I first met Chef Mauro Ferrari a few months ago, when he was curating the Italian Week at La Cucina, Hyatt Regency, Kolkata. Needless to say, I still reminisce about the chocolate dessert he made for us (R stole half of it, but I forgive her. Now. After therapy.), and I was more than excited to know he had returned for the Milan Food Festival (which would be over on the 30th of April). So, as we seated ourselves at La Cucina, one of my favourite places for Italian in the city, he showcased a few dishes from the menu, which looked decidedly simple at the first glance.
Okay, the first, but most beautiful thing about this dish is the scent. The truffle oil is heady, but when mixed with the cheese that is spread generously on top, the results can only be called intoxicating. Although slightly overseasoned for my taste, I liked the mushrooms and cheese cooked together- the ‘fondue’, with a decided Gorgonzolaesque (is there such a word? If there isn’t, I coined it!) aftertaste, even though the chef swore there wasn’t any.
Uova e Stracchino: Egg and soft cheeseChef Ferrari was playing a dangerous game of appearance and reality with us, because the menu looked simple enough, but the elements of the dishes were decidedly unusual. One fine example was the Uova e Stracchino: translated simply as “egg and soft cheese”. Again, this looked simple, but one bite of the soft-cooked eggs, the yolks mixed with a cheese sauce, where the cheese was very fresh and, for the lack of a better word, “bright”. I requested for a teaspoon and additional warm bread rolls to sop up every bit of the lusciousness, the egg yolks rich and decadent against the backdrop of the cheese.
The gnocchi dish contained little pillows of saffron-laden dough, slightly springy and chewy – a dish to savor. I wasn’t sure if the addition of Milan Salami was really necessary – for me, it enhanced the chewiness, and took away from the beauty of the soft gnocchi, liberally doused with saffron cream.
I was far more enamoured of the Saffron Risotto, with a scallion-balsamic reduction on top – a dish which screamed summer – and I might have asked for more than my share of it thanks to the heady fragrance of saffron infusing each grain of the perfectly cooked rice. This was the table favourite – D asked for seconds and thirds too!
For mains, I picked the vegetarian course featuring Fried asparagus, because I’ve been asked to steer clear of fish for a while. However, that didn’t stop me from picking out and devouring the deep fried garlic clove that came with the Fried Fish Fillet, sprinkled with Grana Padano that made the table squeal with pleasure.
The white and green asparagus came deep fried, with a side of Grana Padano sauce which paired beautifully with the crisp stalks.
Chef Ferrari presented a dessert that, at first glance, looked nice, but one bite into the mildly chewy cake-like polenta, drizzled with a sweet, figgy sauce, and slices of sweet fig hidden here and there was a discovery. We finished our plates quickly.
Our meal ended on a happy note, with IL’s birthday celebration, thanks to Hyatt Regency, who provided a fantastic chocolate cake which we devoured in no time. The Italian food festival would be over on the 30th of April, and is available for dinner every day, and weekend lunch, so don’t miss out on this one!