frizzante at hackney city farm: wild boar sausage, tomato sunshine, and perfect strawberry clouds of dessert

wild boar salsiccia, parsley salsa verde and homemade bread

FRIZZANTE! according to my italian speaking dining companion kellin, it means ’sparkling’ as in ‘i would like my water frizzante.’ a less romantic translation could also be ‘gassy’ but i think we can all agree that’s not a good restaurant name.

frizzante is the casual yet intimate, rustic yet gourmet italian restaurant tucked into an unassuming building at hackney city farm. i may have mentioned once or twice how excited i am to live next to a farm in the city with real animals (especially donkeys named larry and calves named rhubarb and custard. GAHH. stop trying to debilitate me with your cuteness). i am even more excited that the farm is home to such a warmandfuzzy feeling place as frizzante.

the cafe/restaurant operates separately from the farm and is open during the day for lunch, coffee, and delicious snacks. it’s far from a pretentious place – the tables are covered with red checked cloths, flyers and notices are tacked all over the walls, and lights and plants hang somewhat haphazardly around the space. since it’s part of the farm, it exudes a relaxed yet no-nonsense air of a place where things get done. things like shoveling pig manure and getting your hands deep in dirt and taking larry on a rodeo circuit joy ride around the perimeter of the farm. okay, that probably doesn’t get done.

frizzante feels homey and honest and friendly, like a farmhouse i’d love to have someday (if, let’s be honest, i had someone else to be in charge of all the actual farming). the best time to go is thursday nights for their special dinners made from the best local, seasonal, and homegrown meat and produce. the lights are dimmed, the candles are lit, and all of a sudden frizzante seems like a special little secret find.

frizzante dining room

the food fit perfectly with the homespun atmosphere and showed a clear passion for good ingredients. we started with grilled peach on homegrown rocket with ricottatwo appetizers pictured at left and at the top: a a salad of homegrown rocket with grilled peaches and ricotta and an incredible homemade bread with wild boar salsiccia, coppa di parma (similar to proscuitto but from the upper neck rather than the upper thigh of the pig) and a  zesty christmas tree-green parsley salsa verde that would be delicious on just about everything.

kell and i moved on to a free-range egg straccetti, which were little pasta pieces like one side of a ravioli that appear to translate to either ‘tatters’ or ‘twisted rags’. regardless of their relatively unappetizing yet visually accurate nomenclature, the pasta bites were excellent with shaved parmesan, summer zucchini and crispy speck. speck is a delicious cured meat along the lines of prosciutto but made so much more awesome and bacon-y once crisp. quick aside: cage-free eggs are much more widespread and widely promoted in the UK, which i find fascinating and wrote about for eatdrinkbetter. even hellman’s mayonnaise uses free-range eggs!

isle of wight tomato salad

we also had a vegetarian timbale with smoked scamorza cheese over garlic marinated eggplant and zucchini and roasted onions. in addition, taking advantage of the local and seasonal produce, we shared a side dish of tomatoes from the isle of wight with a little olive oil and fresh basil, a bowl of bright  red orange and yellow sunshine distilled into small gemstones in a white bowl. simple, honest, pure tomato taste.
pavlova with fresh english strawberries and creamthe two of us were pretty full by now, even being the serious eaters we are. however, we made sure to save a tiiiiny bit of room for dessert and thank god we did. the pavlova filled with early season english strawberries and fresh cream was undeniably one of the best desserts i have ever eaten. the meringue was a light and airy cloud of barely definable sweetness, at once gauzy and nearly intangible yet also brittle and ready to shatter into smithereens like soft chalk.  makes me think of the scene in aladdin during ‘a whole new world’ when the magic carpet swoops up the cloud into a soft-serve ice cream swirl (in case you feel like reliving your childhood, it’s at minute 1:15). that cloud, crystallized in a lovely strawberry-tinged dessert, would taste just like pavlova.

what else can i say? go eat there. if you’re lucky, they’ll have pavlova. if not, there will be something equally delicious.  come say hi to me next door and we’ll take larry on a joy ride together…