Sicily is close to my heart. I spent a few summers there as a child and I have vivid memories of the freedom enjoyed during hot summer nights, swimming in crystal clear waters and eating barbecued artichokes and almond pastries.. such happy times!
That’s why I was thrilled to spend an evening at Evoluzione restaurant situated in the Hotel Xenia in South Kensington in London.
I tasted delicious and authentic Sicilian food prepared by Michelin star awarded chef Pietro D’Agostino who has spent the past ten years working in top quality hotels and cooking for important people such as the Sultan of Brunei and who now owns the restaurant “La Capinera” in Taormina in Sicily.
We were greeted with Champagne and Sicilian nibbles (and mini cute caponatas!) whilst pastry chef Manuele Francesco was showing us how to make the famous Sicilian Cassata and the cannoli.
If you don’t know what Cassata is, it’s a typical cake from Sicily which consists of a sponge moistened with alcohol and fruit juice, ricotta cheese, candied peel, chocolate or vanilla and is covered with a shell of coloured marzipan and decorative designs. Cassata is also topped with candied fruit depicting cherries and slices of citrus fruit which are typical of Sicily.
Sicilian cannoli are a real delicacy: they are made with deep fried pastry filled with a flavoured sweet creamy filling containing ricotta and chopped pistachios, candied citrus peel or cherries.
Our meal soon followed and we started with scallop with hints of orange and rocket which tasted fresh and delicate.
This was followed by king prawns with onion salad, almond and orange juice: absolutely divine, a fresh “spring looking dish” with a very pretty and colourful decoration of fresh flowers. The freshness of the prawns combined with the marinated onion salad was just perfect. I could easily have had two of these.
Black cod with potatoes, lettuce, capers and marsala wine: such a light Mediterranean dish typical of southern Italian cooking. Every course was paired with a different Sicilian wine too. I found them very aromatic and very interesting wines indeed.
And of course…pasta time! Seafood ravioli with capers, Sicilian wild fennel and pistachio from Bronte which takes its name after a Sicilian village. Bronte pistachios are among the best in the world with a more delicate and aromatic flavour and a more intense and brilliant green colour.
My dearest friend Alexandra was with me. I felt totally relaxed and vibrant..and that often happens with truly good friends!
And yet another delicious fish dish came along: Turbot with artichoke, calamari and roasted aubergine. I loved the crunchiness of the calamari. All the fish was really fresh and every dish tasted of the sea.
In truly Sicilian style our dessert was of course made with almonds (Sicily produces some of the best almonds in the world). It was like an almond pannacotta with a caramelized almond on top. It just simply melted in your mouth! With this we were served an almond dessert wine which matched the dish perfectly.
Another dessert came along (Yeah! The more the merrier!): toffee sandwich with almond chocolate.. very original I would say!
We were served chocolate petits fours and sicilian cannoli. Even if I was full up I still managed to gobble the lot. I thought if I didn’t at least try the cannoli I would bitterly regret it later and I am pleased I did! They were so crunchy and fresh!
I’d like to thank our chefs Pietro D’Agostino (first on the left) and Manuele Francesco who did an excellent job! I had a really enjoyable evening.