Simple Italian flavours with Sood Family
PUBLISHED: 18:00 31 August 2017
A pop up restaurant on Well Street bring the sun to Hackney
I walk into Sood’s pop-up at Well Street Kitchen on a damp Friday night in August, when my motherland, Italy, feels further from Hackney than ever before.
We’re welcomed by the wonderful Carlo, a man so clearly enthused by what he does that he won’t stop beaming as he brings us bitter grapefruit cocktails and huge green olives to feast on. Then the appetisers come – torched mackerel with cauliflower puree (if only there was more of it!), fried courgette ribbons with cucumber dressing, and the completely delicious burrata in tomato elisir.
The latter is Sood’s pride and joy: tomatos are blended into oil, which is then filtered until it becomes transparent, and the result is a clear liquid that inexplicably tastes like fresh tomatoes. As I cut the burrata (solid mozzarella with a soft centre of stracciatella and cream), the meant-to-be flavours of mozzarella and tomato melt together seamlessly with the sourdough from a Hackney bakery, and I am almost moved to tears.
The mains include handmade mezze lune (half-moon-shaped ravioli) with kale and cavolo nero and amatriciana, handmade spaghetti in slow-cooked tomato sauce with dry aged pork cheek and pecorino cheese, a Rome specialty by Roman chef Michele. Both the mezze lune and the spaghetti are cooked al dente, which means the flavour of homemade pasta remains centre-stage, and both come in the portion size your Italian grandmother would think is crucial for you to grow up strong.
Some dishes on Sood’s menu positively taste like the sun, like the apricot jam in the tiramisu; the bubbling moka cafetiere of espresso (and liqueur) is perfectly timed, and the smell of fresh coffee fills the air around us. By the end of the meal, I’ve found all the simple flavours that remind me of home.
The flavours on Sood’s menu are all strong, but never aggressive. Individually, they’re of the highest quality but, when paired, they remind me of the quintessentially uncomplicated quality of Italian food that I love.
None of the dishes on Sood’s changing menu require more than three or four ingredients. This is not to say anybody could make them – it takes Carlo’s friendliness and encyclopaedic food knowledge, Michele’s skills and family recipes, and a series of trusted suppliers both here and on the continent – but Sood proves that, really, it’s not the length of the ingredient list that counts – but what you do with them.
Sood Family, Thu - Sat 6.30pm - 10.30pm, Well Street Kitchen, E9