Evoluzione Basilicata Evening with Chef Mario Demuro

April 23, 2015


ARRIVEDERCI, SICILY; CIAO, BASILICATA! For the second stop of their Guest Chef events, Hotel Xenia welcomed Chef Demuro Maria and his team to take diners on a culinary journey across the Basilicata region with a five course dinner paired with wine. Part 1 of the Guest Chef events took us to Sicily with Michelin star Chef Pietro D’Agostino, and I was curious to see how the culture and palate of Basilicata compared. This Southern Italian region couldn’t have asked for better ambassadors — from the way Team Basilicata beamed with pride as they announced that the province of Matera was named European Capital of Culture 2019, to the thought and care that went into the dishes —  fusing English elements to Italian dishes as their way of thanking London for having them, and the way their faces lit up and hands animated (naturally) when they described their region’s beautiful mountains…truly, Team Basilicata made us feel privileged to witness their love for their region. 

Have food (and culture), will travel (to West London from Shoreditch)

"Demuro Mario has focused on the most suitable techniques to form his ideal kitchen strongly based on local flavors, but open to the “challenges" of the renewal of both food and, especially, of the approach to customers , changing the approach in favor of a catering kitchen that fits better to the rhythms of everyday life. The vision of the kitchen of Demuro Mario is based on meditteranetà modernity and absolute respect for the best raw materials that owns all of Basilicata . The traditions and culture of the people of Lucania is feeding one aspect that unites them in the diversity of its culture. His sense of kitchen speaks of lights, colours, flavours, tastes and scents, the times and fashions, stories and every day, but especially in culture."  Hotel Xenia, on our Guest Chef Mario Demurio.

We embarked on our gastronomical journey through Basilicata with an Aperitif —  cozze e fagioli mousse, made of mussels, pasta, and beans.  The liquidised mussels and foam represented the Ionian sea. Although I found the flavours and texture confusing, I could appreciate the inventiveness of the dish and was impressed by its delicate presentation.

Our first main, ‘The Potato Makes The Eggs’ was a rich and delicious marriage of Porcini, cauliflower cheese, and fondue of Caciocavallo; a cheese made from very prestigious milk specific to the Basilicata region also known as ‘cheese on horseback’  derived from the way the are left to mature by straddling them upon a horizontal branch. This dish was by far my favourite of our five courses — I was delighted by the way the gooey egg oozed out when I sliced into the dark centre!

Our third dish and second main was 'Cream of broad beans’ made from Cavatellini pesto chicory and Crusco Tipico Lucano — a pepper grown in a specific area of Basilicata. The peppers are known for 'drying out’ (a process it must undertake to become ‘crusco’) and the texture was curious, much like bacon bits I find. 

The fourth course was lamb chop stuffed with asparagus and carrots, and Timballo spinach with macedonia vegatable served with Anglianico reduction. Personally, I’ve gone off lamb ever since I’ve become semi-vegetarian — I find the taste of the meat too ‘much’ and don’t enjoy it the way I used to. So this dish was a ‘no’ for me.

Although it was admittedly very pretty to look at and to photograph, a sentiment my fellow foodies  evidently agreed with. 

My delightful dining companions: Tamsin, Vi Vian, and Ellie.

Our fifth and final course was a dessert that was sweet in more ways than one. Team Basilicata explained in a sincerity most moving, that ’The Soil’ was composed of brownie crumbled to symbolise the earth that links us together. With meringue mushrooms growing out of the chocolate garden, the traditionally British chocolate brownie and lemon tart with an Italian twist of Candonga strawberry sorbet was their ascot of Italian-English relations and their way of saying ‘Thank you, London, for having us.’ The tartness of the lemon helped ‘calm’ the sweetness of the chocolate brownie; and the light sorbet was a very refreshing note to end a satisfyingly heavy dinner. 

The next Guest Chef event at Hotel Xenia will be on 26th May 2015, featuring Chef Teresa Buongiorno from Puglia. Tickets are £65 per person which includes welcome aperitifs and paired with wine. Personally I think the price is a steal; given that you get a five-course dinner with wine and a cultural and culinary journey across an Italian region. Think of it as travelling with your tastebuds! x 

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  1. I really like the idea of the guest chef event and the dessert looks amazing!!

    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

  2. I love the concept of 'the potato makes the egg' - always a good combo at any rate x

  3. That is ridiculously good value!!!! I was expecting to read that it was £100+ per person, so wow!

    Rosie xx

  4. Isn't it just Rosie?! Long live the cheap and SUPER cheerful! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  5. It really was, and it was made lovelier by the anecdotes and descriptions of the ingredients and of Basilicata! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  6. It's all about the light, lady! Hope to see you at the next one! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  7. This almost looks too good to eat...well almost! Love the idea of this as well, might have to have a nose at the deal!

    Annabel ♥
    Mascara & Maltesers

  8. You should definitely go to the next one Annnabel! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  9. Wish I could reprise The Potato Lays The Egg for dinner tonight, so hangry! Really lovely to meet you finally Jasiminne! And I finally believe you about the Ferrero Rocher egg - though they're £44 on Ebay now. Stockpile them next year and make a mint? xx

    Tamsin / A Certain Adventure