Sunday, September 21, 2008

Caldesi in Campagna, Bray

Old Mill Lane, 
Bray, SL6 2BG

A while back I did a course at La Cucina Caldesi in Marylebone and I've always promised myself that I would visit one of Giancarlo Caldesi's restaurants. On one of the bread courses at the Bertinet Kitchen I met Gregorio Piazza, the head chef at the new Caldesi restaurant in Bray, Berkshire.

When we were planning a weekend away for my birthday we decided that we would book a meal at Caldesi in Campagna.

Bray is a lovely little village about ten minutes from Maidenhead and is blessed with some of the best restaurants in Britain, if not the world.

Caldesi in Campagna is in a quiet little road off of the high street and is well set out. The tables are nicely spaced giving a good amount of privacy. The building is an old cottage and is well decorated and the original brick fireplaces and well done lighting give the place a really comfortable and “homely” atmosphere.

We had a drink at the bar when we arrived and Gregorio popped out to see us and have a quick chat. While we were talking, Giancarlo arrived and also said hello before they both disappeared to the kitchen.

We were then shown to our table and our orders taken.

I started with Uovo con asparagi e tartufo which was asparagus, truffle and poached egg. The asparagus, despite not being in season, was really tasty. It was slightly chargrilled which gave it a great flavour and the texture was nice and crunchy. The large slithers of truffle just added to the whole experience – I really enjoyed it. My wife had scallops which she said were really good. She is quite fussy about her seafood and said that this dish was one of only three that she has had in Britain where she can really taste the sea.

My main course was Tortelloni con mozzarella e melanzane - aubergine and mozzarella tortelloni in a cherry tomato sauce. The sauce was superb, it had a wonderful aftertaste of chilli that, while not very hot, added an edge to the dish that raised above it above other pasta in sauce dishes. I mentioned this to Giancarlo, who had been wandering around the tables, and he said that I should mop up the rest of it with some bread, which I duly did.

For dessert I had Stecche di Bombalini which were doughnut sticks with a crème patisserie and jam and my wife had a tiramisu of which I had a spoonful. Both were excellent and it was a perfect end to the meal.

Caldesi in Campagna is a really nice restaurant, very friendly and welcoming and with some great food.

As an added bonus, Giancarlo popped over again and invited us into the kitchen to say goodbye to Gregorio and we took some photos. It was a fabulous end to a great evening which we both thoroughly enjoyed.

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