On Invitation

Time Travel with Chef Vittorio at Ottimo

Wednesday, May 27, 2015Me! In words

We have made the most of the one month that Anoushka has been on vacation with the grandparents. Our eating out touched new pinnacles this month and am really happy that our experiences have run the entire gamut - from tried and tested to hole in the wall to the hallowed tables of some of the best chefs in the city or those visiting it. 

Now when you receive an invitation from Ottimo at the ITC Gardenia which says that Chef Vittorio is planning on a time travel style menu where you have a classic dish and its Chef Vittorio interpretation plated up together, you must be certifiably insane to say no. We are not and so headed there to what we knew was going to be a spectacular evening. 

Chef Vittorio is currently shuttling between Chennai and Bangalore but that has not put a dampener on his spirits or his creative abilities. He is constantly in praise of his kitchen team, whom he assures us, pushes him to constantly innovate in the kitchen - a week with something new is too boring for this team, which is always up for a challenge. 

This menu is available till June 2nd for a magnificent price of Rs 2250 ++ per person including a glass of wine or beer is available in exclusive vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu options. The meal is most certainly a challenge for the kitchen team - while we are eating what is seemingly a single course - it is two dishes plated as one and technically doubles the work in the kitchen to pull it off. We indulged in a bit of both Carne and Verdura options and here is what you can look forward to...

The Carpaccio is a typical famous dish - The Piedmont version with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon, shavings of parmesan and rocket is how the classic version was served. And right next to it was the new avatar - the carpaccio comes wrapped around mushrooms and egg with the rocket and parmesan shavings on the side. The ball is a burst of flavour when you slice into it and unabashedly stuff it into your mouth. The plate was divided with delicious mushrooms sliced and diced under rivulets of olive oil. There was naturally a tally on which worked better - while classic will always hold a special place - modern scored here. 

The first two courses of the meal was paired with a Fratelli Sangiovese Bianco - a very light, fruity wine. It paired really well with the first few courses which were light, building up to stronger taste profiles. 

From the vegetarian menu came the Parmigiani - after Chef Vittorio's last innovative effort with the this dish, I could hardly imagine him topping that amazing orb of goodness. But he did and how! Here you had the classic parmigiani with layers of aubergine and a thick tomato sauce covering it like a cozy blanket. On the other side, you had the modern version - sheets of aubergine and tomato purees with all the flavours intact (yes, what you see are not set sheets sliced thin) interspersed with Boccoccini, bits of aubergine and parmesan crisps with a drizzle of balsamic. You have to make sure you get a bit of everything in your spoon to bring it together in your mouth. Unholy sighs of satisfaction are bound to escape from your lips. - Modern wins again

From the vegetarian section we had the classic Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli - while what you see on the right are the classic parcels of this brilliant dish, on the left is a single ravioli split into two, stuffed individually with ricotta and spinach, allowing you the chance for the magic to happen in your mouth. Being able to to get down pillow soft ravioli despite having two completely different textures to deal with in the same parcel is brilliance. - Score modern!

The classic Lasagne Bolognese undergoes a complete transformation with Chef Vittorio - on the left you have the classic version, with hand pounded beef, layer of lasagna, a thick tomato sauce and parmesan shavings. Say hello to the lasagna on your left - with venison used instead of beef and placed on the base along with the tomato sauce. This is topped with a Bechamel sauce and pasta biscuits. I was torn between these two and give both of them a point each. 

Another pasta classic - the Lamb Ravioli served with a Broccoli coulis. In the modern version, the ravioli sheet is rolled with the lamb and served with the coulis over it. Fabulous in terms of taste, but nothing over the other dishes we were served so far. Did not really want to score for this one. 

And then came my pick of the evening - The classic Spaghetti Putanesca had my taste buds do the happy dance. It was tangy and packed a nitrogen-accelerated-car-heading-to-the-finish line worth of flavour into it. The same brilliance was passed onto - a risotto - another favourite. Over a perfectly al dente risotto was poured the putanesca sauce and over it grated green and black olives. Chef explained how this dish was a marriage of the north and south Italy - north where rice is preferred and south which is partial to its breads. And that is why we had the classic with spaghetti and the risotto with a lighter version of the putanesca sauce. This has made it to the official list of last meals I should have before dying! I am very partial to tomato based sauces! Higher the tartness more the love. - Both versions 5 points each!

At this point we also shifted to having the Fratelli Sangiovese which has always been a favourite. I like the dryness of the wine and the way its coats the mouth, almost like prepping it for the strong flavours it will savour and helping get the most of each biteful. 

The Seabass Livornese - the innovation you see on the left - is where the fish has been cooked separately to retain its ocean flavour and then placed on a bed of the Livornese sauce - while both are brilliant - the classic scored for me here! 

And of course the Chicken Cacciatore where the modern version has all of the ingredients stuffed into a well frenched chicken and slow cooked. To balance out the flavours Chef placed the chicken on a bed a silky mashed potatoes with some of the chicken gravy - Modern version scores a point here for me. 

The two versions of the potato salad from the vegetarian menu. From the one bite that I did manage t sneak away, it will make every potato lover sigh in happiness. 

Since I don't like coffee, the Tiramisu was offered to the others at the table. I had the classic chocolate bomb which is always a delight to watch. Hot chocolate sauce is poured on a chocolate ball to make it melt and release a lava-load of white chocolate onto the plate. 

And the Tiramisu where the modern version is a deconstructed one with the coffee sauce poured around the sweet mound and the biscuits crumbled and served alongside.

The meal ended with a light espresso

Like I said at the beginning of this post - This menu, is available till June 2nd for a magnificent price of Rs 2250 ++ per person including a glass of wine or beer in exclusive vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu options. 

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