As a blogger, it’s very easy to be pigeon-holed when you’re in fashion or beauty – if you have long hair it equates to shampoos and blow-dries, and a clear complexion points to straight to sponsored skincare. I’m definitely not complaining but one of the reasons I enjoyed writing for magazines was the breadth of topics I was assigned. So when I was invited to do a pasta making masterclass at Frescobaldi, I jumped at the chance. Not many people know that I have professionally written about food. One of the best editors that I ever had specialises in restaurant reviews. She really took the time to help me grow and gave me great opportunities – so as a writer, food and drink is a soft spot for me.
Frescobaldi is an exclusive Italian restaurant tucked away from the tourist conveyor belt of Regent’s Street. Featuring hand painted tiles, grapevines strewn across the ceiling and contrasted with contemporary lighting fixtures, it’s an unexpected delight from the chain restaurants and overcrowded venues in the area.
There’s a distinct balance of a blend of rustic Italian, which persuades you of authentic cuisine, with the allure of a chic and modern restaurant. And its all of this even before you look up the significance of its name. The venue is set up by the very family that provides wine to the English Royal Family but if you’re feeling intimidated, don’t be. Frescobaldi boasts an accessible menu (wines vary from £18-£400 a bottle), most of which come from the renowned family’s Tuscan vineyard, and is accompanied by a very personal and attentive service. And that’s hard to come by in London, especially in the West End. Here, you’ll feel like going American with your tips, especially with the restaurant’s thoughtful little touches like how the end of your meal is graced with great glass jars full of complimentary pick and mix candy.
But now I’m skipping ahead, I still have to tell you about the masterclass.
I joined two other bloggers (@qkatie and @london.food), my friend of @KohlKreatives, Trishna and the pastry chef of Maitre Choux and his girlfriend in the pasta masterclass with Chef Roberto. Here we learnt to make pappardelle, tagliatelle and spaghetti fresh from semolina flour. We then had one on one time with Chef Roberto in the Frescobaldi kitchen, which was so pristine a hospital would be jealous. We were taught how to make crab and courgette and arrabiata pasta, and this is a little tip for you – fresh fish or chicken stock makes all the difference, it’s how you can achieve that gravy-like sauce you get from oil based pasta.
Grateful that I wasn’t wearing any false lashes (on
account of that kitchen being so so warm), I attempted to keep up with the Chef as he walked me through the recipe. He is not only charismatic and a great and patient teacher, but clearly also immune to the high temperature of every surface in there that my untrained hands couldn’t handle! Frescobaldi has beautiful plating that is definitely snap-worthy but so much of its charm is that it simply isn’t fussed with the artsy stuff. However, Chef Roberto was kind enough to show me how to do those tightly coiled, egg-shaped pasta presentations. The trick here is to use a fork and twirl the entire portion of spaghetti into a ladle to keep it in shape, which is far easier than using a dainty spoon like I’ve seen on the TV.
Upstairs there was a carefully curated menu prepared for our party. Beginning with prosecco and paired with a soft Remole wine from the Frescobaldi vineyard, we worked our way through mozzarella, buffalo and datterini tomatoes as a starter, which were so sweet and fragrant I could believe that tomatoes were indeed fruit. You know, unlike the sour, tart ones you get at generic UK supermarkets, which has always left me a little adverse to them. The main course was chicken and courgette, flavourful and a sure crowd pleaser. The lunch ended with a unique take on tiramisu – not quite deconstructed, the unique jelly-like form was heavy on the cream, light on the amaretto sponge. I’m looking forward to revisiting this restaurant a second time, the atmosphere is so subtly romantic and the staff so warm, if it’s not a first date restaurant, it’s certainly an anniversary one. Or just a place to treat yourself to carbs that are actually worth the calories, alongside some of the best wine available in London.
Here’s a big cheers to Frescobaldi and a wonderful experience at the pasta masterclass!
Reserve a table at Frescobaldi London here
15 New Burlington Place
Mayfair, W1S 2HX