Talking about Italian Food

Italian cooking is often associated with bold romanticism, saucy and self-indulgent food. Going to an Italian restaurant has (or at least should have) a certain sensuous element to it; an ideal setting is quiet, almost private, dimly lit, along with a good selection of wines and champagnes, faint tasteful music in the background, and the promise of a few unchaste sweets to round off the night. There is nothing worse than ordering, for example, a pasta dish, only to have your expectations destroyed by a tasteless sludge (totally revoking any knowledge of the term 'al dente'), drenched in olive oil and caked in Sainsbury's pesto sauce. Genuine, traditional Italian food is renowned for its rich, qualities. The flavours should be quite simply dancing amongst your palette. Such a reputation has, through time, enthused many a cook and consequently the cuisine is imitated all over the world, but in many cases without much success or verity. A traditional Italian menu can consist of as many as seven courses or parts; antipasto (hot and cold appetisers), primo (or 'First Course', usually incorporating pasta, risotto, gnocchi, polenta or soup), secundo ('Second Course', which is the main dish and often fish or meat, predominantly beef or wild game), contorno ('Side Dish', consisting of vegetables or salad), dolce (the dessert), caffe (coffee, often an espresso) and last but not least the strange term 'ammazzacaffe', which translates literally as 'coffee killer' and is liquor such as limoncello, amaro or grappa. My home business case study is of Prima Donnas, a fine Italian restaurant in the heart of West Wickham, Bromley. This is, according to many Bromley residents, the place to go for Italian fare. The decor of the place is impressive and a lot of time and effort has clearly been pumped into making this restaurant look and feel the part. Tables are set tastefully, the overall ambiance is relaxing, and there is outside seating with overhead awnings in case it happens to rain. The food, importantly, is equally as exquisite, and you can see how such fame and stature has remained so firmly intact. Courses are true to the Italian tradition; pasta is served only as the Primo or 'first course' here, and even the names alone of the main courses make the mouth water! Following a hearty smoked salmon and leek risotto, I chose the 'warm Mediterranean prawns with Tabasco, garlic and greek salad', and it was a truly captivating experience. The prawns were just right - not overcooked, but then not overly rubbery, served in abundance, and with a juicy and charismatically seasoned piquant sauce. The same goes for the salad, fresh with a tasteful hint of vinaigrette. Accordingly (and so it says on the menu), their fish is bought daily, fresh from Hastings. Full up from the two courses, I sadly had to turn down the divine selection of sweets, but enjoying the atmosphere so much I decided to stay for a coffee, followed by an ammazzacaffe. I chose Limoncello, an after dinner digestivo, which was served just as it should be in a small, chilled ceramic glass, cold and biting with citrus flavours. Made from lemon rinds, alcohol, water and sugar, this liquor has a bright yellow tint, and really does aid in letting the food go down.

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About The Author, Dawson Gao