383 King's Road
0207 349 8111
Date of Last Visit: Thursday, September 13, 2007
The Background: Have you read my About page? The page where I say I don't accept free gifts? Well, I am a liar. A big one. Sister Virginia Maria would be very unhappy with me right now.
Because I have accepted free gifts. Two of them. One, a wonderful tour of Borough Market with Celia Brooks Brown, sponsored by the London restaurant review site, Trusted Places. The other, a fabulous dinner at Osteria dell Arancio the other night, sponsored by San Lorenzo.
San Lorenzo makes all sorts of delicious things…like risotto…and porcini mushrooms…and wine! And they are very Web 2.0 in that they are looking to build their business via social networking. And Osteria dell Arancio? Well, it's just enough off the King's Road to make it somewhat normal. And it's just a friendly and fun place.
So see…the Web 2.0 bit is why I don't feel so bad about accepting this free gift. It's because I follow Sara. I read her blog. I've met her in person. (That's her in the photo above, along with her colleague.) It's like a friend inviting you to dinner and paying for everything!
The Entrance: I am LATE. Late, late late. Like AN HOUR late. I am NEVER late. I am always early. (German and very serious about time. Not in a serious serious way, but well, if sometimes starts at 9, I am there at 8:50. That's just it.) But to make a very long story short, I've been waiting for my new bank card, and apparently, I don't exist, so they've been having trouble finding me. So I am stuck placing the UMPTEENTH call to my bank and to the courier, trying to get them organized. I think I'm successful, but I learn on Friday that I've failed. Sigh. You know, in America, they just mail you your card.
But the folks at Osteria dell'Arancio are very happy to see me. I arrive just in time for the rice tasting (Yes, who would have thunk it! We have a rice tasting, and I can truly say that not all rice is created–or cooked–equal.) The only thing that would have made the rice tasting better was little sample bags to take home with me. Because now I totally want to make myself some risotto. (Yes, yes! Can you believe it? Me, who doesn't cook!)
The Starters: After the rice tasting (I'm now in love with Carnaroli), we head downstairs to dinner. We start out with two risottos…a porcini and a radicchio. Now normally, I don't like risotto. It's like wet rice. Nothing exciting.
But that's because, apparently, all the risotto I've ever had before has been CRAP. Because I can honestly say that it's one of the best darn things I've ever eaten. Really, it was lovely and creamy and rich and exciting–not monotonous. I think that's the best word I can use to describe how I normally feel about risotto…it's normally pretty monotonous…to me anyhow.
The Main: It's chocolate cake! No, I'm a liar. It's DUCK PIE! But it looks a heck of a lot like chocolate cake. I'm serious. Check it out. And feel awful that you can only appreciate its deliciousness virtually. Because this dish was so unique and different and interesting and fun. It was made with black risotto! On the downside, it was super-rich and heavy so I started worrying about having room for…
The Dessert! It's rice pudding! But it's not. It's cheesecake. But no, it only tastes like cheesecake. Because I don't believe there's any cheese involved. (Another suggestion for Sara re: how to do these events next time…GIVE US THE RECIPES!) It's really good. (And forgive the exposure on these photos…my Digital Macro setting got into a fight with a bottle of Pinot and lost.)
The Verdict: Loved the food. And the company of fellow UK food bloggers and fellow social-networkers. And the venue. And San Lorenzo. And here is the shameless plug–these guys are trying to break into the UK market by way of export…support them. Buy some risotto from them. And some mushrooms. And whatever else catches your fancy. All via mail order. They're nice people.