The Italian term “sprezzatura” is used to describe someone who does difficult things with confidence and quiet nonchalance. “Studied carelessness” is how the OED defines it. That doesn’t seem quite right, however. “Concealed effort” seems rather better, and that would be a good way to describe David Foley’s cooking in the sweet and lovely Wild Geese.
Mr Foley’s cooking is sprezzatura: with any dish, should your appetite permit a moment’s pause to look before diving in, there will be a huge amount of preparation, a huge amount of thought, and care. And yet, the dish will, to the casual eye, conceal the effort: where some cooking screams “Look At Me!”, David Foley’s dishes simply say: “Enjoy”. It’s masterly, and it’s delicious, of course, full of little surprises like deep-fried leeks with scallops and black pudding, or the saffron in the sauce with monkfish, or the curried crust with baked Bluebell Fall’s goat’s cheese. The room is equally sprezzatura – elegant, intimate, romantic – and the final part of the sprezzatura puzzle is Julie Randles’ masterly service, which is the art of the hostess.