Jun 13, 2014

Eat the Art Trail Post: A supperclub superstar is born

Silvana Gambini has exploded onto the supperclub scene with her new venture Cocomero.S
ilvana is a bright and shining example of bravely going outside your comfort zone and seeing what you can achieve. Last year during the Appetite Festival, Silvana tested the foodie waters by boldly opening her home to those with hungry bellies including Italian food don Gennaro Contaldo, Jamie Oliver’s mentor!
Her confidence to go bigger and better in 2014 by launching Cocomero was not at all hampered by Gennaro’s comment that her porchetta was “the best porchetta this side of Rome!”
Deciding I had to go and taste this amazing meat myself, I was lucky enough to gain a place at her first foray into the world of professional dining. Tonight heralds her second helpings; the second of her two E17 Art themed supper clubs.
The quickly sold out “Art on a Plate” themed events fuse the E17 Art Trail strand with food. The thought and effort that went into each dish and the d├ęcor was evident throughout.Silvana explains it as “each course has been inspired by a work of art and I'll be talking about that inspiration and my feeling for the art before I serve up each course.” Also as she will be representing the art work on the plate, she’s alluded that she “must be stark raving mad.” Following it up with a cheeky “but I do love a culinary challenge!”

A preview of dinner through art

Isabella and the Pot of Basil - food in art, a pretty gruesome tale to be told

The three key ingredients for a successful supper club evening are: great food, great host, great conversations. I’m pleased to report that Cocomero delivered all three by the bucket!

Seated with a wonderful group of friendly engaging, soon to be ‘amici’, one key step of the supper club had begun: meeting and greeting complete strangers.

I love that in a restaurant even with a 2cm gap between your table and the next, a casual "enjoying your meal?" is the most that is permissible. Anymore and you've over stepped the mark. Having full blown conversations with your neighbours is a key aim of supper clubs and long may they reign!

Onto the food... now I don’t want to ruin the surprise too much for those dining tonight, but I can’t resist lingering over some of my favourites from the extensive - over seven course - menu.

We settled into the ‘apertivo e antipasto’ with two arts inspired drinks, both an alcoholic and non alcoholic version to compare. I was delighted that my wait for the long anticipated porchetta was not long as we were deluged with antipasto treats galore! The succulent, herby pork cuts did not disappoint and were quickly seized upon and guzzled, as were the other assorted antipasto. The sweet, moist frittata was my second favourite, to the porchetta of course, and I heard many compliments for the moreish mushroom bites.

The famous porchetta bottom left and other yummy starters
As tray upon tray of goodies were festooned upon our quickly filling table, Silvana tore herself away from the steaming kitchen to give us her well researched insight into the inspiration behind each dish. Every plate was designed to pay homage to the artist’s vision. I was most impressed by the technical prowess of the soup which was magically transformed into Mark Rothko’s Red Series, keeping two soups separate within the one bowl.
Art inspired soup

The Italian culture pervaded as we were encouraged to grab our lamb chops and gnaw off all remaining meat. We were offered ‘Il Cimitero delle Ossa’ a bowl for our bones, aptly named ‘the Bone Cemetery’ or the ‘Bone Graveyard’ - that's what Silvana’s parents used to call it anyway!  She also discovered through Danish friends that over there they call the bone bowl, ‘the Hearse'!  
Shot of the local William Morris Jasmine Wallpaper inspired main

After shot with the bone graveyard!
There was a surprise course in the form of a gorgeous granita, giving a great link into the origins of Cocamero’s name. Cocomero means watermelon in Italian. An appropriate time to launch as the heat rises and the thought of chomping into a nice cool, crunchy crescent of watermelon and have it dribble down your chin is synonymous with summer and sunshine.

The palate cleanser

The supper club namesake
A sign of how good the food was that even several courses on and pretty full, everyone from my table wanted seconds of the dessert, a sumptuous white chocolate semifreddo with coulis inspired by Georgia O’Keefe.I was most impressed by our homemade limoncello. It was the most refreshing, fragrant herby liqueur I’ve had the pleasure to sip and suited the balmy evening well.

Homemade limoncello with amaretti

Can you guess the digestivo inspiration? A bit of science thrown in too!
If you were not lucky enough to get a spot this time around, luckily Silvana will be whipping up more treats in the kitchen on an ongoing basis. Find out more through her website: http://www.cocomero.co.ukWith such a charming character, one post on Cocomero does not suffice. I will be digging further beneath the surface to see what lies behind Silvana's success. I’ll give her a chance to breathe first though, as on top of launching Cocomero, she is also a main organiser for the Breaking Bard exhibition, having illustrated four Shakespeare quotes! More info here on Breaking Bard: https://www.facebook.com/WingdolphRoadsArtTrailProject?ref=hl.

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