FOOD and family are inextricably linked as far as Giovanna Eusebi is concerned.

The west end restaurateur and deli owner celebrates the food of her childhood on her seasonally changing menus. As autumn fades into winter, dishes such as ox cheek, slow cooked and served with whipped potato and shallots, or funghi risotto, made with foraged Scottish mushrooms and finished with burrata and shaved truffle, conjure up the tastes of the season - and many memories of Italy for Giovanna.

“Autumn in Italy is a mouth-watering harvest of food,” she explains. “Olives, truffles and grapes are just a few of its rich pickings. From north to south, the only word on everyone’s lips is the vendemia. The whispering chattering of ‘is it time?’ ripples through every community. The grape harvest is here. “

Giovanna explains: “When the time was right, my grandfather would gather neighbours and family to la Selva, a little strip of land near their home. The vines here have produced an indigenous variety since 1825.The fragola grape has a perfume of sweet strawberries, hence its name.”

Grape picking, laughs Giovanna, requires “comfortable shoes and clothes you don’t care too much about.”

She adds: “From dawn, we would circumnavigate rows upon rows, bent over. By mid-afternoon my grandfather’s tractor would be loaded with baskets. Back home, the grapes would be pressed in a wooden barrel - the juice and must would be left to ferment for several days before being transferred to demijohns. By the following spring, this simple wine, free of sulphates and yeast, was ready.”

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Giovanna and her brother Eddie took over the running of the business after their father’s death more than a decade ago. Eddie senior started a fruit and vegetable shop in the east end, which grew gradually into the business now based in Park Road in Woodlands.

The walls of the restaurant are covered in family photos, and Giovanna talks warmly about her grandparents, who instilled in her a love of good food and the importance of family.

“There is no greater satisfaction than picking grapes from vines that have produced the same fruit for centuries,” she says. “To this day, my mother still has her father’s vine growing in her garden in Glasgow. Year on year, she still holds out hope of it bearing fruit, and maybe next year, it will. It is a plant that ties her to her land and a gentle reminder of her father’s love for her.”

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