COME AS YOU ARE
There’s something about eating out for breakfast, whether it’s a breakfast meeting or catching up with friends on the weekend. It’s a treat without being extravagant, a time when you want something sustaining, comforting and not too fussy, nutritious enough to get you through the day. PRIMI’s newly launched breakfast menu fits the bill perfectly and while they still have their selection of timeless breakfast classics, they have come up with some sparkling new dishes that put the zing back into comfort food and leave you feeling well fed, healthy and happy.
Chef Natale Schotti has been at the helm of PRIMI’s recipe development for the last year, her food background embracing the whole of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. You taste these influences in the fresh herbs, citrus highlights and gentle spices that enliven each dish, and she’s passionate about using ancient traditions such as fermenting foods to add both flavour and nutritional value. “The doughs we use for our breads and pizza are fermented and aged for at least 48 hours,” says Natale, “so you get a much better eating experience, a lot lighter.” These include a light crusty sour dough ciabatta and a dense, delicious rye.
Another fermentation innovation is a creamy yoghurt relish, natural yoghurt that is fermented for a few days with capers, herbs and luscious olives, to become thick, fresh and tangy. It works perfectly to balance the richness of the luxurious new Salmon Fraîche Frittata, an open-style omelette baked with cream and fresh salmon in a simple enamel dish in the pizza oven. Topped with generous ribbons of smoked Franschhoek salmon trout and a chopped Persian salad vibrant with herbs and fresh crunchy vegetables, the whole dish is power packed with nutrients, so indulgence and healthy eating go hand in hand.
As well as researching old food traditions, Natale is very firm about cooking without any preservatives and making everything from scratch in house. She’s introduced two age-old condiments into the PRIMI kitchens. The first is a simple green salt. Natural rock salt ground with celery and slow-dried herbs, it’s bursting with flavour and is used judiciously in every dish. Another favourite element from the Levant is toum. “Toum is ancient, it’s fresh garlic ground down with lemon juice, salt and oil,” explains Natale, “it’s something that is amazingly flavourful, and I love using quirky old traditional things and giving them a new coating.”
Gremolata, that delicious fresh and zesty Mediterranean condiment is another lively addition, especially addictive in the Sautéed Mushrooms breakfast dish, where the mushrooms soak up all that herby, lemony goodness. They come to table piled on top of creamy avocado salsa lavishly spread on rye toast and topped with a perfectly poached egg, light but sustaining and very moreish.
Locally sourced ingredients
There are only three ingredients that PRIMI imports from Italy, their tinned tomatoes, for that true Italian flavor, their bronze-cut pasta and the fine 00 flour. All the rest is sourced locally and Natale buys from an accomplished local cheese maker. “We use a lot of fresh cheeses,” she says, “in particular the aged mozzarella for our pizzas, also the fresh fior di latte mozzarella, and a wonderful salted ricotta, slightly aged, creamy and rich, it’s a gorgeous cheese.”
This ricotta is the secret ingredient in the hearty new ‘breakfast pasta’ dish, Rigatoni Forza, a quirky re-invention of a traditional Italian baked pasta – it’s the perfect winter warmer, robust flavours of bacon and chorizo in a tomato sauce, a slight kick of chili, added depth from the ricotta, and two eggs tucked into the dish, then baked in the pizza oven. With a light dusting of lemon zest and pecorino to lift all that heartiness it’s a dish to keep you warm throughout the day, even when there’s snow on the mountains.
The breakfast menu
There’s plenty more on the revamped breakfast menu, which reads temptingly in several chapters, from the indulgent Eggs Benedict in four variations, the Frittatas, Breakfast Bowls and classic straightforward bacon and egg combos like the PRIMI Power. Look out on the drinks section too for the new warmly spiced Masala Chai tea and latte. Don’t expect to manage more than one dish at a sitting (unless you’ve run a mini marathon before breakfast), they are generous and filling; but if you can’t decide between several of the mouth-watering descriptions, why not order several dishes for the table and share. It’s not tapas but there’s no reason why the sharing approach can’t work for breakfast too.
Above all, Natale’s focus is on unpretentious, easy eating that just happens to be healthy, and that appeals to all the senses. “I don’t want to be preachy about health benefits and so on,” she concludes, “I just want to include things that are healthy and tasty that work with the dish, amazing life-giving elements with flavours that speak for themselves.”
For more information on PRIMI and to find your neighbourhood restaurant, please visit www.primi-world.com and join the breakfast conversation using #IAMUrban