We were contacted by a couple who had a fascination for Tuscan food. They wanted lamb cooked over fire and came at us enthusiastically with lots of other  ideas and recipes from their travels. The  bride eventiualy managed to curb the grooms and my enthusiasm and after  two years,  including a year postponement due  to covid,  we arrived at a  fabulous,  just about,  achivable in a tent,  menu of  just what they wanted.

The Menu

Canapes of Crescentine  topped while  warm with wafers of Gran pecorino reserve  (from Hamish and Johnston)  Prosciutto style ham made from pigs a mile away from the grooms fathers  fabulous house on the banks of  the river Debden.

I had never hear of Crescentine. Although I think Jamie Oliver has since featured it on one of his shows. The authentic Italian recipe is a pizza type dough made with lard!  rolled flat and then cut into diamonds and (sound hideous but it is not) deep fried!

The result is a light air filled crescent shaped cushion of  loveliness half way between croissant and a pizza.  Pecorino or prosciutto was laid on it while its hot so it melts and becomes a moorish mouthful of taste and texture sensation. Guest were having drinks on the river bank  a 100 yards from  the marquee. So we had to set up a separate cooking station by the river and serve the Crescentine  directly  to guests while they were still warm.

Crab and samphire blinis were cooked freshly in the catering tent  and staff ran them down to guests by the river bank.  Served alongside a  lovely English tomato bruschetta on Crostini’s and wafer thin Italian flat breads the groom had specified,  sourced from a  specialist delicatessen in Wendover.

Starter of Caponata.  Another new one to me, but it will become a regular vegetarian suggestion.  It is  so much more than the aubergine stew it appears to be.  A Sicilian dish of aubergines, tomatoes, raisins, capers and pine nuts with the   sweetness   balanced with red wine vinegar.  As we were cooking in a tent it was one of the rare occasions (and  at the clients suggestion) we cooked it in advance as  often in  Sicily,  it is purposely made the day before and eaten ambient,    to allow the flavours to mingle.  This was served with  the finest burrata available.  An Italian guest told staff it was the nicest Caponata he had ever had.

To accompany the main of  marinated smoked  lamb over charcoaland fruit wood. The couple wanted a fresh courgette salad. We came up with a ceviche courgette pea  garlic  and mint. The courgette  had to be spralised and mixed at the last minute to avoid over curing and going watery. Served  alongside  Chargrilled Broccoli with anchovies and garlic. With  Seabass en papilotte for around 15 Pescatarians and wild mushroom ravioli for  vegans.

We made Espresso Martinis and the client supplied some fabulous yoghurt ice cream from a  family business.

We served a magnificent whole oozing Baron Bigod.  local and now preferred to Grand rustique,  Aged Comte and two Lancashire bombs as a cheese course

 For evening food:  Montanara pizzas: a bit like Crescentine but with a more traditional topping  which brought to an end  a very long but  extraordinary day of food in a fantastic  setting with lovely guests,  some,  that well known  in  their creative  professions it  made our staff speechless!