On Invitation

Amore Italiano - Mövenpick

Thursday, December 06, 2012Me! In words

One of the reasons I love going to Chef's Tables with international cuisines on the menu is that I get to taste first hand a range of delicacies that are showcased with a passion. This is not food to fill those buffet bain-maries, but rather food that one prepares with that special attention to detail - its close to the heart and that was pretty evident from the way Chef Antonio Lotito spoke about what he put before us. Each time he demonstrated a dish, there nothing secretive about the ingredients, the method of cooking...nothing... it was an evening where eight diners, despite having  battled around 1.45 hours of traffic to get there, went home, completely satiated sighing Amore Italiano

The evening began with some wine and cheese - not much of a red wine person myself and so even though I tasted some of it, I decided to stick with the white for the rest of the evening. 

Red wine Pater Toscana

The red wine for the evening and the cheese board. A very interesting combination was that of the creamy blue cheese with a dried prune. A bit of the cheese on the prune, pop into your mouth and then wash it down with a sip of wine. Very interesting even for someone like me who is still in the process of acquiring a taste for certain kinds of cheese. 

A part of the cheese board

And the tables were set, it was time to see Chef Antonio in action. The antipasti was a combination of two variations. He kept talking about Italian food as he deftly unmoulded the eggplant parmigiani and set about plating it. Just watching the process was a pleasure. 

Chef Antonio Lotito at work

What is an Italian meal without some bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side

Antipasti - Caprese di Mozzarella di Buffali with Zucchini E Melanzane all Parmigiani. 

Out came Course 1 -  Caprese di Mozzarella di Buffali with Zucchini E Melanzane all Parmigiani. This was a ball of fresh buffalo mozarella (all the way from Italy) over a plum tomato with a fresh basil pesto, EVOO and a balsamic vinegar reduction. The zucchini and eggplant coated in butter and parmesan cheese were layered with bechamel sauce and then tossed into the oven. A beautiful way to start. 

Don't you just love this table lamp!

Next came the pasta and again Chef Antonio gave us a demo of how to put together a bacon pasta and a vegetarian one. The pancetta was nice and fatty being from the belly and chopped finely. This was tossed with some white onion, black pepper and tomato puree. A ladle full of vegetable stock to add flavor and then the best part, the white wine.

Tossing up the pasta

I just loved the way the pan flamed up with the addition of the wine. The bacon pasta too came out pretty much the same way. However, the pastas were finished differently. The vegetarian version got the mozzarella and basil garnish while the bacon pasta got pecorino cheese and parsley. This was to balance the flavors out. Oh and a little tip - always tear basil with your hands and toss it in. A knife blade can kill the flavor. Needless to say the pastas were brilliant. Light on the palate and so, well Italian!

And in goes the white wine

Penne all'arrabbiata (the chef mentioned that arrabbiata means angry, something associated with the chilli flakes that is added to this pasta

Penne Amatriciana - again a dish that is the particular style of a place called Amatrice

Piatti Vegetariani - the vegetarian entrees came next. There was the lasagne vegetariane and the crispelle ripiene di funghi misti e mascarpone. Hands down it was the crepes that won me over while the lasagne was equally wonderful. The crepes were delicate and filled with a mascarpone cheese and mushrooms - now who would have thought mascarpone would make such a wonderful savory dish. 

 Lasagne Vegetariane

Crispelle ripiene di funghi misti e mascarpone

We then moved on to Carni - the meat dishes and we started with the Involtini di pollo allo scalogno which was a chicken breast stuffed with mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and mozzarella. The sauces was heavy on crunchy garlic which suited me quite fine. The aubergine though over roasted felt a little too tough for me, nevertheless it was a nice combination.

Involtini di pollo allo scalogno

The next course was the Pesce - Seafood and we had the Pesce al forno con porcini e pomodorini - a white fish (I missed the name when the chef told us) with a tomato and porcini sauce. Nice and tangy with the fish being soft. 

Pesce al forno con porcini e pomodorini

And then of course we come to the Dolci Formaggi was the Tartufo al Cioccolato - a chocolate truffle. And the best part is that we got to see how it was made.

Chef Antonio very casually wielding a saucepan full of melted
chocolate, with all of us swooning at the aromas around him.

The making of the truffles

Heaven in a mouthful - chocolate truffle

If you want a taste of what we had that evening - head to the Mövenpick Hotel and Spa till the 14th of December for lunch or dinner. Even if it is a long distance trip for you - it will be worth the effort. 

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