Food events On Invitation

Traditional Italian redefined at the Bene, Sheraton

Monday, June 24, 2013Me! In words

Its been three weeks since school restarted and its been a rush of uniforms, lunch boxes, homework and getting a routine in place, while juggling work and the house. And just when I was about done, the school van strike happened and things went from smooth to haywire in a single evening. In the midst of it all came this invitation to a CaL Blogger's Table at Bene, Sheraton for a preview of their Italian Festival. At first, it being a school night, had me on the fence - should I-shouldn't I? But then I read on - Chef Fabio Colace from the Sheraton, Rome was at the helm of this "Traditional Italian food reintepreted" festival - the food promised to be much more than what you would expect from an Italian spread - and best of all, for me it meant, an evening out, in good company over a great meal. Done - I was convinced! I was going to have me-self a good time, even if it wasn't the weekend. 

Traffic was relatively kind to us that day and we made it to the Sheraton in good time. A few sips of green tea to warm me up before the actual meal and we were soon seated. We were given a choice of wines - I am more of white wine, than red person and so was served a Soave - a dry white wine from Italy. Its mild, not so dry as to suck the happiness out of your mouth and went perfectly with the fresh bread served.

The bread basket that came was one that was thickly sliced, soft and perfectly partnered with the parsley butter and tomato basil dip. One thing I found through the meal was the chef's love for this herb - there was parsley in just about every dish and the best part - not once did it seem repetitive. The tomato basil dip was chunky, with a nice tartness to it. It made the wait for the actual meal very pleasant and quietened a tummy that was rumbling with anticipation. 

A part of the table setting. The lighting thankfully did not play complete spoilsport with my images this time around. The little spotlights nicely lit up each table setting 

The bread platter with the parsley butter and tomato-basil dip and
the Soave in the background

The first course was the Il Fungo Porcino. Served in a deep dish, this had a delicate cylinder of potato which had its inside scooped out and filled with well seasoned diced mushroom. This was topped with mushroom cap which too had been stuffed with the same filling. It was placed in a small pool of parsley sauce. It looked beautiful in the plate and when I sliced down the middle, it did not take away from the prettiness.

The mushroom stuffing was really yum and tells you how much a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, olive oil and possibly herbs, can work wonders. The parsley sauce was the perfect accompaniment. The little grouse I had was that the potato could have done with a bit more cooking and a touch of salt. But I do understand that the potato needed to be firm to stand up and hold the the stuffing inside. If there is a way to address the texture of the potato, the dish will be perfect.

 Il Fungo Porcino

 Il Fungo Porcino - sliced down the middle

The next course was a pasta course. Normally you would expect your pasta to be warm, unless it was in a salad maybe, but here was a pasta dish that had all the ingredients of a hot dish, yet was served cool and what a delicious difference it made. La Lasagne "Bene" had layered lasagne sheets stuffed with onions, roasted cherry tomatoes buffalo milk mozzarella, basil, eggplant and Parmigiano cheese cream. What you see on top, is slivers of roasted eggplant, a completely new way of savoring the ingredient and very different from how we perceive eggplant to be cooked. But it added texture and flavor to this dish. Everything in this dish came together beautifully - from the creaminess of the cheeses, to the softness of the lasagne sheets, to the delicate chunks of eggplant and the tanginess of the tomatoes. It was lovely.

La Lasagne "Bene"

La Lasagne "Bene" - after a generous grating of Parmesan cheese, right at the table

The second main course - was the L'agnello - a lamb loin served with aromatic herbs, a simple potato rosti, and balsamic reduction. A special note here of the roasted garlic with rosemary. Chef mentioned that often the rosemary was used in the sauces or in the marinade, but here he chose to infuse the garlic with its flavor. Do not let its pretty look convince you to leave it alone. Do slice through the garlic and pop out each clove and include it with your forkful of meat. You will not be disappointed.

The meat was cooked a beautiful medium rare - and like those of Australia Masterchef would say "perfectly brown on the outside and pink on the inside." It could be sliced with a butter knife and the nicely frenched piece of meat could be savored down to the last morsel. One thing though - we were not asked how we would like our meat - considering that "undercooked meat" is close to sacrilege here in India, it would be good if this was asked of every diner. As far as I go, I am happy the chef took the liberty of serving it this way.

With the lamb course I chose to switch to the red wine and so had a glass of Primo Amore it was and it made a good pairing with the dish.


The gorgeous roasted garlic with rosemary

The vegetarian option for the evening was the Il Pomodoro - Tomato stuffed with vegetable caponata and covered with Kataifi. It look so gorgeous on the table that we had to ask for one to share among three of us that had the lamb. After a not-so-pretty attempt at dividing the dish, I am hoping all was forgiven when we tasted the dish - the caponata was a perfect example of how overcooking a vegetable is not the only way to present it - especially when it comes to aubergines, a dish that Indian cuisine loves to douse in masala and overcook (Oh! but make no mistake - I love baingan bhartas and just about anything brinjal for that matter). Kataifi is actually meant to be a shredded variation of the phylo pastry, which it was not here, but shredded or not, the crispy phylo was the perfect encasement for the tomato.

Il Pomodoro

No Italian meal is complete with Dolci/Dessert - and when it comes on a red plate, looking as pretty as it did, you know you are in for a treat. La Crema, was a apple stuffed pastry that sandwiches frozen cream (yes, that's frozen cream I wrote) with sliced strawberries, a swirl of crispy chocolate and prosecco sauce. I am not much of a dessert person - while I always have a spoonful, completing an entire dessert without conversation has never really been me. But here I was, close to 5 minutes later with nice red shiny plate in front of me and nothing else.

La Crema

At the close of the meal, we were told that to make the Italian meal more interactive, little quizzes with fun prizes would be part of the showcase. We were asked to guess the herbs present in a box and pretty much aced the quiz. You get to pick your rewards from a glass bowl and there are some interesting discounts to be had. Also do make sure to take a peek at the Italian gourmet food counter on display. The cold cuts among other things are reasonably priced.

The herb box and prize bowl

The Italian gourmet counter

A closer look

I thoroughly enjoyed this preview and also took a look at the detailed menu for the event. The fish dishes sound brilliant and the vegetarians do not have to despair. Italian cuisine is as much about their local fresh vegetables as it is about their meats. An average meal for two at Bene will be approximately Rs 3000 ++

The festival is on till the 30th of June.

Address: Bene,Sheraton, Brigade Gateway, Next to Orion Mall, 26/1 Dr. Rajkumar road, Bangalore
Phone: 42521000
Cuisine: Italian
Wallet factor: Rs 3000 + + for 2
Parking: Valet

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