Mostarda – my new ‘must-have’.

When I gave up my old job one of the things I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford in in my new life was regular trips to nice restaurants. Although we mainly kept it local and didn’t really go anywhere super-fancy, we did eat out pretty regularly and I do really miss that. But there’s no need to break out the violins because we had a massive stroke of luck a few weeks ago when The Boyfriend was given a lovely “thank you” present from his office for some above-and-beyond work he’d done. He was told he could take me out for dinner wherever we wanted. Massive hoorah!

So we excitedly booked a table at L’Anima – the slick Italian near Liverpool Street where ex-St Alban chef Francesco Mazzei has received glowing reports since opening in Autumn 2008. It’s more sleek and whispery than our usual sort of restaurant to be honest – but the food and wine was absolutely perfect. I had an amazing slow-roasted pork belly dish with something called N’cantarata Sauce – which was a delicious mixture of honey, paprika & spices. The Boyfriend had an amazing liquorice sabayon for pudding – not something I would have chosen but it was fantastic. And instead of a pudding I had Taleggio cheese with Fig Mostarda. I’d never heard of it before but Mostarda is a jammy, spicy, mustardy preserved fruit. It was amazing – sinus-clearing like mustard but still sweet and unmistakably fig-ish. It was a delicious accompaniment to the rich creamy Taleggio and I vowed to get my hands on some.

Which I have just done! I bought some Pear Mostarda today but you can get also pumpkin, pepper, green tomato, prune – all sorts. And, because I simply couldn’t be bothered to cook tonight, I’ve just devoured some with some squidgey, rich taleggio and half a good, crusty baguette. I can’t recommend it highly enough – it’s like a mellow, sweet wasabi that goes really well with cheese. Traditionally italians eat mostardo with bollito misto – a boiled meat dish – but I can imagine it would also work really well with a rich chicken liver pate or some charcuterie.

So, no recipe today, just wanted to let you know about my new discovery and encourage you to try it if you can. I bought mine from La Fromagerie but I reckon you would be able to get hold of it at any good Italian deli.


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