Bless the Italians - just think of all the good stuff they have given us! Their Roman forefathers gave us Latin, the basis of so many modern Western European languages. Then there are artists like Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Caravaggio who produced some of the most famous works of art in existence. They gave us scientists like Archimedes, Galileo Galilei and Marconi; as well as musicians like Puccini, Monteverdi and Vivaldi whose compositions still provide so much pleasure today. And they gave us wonderful words that roll mellifluously off the tongue like bellissimo, attraversiamo and arrividedrci.
But of all the gifts that the Italians gave us, the ones I appreciate most are those you can eat and drink: the fresh tingle of Prosecco on the tongue; the indulgent layers of a tiramisu; the lusciousness of a creamy burrata; the deep satisfaction of a bowl of spaghetti alla carbonara; or the cheesy joy of a pizza. These are all the things that come to mind when one thinks of Italian cuisine - but of course there is much more to the Italian food than this list of old favourites. Something that you sadly don't often see on London Italian menus istagliata di manzo or beef tagliata. This consists of an excellent piece of steak that is lightly grilled to medium-rareness and then sliced across the grain into thin slices before being served, possibly on a bed of leaves. Like so many Italian dishes it relies heavily on the quality of ingredients, so don't skimp on anything. Much as I love steak, I do feel a little guilty if there is more meat than vegetables on the plate, so I have paired mine with some roasted Piccolo vine tomatoes. These sweet, aromatic and flavourful cherry vine tomatoes taste as gorgeous as they look and make the perfect foil for a juicy piece of steak. Buon appetito!