Despite having a high ranking spot on my bucket list, I have yet to commit to the gastronomic pilgrimage required for every self-proclaimed foodie however we were fortunate enough to experience a taste of Italy (literally) all without leaving London to celebrate the recent collaboration between Not Another Bill & Italian atelier II Bussetto. We discover how to enjoy an espresso, critique a classic wine and devour pizza like a true Sicilian after the cut.
Coffee tasting experience @ Doppio Coffee Warehouse
Our day dedicated to sampling the delights of quintessential Italy began with a visit to coffee warehouse Doppio
, a quaint retreat on Hanbury Street. Aaron and I were introduced to Doppio co-owner, Carlo, who was immediately bulging with suggestions and caffeine-fuelled anecdotes – tell tell signs of a passionate epicurean. Whilst dispensing nuggets of coffee wisdom, Carlo led us through the spacious yet cozy cafe to the compact showroom area to present to us their fleet of coffee makers. “Coffee machines speak Italian”
Carlo boasts as we survey the curious contraptions “90% of espresso machines including the first ever patent were produced in Italy”.
As Carlo’s hand glided seemingly on autopilot over the machines – pressing, dusting, twisting and pouring, I observed the lack of ‘technical’ gadgets abundant in new trendy coffee joints. The obsession with standardised measures (e.g. 21 second extractions, 9 gram baskets and 60° milk in cappuccino etc.) thrown out in exchange for barista experience and good ol’ Italian intuition. The baristas at Doppio rely on the simplicity of knowing how an expresso should look and taste. The tools of the trades are not the only differentiating factor, London coffee culture is fundamentally different to that our our European counterparts. The four main coffees drunk in Italy as indicated by the large banner above Doppio’s espresso bar, highlight a no-fuss attitude to their daily ritual – espresso for the purist, machiatto, cappuccino and coffee latte for those who need the kick but not the taste. I decided to ditch my regular latte for a classic espresso, the more balanced Italian blend ‘robusta’ beans, a contrast to the distinctive ‘arabica’ flavour/strength popular in most London coffee shops.
Surrounded by a legions of up and coming London roasters, Doppio has been able to establish a unique identify; a balancing act of responding to the ‘peculiar’ drinking habits of Londoners whist embracing the simple Italian approach to coffee. The resulting middle ground is an oddly awesome (and refreshing) fusion.
Italian wine tasting experience @ Bottle Apostle
Conveniently located between Ginger Pig and a local fishmongers, the Bottle Apostle
in Hackney as you can imagine is becoming quite the destination for meat / fish hauling customers searching for the perfect liquid companion. On arrival, our assigned sommelier, Sarah had curated a selection of 16 Italian wines (8 red, 8 white) to occupy the two in-store tasting stations. Sarah then went on to describe the history, regions and characteristics of brewery with the zeal of a scholar – an information overload for the uninitiated rivalling the sensory overload delivered with each new sip. New world vs old world
, light vs full bodied
, red vs whit
e…whilst I had picked up a deeper understanding of Italian wines, my palette had not attained the level of sophistication in one afternoon to moonlight as a wine critic (yet). I was surprised to learn that Italy (followed closely by France) is the world’s largest wine producer by volume, amidst this wide range, m
y favourite wine was earthy medium bodied Pinot Nero with a light ruby colour from one of Italy’s most awarded wine estates Elana Walch
Pizza tasting @ Franco Manca
It doesn’t take much imagination to take in the surroundings at Franco Manca
and imagine for a few blissful moments that you are in Italy (minus the mediterranean-esque weather). The warmth of the wood burning brick oven, the aroma of freshly pounded dough flying overhead and the incomprehensible shouts of gleeful Italian filling the atmosphere. Italy’s culinary heritage has always conjured associations with excellence and our anticipation for a taste of Franco Manca’s famed artisanal pizza were a testament to this. Strategically placed after our wine tasting, the small, no fuss menu and daily specials the range were heaven-sent. Following a lengthly negotiation with the waitress, I settled for a Gloucester ham, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, wild mushrooms with a little added garlic. The menu had stated that my pizza had only ‘a little tomato’ and I was glad I resisted the temptation to convert the ubiquitous sauce-laden variety ubiquitous with Italy’s culinary heritage. The overall texture and taste was faultless; fluffy, slightly sweet sourdough base and just the right amount of toppings - its not hard to understand Franco Manca’s growing popularity.
Aaron: Serendipity, an accidental or unexpected discovery, a pleasant surprise. This isn’t a feeling that we experience very often, that’s part of it’s beauty and one of the reasons it’s so magical. So what if you or a loved one could experience a little bit of serendipity once a month? Well, Not Another Bill could be your answer.
Not Another Bill run a subscription service that aims to put a smile on your face. In exchange for a fee, Not Another Bill will send you a carefully curated gift once a month that will either have you waiting in anticipation or caught by complete surprise. In a day and age where communication is becoming increasingly digital, emails, instant messaging and social networks rule but as a result a gift, greeting card or letter in the post has gained so much more value.
The idea of receiving a letter through the post is, to some, completely alien. Yet the popularity of online shopping has meant receiving little parcels of joy through the post has some of us addicted to filling up digital baskets and tearing open postal bags. However with online shopping you know exactly what is coming and when. The only unexpected things to ever turn up on your door mat are pizza menus, cab cards and most hated of all, bills.
Not only does a subscription gift you something uniquely physical, it’s gifts you the knowledge of new brands, designers and artists. In turn they are gifted a whole new audience and opportunity to share their work. Gifts for everyone! If you want to get an idea of what little wonders could be on their way to you, check out their Past Presents
‘Combining traditional craft & contemporary living, the Il Bussetto card holder’
In learning about the company it was another pleasant surprise to see how closely their values and philosophy align with our own in producing content:
For Ned (founder of Not Another Bill) it is about curation, discovery and an appreciation of craft and design. He will never send anything he doesn’t believe in or that you can easily find elsewhere.
SPECIAL THANKS TO NOT ANOTHER BILL & DANNY FROM MATTE BLACK
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: DEREK & AARON
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