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Who would not like to attend an Italian food festival and that too at La Cucina, the award-winning restaurant at Hyatt Regency Kolkata? There was definitely a buzz in town since this festival was also about promoting the cuisine specifically from the region of Lombardy. Now, we all know that Milan is the capital of Lombardy and the second largest city in Italy and moreover, Milan is known for its culinary arts.
Chef Mauro Ferrari from Hyatt Regency, Chennai has especially come down for this festival. Being a Milan boy himself, creating the menu and then executing it has not only been a piece of cake but also a lot of fun and nostalgia. He has years of experience in working with renowned Italian chefs in various countries and he also owns 2 restaurants in Milan and Tuscany. His dishes are very modern while keeping in touch with tradition too. He even brought in some lost recipes, recipes which people do not serve in restaurants anymore. For example, Uova e Stracchino, translated into eggs with soft cheese, the cheese being stracchino is something uncommon in a modern Italian restaurant. There was a drizzle of truffle oil and some croutons plus micro greens. The dish had an intense umami and the creaminess of the yolk and the cheese with the musky aroma of the truffle oil had an unspeakable smack. The honesty and simplicity of the food shone through.
The appetizers had the likes of Pork Salad with Beans and Onions, Mushrooms Fondue With a Hint of Truffle Oil and Pear and Gorgonzola Cheese Salad. For Zuppa, there was smooth Pumpkin Soup with a big quenelle of ricotta in the centre.
For pastas and risottos, there were options of Lemon Risotto with Fried Fish, Tagliatelle with Porcini Mushrooms and Truffle Oil, Saffron Gnocchi with Milano Salami and Cheese and so on. We went with a classic Saffron Risotto with a reduction of balsamic vinegar, confit onions, red wine and a bit of sugar to balance all the acidity. The subtle flavour of saffron along with sharpness of the balsamic provided an epicurean taste to the risotto. For the main course, Chef suggested or rather insisted that we have the Pork Stew. Another comfort dish which is not a staple at most Italian restaurants, the stew, like all other stews, was hearty and wholesome. Originally, this stew is made with savoy cabbages, which are winter cabbages of the region. When the cabbage has met with its first snow, which is the time when it is plucked and used for stews. Apparently, the cabbage at this time has the perfect crunchy texture for stewing. Well of course; this stew was made with normal Indian cabbages. I am not sure how the taste would have been different since I have never had the original. But what I can say is that a big piece of pork belly, completely rendered off its fat and pre-roasted before being added to the stew along with the cabbages, carrots and some polenta was homely yet inviting. I could distinctly get the flavour of cloves, nutmeg and rosemary.
We also tried the Fried Fish Fillet with baby spinach and parmesan with some small lemon segments. Chef told us that clarified butter or ghee was used in the preparation of this dish. To our surprise, clarified butter is a very popular medium of cooking in Milan and some dishes cannot be done without it. Desserts were simple yet glorious, a classic Crumble Apple Tart and Sweet Polenta and Cooked Sweet Fig.
For a soccer fan, Milan belongs to either AC Milan or Inter Milan. But when we are talking about the festival from Lombardy, most of the dishes revolved around how Milanese people would prepare and eat.
This festival is on till April 30th and price for 2 would approximately be INR 2500. So if you are looking for a real treat from Italy, here is your chance.