Dinner at Acciuga – #ZomatoMeetup

I was invited to a #ZomatoMeetup along with 20 or so food bloggers at Acciuga, an Italian restaurant on Kensington High Street. We got to pre-select our 3 course meal in advance and it all sounded amazing, so I was very excited by the time the day came around.

The restaurant isn’t exactly in an area where there’s a lot of footfall in my opinion, so the walk from the station took a little longer than anticipated, but it was certainly worth it.

We arrived and were greeted by friendly faces and welcome drinks. Even though I don’t drink, I could tell the people around me were enjoying Accigua’s new ‘Madness of Gold’ cocktail.

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We were then introduced to head chef Guglielmo Arnulfo, who is from the Liguria region of Italy and he explained that the passion behind his food comes from wanting people to rediscover traditional Italian cuisine. And that’s exactly what we did!snacks

We got to nibble on different types of bread. Two of them were fried doughs – one was plain, but the other had the delicious fragrance of sage with a little salty kick which I loved. There were breadsticks too of course, but my absolute favourite was the Focaccia Ligure topped with caramelised onions… just thinking about it right now is making me drool! Focaccia is my absolute weakness – I can easily eat a whole slab of it in seconds, which I don’t think is a good thing…
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We were then taken to the kitchen where chef Arnulfo did a demonstration of his signature poached egg with fresh black truffle. I didn’t have the best viewpoint so when I heard the whirring of a machine I was a little confused, then I realised ‘poached’ was what he was trying to make it look like – he was going for the deconstructed method.DSC_0969

The fluffy eggs certainly intrigued me but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to try it on this occasion – but I suppose that’s a good enough reason to go there again, right?IMG_4666

Walking into the space where we were going to dine was very exciting. I liked the bright pop art on the walls and seeing a long table set up like this always fills me with joy. The one thing I love just as much as food itself is talking about food with like minded people.IMG_4669

A shout out to the lovely Alexandra from Zomato who came up with the genius idea for this anchovy which opens up to a list of names of all the attendees and their blogs – so clever and such a great touch! It was a great conversation starter and it allowed people to get their phones out and start following each other on Twitter & Instagram straight away.DSC_0972

It was so nice to actually put a face to some of these names. It turns out that I already follow a lot of these people on their culinary adventures and knew far too much about them than they’re probably comfortable with, but I was really pleased to meet them all in person.DSC_0978

Luckily we had already pre-selected our meals so we didn’t waste time deciding on what to order, but it all sounded incredible.IMG_4682

I went for the breaded and fried Mediterranean Anchovies to start. Did I forget to mention the story behind all this talk of anchovies? Well it’s because that’s the meaning of ‘Accigua’, which happens to be a staple ingredient of Liguria. So how could I not try the anchovies after all that?IMG_4690

It came with a simple tomato sauce in a clever tin; I think we were all surprised that it didn’t taste overly fishy, which I know usually puts people off from eating pungent fish like anchovies unless it’s hidden in things. DSC_0992

For my main, I went for the Trofie Pasta with Basil Pesto, which also had green beans and potato in it. This was the best decision ever! Everyone else had serious food envy as they’d gone for one of the meaty dishes.
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I have never had this style of pasta before so I was intrigued and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was absolutely delicious in my opinion. I heard that someone said it wasn’t al dente enough, but to be honest with you, I thought it was cooked to perfection. I loved how the basil sauce wrapped around each piece of the pasta and the beans and potato added a fuller texture to each mouthful. I let my fellow neighbours have a try and they all seemed to love it too – what a great dish!DSC_0988

I didn’t get to try the other dishes as they weren’t halal, so I can’t really pass any judgement on them, but I managed to take a few photos. This was the Slow Cooked Beef with Nebbiolo Wine Sauce & Vegetables.DSC_0996

Piemontese Pork & Beef Stuffed Ravioli with Vegetable Sauce, which I heard some people raving about down the table. But there seemed to be some mixed opinions elsewhere.DSC_0999

The Salted Cod Fried with Garlic Sauce & Panissa would’ve been my other choice but I’m still glad I went for the veggie option – mine looked a bit more filling than a lot of the other dishes too!

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For dessert it looked like everyone pretty much went for the same dish – the Cream of Pistachio Millefeuille and Raspberry. I don’t know about anyone else, but this was not what I was expecting. I also didn’t seem to have raspberry in mine, which was a shame as it could’ve done with some sharpness. But I appreciated the fact they were trying to do something a bit different – maybe the Italian take on the millefeuille?DSC_1019The pistachio cream was really tasty, but I must admit, the rest of it was lost on me. Maybe it’s because I have had some of the best millefeuille in the world when I was in Paris so this was hard to compare. But the ‘pastry’ element in this pot was lacking the flaky lightness you expect from pastry. Presentation wise though, I am a sucker for food served in jars and quirky pots!

Overall I had a wonderful night; I met some lovely people and ate some delicious food. And if I’m ever craving that basil pesto trofie pasta again, I know exactly where I’ll be going. Thank you to Zomato for my invite and for helping me discover this place.

If you’re in London and love food, then download their app – it’s awesome! And I truly mean it, because I have been able to refer to it many times recently when looking for inspiration on where to go with friends and it has been really useful.

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