February’s favourites: 5 Ramen bars in London I love

It’s been a while since I thought about writing a post about the best ramen bars in London and whoever read my post in the previous months, knows how I was dedicated at finding the best place in town that could satisfy my ramen craving here in this cold part of Europe.

Aware of the fact that London is full Japanese restaurants and the ramen fashion is rapidly picking up, I decided to visit the most popular ramen bars in town. After careful consideration (as those many rejection email I’m receiving start) I decided to briefly describe my personal favourite places, ranking them for a precise feature that makes their product stand out.

For first starters: Shoryu Ramen. This is the first place where I had the chance to eat ramen in London after my sublime foodie experience in Japan. The Origin Tonkotsu has a pretty well balanced harmony of flavour between the the broth and the toppings. A nice place to start your ramen appreciation. Unfortunately I don’t have a review for Shoryu, because I went there before I started this blog. However I still remember a pleasant experience.

For broth: Ippudo. A bowl of ramen without the perfect broth would just be pointless (see instant ramen cups) Here the broth is creamy and milky as it’s supposed to be after pork bones are violently boiled for 20 hours and release their collagen. Taste is meaty, satisfying, but at the same time it’s almost sweet,  “clean” I would define it, meaning it does not leave a strong greasy aftertaste in your mouth. Read my complete review here.

Ippudo

Shiromaru Hakata Classic @Ippudo

For noodles: Tonkotsu. These guys make their noodles on the premises thanks to their Japanese noodle machine and the use of local ingredients (let’s not forget the research for the perfect alkaline salted water) that perfectly abide by the original recipe. I love their tsukemen noodle so much for their “bite”. Unfortunately they are available only at their Tonkotsu East location. Read my complete review here.

Detail of the noodles.

Noodles for Tsukemen @ Tonkotsu East

For the marinated soft boiled egg: Kanada-ya. Ok, I know, you think I am kidding right? Simply, I’m not. Everybody who had the chance to try a real bowl of ramen (no, the instant one you had in college don’t count) know how extremely important the egg is to the whole flavour of the recipe. It has to be still runny, so the yolk mixes a bit with the soup, and white should have nicely absorbed the soy sauce overnight or more. In other words it should be a concentrate of Umami. Kanada-ya’s egg was absolute perfection, but unfortunately it comes with an additional price of £2. This is not a deterrent to hungry customers, because it seems to sell out very quickly. Read my complete review here.

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Kanada ya. That egg over there is to die for.

For strong flavours: Bone Daddies. Considering that when on a diet, ramen in general might not be the best choice for your calorie count, Bone Daddies’ speciality requires customers who want enjoy the full flavour experience and preferably without any sense of guilt after eating. Rich (or fatty maybe?) and intense broth, contrasting aromas and different textures in just one dish. Read my complete review here.

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@Bone Daddies

The winner or should I say winners

I think it depends on the occasion and the the atmosphere I’d like to give to my meal. In fact I would definitely choose Ippudo for a girls’ night out both because the place looks a bit fancier than the other ramen bars and because the broth base has an authentic flavour, but at the same time it tastes clean, not greasy at all.

However if I wanted a foodie date without frills or a highly satisfying solo lunch experience I would definitely choose Bone Daddies’ insanely rich Tonkotsu ramen.
What about you guys, have you visited any of these five places?

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Bone Daddies ramen bar, London: my review

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This place was on my list of ramen to try (see my idea here) since I read a while ago that Jonathan Ross crowned it as the best ramen bar in town. Well, considering that Bone Daddies’ director, Ross Shonan, is the former executive chef from Nobu and Zuma the success is assured.

I know, I’m always late and I should have visited Bone Daddies at that time, but I somehow trusted Jonathan Ross’ opinion as a connoisseur of Japan and its culture, so I left it on my list as the last one to try. Needless to mention how high my expectations had grown in the meantime. Finally, one freezing Friday of January I had the chance to verify if Bone Daddies’ ramen actually were the best noodle in town.

