Having made countless trips to every corner of Italy, JAM Gabby loves everything about la cucina Italiana. Whether that is exploring the top pasta restaurants in London (Bancone and Bocca di Lupo as firm favourites), or enjoying regional and traditional Italian dishes at client Enoteca Rabezzana in Farringdon, Gabs never tires of the pasta revolution happening around us in London and she hopes it’s here to stay! Here’s her go-to dinner party recipe…
I remember fondly a scene from Episode 1 of ‘From Venice to Istanbul’ where Rick candidly laps up a spaghetti vongole with a founding family member of one of Venice’s most iconic hotels. The episode ends with Rick showing us how to make the perfect tiramisu, served modestly in a cocktail glass. Inspired.
Later that week, I found myself with 2kg of fresh clams ready to impress my guests for the evening. I’m not one for following recipes, more so making it up as I go along; recipes are a guide, not a rulebook! Here’s my top tips for the perfect spaghetti vongole (apologies in advance for any offence caused to any Italians reading this!)
With this dish lacking sauce like most spaghetti recipes, you need as much flavour as you can get with what you have! Many scrub their clams clean before placing in the pan – I say a quick rinse is fine, and keep that surface saltiness for the cooking! Discard any clams whose shells are already open – you want to keep only those with closed shells which will open under heat and release that glorious marine taste that reminds me of the gorgeous cucina Pugliese. Many people worry about which white wine to use, but for me, any dry white will do. The beauty of cooking with wine is that it gives you an excuse to enjoy the rest of the bottle with it! Lastly, be generous with freshly chopped red chillies, fresh parsley and garlic. This is one Italian dish that looks effortlessly impressive, is a real crowd-pleaser, and won’t leave your guests feeling uncomfortably full.
Rick Stein’s Secret France has just aired on BBC and I really look forward to beautiful farm-to-table cooking and local wines, against stunning backdrops!
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