One of the best, and best-known, deli's is Shelford Delicatessen - set up just over 10 years ago by Drew and Nikki Wilkinson with the main aim of creating a practical, high quality food grocer with the emphasis on home cooked produce and excellent service. Increasingly successful, Drew has recently expanded his offering by making space for sit-down snacks in the deli itself and is looking to develop this further into a small cafe facility.
Cambridge Food and Wine Society was therefore very fortunate to have Drew present an evening of food from his deli - not just because of the quality of the food, but also because Drew is an excellent presenter whose easy, laid-back charisma belies a real passion for food.
The theme for the evening was vaguely Italian but the wines provided by the society to accompany the food (from Bacchanalia) were selected more for their quality and food-friendliness than to fit in with the food theme.
We started with mozzarella - not just a lump of the stringy cheese cut into slices, but marinaded in creme fraiche with herbs and a hint of chili. This was inspired by burrata - an Italian twist on mozzarella where a generous portion of buffalo double cream is injected into the centre of a mozzarella ball. For obvious reasons, it does not keep or travel well and is therefore difficult to find outside Italy, but Drew's take on it was an inspired beginning and was served with a flavoursome, artisan-style crusty bread which Drew gets made in the deli freshly every day.
Accompanying this was a homemade thick soup, more of a stew in fact, but deliciously flavoured with cavalo nero, Italian black cabbage and plenty of pepper.
The main part of the meal was porchetta - slices of pork roasted with stuffing and herbs, served with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, stuffed roast peppers and white beans with sourdough bread.
To finish, we were treated to what was generally agreed to be the highpoint of the evening - Lemon and Almonds on Vanilla Bread with Mascarpone, slices of crusty bread topped with a chopped nut, lemon and spice mixture and served warm with a generous bowl of mascarpone cheese to spread on top. When seconds were brought round, the whole lot disappeared on our table.
The wines, sourced by members of the committee from Bacchanlia, were universally excellent - a French Viognier, an Argentinian Malbec and an Aussie Shiraz, all retailing for around £7 to £8.
Trapiche Melodias Malbec 2007, Argentina - Mendoza (£7.99)
Marktree Soldier's Block Shiraz 2007, Australia - Central Victoria (£6.99)
Domaine de Bahourat Vin de Pays Du Gard Viognier France 2009 (£6.99)
Cambridge Food and Wine Society: http://www.cambridgefoodandwinesociety.org.uk/
Shelford Deli: http://www.shelforddeli.co.uk/