February 2018 marks the 7th anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Castellano's Presents...'All Things Italian'

The local foodie network has really come to love the 'All Things Events' franchise which has moved from strength to strength since local chef and charcutier, Vincent Castellano introduced 'All Things Pig' back in the Spring. Consequently, once news emerged that the next event would consist of a six-course Italian feast, complete with live opera, Vincent's loyal following sprung into action and purchased their tickets hot from the press – needless to say, I was no exception!

Date and Time: Saturday 23rd July 2011, 19:00 for 19:30 start
Name of Event: Castellano's* Presents...'All Things Italian'
Location: St. Aldhelm's Church, Bedminster, Bristol
Reason for Attendance: Enjoyment of the last two 'All Things...' dinners - Castellano's presents 'All Things Pig' and 'All Things Pig...2'

The evening's proceedings would constitute my third visit to St. Alhelm's Church and, as per the previous visits, I entered in awe of the beautiful Victorian architecture which had been accented with candlelight and tastefully brandished with the 'All Things Italian' motif, courtesy of 'Miller Design UK'.* My dining companion and I received a warm welcome and were shown to our seats which, this time, had been allocated; thus avoiding the bums-on-seats shuffle to accommodate any late-coming groups. Meanwhile, prosecco bottles popped, accompanying tipples readied (taken perhaps from the suggested matches for each course by Gloucester Road's Grape and Grind*) and the venue quickly filled with the buzz from over one-hundred and fifty expectant diners which is testament to the success the evening's former pig-related counterparts.

After a formal introduction and blessing from the establishment, Vincent graced the alter to talk through the 'order of service'; translating the Italian and passionately explaining the origin of his ingredients and the craft behind the execution of the dishes they would create. This aptly whetted our appetites for the first course; bruscetta topped with garden vegetables (roasted aubergine and cauliflower), juicy mozzarella and plum tomato which was served with a generous drizzle of 'salsa verde'. The freshness of the elements comprising this dish was incredible but the slight niggle I had was that the bruscetta itself, although tasty and soaked in authentic Sicilian olive oil, was not quite crisp enough and proved difficult to cut, thus resulting in having to pick it up in a most unladylike fashion!
The antipasti board came next and offered an abundant range of delicious morsels to share with your neighbours. Featuring fresh anchovies, Milano salami and mortadella, I loved that, in the true spirit of Italian cuisine, this course established a real social affair. This was especially evident in terms of the artichoke's deconstruction which, brought about by a team effort, was an art form in itself! The highlight of this course for me however had to be the meatballs which were wonderfully succulent and, slathered in a rich tomato sauce, proved a satisfying accompaniment to the ciabbata which had been sourced from Mark's Bread* in the local vicinity.

Antipasti Board
The starter of 'funghi ravioli con dolcelatte panna' was truly exquisite, I loved the creaminess of the sauce as well as the distinctive twang of blue cheese and the main attraction, a single ravioli parcel delicately filled with fresh mushroom, was just divine – two thumbs up for this dish! Towards the end of this course, the congregation were treated to the haunting notes of a talented duo of opera singers who covered melodies from the likes of Giuseppe Verde and Puccini. Set off by the acoustics of the venue's grandeur, this was a fitting and entertaining aspect of the event, albeit slightly delaying the timings so that the main course was not served until nearly 11:00pm! Arguably though this gave the previous courses ample time to properly digest and suitably led to the lemon granita which would constitute the middle course. Here, tart Sicilian lemons provided a fabulous palate cleanser and, although notably lacking the alcoholic hit which the previous two events delivered at this point, certainly offered a refreshingly bitter-sweet sensation.
Middle Course

The seared cod starring in the main course was a triumph in itself because, despite being delivered more than one hundred and fifty times over, it arrived piping hot, perfectly textured and without a bone in sight. Furthermore, the pancetta was crisp and tasty, the melange of vegetables (although unfortunately the only chilly part of the dish) crunchy and flavoursome and the barolo wine sauce rich and earthy, thus finishing the dish perfectly - impressive indeed!
Results of the tombola followed and five prizes including a voucher for Rosemarino in Clifton Village* and afternoon tea for two at Berwick Lodge* helped to raise more than five-hundred pounds for St. Alhelms bringing the total to over one-thousand five-hundred pounds from all three events combined. It's great, in my opinion, that a decadent foodie experience can also factor so beneficially to this Bristol-based church and the nearby community. It was in celebration of this that the indulgent panna cotta made an entrance. Topped with nocciolo gelato and biscotti, this was a pudding of contrasting textures and tastes, the crunchy alongside the smooth and the deep nutty aromas muddled with a tangy berry compote - I was seriously full up by this point but just couldn’t bear to leave even a single mouthful!
In conclusion, another exceptional event courtesy of Vincent Castellano and his team; both the food and the service were top-notch and well worth the thirty-pound price-tag. In fact, the closing number harmonised by the aforementioned opera singers, Barcarolle's 'Night of Stars, Night of Love', seemed to sum up the proceedings perfectly; Vincent, the unquestionable star of the night gave another commendable culinary performance, thus supporting the notion that he never fails to deliver and, in addition to this, there was indubitably a lot of love in the room for all those involved in the evening's arrangement. Keep an eye out for 'All Things Moroccan' in the Autumn as, if the previous three events are anything to go by, it's set to be a corker!

You can also visit Vincent at Bristol's Farmer's Market - every Wednesday on Corn Street, Bristol


  1. Hi. You beat me to it ... but I posted this evening. Been reliving the food and the atmosphere. Maybe see you again at All Things Moroccan?

    PS I've enjoyed reading your other reviews. Will have try a few of your recommendations before too long.

  2. Thank you for your comment, just had a little read of your review which is fab :0)

    Was lovely to meet you and I'm definitely hoping to be at the next one - can't wait to see what the team will come up with next!

  3. You beat me to it too! Hopefully mine should be up later. Fab review, relived the night all over again after reading! ;)

  4. For the record, the sopranos were Vikki Champion and Maita Robinson, who will be performing a recital 'All Things American' (!!) early next year in Bristol - details to be announced in due course. By the way, if anyone has photos of the performance, please email to mail@ponita.org.uk