The downside of popular places is they are always packed with people, especially on Friday nights, so it can’t be helped but joining the long queue outside. Waiting is never pleasant, but in this case it was also painful considering the sub-zero temperature of the night. Anyway the staff managed brilliantly by offering us hot sake shots. Nice move, Bone Daddies, nice move.

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Can you spot me?

Finally our turn to get in. The interior is characterised by bold red and white walls decorated by Japanese rockabilly subculture related prints, the main theme of this ramen bar.

Unfortunately the dim lights affected the quality of the pictures I took, therefore thanks to this photo belonging to The Guardian, you can see what the place looks like in a natural light and without people.

 

Credits: The Guardian

Materials used are wood and steel, in line with the latest tendencies for places that target young professionals and creatives as their bracket of customers.

Packed.

Packed.

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We were seated next to a group of Korean girls that I shamelessly spied, to grasp the secret of holding the chopsticks correctly. Yes after studying Japan, its culture, after being to Japan twice, after having Japanese friend I talk to all the time, after cooking Japanese food at home, when it comes to ramen I still have problems managing my noodles not to slip off my chopsticks. Unfortunately the secret is not really a secret, it’s just practice.

We chose to order a classic ramen and a popular one, in order to see how the place interprets a standard and well known (among the Japanese food aficionados) recipe and how the same staff uses their creativity to innovate their noodle dish, to make it trendy, to make it viral as they say. According to this personal point of view we chose a Tonkotsu ramen, the classic one with its 20 hour pork bone broth, chashu pork and marinated soft boiled egg. As for popular dish we got a T22 with chicken bone broth, soy ramen, chicken and cock scratchings which seem to be pretty popular on reviews around the internet.

While waiting for the order to be ready, I looked around and I noticed behind me some shelves with sake on the top one and homemade shochu on the bottom one. Surely cherry and lemongrass and lime shochu are not really traditional flavour choices, so I think Bone Daddies’ staff should be acknowledged for their creativity and their will to experiment.

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Cherry Shochu

Cherry Shochu and lemongrass and lime at the left.

A shiny plastic thing folded in a decorated steel glass immediately caught my eye. I was a giant plastic bib with Bone Daddies logo on it. Usually ramen bars in Japan provide their customers with these bib to protect their clothes from splashes of broth, so everyone can enjoy their noodles without bending their back weirdly and awkwardly. Yes that’s what I normally do here in London when I go out for ramen.

Da bib!

Da bib!

So the bib thing brought me immediately back to Japan,  because it means authenticity, and I give you kudos for this, Bone Daddies!

Enough is enough, let’s go straight with the main dish, shall we?

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My Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkotsu ramen – I admit the first taste of the broth left me a bit puzzled because it wasn’t piping hot to the point of burning the tip of the tongue, leaving it numb. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it, but this means the soup would turn cold in no time. Aside from the temperature, the flavour was rich, full with almost creamy texture given by the collagen of the pork bones. I usually am a bit fussy with this kind of broth because as soon as my tastebuds touch it I know if I’m really going to digest it. It’s just a sensation, in fact if it leaves a greasy feeling in my mouth it’s a no-no. This time the broth passed the exam and exactly as I predicted I had no problem digesting it. The noodles were thin but with a nice bite and both the pork and eggs were perfect and full of flavour.

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T22

 

T22

T22

T22 – This dish was different, that’s why G and I chose it. The broth was lighter, more transparent than pork one, but in order to contrast the delicate flavour I could taste a strong sesame oil, soy sauce and some chili pepper in the back ground. As for the toppings, the famous cock scratchings (every time I say it I chuckle a bit), they added crunch and texture to the dish.

My vote: 8.5.A satisfying interpretation of a classic recipe and a nice attempt to convey creativity into something new, younger and fresher. I don’t feel like giving a higher vote because I would have preferred the broth a little bit hotter, but this is really a minor flaw. What really matters is flavour and I can assure you won’t be disappointed with that. Is Bone Daddies really the best ramen bar in town? Maybe, but I believe it’s still a draw with Ippudo in my opinion, in my opinion even though the two differ in various aspects of the preparation.

