Poor gluten. I feel sorry for gluten. Here we all were, happily eating bread with hagelslag for breakfast, bread with cheese for lunch, maybe pasta for dinner… Well, I say happily – I’ve never been a huge fan of boterhammen hagelslag or broodje kaas (I wrote a bloomin’ lunch cookbook in response, after all); but the gluten was never my problem.
I like gluten. On the odd occasion that I have an accidentally low-carb day, I start to feel weak and tired. My body needs gluten. I’m not saying that everyone’s does, but for me wheat is not the enemy. So when new bruschetteria Bocconi popped up on my street, I’d have probably avoided it like vege burgers at a BBQ had I known it was a gluten-free joint. I mean, bruschetta without gluten – are you kidding me?
Luckily, I walked in with no preconceptions, didn’t really read the menu very closely, and ordered my dinner without a second thought about the dreaded “dietary requirements”. We started with a glass of Prosecco, which wasn’t on the menu but it should’ve been – cool, fruity, refreshing, and served with a hefty pour.
We tried several different combinations of bruschetta topping: tomato, mozzarella and basil, which was exceedingly fresh and flavourful; roasted veges with sun-dried tomato tapenade, which was also delicious if a little greasy; and artichoke puree with pancetta, which tasted good but was definitely bacon rather than pancetta. I didn’t occur to me at the time that the bread wasn’t classic ciabatta or focaccia – which I suppose is credit to the baker. It was actually 50% spelt.
Still feeling a little peckish, we moved onto the pasta. Sadly, this time the lack of gluten was more in evidence. The texture of the fusilli was lacking that characteristic bite of “proper” Italian pasta. Although the absence of wheat wasn’t the only problem: the sauce comprised nothing more than basic roasted veges with a smudge of red pesto and a heavy swig of olive oil. It was student food – not much more. In Bocconi’s defence, they do also serve regular wheaty pasta – and I’ve yet to discover whether the sauces do it any more justice than the gluten-free version I tried.
Still, the rosé was dry and refreshing, and the service pleasant and efficient. (I’ve heard from others who’ve waited an hour for food, though – so the service doesn’t yet seem to be consistent.) We went back a couple of weeks later for lunch – this time ordering the bruschetta only – and had a similarly pleasant experience. Hell, we were even remembered from the previous occasion – that almost never happens.
So yes, I’ll be back at Bocconi – probably pretty regularly. But I’ll be picking and choosing my pasta. Or maybe getting my gluten elsewhere. After all, it’s the wheat farmers* I feel sorry for…
*I mean the real wheat farmers – the little guys. Just for the record, I dislike Monsanto as much as the next person.Leave a comment...