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Drinking Snacks, Italian Style

We feast on fine meats and cheeses at Veeno

Published on June 30th 2014.

Drinking Snacks, Italian Style


AUTHENTICITY. Everyone wants it. Everyone claims to have it. But how many bar owners in Manchester do you know who only sell wine made by their own family? 

Tasting our way through these platters was an exhilarating experience. It completely captured our attention for the few hours we were there

At Veeno, the Italian wine cafe, just off Albert Square on Brazennose Street, the owners Nino and Andrea, are from the family behind the award-winning Caruso & Minini vineyard in Sicily. So it's no surprise that their wine list has already been given the thumbs up by our wine critic Neil Sowerby here.

As of this week, Veeno has launched a new simplified spuntini (or snacking) menu that they hope hits the same high notes as their wines.

Like the wine list, this menu is 'for real'. By which we mean, it's all imported direct from Italy (and not from a Cash and Carry on the edge of Ancoats). It features a list of ten cheeses, ten cold meats, and ten other appetisers that you can have as a platter or individually. We had a platter of four cheeses (£7.95), and a platter of four meats (£7.95) served with a trio of tasting glasses of three new wines from last year's harvest.

Img_3202Cheese platter

Both platters mix well-known favourites with more adventurous options. So the cheese board features a crumbly, tangy Parmigiano, and a creamy, full-flavour Gorgonzola alongside two lesser knowns: Primosale and Burrata.

The Primosale is a sheep's milk cheese from Sicily that Nino believes is difficult, if not impossible, to find elsewhere in Manchester. Mild, soft and smooth, it was perfect with the delicate Tasari Inzolia white. The Burrata is a close relation of buffalo mozzarella: a gooey, creamy, almost liquid centre encased in solid mozzarella. If, like us, you're the type of person who eats a ball of mozzarella like it's a particularly tasty apple; all in one go, barely stopping to breathe, you need to try this.

The meat platter followed the same format – crowd-pleasers such as a subtle, refined Parma ham alongside meats you won't stumble across in your supermarket (unless you live in Rome or Palermo perhaps). The most distinctive was Mortadella al Tartufo – the truffles giving the pork a flavour that Nino described as 'selvaggio' which roughly translates as wild, primitive, or rustic.

Meat PlatterMeat Platter

Almost as striking was the Finocchiona Toscana, pork enlivened with the flavour of fennel. The Salame Pistacchio was two favourite foods in one joyful bite. While the Braciotto – a simple cooked ham was less attention-grabbing but sang with quality.

Tasting our way through these platters was an exhilarating experience. It completely captured our attention for the few hours we were there. Of course, the quality of the accompanying wines helped.

DIY wine tastingDIY wine tasting

Veeno offer a DIY Wine Tasting including six wines and a spuntini platter for £19.90pp which will give you a similarly intoxicating few hours (in both senses of the word)

Milano PaniniMilano Panini

Other food options include salads, panini and piadini. The Milano panini (£3.95) we tried was a winning combination of rocket, parmesan and bresaola, a cured beef made in a similar way to salami. There's also a small dessert section featuring a very moreish, mellow home-made tiramisu (£4.95), which was fantastic with their liquor-like dessert wine, Tagos.

Home-made tiramisuHome-made tiramisu

The new food menu is being launched alongside a re-designed wine list. The main change, apart from the three new additions, is in the presentation; each wine is given a nickname that sums up the wine's main quality. The idea came from the tendency of regular Veeno customers to ask for 'the fruity one' or 'the rich one' or after one too many, 'the wine of love'.

The nickname is followed by the label and grape so the menu works for all levels of wine drinker, from the connoisseur to the happy amateur. Like the platters, it lets you explore new territory without feeling out-of-your-depth or overwhelmed by your options.

Authenticity is one thing, but the trait that struck us most about Veeno was the enthusiasm they have for what they do. It comes from being a family business: these guys really believe in the quality of what they're serving, and they pass that passion on to the people enjoying it. 

Finally, a little secret worth knowing: between 5pm and 8pm Veeno serve their meats and cheeses in mini portions as a freebie when you order a glass of wine. It's very nice of them, but also smart. There's no pressure to buy a full portion after trying these 'aperiveeno' but many people do. After our eye-opening tasting experience, we fully understand why.

See our offers at Veeno

Veeno exteriorVeeno

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