Tag Archives: risotto

Of Wines and Italian Home flavours

It has been my week of savouring Italian food. A strange co-incidence, but one, I am not complaining about. Anything for the love of Italian cuisine.

Olio, at Novotel Juhu, Mumbai, is a restaurant shrouded in a bit of a mystery. Not too many people know about this wonderful restaurant, with a chic ambience and an open kitchen. I have been fortunate to have visited this twice before in the last 5 years or so. Naturally then, a dinner at Olio, with an all-new menu under the aegis of Executive Chef Kailash Gundupalli, sounded like an interesting prospect.

The warmth and hospitality extended by the hotel team was overwhelming. The General Manager Manish Dayya, personally welcomed all guests.

The long table for our dinner was beautifully laid out. Flawless. Each course was to be  paired with Reveilo wines and the wine maker Andrea was present there himself.

The amuse bouche arrived. The baked brie with a crust, was just the perfect way to tantalize one’s taste buds. As one bit into the crust, soft, gooey brie enveloped the taste buds and rendered one speechless.

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Barely recovering from the onslaught of cheese on my palate, and the pickled watermelon and arugula salad took me by surprise. The water melon was handled with precision and the pickled flavours  were unique. The smattering of goat cheese, focaccia chips and the apple vinaigrette imparted the final touch to this salad replete with freshness and crunch. And yes, a hint of tangy flavours too.

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We were definitely off to a great start. The grillo and chardonnay paired with these opened our palate and with their citrusy and fruity flavours, were refreshing all the way.

The spinach and ricotta ravioli had a filling which was well-made, the outer covering of the dumpling, made with pasta dough seemed a tad tough and under cooked. The chewy texture robbed me of the outstanding experience I was expecting, considering the tomato basil sauce was light and flavoursome.

An eternal optimist, I looked forward to my risotto, a dish I have an immense weakness for. But alas! this too did not pass the test. It was a mushy mass of sticky rice. A spoonful and I knew it was half-cooked. Perhaps it was prepared in stages, which proved to be its undoing. The stock had got absorbed too soon and the arborio rice grains were not cooked to perfection. Of course the quality of the ingredients used boasted of freshness and shone all through. The black truffle essence too could have been a bit more.

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Perhaps I had made the wrong choices. There was Chicken d’ avolo – roast chicken preparation and a red snapper dish to choose from as well and I saw others relish those. Fortunately, the food  here is light, home-style and causes no discomfort with a cheese and cream overload, as is sometimes the case with what is passed off as Italian food.

Grilled salmon – sautéed Asparagus, garlic mash potato and lobster cream sauce

Just when I was beginning to let my despondent taste buds take over and feel sorry for themselves, the desserts- tiramisu and flour less chocolate cake, came along, artistically presented and literally “picked me up.” The flavors were bang on as were the textures. I was elated once again. A sip of the late harvest Chenin Blanc dessert wine and I was grateful to the hosts for a lovely evening.

Flour less chocolate cake – olio signature gluten free dessert with vanilla ice cream

The service through out the evening struck me as alert and efficient and the chefs passionate about their craft.

The new menu  certainly looks promising with appetizers ranging from Bruschetta, Olio De Caesare, Cozze Al Forno to Capsesante, while the mains feature avant-garde additions like Linguine Pescatora, open-face Lasagna, Angello Al Balsamico, all-time classic pizzas, and much more.

The simple home style cooking techniques, fresh sauces and condiments are going to make all the difference, along with the chef’s expertise and skills.

Add to that the fact that Olio exudes a kind of bonhomie and cheer and is not a staid, stiff-upper lip kind of dining place.

Saluti and Buon Appetito all:)

 

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Tantalizing Tuscany flavours

You cannot help but like Chef Davide Cananzi at Mezzo Mezzo, JW Marriott, Mumbai. His simplicity and ingenuity strike you immediately. Well-travelled and  with a rich culinary experience in the hospitality industry, he lets his food speak for him.

