Thursday, 28 July 2016

Italian sunshine--whatever the weather

You can't help feeling a little warmer when you're close to Nadia Verdiani. Maybe it's because her heart and soul are in sunny Italy. Or maybe you've just arrived at her market stall, and feasted your eyes on the array of hot dishes she's rustled up to tempt your palate. Then there's the smile: a friendly welcome, and time to explain what's on offer, no matter how busy she is.

It's Nadia's Italian heritage which has inspired many of the dishes she produces for her Shropshire market stalls, and also the pop-up restaurants she runs. She's an expert in vegetarian and vegan dishes (look out for vegetable fritters, tasty falafel and bruschetta) ; but you're just as likely to be tempted by a hot Tuscan beef sandwich and a serving of hot soup; especially when the temperature drops a little.

You'll often see Dave beside her--as he has been for 30 years or so: a teacher by profession ; part of the highly successful team which kept their former restaurant in Ironbridge packed with customers and rave reviews for 18 years. But success there brought its own challenges: working weeks of up to 100 hours, and little time to catch up with family and friends. It was time for a change: they hit the road; taking their delicious dishes to markets and festivals--and the response was excellent.

Nadia smiles when she remembers her Italian granny's reaction to cooking (and naming the vegetarian side of her business )"Socca". She regarded the simple, chickpea flatbread as a very basic staple--ideal for filling a family when money was tight--so who'd come and buy that?! Well plenty do; and find plenty more on offer when they arrive.

While it's a treat for the couple to see people snapping up their market stall food and eating "on the hoof..." the recent trend for pop-up restaurants has proved too much for them to resist. Their special dining evenings draw together the skills and business sense developed during their years running a restaurant--but perhaps with slightly less of the stress, knowing that someone else has responsibility for the overheads, and for locking up when the evening's over.. You might have caught their vegetarian and fish dining events (usually oversubscribed--book early...!) based at Bakers in Tower Street, Ludlow, where guests are treated to four courses (plus tea and coffee) for £30 a head; or this weekend's dinner and lunch events at Home Cafe in Lightmore Square, Telford.

STOP PRESS!!! Look out for Nadia and Dave on Monday August 1 under the shelter of Ludlow's Buttercross--with a great mix of savoury and sweet dishes to tempt you! Pictures to follow (yes, of COURSE we'll be there!!! )

If not....maybe it's time to whet your appetite! For details of market stalls, dining pop-ups, or food in your own home, drop Nadia an email at or call for more details on 0782 159 6488.