Posted on Sunday, 18th October 2015
Multi-award winning Italian brand, Menabrea Beer, hosted an exclusive supper at London’s L’Anima Restaurant last Monday which I really enjoyed. Brewed in the Piedmont town of Biella at the foothills of the Italian Alps, Menabrea is well known throughout Italy, especially in its Northern heartland. Menabrea is Italy’s oldest continuously operating brewery, and the beer is brewed using the same methods used since the brewery’s inception in 1846, encapsulating over 150 years of skill and craftsmanship. There are only five ingredients in the Menabrea brand of beers, but those ingredients are of the highest quality with the result being a beer that has a refreshing flavour and crisp texture.
The head chef at L’Anima restaurant, Antonio ‘Lello’ Favuzzi, is also the brand ambassador for Menabrea, and the occasion saw him create a bespoke menu of classic Italian cuisine infused with the complex flavours of Menabrea’s most popular beers. Chef Favuzzi started his cooking journey as a child in Sardinia, where he was influenced by the Southern Italian cooking styles of his Sicilian mother and Puglian father. He began his professional career working at prestigious establishments in Sardinia and Milan before moving to London in 2003, working as the Sous Chef at restauranteur Alan Yau’s Anda in Marylebone. In 2008 he joined L’Anima as Sous Chef before becoming Head Chef in 2014. Chef Favuzzi made the decision to partner with Menabrea thanks to his love of the beer’s flavour profile, which matches superbly with his food.
Specially created for the event was an exquisite five-course ‘slow dining’ menu to complement the flavours of Menabrea, with some of the dishes using Menabrea as an ingredient. The dinner began with an aromatic Ambrata Menabrea drunken oyster, a deep-fried oyster paired with a beer foam. The oyster was delight, with the beer foam proving to be rather unusual.
Next was a gorgeous raw beef tartare with fragrant black truffle, cauliflower and quail’s egg, followed by a pasta course of Menabrea malloreddus with wild boar ragu. The malloreddus is a hand-rolled fresh pasta from Lello’s home area of Sardinia. The pasta was superb – beautifully made, tasty and with a firm texture. It worked wonderfully with the wild boar ragu.
Next was a black cod marinated in the light, refreshing flavours of Menabrea Bionda. The result was a beautifully light and flakey piece of fish. To finish, the dessert was an exquisite raspberry and almond tart with liquorice crumble and yoghurt ice cream. I loved this dessert. The filling was moist and buttery and there was a light crunchiness on the surface of the tart. The crumble was an excellent addition, and the acidity of the ice cream cut paired beautifully with the tart.
This slow dining experience at L’Anima was a great introduction to the Menabrea beer and a wonderful taste of the lovely cooking by Chef Antonio ‘Lello’ Favuzzi. Not only is Menabrea a great drinking beer, it is also a very versatile cooking ingredient. More details on Menabrea and L’Anima Restaurant can be found on their websites.
* Photos by Daniel Lewis