Aldo Zilli cooks up spectacular Truffle-topped Winter Warmers…

Well-loved foodie personality Aldo Zilli has created some exceptional hearty Italian winter dishes at San Carlo.

Sitting in Cicchetti, I wonder why I’ve not been back for the last few months, the staff are always on form and the kitchen doesn’t miss a beat. On this rarest of occasions, we were treated to a live masterclass from the man himself on the art of real, proper, gnocchi.

San Carlo’s Executive Consultant Chef, Aldo Zilli, hosted a celebration of Italian winter food. The highlight of these seasonal dishes is undoubtedly the white truffle – Italy’s most treasured winter ingredient, fresh from Alba in Piedmont in the North.

Aldo cooked up a delightful Gnocchi White Truffle Pesto with a more than generous helping of truffle shavings to top it off. Warm and comforting, this dish didn’t disappoint, and I must admit I did enjoy witnessing the process of making the gnocchi – although I shouldn’t think he’ll be cooking at the table with every order.

Next followed a show-stopping Pumpkin Risotto featuring yet anther generous helping of white truffle. When you consider that at the time of typing that truffle is setting restaurants back around £3,000 per kilo, it gives a fair idea of just how luxuriously indulgent these dishes really are.

The final savoury dish we tried didn’t feature truffle but something just as exciting to foodies, ‘nduja. This current market trend is sweeping across pizzas and sourdough dishes alike but this was the first time I’ve had ‘nduja with a light fish dish.

The dish, White Cod on a base of tomato lentils, really is one for those who like their food with spice. I’m a huge fan of ‘nduja and I was really pleased to see it make its way into a dish of this class.

Now if all that wasn’t enough, the team at Cicchetti decided to drop one more tiny dish on us, something to just add that little bit of sweetness. San Carlo’s homemade gelato in a brioche bun, I mean, wow. This, I’ve actually had before, its a staple pre-lunch dish in Sicily and it tastes as good here as it did there. The gelato was creamy and full of flavour with a hazelnut sprinkle to just add that extra texture.

I can’t wait to nip back in for a coffee and another helping, I’m sure you’ll be seeing this all over the Instagram accounts of Manchester’s food lovers in the coming months.

Highlights from Ciccheti’s Winter Menu include;

Buffalo Mozarella grilled roasted squash, pumpkin seeds, chilli and truffle honey (£6.95)

Cavatelli with sausage & borlotti beans served in a clay pot (£8.95)

Gnocchi gorgonzola in a baked Parmesan basket (£8.95)

Risotto with porcini mushrooms served in a Parmesan basket (£9.95)

Cod with nduja Calabrian soft spicy sausage and lentils (£11.95)

Risotto with pumpkin, squash and parmesan (served inside a pumpkin) (£9.95)

Smoked burrata with Torpedino tomatoes – (served in a smoke-filled cloche) (£8.95)

Sicilian brioche ice cream sandwich (own baked brioche and vanilla gelato – made for one but big enough for two) (£8.95)

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House of Fraser, King Street West, Manchester
sancarlo.co.uk/restaurants/manchester-cicchetti

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