Whilst Mum and I were visiting Venice in the late 1970s, Zio Mario took us to the most prestigious hotel in the city: the Hotel Danieli. He had worked at the hotel as a youth and gave us a grand tour. He was excited as Roger Moore had just finished filming James Bond’s “Moonraker” and had seen him and his beautiful wife, Luisa Mattioli, who had stayed at the hotel.
After showing us their luxury suite, he took us to the grand rooftop terrace, reserved for the rich and famous. Not having stepped into a luxurious hotel before, I was in awe of the gothic splendour, the romantic soft lighting and the glistening gold ornaments. We sat at a table overlooking the blue lagoon and were treated to a small espresso and dessert of Panna Cotta.
The search of the most exquisite recipe of Panna Cotta has been a quest in itself, but has been worth the endeavour.
1 vanilla pod * 500ml (16 floz) double cream * 4½ tbsp caster sugar * 4 sheets clear gelatine * 510g (1lb 2oz) strawberries * 1 tbsp icing sugar
Cut the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds. In a saucepan, bring the cream to the boil with the vanilla pod and seeds. Stir in the caster sugar. Simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain or press the liquid from the gelatine. Pour the hot cream through a sieve into a bowl, then dissolve the gelatine in it.
Rinse 4 small soufflé dishes in cold water and fill with the cream. Chill overnight in the refrigerator. Wash the strawberries, setting aside a few for decoration. Cook the remaining strawberries with the icing sugar. While hot, press the berries through a sieve into a bowl and then leave to cool. To serve, turn out the soufflé dishes onto dessert plates, top with strawberry sauce and decorate with the reserved sliced berries.
I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.
This recipe comes from the section THE ITALIAN JOB, a selection of authentic Italian recipes.