Just a quick introduction to say that, for those who haven't seen him before, Greedy Gusto is a regular guest blogger here at Dine at Mine. He likes fine dining, easy recipes, makes me laugh and looks good in a kilt. Here he is!
Ciao tutti! After a very long holiday from the Dine At Mine blog, Greedy Gusto is back! I apologise for my lengthy absence, and the apology is not only to you, dear reader, but also to our neighbours in the Eurozone. You see, while I've been busy on other things, and saving money to try to buy a house, I've stopped eating out at my favourite Italian restaurants such as Strada and Pizza Express. This has surely had a massive impact on their profits, meaning that they have been sending back less money to Mama Italia, meaning in turn that Italy has pretty much gone bust this week.
One way that the aforementioned restaurants have been trying to entice customers back over the course of the credit crunch is through vouchers. And I love those 2 main courses for the price of 1 vouchers. Now I can have a pizza and a pasta course all for the price of one dish!
I do wonder how the restaurant chains will recover from the now omnipresent vouchers, and I think Angela Merkel has learnt wisely from the Pizza Express example. Pizza Express started off with the occasional voucher to entice people in on a quiet night; now there's been Weimar-republic style voucher hyper-inflation, with 2 or 3 deals available at Pizza Express on most nights. Let's hope the ECB doesn't go down that route...
Anyhow, I'd better get on to today's recipe (which is linked to the paragraphs before - you see, this is a Jeremy Clarkson Sunday Times-esque blog, where I blether on about something vaguely relevant and hopefully funny for the first two-thirds of the blog, then quickly sum up the whole point of the review in the final third).
You see, I was wondering whether the restaurant chains could make much money when they offer these voucher deals. I think the answer must be yes, and that leads to the question of how much are they over-charging us when we don't use a voucher deal? But to stick with the first question, how much does it cost to make, for example, the Risotto Verdure from Strada? Fortunately, they put their recipe on the website, so I could test it... (and you can watch the comedy Italian man in the video).
The raw ingredients cost about £10 to £15 (depending on your choice of quality of food and supermarket), though this does include the cost for example of buying a 500g arborio rice bag, when you only need 175g. So for that price, you'll get more than just the meal for two.
And in my local Strada, the Risotto Verdure costs £10.25. So that's £20.50 before wine and service.
Is it nicer in the restaurant? When the restaurant is busy, and the chefs are over-stretched, and they're trying to save money by cutting down on the expensive ingredients (more on that in another blog - but I'm looking at you, mozzarella-light bufala pizza)... I'd say cook it yourself, and save money on the bottle of wine too.
From the Strada website
It's quite a long recipe, so best to download this file from the Strada website.
Greedy Gusto's basic tip is to add plenty of white wine at the beginning, stir it continuously, and add copious shavings of parmesan at the end!