I will tell you more in my next post about the 5 places to eat ramen in London.

Stay tuned!

Bone Daddies Ramen Bar 31 Peter St, London W1F 0AR 

My happy moments from 2014, New Year’s resolutions and snow

The Snow Queen Milla.

The Snow Queen Milla.

It’s snowing from yesterday. Italy, the land of the sun around here looks pretty much like Winterfell, but I’m not Arya Stark even though I got her short hair and her surly attitude.

town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy

Town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy.

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Quite a lot of snow I would say.

Milla, my 9 year old cocker spaniel is snoring at my feet enjoying her cozy blanket. I guess in a perfect wintery scenario the only things that are missing in the picture are the sound of crackling fire and a hot chocolate with marshmallow. Too bad I don’t have either of them, but I can fake it with the virtual fireplace sound on a 5 hour long youtube video and a Nutella jar.

Usually the end of December leads to make new resolutions for the next year, but they almost never work, at least for me, like the classic losing weight, or spending less money on unnecessary stuff. Because let’s face it, these two are the hardest promises to keep for a woman, am I right?

The last couple of months have been really tough on both G and I, so there’s not as much enthusiasm to start a new year as the previous New Year’s Eves. However, I feel it’s necessary not to give up to negativity, so the one and only resolution I am making for 2015 and my future as well, is to work really hard on myself in order to start finding happiness in every little thing.

2015 will be a year of change and I know it for sure. It’s not just the holidays’ atmosphere to do the talking, but the recent circumstances that are pushing me to do something, more like a make it or break it kind of situation.

I like to keep this blog as a drama free place, so I want to start my important resolution from here.

As you might have previously read on The Weird Frittata, every month I like to write a chart/bucket list of products/places I loved and recommend. This time it’s different, because I’m going to write what made me happy during 2014 even what it looks like to be negative, because I want to believe there is a bright side in everything.

So, here it is:

  • The early months of 2014 spent at home in Italy with my family. Even the unemployment has its own bright side, because I could treasure every moment with my parents and relatives (you know, Italian families are quite big). I had the wonderful experience of reconnecting with my family and enjoy my Nonna’s cooking, which I tried to recreate and practice as much as I could. Needless to say that her special recipes will always be in my heart for ever.
  • Moving back to the UK. This time I discovered London from a new perspective experimenting with ethnic restaurants, discovering new recipes and hipster places, just what I needed after a long Italian winter. This rediscovery made me realise how much I love food and the industry that gravitates around it, to the point that I would like to blend in and be part of it. Even though I’m thankful to London for each life experience I had, my love-hate relationship with this city keeps going on, and I’m afraid it’s not going to last that long. It’s like when you get back with your ex and you know that after the initial happiness the old problems will rise again. In fact, here I am again in a “It’s not you, it’s me”, kind of phase and I am grateful for that, because I know that I need to look for something else in my life. Rather than something, it’s somewhere.
  • House sharing again, Thank you London rental prices! Seriously how could this be positive? You might ask, but I’m now more convinced than before of what I want for 2015. Respect is the first answer and I could go on, but anyone who has shared a property knows, for example, how hard it is to keep it clean without ending up in an argument with the other flatmates.
  • All the job interviews gone wrong. You can learn from your mistakes, they say and I’m sure to have learned something about myself and how to deal with these kind of situations. Luckily, it’s not all about me. There are lot of jerks who think they are entitled to treat applicants like trash, because they are in a position of power. I am thankful I don’t have to deal with them on daily basis.
  • Now something not about me. G. finally entered the career field he chased for a long time and I’m happy for him to have found his own path. It’s just the beginning and will be difficult but seeing the person I love being happy makes me want to work hard as well and pay him back with the same positivity he gives me every day.

I saw on Pinterest something called resolution jar and I believe it’s a nice idea to keep the positive mood throughout the year. What you have to do is just fill an empty jar with notes about all the good moments you have during the year and then, around the end of December, you can empty the jar and go through all of your notes to remember those positive moments that we tend to forget in favour of the negative ones.

