A few weeks ago I was invited to an intimate dinner during Italian Cuisine Week with Campari’s newest gin, O’ndina at Harry’s Dolce Vita, London. The evening was to be a drinks reception followed by an intimate bespoke dinner and more delicious O’ndina cocktails in Harry’s Dolce Vita’s Canaletto private dining room. A quick internet search later and wow, just WOW!
Harry’s Dolce Vita was been inspired by the original Harry’s Bar which opened in London in 1979. Initially a private members’ club, it soon became a one of the most fashionable and attractive dining places in town. Harry’s Dolce Vita has built on the ideals of Harry’s Bar, bringing together Italian food, drink and hospitality to incredible effect. The Canaletto Room itself comprises of one, large dining table which accommodates only 14 guests…how on earth did I manage to get an invite to this?
I had never heard of Italian Cuisine Week, but after a touch of research, turns out it’s a real thing (there wasn’t ever any doubt, but still.) So, apparently, The International Week of Italian Cuisine is an annual event which promotes Italy’s gastronomic culture across the world, showcasing its quality and excellence. Cuisine is one of the essential components of Italy’s identity and culture and is a central aspect of many Italian brands. I love Italian food, I love gin, this was a no brainer. It took me less than a moment to RSVP.
So on 21st November, after a rather hectic start to the week, a delayed train and a quick stop off at another gin event, the lovely Gin A Ding Ding and I headed across London to Knightsbridge for this intriguing event. I must say I was pretty excited when I found out she had been invited too, although I do love meeting new people, I’m always a little nervous about going to places on my own, there is a shy side to me…until I’ve had a couple of gins.
We arrived at the main entrance and explained we were there for the Campari event, and were very politely and apologetically ushered outside and around the corner. Apparently the Canaletto Room is accessed via a completely different entrance. It reminded me of the old Speakeasies of the 1920s and added even more excitement and exclusivity to the evening.
The door opened to reveal an absolutely stunning dining room with oak panelling, brass framed Venetian mirrors, striking Murano glass wall lights and what appeared to be a gold ceiling. The table was beautifully laid and already adorned with many tasty treats and nibbly bits. My favourites were definitely the truffle arancini and the parmesan tuilles.
Cocktail in hand, it was soon time to sit down.
Before the meal began we found out a little more about our O’ndina Gin cocktail. The Italia ’60 is an all-Italian, sparkling cocktail which compliments O’ndina’s herbaceous feel beautifully.
- 35ml O’ndina Gin
- 15ml lemon juice
- 10ml sugar syrup
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- Shake and fine strain the above into coupé glass
- Top with Prosecco and garnish with a sprig of micro basil
Each guest had their own menu, which featured Italian classics from Chef Director Diego Cardoso, who has extensive experience at several Michelin-starred restaurants…again, how on earth did I get an invite to this?! As a veggie I tend to get a little bit of food envy. Not because I want to eat the meaty dishes, but more because I don’t find the majority of menus to be adventurous with their vegetarian options. I mean, there’s only so much mushroom risotto or goats cheese a girl can take! I was thrilled with my menu. Burrata to start and Linguine Verde for my main, my tastebuds were most definitely excited!
The Italia ’60, in my opinion, didn’t go so well with the food, so I made a quick switch over to wine for the main meal but was very excited when desert was served with an O’ndina G&T.
O’ndina is a premium Italian gin, crafted in Italy using 19 botanicals, the key ones being fresh basil, sage, marjoram, thyme and citrus. This gin is proudly Italian, with the majority of these botanicals sourced from Italy. Including Tuscan juniper and iris root, Calabrian liquorish, herbs from Piemonte, Liguria and Emilia and citrus from Sicily. It has a deliciously savoury flavour with delectable herbaceous tones which compliment each other beautifully. The gin is said to have been inspired by the Italian Riviera and there is a clean, freshness to it’s taste which most definitely transports you to the Mediterranean. Top your G&T off with a garnish of fresh basil and lemon peel, which really enhance the flavours. The bottle itself is eye-catching, not only because of it’s unique shape, but also it’s artwork. The image is of a woman gazing out across a riviera as the sun sets behind a yacht. The style really echoes the artwork of the 1960s emphasising the glamour and carefree spirit of the Italian Riviera, which the gin is trying to emulate. I don’t know about you, but I suddenly have the urge to go on holiday! The word O’ndina is apparently nonsense, but roughly translates to little waves, although I’m not sure the waves O’ndina will be making on the gin market are going to be that small. A well thought out and beautifully executed gin, which will undoubtedly work well and hold it’s own in a variety of cocktails. Unsurprisingly, being from the Campari Group, this gin makes a pretty incredible Negroni.
Thank you so much to everyone involved in organising such a stunning event. The company was fabulous, the entertainment (we had a violinist serenade us during the meal) was a beautiful touch and the food, drink and setting were flawless.
The Goodie Bag was pretty exciting too!