I’ll never forget the first time we ate at the River Cafe. It was 2013. My partner and I were completely under-dressed. We had no idea what we were doing when we looked at the menu and somehow ended up sitting on a table next to Jo and Ronnie Wood, of Rolling Stones fame.
Fortunately, a kindly waitress took pity on us and gave us some tips on what to order and which wines would complement the food best. We’ve been back countless times since for birthdays and anniversaries, but our first visit still stands out. Not for the celebrity diners or our complete inability to navigate the menu, but the fabulously simple starter that we shared of Parma ham, figs and buffalo mozzarella.
Absolutely delicious, this simple appetizer is something I often recreate for friends, family and Friday nights. In this easy recipe, I’ve put my own spin on the dish, but what really makes the difference is using the best quality ingredients you can afford.
A simple starter recipe, inspired by the River Cafe in London, UK
- 70 g of matured parma ham
- 1 ball of buffalo mozzarella
- 2 fresh figs
- A sprinkling of fresh basil leaves
- A handful of cherry tomatoes
- A pinch of crushed chili flakes
- A grind of black pepper
- A drizzle of olive oil extra virgin
Start by carefully placing the slices of parma ham across a plate. If you're able to, try and get your hands on parma ham that has been aged for at least 20 months, for a richer, more mature taste
Cut the figs into slices, roughly the thickness of a one pound coin and place on top of the parma ham
Tear the buffalo mozzarella in half with your hands and place three pieces across each plate
Slice a few cherry tomatoes in half and sprinkle them across the dish. If you can find them a mix of red and yellow cherry tomatoes will add a pop of colour
Rip a few fresh basil leaves in half and scatter them across the plate, with a pinch of chili flakes to give the dish a little bit of a kick
Finally, grind some black pepper and drizzle a glug of olive oil over the mozzarella, and enjoy!