Now for all of you lazy people out there (including me), this is a lovely idea but also a commitment as well, so find whatever works best for you: a notebook, a board, a calendar or just an app on your smartphone, but never stop staying positive!

I’ll try my best, you should too.


Happy New Year, guys!

Ippudo London, one of the best ramen in town

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During the event “Nanban: Japanese Soul Food” (read about it here), chef Tim Anderson mentioned the famous Japanese ramen chain Ippudo was about to open its first ramen restaurant in Europe and London was the chosen city to start their European adventure. Ippudo has currently 43 restaurants all over Japan and other stores in Asia, but with the opening of Sydney’s and New York’s branches, the chain started another chapter of their entrepreneurial adventure for the promotion of ramen outside Asia.

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I never had the chance to try Ippudo in Japan as I always idealistically preferred the little family owned Ramen-ya (ramen restaurants), fantasising about secret recipes passed down from the old generation to the younger ones. However, I’m not in Japan at the moment – I would add unfortunately – therefore the combination of my insatiable curiosity and, most importantly, my weakness for food was enough to lure me into the brand new Ippudo London restaurant at the base of Renzo Piano’s bright orange building in Central Saint Giles Piazza.

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Japanese television filming.

The location is trendy and modern, perfectly embracing the urban design and the style of the area with a hint of sophistication. In fact, the restaurant is surrounded by glass walls, whose brightness contributes to create a contemporary ambience, enhancing the contrast between the wood materials and the bold interiors. In all fairness, I would expect such a stylish atmosphere to be associated more with high end restaurants rather than ramen bars, which in Japan are often unsophisticated, definitely less bright, and more cramped places.

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Entrance

 

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Ramen bowls decorating the wall.

While I was lost in this reasoning and in the meantime I was questioning the suitability of my casual clothes for the place, I was surprised, and admittedly a bit scared, by the entire staff greeting us with a loud “Irasshaimase!!!!” (lit. welcome) in unison.

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Counter

After few minutes I realised there were precise guidelines for greetings: every time new customers were assigned to a table, one of the managers escorted them while shouting in a very polite Japanese something like: “There are 2 new customers!”, so the staff would reply with “Welcome!”. Then, after placing the order the waiter/waitress would shout: “Table 13 has decided!” and the chefs would reply “Correct!”. Then when the order was ready the waiter/waitress would shout that the food was leaving the kitchen and again the chef would respond something like “Correct!”. Needless to mention the choir of “Arigatou gozaimashita!!!” (lit. Thank you very much) with the entire staff smiling and staring at the customers when they leave.

The hearty welcoming atmosphere and the related loud greetings seem, at first, to be tailored exactly to bring the authenticity and informality of the original Japanese ramen restaurant, which are mainly visited by students and salary men, therefore not a really refined or exclusive target audience.

However, in Ippudo London’s case, this way of dealing with customers seemed to me too much forced as well as clearly contrasting with the trendy environment of the restaurant. I really hope the members of staff don’t lose their voice at the end of each shift, otherwise it would be a huge problem!

I cannot judge the entire menu, as I was at Ippudo’s only for their famous ramen, but I can openly express a bit of disappointment because I sincerely expected more to choose from, rather than only 2 types of pork ramen along with their two vegetarian version with seaweed and fried tofu. Don’t get me wrong, it’s undoubtedly positive that they don’t have 20 or even more different types of ramen on the menu, otherwise I would start questioning the quality and the freshness of their products. However, another two variations – say a seafood and a seasonal recipe – would have been a nice addition.

My fiancé and I went for the two original signature recipes, the Shiromaru Hakata Classic and the Akamaru Modern.

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Shiromaru Hakata Classic

Shiromaru Hakata Classic  according to Ippudo’s menu: “Our original tonkotsu pork broth; homemade thin noodles topped with pork loin chashu, sesame kikurage mushrooms, bean sprouts and spring onions.” The broth was so rich and thick that its opaque surface covered the noodles underneath. A bold statement of a full intense flavour, and it was indeed: meaty but at the same time smooth and mellow, I would say also reassuring.

