A few weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting one of the most talented chefs, restaurateurs and TV personalities in the world: Antonio Carluccio who of course shares his name with his successful empire of restaurants, artisan Italian produce and cookbooks.

I was invited to a private dinner hosted by the Mr Carluccio himself in London to launch the restaurant’s new autumn menu which includes hearty Italian dishes and an exquisite selection of his signature dishes.

The event took place at their Covent Garden Carluccio’s restaurant, a breathtaking Ventian inspired venue with original period features and rustic charm.

I fell in love with this gorgeous staircase, fresh herbs lined the steps – the perfect backdrop for a quick style pic!

rustic stairs

Arriving at the private dining room with my friend and publicist Hayley, we were instantly greeted with prosecco and the most wonderful entreés in the form of Carluccio’s sharing plates including Antonio’s signature Caponata: a traditional Sicilian aubergine sweet and sour stew! So delicious!

private dining at carluccios

We were introduced to Antonio and were lucky to spend a good 20 minutes in deep conversation with him discussing our shared passion for food and his collaborations with Jamie Oliver on YouTube that has seen his recipe for carbonara viewed over 1.6m times! I reckon should add pro-vlogger to his long list of achievements. Even if he did want me to explain blogging, asking me to show him my blog on my phone. He seemed genuinely excited in the power of online narratives.

He did tell me he’s written all 24 culinary tomes of his by hand.

Here I am being a ‘chef groupie’…

Honest Mum has dinner with Antonio Carluccio

Antonio was such a sweet and humble soul and we all had a real giggle together, no less when I told him that he’s the Tom Jones of Italian cuisine. He loved that and agreed!

Antonio also very kindly agreed to share one of his recipes with my Honest readers and has passed on the recipe for his super tasty Spaghetti di Farro Con Luganega which is spelt spaghetti with sausage sauce.

You can find the recipe at the end of this post for this week’s #tastytuesdays and it’s an honour to share it with you all.

The meal itself was utterly divine and Antonio guided us through each authentic course, detailing the inspiration for his recipes and providing insight into his wondrous career.

His passion for both food and life shone through telling the intimate group of diners that, ‘Food is an act of love’ and, ‘Food and sex are so important, you can’t have one without the other’ – I told you he was the Italian Tom Jones 😉

He also informed us that his mantra in the kitchen is ‘MEMF’ – minimum effort, maximum flavour.

This shone though in each of signature dishes – simple, rustic and bursting with flavour thanks to the fresh, seasonal and delicious produce and herbs he uses in his cooking.

Now onto the food

To start, we enjoyed Gambinos Marinara – the juiciest, most succulent prawns, beautifully marinated in olive oil, white wine, cherry tomatoes and fennel seeds – which gave it a lovely sharp and tangy flavour.

Gambinos Marinara
This was followed by Fettuce Con Polpette made with tender meatballs in a tomato sauce.

The veggie option was the Penne Giardiniera which is a staple from the Carluccio’s menu. For each dish sold, Carluccio’s donates 50p to Action Against Hunger and has raised an astonishing 1.3m over the past 7 years. An incredible achievement.

Gambinos Marinara

For the main, we tucked into Lamb Rosmarino, delicious tender lamb cutlets in a rosemary breadcrust served with black kale, cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers and olives.

lamb

To end this wonderful meal, we had an assiette of desserts from the new menu featuring tiramisu and a zesty lemon posset. Delightful.

assiette of italian desserts

I can’t wait to head back to Carluccio’s again and try more dishes from this captivating menu.

