You know when you find the time and space to catch up with a dear friend after a long period of time? It’s a precious thing, isn’t it? To sit face-to-face and enjoy what you love about each other even if it is just for an hour or so. That’s why I was so pleased to reconnect today with my foodie friend, the delightful Anneka Manning, founder of Bake Club.
Anneka lives in Sydney and was on a whirlwind visit to Melbourne and so it was a minor miracle that we managed to squeeze in a lunch date today. I always like to take her out to somewhere that is very Melbourne, and when she told me she was staying in St Kilda, well, Cicciolina was the perfect choice.
Cicciolina is very Italian and very, very Melbourne at the same time. Completely full on this Thursday lunchtime, and brimming with both suits and arty types, what is special about Cicciolina is that you feel like you are eating in someone’s dining room. All timber and blackboards, the ambience is elegantly casual but the menu is seriously authentic Italian with a few innovative specials thrown in to keep it interesting.
Anneka ordered the special fish dish of Roasted Snapper with a Tempura Bug, Caramelised Fennel, Asparagus and an Orange Beurre Blanc. I opted for the Linguine with Atlantic Salmon, Braised Leek, Capers, Baby Spinach and Olive Oil. Both dishes beautifully cooked and presented but, to be honest, the charm of Cicciolina is that here you can totally immerse yourselves in deep discussion and feel completely at home amongst the buzz, so that the food almost becomes secondary. It’s the perfect place for a catch up and a place you can confidently take a business associate or a good friend and be guaranteed that you will be looked after.
Anneka is a sensational baker and we were both blown away by our shared dessert, a Pear Tarte Tatin with Pedro Ximenez Ice Cream – the pears were darkly caramelised to a rich chocolate colour in a thick syrup over a buttery pastry and the Pedro ice cream was to die for. We loved it so much, I had to take a pic of this stunning dessert in all its glory together with chefs Zeke and Ollie! Follow superb ambience and great food with a good coffee and biscotti and it’s no wonder we both left feeling high – high on friendship and high on life!