Although this ramen was served piping hot as it should always be, noodles were al dente and kept their perfect texture for the whole time I was waiting for the broth cool down a bit. Pork was tender and succulent retaining all the juices of the soy sauce sake and sugar seasoning used for the marinade before being slowly braised. Kikurage mushrooms and spring onions added respectively earthy and acidic notes, contrasting the smooth flavour of the broth. I chose to add a seasoned boiled egg as extra topping for £1.50, because a ramen bowl wouldn’t be complete without it.

Akamaru Modern

Akamaru Modern

 

Akamaru Modern according to the menu: “A bolder translation of the original pork broth; homemade thin noodles topped with Ippudo’s secret Umami Dama paste, pork belly chashu, bean sprouts, sesame kikurage mushrooms, spring onions and fragrant garlic oil.” The bright red spicy miso paste slowly melting in the broth, together with the sharp garlic oil and the nutty sesame, gives the soup a daring kick to the overall well balanced meaty flavour.

So you liked your noodles very much and you almost finished them but still have plenty of soup, what do you do? if you are anything like my fiancé you would shout “Kaedama please!”, and soon a waiter would bring another serving of noodles for £1.50.

My vote for Ippudo London is 8.5 and here’s why: I loved their ramen because it’s prepared with excellent ingredients and traditional methods. I frankly believe it is one of the best, if not the best, ramen in town, but I don’t feel like giving Ippudo London a higher vote because I would like to try more ramen variations. Ippudo cherishes tradition, but the team behind it’s always open for testing of new ingredients and combinations, so who knows, let’s give them time to familarise with the European tastes and its influences and let’s see how it goes.

I’m still not convinced about the contrast between the trendy modern interiors and the idea of the typical ramen bar, but if this strategy works for all their restaurants, then it’s a winning one.

http://www.ippudo.co.uk/

Chef, not really a great film

Chef poster from the website beyondhollywood.com

 

Chef is a film directed by Jon Favreau who also plays the protagonist Carl, a talented chef that finds himself jobless after a fight with a well-known food critic goes viral online. Carl then accept to start a new culinary and entrepreneurial adventure cooking Cuban sandwiches on his food truck. This choice allows him to reconnect with his son and ex wife (the always gorgeous Sophia Vergara) and to rediscover the joy of cooking simple and traditional dishes. Happy ending for everyone, according to the classic scheme of the comedy film.

Pleasant film but not exceptional, in my opinion, because its message seems to be that it’s easy to grow a successful business if the food is good and it’s well advertised on twitter. Frankly, I don’t think it can possibly be true or applied as a general rule, otherwise we would be surrounded by profitable companies and we wouldn’t talk about the economic crisis.

I wish the protagonist had dealt with some difficulties during his food truck adventure; I wish he had doubted this choice; After this, I wish he had found a reason to challenge himself that this was the right thing to do, the right purpose to believe in and to reach, just as it happens to real people in real life. This is fiction though, I know.

I would also have spent a couple of minutes more about the protagonist’s rediscovered joy in cooking simple and traditional food for all people, not just for food critics. It would have been more realistic and acceptable to me.

I give this film one star (as in the Michelin Guide), but just because I feel generous and I would have eaten a couple of those Cubanos.

Disclaimer: All images are copyrighted by their respective owners unless otherwise stated. Links/Credits are provided via click-through link or caption.  Clicking the link of the image will lead you to its source.

 

And now in Italian.

Chef è un film diretto da Jon Favreau che interpreta anche il protagonista Carl, un talentuoso chef che si ritrova senza lavoro dopo che, una lite piuttosto accesa con un noto critico gastronomico si diffonde online a macchia d’olio. Carl, in seguito, accetta di iniziare una nuova avventura culinaria e imprenditoriale preparando sandwich cubani sul suo camioncino itinerante. Questa scelta gli permette di riavvicinarsi a suo figlio e alla sua ex moglie (la sempre splendida Sofia Vergara) e di riscoprire la gioia di cucinare piatti semplici e tradizionali. Lieto fine per tutti, come nel classico schema della commedia.

