Monday, March 02, 2009

l'anima

i like l'anima. it's been a relatively new discovery, but there's something which feels familiar and comfortable about it.

maybe i like it because it's straightforward. it's unfussy. i like unfussy. it doesn't leave you guessing. the menu comes with a glossary of sorts which guides you through italian food patois.

maybe it reminds me of latium. i miss latium. i'm not sure why i haven't been back in ages...

i digress. back to l'anima. i'd been meaning to revisit since we first came for fluffymonster's birthday last december - i had the tagliolini with wild mushrooms and black truffle and pork belly with mash (and crackling). we didn't have their puddings, because i brought birthday cake from ann-may
. they were absolute darlings about the cake - they took our cake back to the kitchen and plated our slices up after the obligatory embarrassing birthday song and candle malarky. anyway, i wanted to go back and eat the exact same things. and pudding. it's not that i'm risk averse - the other offerings on the menu seemed fabulous - it's just that i know what i like.

so when an opportunity to have dinner with G. came up, i suggested l'anima. and G. was sweet enough to oblige.

having lost george (the love of my life) when he went missing a month ago, i grieved for a week. but i knew i was really sad when even though i had stopped crying, i lost my will to eat for almost three weeks (it's come back since theo randall and duck rice, but that's another story). it's really annoying, this losing my appetite business. i never really seriously lose my appetite. even when i'm sick. but for three weeks i ate very little and subsisted mostly on bananas, green tea, bits of toast and the occasional slice of cake because they were the only things i could fathom eating most days. i guess i wouldn't have minded if i lost some weight in the process, but fortuitous things like that never happen to me. so having arrived at l'anima with a somewhat shrunken stomach and my voracious gluttony not yet fully reinstated, i had to be tactical about what i was going to be able to eat.

i'm sure i could have eaten G. under the table. not that it's a competition. but i normally would have. i'm the greediest person i know. so while G. ate his charcoal scallops with n'duja and salsa verde with gusto – he graciously let me steal a quarter of one of his scallops. it was punchy - the saltiness of the n'duja and the slight tartness from the vinegar in the salsa verde. there was also a hint of something spicy. drizzled with lashings of healthy olive oil and served with a chunk of griddled toast.

nothing was going to stop me from having pudding. i decided to forego having a starter. i would have just ordered pudding. but i think that might have been a little too weird. you can't ask someone out to dinner and then just have pudding. so i had the wild mushroom fettucine with black truffle. don't think parpadelle al funghi at carluccios. nothing against antony carluccio and his eternal mushroom love fest. but this l'anima offering was nothing like that. you could taste all the earthiness of the mushrooms - a superb mix of chanterelles, morels and other bits. they must have been coddled lovingly in their own juices and lots of parsley infused stock and more olive oil, giving the mushrooms a lovely, shiny sheen, which when eaten with the scrapings of black truffle and the delectably blousy fettucine strands made me want to smile endlessly. the velvety slips of pasta slid down effortlessly. i could happily eat a whole heaping bowl of this anytime. i'd probably go bankrupt. but i'd be a happy bankrupt. i did think i preferred it a touch more when it had the slightly thinner tagliolini strands rather than the fettucine - it seemed slightly less delicate this way, but no less delicious.

i'm glad G. ordered the pork belly and mash. mostly so that i could take a picture of it for posterity. but i figured anyone who eats pork belly and mash and enjoys it can't be all that bad. i couldn't bring myself to ask for a forkful, seeing that he was tearing away at it with much enthusiasm. but i remember that it was fabulous - it was crispy moistness, with just sufficient fat rendered out in the roasting process, keeping the pork happily basted, but with a lovely golden crunchy crackling. it comes with a smudgeon of a honeyed spicy sauce, which cuts through the velvety mash and brings an added warmth to the luscious, glistening pork.
i wanted to eat everything on the pudding menu. and because i stopped reading when i saw gianduja cake (read chocolate and hazelnut yumminess). i almost didn't care what ice-cream it came with. it came with fiore di latte. i somehow read that to be coffee. my mind plays strange tricks on me when i read chocolate. fiore di latte, though not defined on the menu, literally means "milk flower". the wisdom of google tells me that fiore di latte is pure unflavoured ice-cream made only from whole milk, fresh cream and sugar. the soft pillowy cake was sufficiently chocolately, without being overpoweringly so. it came with a drizzle of raspberry coulis and a couple of poached raspberries, and a caramelized hazelnut. the ice-cream tasted of, well, milk – it was the type of non-custard based ice-cream that only Italians seem to do well (though on yet another rambly tangent, woollie just sent me a ramsay stem ginger ice-cream recipe he says I absolutely must try – he says it’s like eating frozen double cream).

i can’t remember what G. had for pudding. it was nutty and came with a fruity sorbet I think. it was lovely anyhow.

new is always nice. but it's even nicer if you like it enough to go back and get to know it better. I think l’anima’s going to be one of those places. though I think I’ll live dangerously and order something different the next time.

1 Comments:

Anonymous lyndis said...

you have your own cookie and cupcake store!! So cool!! And yr ramen looks to die for. Come cook in my home please!!

12:18 AM  

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