"No other cuisine appeals to us as immediately and sensuously as la cucina italiana - Italy's gloriously simple, deceptively sophisticated, heartwarmingly earthy, and immensely varied culinary repertoire" (Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian)
Who doesn't love Italian food?!
I will never be able to compete with my husband's Mamma or Nonna's cooking, so I'm feeling quite liberated at how I approach Italian cuisine, and will happily adapt any authentic recipe to suit my mood or a list of available ingredients.
Our kids have clearly inherited love of eating out along with their Italian genes. And though, with Sasha's autism, he usually eats the same familiar meals, Eddie's more adventurous.
Last Friday I took Eddie to Oxford to have a tour of the castle and prison, and have a meal at Prezzo, which is within the old castle area. Sasha had a day out with Barnardo's, so it was just three of us, with my husband meeting us in the restaurant.
And though the Prezzo restaurant chain has more than 280 restaurants across the UK, housed in old libraries and harbourside eateries, it was the first time we visited it in Oxford.
Prezzo in Oxford is conveniently located in the old castle compound, just a short walk from all the bustle of the shopping centres and colleges. In fact, my husband's college - Nuffield - is just across the road, and you can see its distinct modernist spire very well from the motte next to the castle.
Yep, after climbing over a hundred steps of the castle tower, my sprightly child insisted we get on the motte as well. I suppose that was a necessary exercise before a big meal.
I rarely go to Oxford for a meal out, and it was a real treat to have lunch at Prezzo, thanks to BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge. 100 bloggers across the UK were given a chance to sample a new sharing pasta bowl at Prezzo.
We booked our table in advance. When we arrived, there were not that many tables occupied, but soon enough it got very busy. The staff were friendly and welcoming. While we waited for my husband to arrive, Eddie was offered a colouring sheet with wordsearch and puzzles.
What is included in a family sharing meal? You have a choice of pasta - Penne Arrabiata, Spaghetti Bolognese, Spaghetti Carbonara or Penne alla Rusticana. Each bowl is big enough to feed four people (I should add, four hungry people, as with garlic bread and side dishes, it's a lot of food). There is also a garlic bread, with or without cheese, a choice of two side dishes (either salad or fries - plain fries or truffle oil infused ones) plus a selection of ice cream, sorbet or gelato as well as four soft drinks.
We were happy to try any pasta, but Eddie has chosen Spaghetti Bolognese. Since there are only four pasta meals to choose, it didn't take long to pick our favourite.
That's a bonus, when eating out as a family with young children. Having too many choices sometimes turns into a painful experience of what to order.
The beauty of the sharing bowl is that you can have as much (or as little) pasta, as you like, since there are no standard portions.
Our waiter offered us parmesan and chilli oil to go with pasta.
Garlic bread was freshly baked and very tasty.
It was fun to serve pasta from a big bowl placed in the middle of the table (we ate from smaller size individual bowls). Pasta was cooked to perfection, and beef-based ragu was flavourful. And though I cook a decent Ragu myself, it was wonderful to have someone else to cook a meal for me for a change.
I think I'm turning into my Mum (and Grandma). One of the ways of showing love for me is to "stuff" my family and friends with food. Even after we ate a good amount of pasta, I kept asking Eddie and my husband if they would like to have some more.
We had a very good time at Prezzo, laughing and enjoying food. My husband was rather embarrassed when I asked him to take a photo of Eddie and me eating spaghetti.
Ah, the pleasures of having a blogger in the family! Eddie, though, was in stitches and happy to oblige.
Eddie loved his home fries, and I was enjoying my truffle oil infused fries so much that I will definitely be back at Prezzo for more.
We finished our lovely meal with ice cream. Eddie wanted a strawberry ice cream
I fancied a chocolate salted caramel gelato...
... while my husband went for a palate-cleansing blood orange sorbet. I had a teaspoon of his sorbet, and it was a beautiful intense orange flavour.
Many thanks to BritMums and Prezzo for a lovely lunch!
If you fancy trying La Famiglia dish, you can find your nearest Prezzo restaurant by entering your postcode or town at Prezzo Restaurants Find and Book.
This post is an entry for the BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo.