Culinary Causerie

With Lesley Williams

Positano

Although August wasn’t particularly sunny and warm, there was the odd occasion when the temperature was high enough to sit outside and enjoy an alfresco dinner. There are not many restaurants in Swansea, that get the sun late in the day, but we have found a few places that you can sit outside until sunset. One such place is the Italian restaurant, Positano in The J Shed in the Maritime Quarter.

The outside seating area is slightly lower than street level and has containers of shrubbery that provide a certain amount of seclusion from passersby. Olive trees flank the entrance and give the area a Mediterranean feel. The colourful hanging baskets are most impressive – someone here evidently has greenfingers. The chunky wooden furniture is comfortable, and the tables are large, allowing plenty of space for the social distancing that we are slowly becoming accustomed to.

The menu is full of traditional Italian fare with pastas and pizzas, along with fish and meats to satisfy the carnivore. Fritto misto de mare is a favourite of mine; little pieces of fish and seafood deep fried in a light batter – here we had whitebait, prawns, cockles and mussels in the most delicate of crunchy batters.

There is much debate about how an authentic pasta carbonara should be made. Should it contain cream or simply eggs? I’m a purist and believe that a true carbonara should simply be pasta, eggs and cured pork cheek, pecorino cheese and pepper. I’ve heard it said that the British prefer it with a touch of cream – in fact some restaurants ask if you want it the Italian way or with cream. Here it is served for the British palate; it was very delicious none the less.

Rack of lamb is such a treat – somehow it seems so much more glamorous than plain old lamb chops. The lamb was perfectly pink on the inside, while the fat was crisp and so full of flavour that it would have been rude not to pick them up and clean the bones.

Pan fried chicken breast with mushroom, garlic and pancetta served with chips and salad sounds pretty simple, but here it was elevated to another level. The chicken was succulent and the sauce was deeply rich with the flavour of garlic and fungi – the sort of sauce that calls for bread to mop it up.

There’s a good wine list at Positano which features some lesser known grape varieties. I am a newcomer to pecorino – no not the cheese but the wine. It’s produced in the Abruzzo region of Italy and is a crisp dry white wine but has a richer feel than pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. I was introduced to it while watching Saturday Kitchen’s wine expert Helen McGinn, who recommended it.

Next time it’s sunny pop along to Positano for a spot of la dolce vita.

Positano, Unit 2 The J Shed, Kings Road, SA1 8PL Tel: 01792 462400

Sauce-it

Not only do I love to read cookery books, but I’m also partial to watching foodie programmes on the telly. There’s one in particular that if I miss it being broadcast live, I will watch on catch up at a later date – Saturday Kitchen Live. It’s a joke in our house that I’m not to be disturbed when Matt’s on. So, it interested me to learn that the presenter Matt Tebbutt had launched a new food delivery service called Sauce-it.net. Each week there is a different box of ingredients, sourced from suppliers to the catering trade. The difference from other food boxes is that you don’t just get small sample pots of ingredients, but full-size tins, jars and packets.

I ordered the ‘Feasting’ box – it’s a bit of a carnivores dream with a huge tomahawk steak, free range spatchcocked chicken, a whole boneless shoulder of lamb, six Dexter beef burgers and a dozen Merguez sausages as well as a huge range of accompaniments. It was a bit like having a luxury hamper delivered with great quality olive oil – a whole litre of it in a most beautiful tin, rose harissa, sherry aioli, caramalised peppers, gherkins and lots more too numerous to mention – it even included brioche rolls and hand cut chips. Delivered by courier it was packed in a sturdy box with ice packs and an insulating layer of sheep’s wool which kept it completely chilled despite being delivered on a hot day.

On unpacking the box I had to make a decision, as to what to eat in the next couple of days and what to freeze, as there was clearly enough food to feed a family of 6 for a long weekend. Which is what I think it has been designed to do – what could be easier than ordering one of these to be delivered to your holiday rental, taking away the faff of shopping on your first day away?

With clear instructions on what sauce or marinade to put with each cut of meat, I didn’t have to even think about recipes. The quality is exceptional – this is the whole point of sauce-it.net, they source all the products from suppliers to the restaurant trade.

The steak fed three of us generously, there was 1.7 kg of lamb, and the chicken was big enough to feed four generously with leftovers for sandwiches.

The Feasting Box is priced at £160 including delivery, other boxes are available, and the range will be expanding to include boxes designed by chefs such as another of my favourites Sabrina Ghayour who specialises in Middle Eastern cuisine.

It won’t replace my regular local shop, but it is certainly a treat to have such a varied hamper delivered to my door.

http://www.sauce-it.net

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