Tag Archives: tiramisu

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!

Pizza in the Metro

Bandra is abuzz with activity again on the culinary front, as international  Neapolitan pizzeria chain, Pizza Metro Pizza, has opened on Ambedkar Road. It is not just another Pizzeria for sure. It is different. Some more Italian food for us in Mumbai.

As you step inside, this cheerful, vibrant eatery, it’s easy to forget you are in suburban Mumbai. Copper fixtures hanging on the wall, the mural sketch of an Italian market place, bright floor tiles, complete the picture.

The international brand owner Chef Diego Palladino brings with him the Italian love through his original metre long pizzas. Mumbaikars are going to love these, but at a whooping cost. The pizzas are not only served with chilly oil & Parmesan cheese but their chefs are flown down from Italy as well. So much for an authentic experience.

We started with a salad, cherry tomatoes, rocket & parmesan, which was light and fresh. Pretty basic and ordinary, actually. The metre long Pizza arrived next and completely bowled us over. Well presented too. Mozzarella, gorgonzola and salame. A terrific trio. The Cheese like Parmesan, goat cheese & Mozzarella are used in the pizzas, we were told. Panna, another pizza with ham, mushrooms, salame, mozzarella and cream is sinful and luscious in its flavours. The freshness of the ingredients is evident and enhances the taste of the food. The dough is made fresh each day from the finest wheat, hand-stretched and cooked on the stone of a wood burning oven. Somehow one does not miss chicken in the Pizza menu, which is a typical Italian tradition. Oodles of beef, pork and seafood toppings tantalise your palate.

Metre long pizza - Pizza Metro Pizza copy

Although we decided to skip the pastas, there are a wide array of those on the menu- both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Fresh tagliolini, with cream and sage, cognac flambé in parmesan wheel sounds exotic and is a special inclusion in the Mumbai menu.

The tiramisu was pure decadence but unfortunately they had run out of the other desserts so we could not sample those.

The service can be stepped up a bit. The young Italian chefs are warm and friendly and it is a delight to watch them a work. The food is undoubtedly of exceptional quality.

It’s a great place to visit with family and friends, especially on the weekend, but one that you need to plan. Not an impulse visit kind. It definitely burns a hole in your pocket. College kids are going to steer clear from this one. But if you are a Napoletana pizza lover, you can’t resist this.

Rustic & Robust Italian food: Spaghetti Kitchen

The cheerful décor with natural light filtering in makes the Spaghetti Kitchen outlet at Khar special. It’s my favourite. It has just turned a year old. Incredible. Tastefully done up in vibrant colours, it is a good dining choice.

Spaghetti Kitchen is a speciality restaurant conceived to serve up a rustic and flavoursome Italian cuisine that is acquiring universal favour among Indian diners. Genuine Italian food is robust and flavoursome, and yet, suited to the Indian palate. That’s what sets this place apart.

The new menu by Bill Marchetti, Master Chef is a delight as always. Varied and exhaustive, it is difficult to make up one’s mind. We are given suggestions and we decide to abide by those. Bruschetta is what we sample in the Primo Piatti or First Course. Superb toppings and flavours. The artichokes and capers swept me off my feet. The sea food soup with tomato chowder is palate tickling. It relaxes me completely as I watch the rains outside. Some more sea food is what we venture into with the Mixed fried sea food platter. Each variety of sea food tastes better than the other. Calamari, prawns, fish. Absolutely delicious and fried to perfection in batter with herbs. The thin crust Roman pizza is light and crispy. The topping with generous helpings of spicy chicken in an interesting marinade, complement the crust. It simply melts in the mouth. I can never resist a Pizza so decide to skip the vast array of pastas, hand crafted, long & short and others. The Vegetarian fare is as delightful as the Non vegetarian one and for once one does not regret being a vegetarian. Parmesan, Olive Oil, Basil, Tomatoes are evident in most of the dishes. Fresh and of great quality, making a real difference to the flavours.

Tiramisu is difficult to resist, inspite of a heavy meal. I am ready to indulge. Creamy, mascarpone cheese, with the right flavour, it is a treat for the palate. The Sicilian ice cream cake too is pure sin. Opt for it only if you are still hungry.

Umesh the Senior captain serves us with enthusiasm and warmth, gusing us through the new menu and that makes the meal even more enjoyable. Chef Nitin’s personal visit makes me feel special. An unforgettable rainy afternoon. No wonder I love dining at Spaghetii Kitchen.

The Ultimate Italian Dessert

Tiramisu with fruits

Can never resist a Tiramisu after dining out, more so if it is an Italian restaurant. Not surprising therefore, Tiramisu, the Italian dessert is gaining popularity in India. And not in five star hotels only. Stand alone restaurants too are contributing towards this. Can vouch for it.

Light, fluffy and delicious, this layered cake originated in Tuscany. Tiramisu is a favourite with Italian food connoisseurs and an Italian meal is not complete without this heavenly dessert! The key to preparing good tiramisu lies not in the technique, but in its composition. There are different types of tiramisu recipes besides the authentic tiramisu. The ingredients may also be varied, for example, liquor may be substituted with almond extracts, cream cheese may be used instead of mascarpone cheese and savoiardi may be replaced by regular cookies or sponge cake.

Consistency and texture are critical in a well made Tiramisu. While many may not like the usage of eggs in Tiramisu, Chef Rossano is emphatic. “Traditionally eggs are used in making tiramisu however in India, as per the clientele, some chefs do egg- less tiramisu, however I don’t recommend it.” Bill Marchetti goes a step further when he says, “Instead of lightening the texture of the mascarpone with an egg sabayon you can use whipped cream and make an eggless sponge.”  Chef Rossano Renzelli, Executive Sous Chef, Westin Mumbai Garden City says, “For the perfect Tiramisu the two most important things are mascarpone cheese and coffee (Tia maria or kalhua) or almond liquor. Mascarpone cheese in Tiramisu can never be substituted with something else.” Celebrity Chef, Bill Marchetti of Spaghetti Kitchen feels, “Tiramisu means, pick me up, so it needs to be a rich liqueur and coffee laden concoction. The dish is all about mascarpone. You can also use a sponge cake instead of Savoiardi cookies. It’s main purpose is to soak up the coffee and liqueur.”

My first tryst with Tiramisu was when I was in London. Although had tried it earlier in India, I got hooked onto it there, when my colleague, Richard Mosquera, an IT wizard used to make the most delicious tiramisu. It used to simply melt in the mouth and have us carving for more. The ingredients were in the right proportion. Back in Mumbai, I’ve been scouting for the perfect tiramisu and a few places have offered me that. Olive Bar & Kitchen does a great tiramisu, as does Stax at Hyatt Regency. Ofcourse some places pass off a cheesecake with some element of coffee in it as Tiramisu. But my all time favourite are the ones at Spaghetti Kitchen and Mezzo Mezzo, JW Marriott. Chef Salvatore at Mezzo Mezzo made one with mango as well, which was unique. I even tried an Amarula Tiramisu myself with the caramel liqueur, it was good but I still prefer the classic one. Am old fashioned, what to do??