Thursday, 2 June 2016

The value of European partnership expressed in food served in Bootle

I wasn't sure what to expect when I was invited as Mayor to the L20 Hotel School which is part of Bootle's Hugh Baird College. Having been once I wouldn't hesitate to go again and I am telling everyone I meet how excellent L20 is and that they should visit.

The occasion was an evening celebrating Italian food as part of a European partnership between four colleges. The initiative came from the Italian partners Pietro d'Abano from Abano Terme who had recruited L20 from the UK, Raa School from Norway and Justus von LiebigSchule from Mannheim. Their plan was to showcase the food and wine from their district of Italy which is near Venice.

It was really positive to see a region keen to celebrate their cuisine with European partners without all the misplaced anxieties some British people have about loosing their identity. They saw their food as part of a diverse European culture that would be enhanced by making connections beyond their region with others in Europe. Their students journeyed to all their partners to prepared the meal working alongside their hosts. The same menu was served simultaneously in all four venues and we were linked by Sype.

some of the Italian students and lecturers with L20 students
Before each course the students explained what they had prepared and told us about the local wines they had selected to go along with that course.

And so to the meal. This is not going to be a restaurant review, just take it from me it was first rate. I certainly came across flavours and ingredients I had not experienced before. After the appertizers we moved to a starter. To UK palates this was the dish with ingredients that are seldom eaten or prepared here in this fashion . The appearance of the dish was very striking even dramatic-the black of the cuttlefish ink contrasting with the white of the creamed dried cod and the yellow of the polenta.

I confess that I have not come eaten cuttlefish before although I do recall watching a TV food programme when a cuttlefish stew was prepared. It was certainly different and I liked it. In truth the dried creamed cod was even more of a departure from British taste

We then had a very fine risotto with peas and local (ie Venice) sweet cured ham and then it was on to the main course.This apparently was a very typical Venetian dish- rabbit with wild herbs accompanied by white asparagus .

It was good to see the Italian and UK staff and students working so enthusiastically together and freely admitting that they were learning from each other.
L20 students explaining what they had learnt from the partnership

Most of the other diners were regulars at L20, people who turn up for the special chef nights and come along for the evening and lunchtime meals that are served every week. I spoke to many of them and they were clearly very knowledgeable about there food and every bit as impressed with this European night as I was.

I have pointed out to my daughters that L20 are doing a special Farther's Day lunch.......

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