Travel Digest - - EATING OUT -

When in London for the World Travel Mar­ket, I took the op­por­tu­nity to dine at Jamie’s Ital­ian in Ca­nary Wharf. It was a short bus ride and a walk from where I was stay­ing and on step­ping in the door, it was a wel­come warm feel­ing [ from the cold wet night out­side]. Jamie Oliver is one of the world’s top celebrity chefs. He has been set­ting up restau­rants through­out the UK and he has 37 at last count. In more re­cent years he has been open­ing restau­rants in 12 coun­tries through­out the world. In 2011 he opened Jamie’s Ital­ian in Syd­ney and he cur­rently has plans to open in Auck­land. To ap­pre­ci­ate eat­ing at his restau­rants you have to un­der­stand the back­ground. Jamie’s Ital­ian is in­spired by Jamie’s pas­sion for the Ital­ian way of life: “Since I was a teenager I’ve been to­tally be­sot­ted by the love, pas­sion and verve for food, fam­ily and life it­self that just about all Ital­ian peo­ple have, no mat­ter where they’re from or how rich or poor they might be. And that’s what I’m pas­sion­ate about – good food for ev­ery­one, no mat­ter what. But the thing I love most about the Ital­ians is that some­how, although they have some of the best fash­ion de­sign­ers and cars in the world, they’ve man­aged to re­tain a unique sense of tra­di­tion and vil­lage spirit.” This spirit is car­ried over into Jamie’s restau­rants and this one on Ca­nary Wharf did not dis­ap­point. His motto is af­ford­able rus­tic food and fresh sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents. “We only work with farm­ers and pro­duc­ers – of­ten small, fam­ily- run busi­nesses – who share our food ethos and take pride in what they do,” says Jamie. The menu has some in­ter­est­ing com­bi­na­tions such as Turkey Mi­lanese [ stuffed with pro­sciutto and fon­tal cheese, bread­crumbed and fried with a fried free- range egg and wild truf­fle]. For my main course I chose Calves liver and ba­con Ital­ian style [ served with mashed potato, smashed squash, pine nuts, raisins and onion gravy]. Very art­fully pre­sented and tasted divine. It was also very filling – so much so that I had to pass on hav­ing dessert. Nev­er­the­less I did con­tem­plate the Choco­late, pear and hon­ey­comb pavlova [ light and fluffy meringue served with poached pears, whipped mas­car­pone, hon­ey­comb and a driz­zle of dark choco­late]. So yes, a New Zealand dish [ pavlova] with an Ital­ian twist! The wine list, need­less to say, was all Ital­ian – not even one bot­tle of New Zealand wine. The list states: “Our se­lec­tion of Ital­ian wines are cho­sen with as much care as we put into sourc­ing our food and we work with grow­ers and pro­duc­ers who share our pas­sion and val­ues. Aside from wine, our trained bar­tenders have crafted a beau­ti­ful list of clas­sic and orig­i­nal cock­tails that are a great ac­com­pa­ni­ment to any meal.” Even those after a non- al­co­holic cock­tail, had a se­lec­tion to choose from. I chose the Berry blast [ straw­ber­ries, pas­sion fruit, le­mon and cran­berry]. At the Ca­nary Wharf restau­rant there was seat­ing inside and out­side for 183 – so not ex­actly a bou­tique op­er­a­tion. Jamie fran­chises out his restau­rants, but is fussy about who car­ries his brand above the door. “We are pas­sion­ate about work­ing with mo­ti­vated, highly tal­ented peo­ple,” he says. “Find­ing part­ners who have sim­i­lar cul­tural and business val­ues to us is re­ally im­por­tant, as it gives us a great foun­da­tion to build­ing a suc­cess­ful re­la­tion­ship.” With Jamie’s Ital­ian open­ing in Auck­land soon – watch this space.

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