This May, JW Marriott Mumbai invites Italian food gourmets to savour and relish this unique and original cuisine from the region of Florence. Starting this exciting food festival, Chef will take over the mantle of the fine dining Italian restaurant, Mezzo Mezzo at JW Marriott Mumbai, which will now serve authentic Tuscan cuisine along with exotic wines.

Simplicity is the hallmark of Chef Davide’s food and he indeed delivered what he had promised. For once, Italian food did not feel heavy. The flavours were subtle, yet distinct and the textures, varied and interesting.

Code di gamberi in guazzetto al pomodoro e vinbianco suletto d’asparagiverdi e scaglie di Parmigiano (Stewed prawn tails in tomato and white wine sauce served on green asparagus with Parmesan shavings), which came first,  set the tone for the rest of our delicious meal.

 

 

Tuscan

Risotto con funghi di bosco e melagranat (Risotto with wild mushrooms and pomegranate), wowed our palate with its interesting flavours. It was truly a unique pairing. Homemade fetuccine with rock lobsters and white figs was as exotic as it sounded.

For the non-vegetarians, the Tuscan Food Festival offers La Griglia (The Meat Grill) that will boast of Rosticciana (Grilled Pork Ribs), Agnello scottadito (Grilled New Zealand Lamb Chops), Bistecca di manzo (Rib Eye Steak) to name a few which will be served with Mashed or Rosemary Roasted Potato and Grilled Vegetables.  Not a great fan of red meat, we decided to skip these.

Branzino (Grilled Sea Bass Steak), Grilled Calamari and Grilled Salmon are a delight for sea-food lovers. And I relished the grilled calamari.

I was curious to try Chef Davide’s Tiramisu as it is his mother’s original recipe. Indeed, the Tramisu Classico which is a traditional Italian mascarpone with cheese and coffee dessert, was the highlight of the meal. It surpassed my expectations. After all you cannot go wrong with your mother’s recipe. Crostatina di pere e mandorle tiepide con gelato all’ amarena e salsa al cioccolato (Warm pear and almond tart with cherry ice cream and chocolate sauce)  and a variety of Gelatos like Mousse Al Mascarpone E Mela Con Miele Al Tartufo (Lemon Cream Pudding with Walnut Biscuit and Olive Oil Cream), are your other options.

 

Don’t miss this culinary treat from May 17- June 1.  And yes, Italian food is not just pizza and pasta!

Interesting world flavours in new menu: Cafe By The Beach

New menus excite me and so I landed up at Café By The Beach, Girgaum Chowpatty, to check it out for myself. The Mezze platter with tabouleh, fattoush, hummus, baba ghanoush, pita bread & olives was interesting, but not the best I have had in this city.

The appetizers came next with cherry tomato & ricotta bruschetta and peppered chicken crostini. The latter was exciting, particularly the horseradish cream and juicy pomegranates as garnish, lent it a unique flavour.

From the Pasta & Risotto section, the Beetroot gnocchi with dill cream sauce was the clear winner. I am not a great one for beetroot at all and I enjoyed that the most. It was exceptional. Kudos to Chef Ashay Desai. Chicken Ravioli with roasted artichoke hearts was equally a treat, as I enjoyed the flavour of the chicken in the ravioli envelopes. The Pumpkin & goat cheese risotto was disappointing, considering I am a huge fan of risotto. Extremely dry and chewy in texture. Not cheesy enough for my palate. (No pun intended!) The Parpedelle in saffron chilli sauce was not upto my palate either. Tough in texture, a trifle flat & insipid, the saffron taste was too pronounced.

I simply loved the water chestnuts and spinach crepes served with a melange of fresh tomato and creamy cheese sauce. The contrast in the textures and flavours was outstanding. You can’t go wrong with Shepherd’s Pie and Chef Ashay is clearly a master. The Mustard crust fish with dill honey ailoli was good, especially the spicy sundried tapenade. It enhanced the light flavour of the fish. All in all, a great new menu by Chef Ashay. Fresh ingredients have been creatively used to offer exciting and varied flavours. A bit of an overdose of tomatoes though. There is something for every palate. Vegetarians can rejoice. Interesting dishes await them. A place worth visiting. A beach front café, great food and impeccable service. Check it out.