While the renovation of King & Godfree races to the finish line, our Director of Food Operations Neil Rocke is currently eating his way around Italy with K&G’s Luca and Luisa. They’re calling it a fact-finding mission. We’re calling it just plain lucky.
Now, Neil is a guy who knows his way around the Italian regions. He can tell his Florentine lampredotto from his Sicilian pani ca meusa at twenty paces. But there’s no better excuse for a boots-on-the-ground refresher course than the imminent opening of an espresso bar, rooftop bar and wine bar at Lygon Street’s most storied Italian grocer.
Grabbing a rare moment when he managed to look up from a plate of pasta, Neil shared some intel about the past ten days of gustatory exploration.
“I’ve tried to eat everything I could in each of the cities we have visited and I have so many new ideas and flavours I’m going to work with at King & Godfree. Shredded duck bigoli pasta served in its pan juices. Venetian calves’ livers with onions and grilled polenta. Bollito misto was a dining experience: boiled cotechino, pork ribs, veal, beef and tongue with a pearà sauce and salsa verde – that will be something we’ll look at offering for special dinners in the cellar.”
King & Godfree’s Valmorbida family hails from the Veneto region, and this highlight from Neil might give an idea what he’ll be plating up for our wine bar, Agostino, where the focus is on simple drinking food with a northern Italian slant. “Lardo in Vicenza – who would have thought that thinly sliced cured pork fat served on crusty bread could be so delicious?”
Luca and Luisa have been holding up their end of the bargain, taking Neil on a tour of their favourite wine bars, microbreweries and restaurants in Rome, Bologna and beyond despite occasionally being snowed in during one of the fiercest European winters in living memory. For Luca, one of the highlights was at Rome’s Campo Dei Fiore Forno: “We got chocolate hazelnut biscotti and fresh Rosetta roll, just to show Neil how the bread looked – hard on the outside but soft and stretchy on the inside – and a zucchini pizza to share. Neil told me he understood what I was raving about once he tried the zucchini pizza.”
They’ll be home later this week. As for your chance to taste the fruits of Neil’s travels – we promise it won’t be long.See More —