And now for the recipe:

Spaghetti di Farro Con Luganega (Spelt Spaghetti with Sausage Sauce) by Antonio Carluccio

Spaghetti di Farro Con Luganega (Spelt Spaghetti with Sausage Sauce) by Antonio Carluccio

 

 
Spaghetti di Farro Con Luganega

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 350g dried spelt spaghetti pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 60g pecorino cheese, freshly grated

For the sauce:

  • 30g dried porcini, rehydrated
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ fresh hot red chilli, finely chopped
  • 250g sausage meat, removed from the skin and crumbled
  • 100ml white wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste, diluted in 2 tsp of water
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary needles

Method

Soak the dried porcini for the sauce for 20 minutes in hot water, then drain, reserving the soaking water and chop.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan with the butter and fry the onion and chilli briefly. Add the crumbled sausage and porcini and dry stir for 8-10 minutes. Add the wine and then cook for a further 2 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated. Add the rosemary and cook for another 10 minutes on a low heat. Season with salt and pepper and if more moisture is needed add some of the porcini soaking water.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for about 10-15 minutes or until al dente (follow the packet instructions). Drain well. Mix with the sauce and divide between deep warmed plates. Sprinkle with cheese and eat straight away.

Thank you for a wonderful dinner, company and recipe Antonio and thank you Carluccio’s.

 

 

 

 

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42 Responses

  1. Eb Gargano

    Made this for dinner this evening. It was delicious! Such a great combination of flavours – I particularly liked the dried mushrooms in it. Hubby said it was the best bolognese (you have to forgive him, he’s a bit of a philistine!) he’d ever eaten and the kids wolfed it down with no complaints. Will definitely be making this again! Eb x

    Reply
  2. Su {Ethan & Evelyn}

    Sound like Antonio is a real character. His restaurant is divine. I like the way he dresses his table with real autumn leaves. Really great atmosphere. His food looks so delicious and outstanding. You are such a lucky lady! Thank you for the recipe and hosting too. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Sarah

    What a wonderful opportunity to meet such a great chef. He really does look like a lovely man. I love the simplicity of his recipe that he kindly shared – in fact I shall get my kids making it this weekend! I really believe that good food should be accessible and achievable for everyone – this totally meets those expectations. Thank you for getting him to share one of his recipes with us :)Oh and I love your dress – looks really pretty!

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks so much Sarah, I share those sentiments too and Carluccio was such a gentleman, a real inspiration and so kind and generous with his time and wisdom x

      Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks, I am very lucky, it was a wonderful evening. I adore Italian food too, I lived in Rome once upon time-what a place x

      Reply
  4. Vicki Montague - The Free From Fairy

    I’m not in the slightest bit jealous…well OK! I am VERY jealous! What a fabulous evening and what wonderful looking food! I love the sound of this recipe too. Carluccio’s are a fabulous chain for us because they cater so well for people with allergies and intolerances. I would love to meet the man himself! Well done you for being invited!

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks Vicki, he is such a sweet chap, so passionate and talented, an incredible night. They are fabulous for allergies aren’t they. Thanks for your lovely comment x

      Reply
  5. Eb Gargano

    Wow, Vicki, that looks like such a fun evening – the food looks amazing!Love his “minimum effort, maximum flavour” mantra – I couldn’t agree more!! Eb x

    Reply
  6. Jenny (Midwife and Life)

    Looks fabulous, I’ve been to the Carluccios in Tunbridge Wells, I love the food there. I really like the seasonal autumn leaves on the table and all the food looks delicious. I will have to give the recipe a go and he sounds such an interesting character! Finally I’ve got a new food post up – #tastytuesdays

    Reply
  7. Dancing Dandelions

    OMG I love Antonio. That food looks divine!!! And I will be trying that recipe for sure. I’m definitely a follower of his mantra and am all for minimum effort with maximum flavour x

    Reply
  8. Fionnuala

    Sounds like a brilliant event Vicki. The recipe sounds really tasty too. THanks for sharing it with us.
    #TastyTuesdays
    Fionnuala from http://www.threesonslater.blogspot.com

    Reply
  9. Sarah James

    What a wonderful night Vicki, like you say, a real privilege to meet Antonio Carluccio. The menu looks amazing, my kind of food. I love the spaghetti recipe, definitely one for me to try x

    Reply
  10. Angela / Only Crumbs Remain

    Wow, how lucky are you, that sounds such an amazing day. I love the look of the dishes, especially the plate of desserts from his new menu (I am a bit of a dessert lover)! And how amazing for him to have raised so much money from donating just 50p from each dish – just shows how the pennies add up over time!
    Angela x

    Reply

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