Our oven-baked monkfish – a healthy, delicious treat.

Considered to be the ugliest fish in the ocean, the monkfish has a large mouth and large teeth… and an utterly massively stomach that allows it to eat much larger fish. However it is one of the most delicious fish and here at Bel Canto, Chef Gilles has created a unique recipe that brings out its best qualities.

Our oven-baked monkfish is cooked with smoked pancetta, baby spinach, crispy capers and veal jus. The fish’s firm texture and mellow, mildly sweet taste goes great with the slightly bitter flavour of spinach. The added smoked pancetta gives the fish the extra salty and smoky element, perfectly complemented by the veal jus. Our dish is completed with the addition of capers, which give it a tangy, lemony flavour, making the taste of the fish just perfect!

oven-baked monkfish

So monkfish is delicious – particularly when Chef Gilles cooks it! But is it healthy? Let’s find out!

Minerals for more energy

Monkfish contains lots of different minerals that are beneficial for your health. By adding minerals to your diet you can support your metabolism and regulate enzyme function. It also has It has high content of omega-3 fatty acid as well as Vitamin B6 and B12 which increase the myelin production and promote brain functions.

Muscle health

Monkfish is high in protein, which is very important for the coordination of your muscles. It also assists in the growth and maintenance of muscle strength.

Enhances immunity

Monkfish contains so many proteins and minerals, which can boost your immune system and protect you against diseases and illnesses. It also helps to eliminate the foreign elements such as antigens.

Supports digestion

Phosphorus is vital to facilitate digestion and monkfish contains lots of it. It can also help you fight, constipation, indigestion and bowel movements as well as maintain your digestive health and kidneys.

monkfish

Monkfish can also help you with skin issues such as hair loss, acne, dandruff and dry skin as well as with balancing your hormones. Due to its high content of mercury, you should only have monkfish as a once in a while treat rather than include it in your daily diet.  However, since dinner and opera at Bel Canto are definitely a treat why not complement your special evening with us with Chef Gilles’ gourmet monkfish?

 

What to drink with our Fregola Risotto

In last week’s blog we talked about the newest addition to our spring menu, the Fregola Risotto. It is light, refreshing and bursting with Mediterranean flavours and colours. Our Fregola Risotto is very delicious and flavoursome but at Bel Canto we believe that the perfect matching wine really enhances the flavour of the food – so pairing the perfect dish with the perfect wine sounds like a great idea!

Such a delicate dish like our Fregola Risotto requires a light wine with acidity. If you are a white wine lover, a Sauvignon Blanc or a Gruner Veltliner is what you are looking for. Alternatively, if you prefer red wine, a Pinot Noir, Chianti or  Barbera will definitely satisfy you and match deliciously with the dish. For those of you who are really feeling the summer vibes, you can also pair this dish with a rosé of your choice like our Jean Max Roger, Sancerre ‘Grange Dimieres’.

Will it be a white wine?

If you are looking for a white wine to pair with your fregola risotto our Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc is an exquisite match. It originates from Marlborough, New Zealand and has a medium – medium high acidity. Fruity and aromatic, with flavours of lime, green apple, pear, kiwi and white peach, it really compliments the taste of the fregola. Served at the ideal chilled temperature between 8-11 degrees Celsius, it will certainly take you to Mediterranean places and give you the feeling of that light summer breeze.

For those of you who prefer oaked wines, we suggest the Turk Gruner Veltliner Weinberger originating from Austria’s Kamptal region. Pale yellow in colour and rich and complex in taste, this white wine has flavours of white peach, apple and citrus. The combination of the fruity flavours and the peppery overtones make this white wine intensely aromatic and versatile. Its harmonious acidity is exactly what matches with our Fregola Risotto.

… or red wine?

If you fancy red wine during your fregola, we suggest the ‘Buis d’Aps’ Pinot Noir. Shiny in colour and lively in taste, this Pinot Noir is perfect for the warm weather.  Well balanced and slightly oaky, it contains various red fruits that certainly give you the feeling of summer.

If you are going for the whole Mediterranean experience, we suggest our Casale dello Sparviero Chianti Classico. Originating from Tuscany, this is a truly Mediterranean wine. This wine has an exquisite structure and personality due to the careful selection of the Sangiovese grapes. You can taste the flavours of ripe berries and spices as well as pepper and sweet tobacco and it is perfect with light pasta dishes like fregola.

These wines have been carefully hand selected for Bel Canto’s guests by our General Manager and resident wine expert Ilya! Whether you go for a white wine or a red one, Ilya will be more than happy to give you suggestions and information about wines that will surpass your standards!

Opera on the Mediterranean? Bel Canto’s Fregola Risotto

Spring is finally here, which means it is officially time to put away the warming stews and sturdy French red wines and time embrace the light, delicious flavours of the Mediterranean. The best thing about the celebrated cuisines of Greece, Spain, Italy and – of course – Southern France is that they are healthy by nature!