Un film piacevole ma non eccezionale a mio parere, perché sembra far passare il messaggio che è facile creare un business di successo se il cibo è buono ed è ben pubblicizzato su twitter. Francamente, non credo che possa essere vero oppure una regola da applicare in generale, altrimenti saremmo circondati da compagnie redditizie e non staremmo a parlare crisi economica.

Avrei voluto che il protagonista avesse incontrato delle difficoltà durante la sua nuova avventura culinaria ed imprenditoriale; Avrei voluto vedere Carl mettere in dubbio questa scelta ed infine trovare una ragione per sfidare sé stesso e convincersi che questa era la cosa giusta da fare, l’obiettivo a cui credere e raggiungere, proprio come accade alle persone reali nella vita reale. Questa è finzione però, ne sono consapevole.

Avrei anche anche voluto che il protagonista/regista avesse dedicato qualche minuto in più al alla ritrovata gioia di cucinare cibo semplice e tradizionale per tutte le persone, non solo per i critici gastronomici. Sarebbe stato più realistico e accettabile secondo me.

Questo film si merita una stella (come nella Guida Michelin), ma solo perché mi sento generosa e avrei voluto mangiata un paio di quei Cubanos.

 

Disclaimer: tutte le foto sono protette da copyright e restano di proprietà dei loro autori. Cliccando sulla foto si potrà accedere direttamente alla sua fonte.

Sunday pastries, an Italian classic

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Memories come back unannounced, unexpectedly, leaving us amazed at how daily routine distracts us.

I was in Norwich, packing my suitcase to fly back home in Italy the next day, but I desperately needed a padlock, because some nice guy at Rome airport cut the one I had, apparently to do some security checks. Just to clarify, I wasn’t smuggling anything else than Parmigiano.

So while I was looking for a suitable padlock at the hardware store, I started talking to the owner who was happy to help someone who – you could definitely tell – was not in her usual context. He asked me where I was going to and as soon as I said I was going back home in Italy, he said: “Well then bring me back some Sunday pastries, that’s how they’re called, right?” Sunday pastries? Bam! epiphany! and I’m back to my childhood again.

Sunday pastries are all those desserts, namely pastries or monoportion cakes that are covered and/or filled with cream, custard or fruit just to name a few. These pastries are usually eaten after the Sunday lunch with the entire family and represent a childhood memory common to many Italians. Well, at least until metabolism or diabetes strikes.

I remember I couldn’t wait for the priest to pronounce the end of the Mass, so we could go straightaway to our most trusted Pasticceria (patisserie) where the ritual could get started and my senses awaken. First, as I opened the door I could smell the reassuring fragrance of sugar and vanilla, a promise of what was going to happen next. Then I used to spend a couple of minutes staring at all the types of pastries because I was fascinated by their shapes and their bright colours, as I couldn’t believe they were handmade only using simple ingredients. I didn’t give much thought at this at the time, but maybe that’s how my passion for baking started.

My mother knew I loved that moment, so she allowed me to chose and indicate to the nice lady what pastries we wanted to end the meal with: cannolo for me, millefeuille for my father, my mother’s favourite sfogliatella (shell shaped pastries filled with sweetened ricotta) and a fruit tart for Nonna.

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Without any doubt, every child like myself waited patiently the end of the lunch, to finally tear up the wrapping paper around the cardboard tray and then resume the ritual of the senses that was suspended in Pasticceria. I used to take my cannolo and then enjoy the sound of puff pastry cracking under the fork and followed by the eruption of sweetened ricotta. The actual taste of the pastry was of course excellent, but it was the whole experience that made it special.

Unfortunately, growing up and leaving home changes the daily life, so moments become memories buried in some hidden angle of our minds until someone or something makes us remember. There we are, again, older and nostalgic but with our bellies always full.

Enjoy your Sunday.

And now in Italian.

I ricordi tornano senza preavviso, inaspettatamente, e ci lasciano stupiti di quanto siamo distratti dalla routine della vita quotidiana.

