A long while ago I received an invitation to go and discover the new range of sauces from Bertolli. My immediate reaction was skeptical but I read further and realised that Gennaro Contaldo, Italian Chef and mentor to Jamie Oliver was involved. Gennaro is a man that knows his food, and I was fairly sure he was not going to put his name to, or endorse a product, unless it performs. Additionally I was still surprised at just how good the Tilda stir fry rices are, so I happily accepted, and one very hot summer afternoon went to L’atelier des Chefs to meet Gennaro and to sample the sauces.
After several glasses of reviving Processo we got down to cook with Gennaro. He walked us through and demonstrated the Soffritto method of making the sauce, saute finely chopped carrots, celery and onion in olive oil with a crushed clove of garlic and then cook with tinned tomatoes. Bertolli use exactly the same method to make their sauces.
We then set to work making our own Arrabiata sauces under Gennaro’s expert guidance, the finished sauces were duly decanted into Bertolli jars with personalised labels to take home.
We all then sat down to watch Gennaro cook us supper using the ready made sauces. Listening to Gennaro it was obvious that he really believed in the products and was happy to use it on the evenings that he does not make his sauce. He stressed that it was very good value (one jar will feed 4 as the sauce is fairly concentrated and packed with flavour) and he seemed very proud of the fact that the sauce does not have any additives (“There are no Es”). He was also full of anecdotes and stories accompanied by the appropriate Italian gestures and was most entertaining to listen to and watch.
We were cooked a meat ragu, a mushroom and vegetable sauce (here I learnt that to reduce mushrooms you first add water to them, which draws the water out of them). My favourite dish of the evening was the mackerel poached in the arrabiata sauce. I was astonished that the fish was not fried off first, but no, simply heat your sauce, add some capers and extra herbs and lie the fish fillets in to poach. How easy is that? I love both mackerel and capers so made a note to make this again.
Cooking done the taste test came of the dishes. I was astonished. Jaw hitting the floor, lip lickingly astonished. These sauces are amazing, really really good. I honestly would not have believed that they came out of a jar had I not watched the cooking. Several days later I was still muttering “It’s hard to believe its from a jar” to myself. Definitely a store cupboard keeper and a product I have enjoyed using and eating!
Many thanks to Bertolli, Gennaro and Wildcard for a lovely evening, and the goodie bag with sauces, Bertolli apron and chef’s hat (yes I did wear mine at the birthday party in the pub afterwards) and the fantastic books, I am hugely enjoying the Supplement to the Italian Dictionary!
I attended the event as a guest of Bertolli.