Bel Canto’s Executive Chef Gilles’ new Spring menu gives his London customers a taste of the Mediterranean. The dish that, perhaps, displays the magical combination of utter deliciousness and healthiness most acutely is his Fregola Risotto. Not only does it enjoy the health benefits of being completely vegetarian, it is a bonanza of spring flavours, colours and aroma inspired by the cuisine of the Italian island of Sardinia (which, incidentally, enjoys one of Europe’s highest life expectancies). It contains roasted Mediterranean vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes and spring onions, a combination that creates a unique and refreshing flavour that also contributes to your ‘5-a-day’ recommended fruit and vegetable consumption.

When creating this dish, Chef Gilles, felt that it needed something extra, a twist, and that’s when he decided to add green pea coulis. Pea coulis is a delicious accompaniment to fregola, and an elegant sauce that bursts with flavour.  To finish it off, a Parmesan crisp is added to the dish for decoration and for that extra salty hint.  Light, refreshing and flavoursome our Fregola Risotto is a great option for a light spring main course dish.

But surely something so delicious couldn’t come with a host of health benefits... or could it? Well, we can tell you that it certainly does!

Mediterranean Vegetables

Natural foods like seasonal fruits and vegetables, yogurt and other probiotic foods, can help you fight mood disorders and build a healthy gut. Mediterranean vegetables have plenty of monounsaturated fats. They are also rich in vitamin Omega 3 which is associated with the protection against heart diseases.

Green Peas

Green peas are rich in vitamin K, manganese and dietary fiber. They can also help in the prevention of stomach cancer, because they contain high amounts of a health-protective polyphenol called coumestrol.

Fregola

Fregola contains a dietary fiber that can improve digestion and maintain blood sugar. It is also rich in protein as one serving contains 6 grams of it.

If you are planning to start a Mediterranean diet or if you are just looking for a healthy, refreshing spring meal, our risotto style Fregola is a great starting point!

Opera and spring flavours for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend

Easter is just around the corner and it’s about time to start planning our Bank Holiday weekend food adventures. Some of you are probably having family dinners with lamb and other Easter specials but why not try French food and live opera one of your holiday days?

No Easter weekend meal at Bel Canto is complete without aperitif… A glass of champagne or prosecco sounds like a great idea. If you are feeling the spring vibes a kir royale is the perfect cocktail to enjoy while listening to our live opera show.

Start your meal with an “opera salad” or our carpaccio. Our mixed baby leaf salad with French dressing is bursting with refreshing spring flavours like asparagus, olives and sun-dried tomatoes.  Our beef carpaccio is thinly sliced and is served with green bean salad, Parmesan and a sweet raspberry dressing. These starters will give you a great start but will definitely leave some space for the main course.

carpaccio

When it comes to your main course there are plenty of options to choose from. Our oven baked monkfish is a perfect, light spring meal. It is served with smoked pancetta, baby spinach, crispy capers and veal jus and can be accompanied by a mixed vegetables side dish. If you are looking for a meat dish, our Prime British beef fillet is served with Pomme Maxime and shredded truffle, creating a delicious combination that will satisfy the meat lovers’ taste buds. Our vegetarian Fregola risotto will give you the taste and colours of the Mediterranean. Fresh vegetables, pea coulis and parmesan tuile make this dish our Chef’s spring favourite.

fregola

A good meal should be followed by a great dessert. Our coconut panna cotta served with fresh pineapple and red berries is the ultimate spring dessert. Refreshing and flavoursome it is served in a glass jar with fresh fruits. For the wine lovers, the perfect sweet wine recommendation is a glass of Sauternes Château Roumieu. If you are looking for an even lighter alternative, you can choose from our wide selection of sorbets and ice creams.

panna cotta

While having this wonderful spring meal this Easter Bank Holiday weekend, our singing waiters will serenade you with our live opera performance. Our staff will guide you through the perfect wine pairings with your food and we can guarantee you an evening of fun and high quality French cuisine.

Opera of the Month – Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

The Mastersingers of Nuremberg is a show that has it all - love, drama and the comic element are perfectly combined in this opera written and composed by Richard Wagner. You now have the chance to watch the opera at the Royal Opera House between the 11th and 31st of March 2017.

Wagner’s opera was first performed in 1868 in Munich and is commonly known as one of the longest shows performed, since it consists of 3 acts and usually takes around 4 hoursThe story begins in mid 16th century when artist Walther falls in love with Eva. Her strict father wants her to marry someone from the Mastersingers’ Club and Walther is now faced with a challenge. Will he be able to defeat his rival, Sixtus, and win the Mastersingers’ competition or will the drama and difficulties crush his dream?

Even though the plot was drafted in 1845, The Mastersingers of Nuremberg is really an opera of our times. According to Director Kasper Holten“Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is about the tension between the new and old, it's about the tension between populism and elitism. It's about a lot of things that preoccupy us in the world right now. We've set the production in a gentlemen's club, like they only exist in London. Women are not allowed in this club but one, the daughter of one of the masters, is to be put forward as a prize in a competition for a man to win”.

Through this opera, Wagner investigates the nature of art. Strong characters facing love and drama trying to achieve their dreams. The Mastersingers of Nuremberg is a glorious and profound comedy written to make you laugh and move you at the same time. Is this show real life transformed into art, a fight between tradition and innovation? If you attend the show, we’d be more than happy to hear your thoughts on our twitter page.