My favourite kind of gifts to buy for Christmas are edible ones – it’s something about the combination of the need for fabulous comfort food on cold and gloomy days, and all the wonderful goodies that we traditionally associate with the festive season. So I was pretty excited to see the brand new Italian Food Hall opening up in George St just in time for me to start my Christmas shopping, and quickly hotfooted it down there to see what treats I could find…
Owner Laura set up the Italian Food Hall to celebrate and promote the best produce from her home country, with the idea of particularly highlighting small independent businesses, so her cosy little shop and deli is full of goodies that you won’t find in the supermarket. I tried the most incredible pesto from their chilled section (which also features all sorts of fresh filled pasta that I’m definitely getting in future for a quick dinner), some unbelievable cheeses from the deli counter (including a truffled pecorino, the memory of which is literally making my mouth water) and a few treats from their chocolate section, in particular sacripante, which is a little cake with layers of sponge and cream, heavily infused with rum and covered in chocolate. It’s my new favourite – you have to try it.
|Sacripante – fabulously light, yet rich & boozy, the perfect Christmas treat|
Having given me the guided tour and plied with me tasters, Laura sent me home with one of the Italian Food Hall’s beautiful gift baskets (top image), which are the perfect Christmas present for foodies – you can make your own, with expert advice, or pick up a premade one. My hamper was packed with (almost) everything required to make a delicious three course meal: Casa Vecchio Mulino rosemary linguette and Casina Rossa cream of artichoke to nibble on as a starter, the dry ingredients for an asparagus risotto from Azienda Agricola Girino, and to finish, more little Preti sacripante and a bar of dark chocolate from La Molina.
At this point I feel like I should pick a favourite product but it’s honestly impossible to choose between the linguette, which were crispy and savoury and full of the rich perfume of rosemary, like a gorgeous cross between crisps and bread, and the aforementioned sacripante. I also absolutely loved the idea of the risotto – the dry ingredients come mixed together in a jar, with a choice of several different flavours, and all you need to do is fry them up with butter and olive oil, and add a glass of wine.
|Linguette with cream of artichoke – dangerously moreish|
‘What to buy for the person who has everything’ is a hideous cliché at this point, but I honestly believe the answer is food, because it’s guaranteed to please (anyone who doesn’t like food is not to be trusted). Whether you’re looking for that tricky present or you just want to stock up on treats for yourself over Christmas, I highly recommend a visit to Bath’s newest temple of Italian treats.