The food: spaghetti margherita
While on vacation last week in London, England, E and I went to see the documentary film The September Issue, a behind-the-scenes look at American Vogue’s 2007 September issue. The film looked – and sounded – interesting, but I was unable to watch most of it head-on (I spent much of the time peeking at the screen from behind my hand) because it contained many shaky hand-held camera passages, of the kind that make me nauseous.
When the film ended, and we emerged from the Curzon Mayfair Cinema, I was dizzy, pale, and not hungry, so when E suggested we duck into a old-fashioned-looking Italian restaurant around the corner called Da Corradi, in Shepherd’s Market, that bore a sign promising homemade pasta, I said fine, whatever, and ordered the simplest thing on the traditional menu: spaghetti margherita, with tomato sauce and basil. E ordered a spaghetti bolognese, and so we could eat something approaching a green vegetable, some deep-fried zucchini sticks.
By the time the pasta arrived (within ten minutes, though the small main floor space was full, at 8 p.m., of customers, almost all eating large servings of pasta), a lemonade had restored some of my equilibrium, and I’d noticed the celebrity endorsements on the wall, which featured signed photos from Julie Andrews, Bob Hoskins, Al Pacino, and Kevin Spacey.
The appearance of the fried zucchini gave me pause, but it was surprisingly good-tasting, and not greasy. And my spaghetti was the perfect choice after the dizzy-making film – the fresh pasta had a lovely chewy yet soothing texture, and the tomato sauce it had been tossed in was sweet and light. E also found his bolognese to be simple and good,
and both dishes were much better than the blah pastas we had another night at Carluccio’s, a popular and stylist restaurant chain recommended by Elaine Louie of the NYT in her book Savoir Fare London: Stylish Dining for under $25.00 that should be avoided for pasta, but did feature delicious arancini.
The multiple morals of this story? 1) Hand-held cameras should be banned from moviemaking, 2) A simple dish made with fresh ingredients at a traditional restaurant can trump a fussy creation at a stylish joint, and 3) always order arancini.