An inkredible Italian

This week in Birmingham has persuaded me to avoid, at costs, buying a house. I’ll live in a tree, I’ll live in a shell under the sea, but moving into a house? What happens when you want to move out? I found out this week when I helped my sister move out of her house in Birmingham. She looked after the house beautifully (apart from the oven) and accumulated a lot of lovely furnishings and kitchen appliances. We had the mammoth task of undoing everything she had constructed, arranged or bought over the years. Beds were unscrewed, bookcases broken, walls painted, cars packed for the tip, skirting boards scrubbed and a few too many biscuits consumed when we were feeling a bit overwhelmed. It was so much fun because we were all together and we laughed a lot a lot.

As you can probably imagine, a house that is being emptied does not have a lot of food. Neither were we particularly inclined to sit on the floor for dinner in a house we’d spent all day in. So on the last night we ventured out to eat in Harborne, at Buonissimo. It is an Italian that one of my sister’s friends had really enjoyed, so we had high hopes. We turned up to a compact, buzzing little Italian restaurant opposite Zizzi’s. We were given a warm welcome from the staff and taken upstairs to an almost full room, and sat at a table which had a bowl of marinated olives waiting for us, which was a great touch.

The summer menu is super appealing: a pasta dish with crispy Parma ham had my mouth watering, as did a spicy salami risotto and a roasted butternut squash. In the end I went for the squid ink spaghetti with garlic, fennel seeds and chilli with salmon, prawns and baby spinach leaves (I think it’s fair to say that at an Italian it is almost impossible to order something without onions or garlic). My sister went for the same and Mum ordered the tuna carpaccio with a marinated seafood salad as a main course.

Soft bread was given to us while we waited, and the room was small enough to see other plates carried out to the diners. They were all colourful, piled with vegetables and piqued my excitement for my own. When it did arrive, it looked fairly spectacular. Squid ink is ebony black, so it is a bit daunting if you’ve never come across it before. I had when my Dad ate it in a risotto on holidays in the Mediterranean. You can’t see individual ingredients too well, but that makes it more exciting!!

I really enjoyed my dish. The salmon was soft, buttery, and refreshed by huge, juicy prawns. Tiny ones, wrapped in spaghetti prawns, were also delicious. You could taste the fennel seeds and garlic but they didn’t overpower the seafood which is important. As for the squid ink, it was fun, although maybe not ideal for a date since it is imperative that you tuck your napkin into your t-shirt and smile with abandon through black lips and stained teeth hehe. My sister, who doesn’t eat pasta that much, thought it was one of the tastiest spags she’s had in a long time. I thought the flavours went swimmingly well together.

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We were incredibly indulgent and had a selection of mini Italian desserts afterwards. There was a thick, creamy and delightful panna cotta, a Sfogliatina Napoletana (pastry filled with cream), a fig and walnut pastry which I didn’t like but my sis did, and a refreshing, milky strawberry gelato which was stunning. The wine was called “Apassimento Puglia” and is intense and rich, apparently well-paired with salmon. We all really enjoyed it.

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Overall, the staff were attentive and pleasant, the food seemed well-thought out and extremely tempting, and I thought the atmosphere was charming. I highly recommend it if you’re in Harborne!

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