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Our communal table

It's looking pretty grey and miserable outside at the moment and the steady stream of raindrops hitting the kitchen roof lights confirms that winter is well and truly on the way. We hosted our very first lunch club yesterday and fortunately, unlike today, we were lucky enough to enjoy a beautiful, golden hued autumn day. We welcomed 8 guests from the local area, a mixture of both new and familiar faces, to join us at the table for a 4 course lunch of flavours celebrating 'Italy in autumn.'

Autumn is one of our favourite seasons, the produce is bountiful and the spectrum of colours lends itself to a beautiful table set up. We used a mixture of locally sourced pumpkins and fruit to create an inviting table scape for our guests.

In terms of menu, we like to keep things authentic and seasonal, where possible. Focusing on an Italian menu naturally lent itself well to present an all vegetable menu. Italians really seem to be the masters of getting the best out of their seasonal ingredients elevating humble produce to heady heights while adding small touches of luxury here and there, using the prized white truffle. We designed a menu to showcase the very best of autumn ingredients and, hopefully, bring something new for our guests to discover.

The menu we chose focused specifically on northern Italy, arguably the gastronomic centre of the country . Our pumpkin filled pasta, known as Tortelli alla Mantovana, is attributed specifically to the city of Mantua in the region of Lombardy but is often featured on menus in restaurants across the different northern Italian regions. Our recipe was gifted to us by our very dear friend Lisa who hails from Toronto but has been in a deep love affair with Italy and it's cuisine since her student days. Having moved to Milan, the capital of Lombardy, for a year at the tender age of 19 to master the Italian language, 20+ years and 3 beautiful children later, Lisa is still in love with Italy, it's food and her partner Stefano who hails from Emilia Romagna, another northern region adjoining Lombardy. Lisa entrusted us with her very special tortelli recipe which was passed to her by Stefano's nonna. It's a truly authentic dish combining roasted sweet delica Pumpkin, parmesan cheese, crumbled amaretti biscuits plus the special and somewhat unusual ingredient, quince mostarda - pickled quince steeped in a heady mustard infused syrup. Served with nutty brown butter, crispy sage leaves and parmesan cheese, Tortelli alla Mantovana is a magical combination of sweet and salty flavours and a treasured regional dish.

We cherish the opportunity to share some of our favourite food through our lunch and supper clubs and hopefully introduce new flavours and dishes that are unlikely to be found elsewhere locally. However, for us, just as important as the food itself is the opportunity for us to create a community event and share our table with likeminded food enthusiasts. Yesterday's event was so special. Not only was it our first lunch club event but we were lucky enough to be able to enjoy it with a wonderful group of guests who came with open minds, friendly chatter and, hopefully, left with full tummies and happy memories. We are already looking forward to our next event. Perhaps we will see you there.

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