Food and Drink

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Five pages of ideas to make the most of your Sun­day

It takes heaps of stamina to keep a restau­rant go­ing year af­ter year. Hob­by­ists and dilet­tantes drop off in the early years; time­servers and copy­cats in­evitably lose ground to at­ten­tion-grab­bing new­com­ers. In to­day’s test­ing cater­ing world, only com­mit­ted restau­ra­teurs with the en­ergy and vi­sion to con­stantly re­fresh their of­fer­ing sur­vive.

Ital­ians, who seem to have good food en­coded in their DNA, have a head start. Even so, I can only ad­mire the sheer in­no­va­tion shown by some of our old­est Italo-Scot­tish fam­i­lies, no­tably Ca­rina and Vic­tor Con­tini in Ed­in­burgh, and Gio­vanna Eusebi in Glas­gow.

They never rest on their lau­rels and keep notch­ing up the qual­ity, al­ways draw­ing on their tra­di­tional roots, yet never al­low­ing their cre­ativ­ity to be choked by them.

And it seems to me that the food at Eusebi is now even bet­ter, and more strik­ingly dif­fer­ent, than it was last time I vis­ited, when it was al­ready quite won­der­ful.

To be hon­est, I’d prob­a­bly visit Eusebi just for the quick trans­fu­sion of con­tent­ment you get from sim­ply be­ing in such an at­mo­spheric, patently suc­cess­ful restau­rant.

But so much is new to me here that I ab­so­lutely have to try it. The in­trigu­ing bac­calà (salt cod) mousse turns out to be froth­ier than the North­ern Ital­ian bac­calà man­te­cato. Slices of pick­led raw cour­gette – cut at an oblique an­gle and ar­ranged like flower petals – are lay­ered over a green salsa verde. Topped by a spank­ing-fresh cour­gette flower, its or­ange-green in­te­rior un­curls to yield flakes of smoked had­dock. This dish is re­fresh­ing, healthy, spe­cial.

Ap­petites revved up we turn to the charred white peach with whipped ri­cotta. Eusebi makes its own ri­cotta; now that’s com­mit­ment for you.

The cheese is so in­fin­itely su­pe­rior to the im­ported Ital­ian ri­cotta we can buy in the UK that you could eat it straight, to­tally un­adorned.

But then you’d miss the beauty of Eusebi’s pre­sen­ta­tion, the juicy peach that’s still rose-pink in the mid­dle where stoned, the flat­ter­ing crunch of the toasted, flaked al­monds, and the glo­ri­ous ex­tra vir­gin olive oil with fried rose­mary leaves that makes this dish de­ci­sively a starter, not a dessert.

Now we marvel at the Ceci. Were chick­peas ever so fit for the cat­walk? Chick­pea purée, po­ten­tially plod­ding, is emul­sion-smooth and elec­tri­fied by the cit­rus blast from thick kumquat purée.

Its cru­dités – a word that too of­ten au­gurs cack-handed, limp car­rots and stringy cel­ery – are a treat: pep­pery radish, just-har­vested car­rot, nutty cau­li­flower, lemony mar­i­nated fen­nel, and quar­ters of fin­ger-thick cour­gettes, so young and ten­der we can even eat the knob­bly ends that at­tached them to their parent plant.

Rab­bit saltim­bocca, made with sad­dle stuffed with a lightly livery farce then rolled in sage leaves and Parma ham, looks like a mil­lion dol­lars too.

The meat, although lean, is thor­oughly in­fused with the herb, and suc­cu­lent. And with it comes the bonus of a crustily golden potato gratin – not the creamy sort, more like the French clas­sic, pommes Anna – and ta­per­ing roasted car­rots with rain­bow hues.

Oily, soft spinach glis­tens on the plate, light gravy en­cap­su­lates Put­tanesca flavours: ca­pers, olives, chill­ies, an­chovies.

Eusebi’s pasta is made from scratch daily, and you’d have to be an ab­so­lute mo­ron to con­fuse it with the stan­dard filled pasta sold un­der the head­ing

The cheese is so in­fin­itely su­pe­rior to im­ported Ital­ian ri­cotta that you could eat it straight, to­tally un­adorned

of “fresh” in Ital­ian-themed chain res­tau­rants. Ag­nolotti, crimped pil­lows of silky, yel­low pasta, con­tain that fan­tas­tic ri­cotta, this time fra­grant with le­mon zest, and slip-slapped about in nut brown but­ter with a hand­ful of toasted pine nuts and a con­trolled ex­plo­sion of crisp-fried sage leaves. They’re ut­terly sub­lime.

Res­tau­rants in Italy are never big on dessert; here, at Eusebi, they’re straight­for­ward and hon­est.

Pis­ta­chio cake, sat­is­fy­ing in the way that chest­nuts are, rub­bly and moist with po­lenta, or maybe just the nuts, is leav­ened by a tart le­mon curd and fresh cher­ries poached in a faintly cin­na­mon syrup.

The same white peaches we en­joyed as a starter we wel­come again, this time as a pleas­ant pud­ding part­nered with vo­lu­mi­nous mas­car­pone, fresh rasp­ber­ries, and bro­ken meringue.

Eusebi shows stamina and strives con­stantly to be bet­ter than be­fore, no stand­ing still. These are pre­cious qual­i­ties that stand out a mile.

Pho­to­graph: Ger­ardo Ja­conelli

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