Mi ricordo che ero a Norwich e stavo preparando la valigia per tornare a casa in Italia il giorno dopo. Avevo un disperato bisogno di un lucchetto, perché prima del viaggio di andata, qualche addetto alla sicurezza dell’aeroporto di Roma ha tranciato quello che avevo, apparentemente per fare alcuni controlli di sicurezza. C’è da dire, però, che non stavo contrabbando altro che del Parmigiano.

Così, mentre cercavo un lucchetto adatto alla mia valigia, ho iniziato a parlare con il proprietario della ferramenta, che era felice di darmi una mano, anche perché si vedeva che ero come un pesce fuor d’acqua. Mi ha chiesto dove stessi andando e appena gli ho risposto che sarei andata a casa in Italia, mi ha subito risposto: “Beh, allora quando torni portami le paste della domenica. Si chiamano così, giusto?” Paste della domenica? Bam! che ricordo! ed eccomi di nuovo bambina.

Non vedevo l’ora che il prete pronunciasse: “La messa è finita, andate in pace.”,per andare subito alla nostra pasticceria di fiducia, così che il rituale potesse iniziare e coinvolgere tutti i sensi. Per prima cosa, una volta aperta la porta della pasticceria già il solo profumo rassicurante di zucchero e vaniglia mi rendeva felice, perché era una promessa di ciò che stava per accadere. Poi stavo lì un paio di minuti, a fissare tutti i tipi di paste, perché ero affascinata dalle loro forme i loro colori vivaci. Non potevo credere che fossero fatte a mano utilizzando pochi semplici ingredienti. Non ci ho dato molto peso a quel tempo, ma forse è così che è nata la mia passione per la pasticceria.

Mia madre sapeva che amavo quel momento, così lei mi faceva scegliere e indicare alla simpatica pasticciera quali fossero le paste che volevo consumare con la mia famiglia: un cannolo per me, la diplomatica per mio padre, la sfogliatella per mamma, e una crostatina con crema e frutta per Nonna.

Senza alcun dubbio, ogni bambino come me attendeva pazientemente la fine del pranzo, per strappare finalmente la carta che avvolgeva il vassoio, e quindi per riprendere il rituale dei sensi che era stato sospeso dal pasto domenicale. Ricordo che prendevo il mio cannolo e mi godevo il suono della sfoglia croccante a contatto con la forchetta, seguito da un’eruzione di ricotta zuccherata. Il sapore vero e proprio della pasta era ovviamente eccellente, ma era tutta l’esperienza che rendeva speciale il momento.

Purtroppo, crescere e andare via di casa cambia la vita quotidiana, così i momenti preziosi diventano ricordi sepolti in qualche angolo nascosto della nostra mente, fino a quando qualcuno o qualcosa ci fa ricordare. E all’improvviso torniamo indietro nel tempo, ma più vecchi, più nostalgici e con la pancia sempre piena.
Buona Domenica.

Why Nutella Bar at Eataly NYC is just a hype

This morning I opened my twitter and I noticed that the trending topic among the majority US food lovers I follow was the Nutella Bar that just opened at Eataly in New York City. A Nutella Bar?(click here for pics )

So, apparently dreams do come true, I thought. Well, at least as soon as I saw the menu,  and my expectations were smashed to smithereens.

  • Pane e Nutella: so… how is this supposed to be different from the bread and Nutella spread I usually have at home? Eataly special bread, you say? I bet NYC is overflowing with special bakeries (organic, kosher, vegan, hipster?). So if you buy your favourite loaf and a Nutella jar, the entire cost would cover a lot of pane e Nutella slices and you wouldn’t even have to leave your own kitchen.
  • Brioche or Saccottino: same thing as above. You can either buy your brioche or make it at home a fill them with Nutella.
  • Muffin: the menu says it’s just a muffin with Nutella spread on top. Again nothing special. I believe everybody can take their knife, dip it into a Nutella jar and spread it onto a muffin.
  • Tart: maybe the only thing that is worth ordering, but only if the the shortbread is excellent.
  • Crepe: nothing unusual or complicated, but I definitely wouldn’t judge a sudden Nutella crepe craving.
  • Bacio di Dama: or, as Eataly website states, hazelnut cookies sandwiched together with Nutella. Nothing I can’t do with my favourite or homemade cookies.

