On the Fourth Day of Christmas
“Your 2010 Christmas present is 12 memorable meals out over the next 12 months, featuring
Modern Italian Cuisine
High Class Dim Sum
in London, Surrey and farther afield.”
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” a tasting menu at La Luna Restaurant in Godalming, Surrey.
I first heard of La Luna when I demonstrated Thermomix to Chef Valentino Gentile and some of his über efficient and knowledgeable staff. This was Valentino’s second Bimby, as Thermomix is known in Italy where it is a feature in the majority of households for its prowess in making pasta dough. My husband John did his research for my oh-so-marvelous Christmas present and it was obvious that La Luna, known as the best restaurant in the greater Guildford area, was a worthy choice.
Now it may surprise you to hear this, Dear Reader, but I love to eat. And I love to cook. To me, cooking is an act of love and I would always put my heart into my cooking for my customers at Le Bistro du Lac in Raymond, Maine USA. So when I go to a really good restaurant I like to give the chef the opportunity to put his or her heart into cooking a meal for me. I contacted La Luna and asked if Chef Valentino would care to create a tasting menu for us, and was delighted when the answer was yes.
We live about 20 minutes by car from Godalming and because we expected to enjoy our meal with some gorgeous Italian wines, we decided to be green and take the bus. Quelle aventure ! Off we go to the bus stop, clutching the itinerary I had gotten on line. Itinerary, yes, but fares, no. I was unable to find out beforehand how much it would cost us to get a Stagecoach South bus from Tongham to Guildford and from Guildford to Godalming. Surprise, surprise, the bus driver didn’t know either!! We ended up paying for a DayRider fare which, at £7.30 per person ended up just short of the taxi fare home. So much for an incentive to reduce our carbon footprint …
After a pleasant but expensive bus ride to Godalming we arrived at La Luna about 20 minutes before opening time. Surveying the scene for a way to pass the time, right across the street we found 5 Wharf Street and its extensive cocktail menu. It’s been ages since either of us had had a proper cocktail so we took the plunge and had a “Yellow Belly” and a “Million Dollar Margarita” in this very nice spot. While we only took advantage of the cocktail bar, 5 Wharf Street is also a full-fledged restaurant with quite a yummy looking menu that we would be tempted to try another time we are hungry in Godalming.
After draining our glasses of their delicious brews we crossed the road and pulled open the door of La Luna. There we were greeted by name (!) by Sommelier Daniele, just one of the many courteous and knowledgeable staff members on this busy Saturday night. And there, awaiting us at our table, was our specially created Tasting Menu.
The prowess of the Thermomix was omni present in our tasting menu. Purées, salsa verde, stuffing, pasta… all can be made quickly, easily and to a high level of consistency in the Thermomix by professional chefs and home cooks alike. The prowess of Chef Valentino Gentile delighted our taste buds throughout our meal.
Flavoursome fried triangles of chickpea flour with an intense tomato purée; accompanied by a wonderfully light foccaccia. Served with a glass of Prosecco
Slow cooked belly of pork, roast fennel, apple & celeriac puree, vegetable “carpione”
A real delight of modern Italian cooking. Served with a glass of Etna Rosso, much like a Pinot Noir, with enough acidity to cut through the fat of the belly pork
Lobster, langoustine and courgette linguine
Just a hint of tomato and herbs holding together the perfectly-cooked linguine didn’t overpower the fresh lobster and langoustine. The thin strips of courgette “linguine” provided a different texture in this dish. Served with a glass of Venezia Giulia Sauvignon 2009
Baked seabass, sprouting broccoli, pickled caper berries, salsa verde
Fresh, tasty, perfectly cooked sea bass meets an assortment of accompaniments with great success. The salsa verde was tops at enhancing the freshness of the fish. Served with a glass of Vermentino di Sardinia
Free range quail, smoked ham, Jerusalem artichoke, parmesan foam
The best dish of the evening. Layer upon layer of flavours intermingled to delight our taste buds. Subtle hints of sage and breadcrumbs in the stuffing set off by the smoked ham surrounding the boneless quail. Amazing depth of flavours in the gravy / sauce / reduction. Comforting, trendy and supremely delicious. Served with a glass of powerful and spicy Aglianico
Torta di caramello, cioccolato e noci pecan, gelato al caffe (Chocolate, fudge & pecan pie, espresso ice cream)
Scrumptious and yummy yet light enough to finish off a big meal. Beautiful assortment of complimentary flavours. Served with a glass of sweet Latinia
Tiramisu, traditionally made
A perfectly balanced example of this classic dolci. Served with a glass of sweet Privilegio
At an amazingly reasonable £30 per person for our five-course tasting menu (we chose our desserts à la carte) our meal at Godalming’s La Luna Restaurant was every bit as good as meals we’ve eaten in Michelin starred restaurants in England and France. John dined last week at Restaurant d’Antan sancerrois (one Michelin star in Bourges, France) and he said he enjoyed our meal at La Luna even more!
We must congratulate and thank La Luna’s charming, knowledgeable and efficient staff for helping to make our evening complete. Daniele chose superb Italian wines from La Luna’s 100% Italian wine list which enhanced each dish and enthralled our palates. All the staff was courteous and discreet, looking after and anticipating our every need. Everyone who looked after us was Italian and had been classically trained in Continental service. Must I agree with Michel Roux Jr on his latest BBC Two programme “Service” that the British need to step up their game in this rewarding career? There is some serious competition to be reckoned with at La Luna!
Buon appetito !