I am really surprised that people waited in line for 45 minutes to have snacks that they could have easily had at home, maybe spending less bucks.

Ok, hold on! It may be argued that Eataly’s marketing moves are aimed at using Nutella as it is, as a delicious hazelnut spread that improves and enhances everything the product is spread on. Yes, this is unquestionably true, but if I think about a Nutella Bar I imagine a particular and creative menu. For example various Nutella cakes and desserts (Nutella and pears, Nutella and coconut, tiramisù, just name a few), Nutella petit four, gelato and, last but not the least, drinks like smoothies, milkshakes or even cocktails. Can you imagine the hype then? it would be justified and rewarded, in fact I would be the first in line. That should be a Nutella Bar worth of its name.

I’m sorry Eataly marketing team, but I think anyone would have done better.

 

And now in Italian.

Come tutte le mattine, appena sveglia ho aperto il mio twitter e ho notato che l’ argomento di tendenza tra la maggior parte dei foodies americani che seguo era il Nutella Bar che ha appena aperto nella sede di Eataly a New York City. (cliccate qui per le foto)

Esatto, un Nutella Bar. “Ma allora i sogni si avverano!”, ho pensato. Beh, almeno fino a quando ho visto il menù, che ha ridotto le mie aspettative in mille pezzi.

  • Pane e Nutella – E… quindi questo dovrebbe essere diverso dal pane e Nutella che posso prepararmi a casa? “Ma Eataly ha il pane speciale”, potreste argomentare, ma scommetto NYC è piena di panetterie particolari (organic, kosher, vegan, hipster?), perciò se comprassimo il nostro tipo di pane preferito e un barattolo di Nutella, con la somma spesa potremmo preparare decine di fette di pane e Nutella senza lasciare la nostra cucina.
  • Brioche o Saccottino – stessa cosa come sopra. Siete liberi di comprare le vostre brioche preferite o farle in casa e riempirle con la Nutella.
  • Muffin – Secondo il menù, si tratta di un semplice muffin con un po’ di Nutella spalmata sopra. Anche in questo caso niente di speciale, perché credo che tutti possano prendere un coltello, intingerlo in un barattolo di Nutella e spalmare la crema di nocciole su un muffin.
  • Crostatina – forse l’unica cosa che vale la pena di ordinare, ma solo se la frolla è ottima.
  • Crepe – niente di speciale o complicato, ma di sicuro non giudicherò un’improvvisa voglia di crepe alla Nutella.
  • Bacio di Dama –  Il menù parla di un “sandwich” formato da due biscotti alla nocciola, uniti da una cucchiaiata di Nutella. Niente che non si possa fare con i nostri biscotti preferiti o preparati con le nostre manine.

Sono davvero sorpresa che i clienti abbiano aspettato in fila per 45 minuti per avere delle merende che avrebbero potuto facilmente preparare in casa in pochi minuti, magari spendendo meno soldi.

Ok, aspettate, si potrebbe anche sostenere che la strategia di marketing di Eataly miri a promuovere l’uso della Nutella “in purezza”, cioè come una deliziosa crema di nocciole che migliora e valorizza ogni prodotto su cui viene spalmata. Vero, senza ombra di dubbio, ma se penso a un Nutella Bar mi viene in mente un menù particolare e creativo: per esempio vari dessert e torte alla Nutella ( Nutella e pere, Nutella e cocco, tiramisù solo citarne alcuni), piccola pasticceria, gelato e, ultimo ma non meno importante, bevande come frullati, frappè e addirittura cocktail. Potete immaginarne l’hype mediatico e il successo? Secondo me sarebbe giustificato e premiato, e io sarei la prima della fila. Questo sarebbe un Nutella Bar degno di questo nome.

Mi dispiace, team marketing di Eataly, ma chiunque avrebbe potuto fare meglio.