For a vegetarian, to sample authentic South Italian cuisine, at the hands of a renowned chef from the Mariott stable, is in itself an education in cuisine appreciation. Especially an interactive, sharp, experienced and sensitive chef, like Davide Cananzi (pronounced David with an E, if you will). From his attention to detail, his sharp culinary insight, his sharing of his experiences -to being a brilliant host for the evening, it was a pleasure to know, understand and sensitise to the flourishing and yummy Mezzogiorno cuisine.
A motley group of foodies makes for very interesting, varied and deep conversation not to mention appetites. We kick started the flavourful journey to the bar space with Prosecco (fine Italian sparkling wine) and Piccini Rosso (Italian red wine) for the evening. On display (the gorgeous items that are put forth in the pictures alongside) were the Insalate, cheeses, fruits and cold cuts, along with interesting seasoning combinations.
I tried the Ricotta cheese with Djion mustard and the red wine cheese (chef recommendations) and they were simply cheesy! As in -not hard and subtly flavoured. The fruits were quite strong and tangy and hence were had with bread. The olive focaccia and the crisp pizza bread were just right even without the necessary dollops of butter, even though I haven’t quite been much of a breads person.
The other section had cold cuts and seasoning. Also had several varieties of whole and stuffed black and green olives.
The insalata to the left contains bean sprouts, olives and capers. The Arancini alla Siciliana which is a vegetarian dish as well is Sicilian style spicy risotto balls stuffed with green peas and mozzarella is a must try. The peas bring out a succulent flavour.
Surprise surprise PIZZAS were served. My favourite for the evening was the vegetarian variety Verdure. Nicely crisp light browned crust, thin and just right. And the veggies especially zucchini were sitting pretty and melting in the mouth.
Also served were margherita, olive, artichokes varieties. Needless to add, they were all right spot on in terms of styling, presentation, taste. The chef provides ample vegetarian options keeping in mind the mix foodie groups of the city. Pizza served with the Insalate created heaven on earth and I almost forgot about main course.
After a lovely introduction and process speak by the chef we pepped up for main course – the pastas and risottos. The pastas were several and varied so as to introduce a variety of tastes. I tried the fusilli, the mushroom risotto and the rigatoni. The Fusilli alla ricotta e pomodorini was with ricotta and cherry tomato. The mushroom risotto was very well flavoured and mixed well. No wonder then, there were several compliments to the chef on that one. My favourite in this course was the Pasticcio di pasta al forno that is a Baked rigatoni pasta with assorted vegetables, mozzarella and tomato. I overheard that the Scaloppina Gi Pollo, that is Scalopps with chicken contained chicken that melted-in-the-mouth and people were asking for several helpings!
Now for the dessert- the highly awaited course of the night. The chef kept it simple with an eggless Cassata alla Siciliana that is traditional marzipan and ricotta cake. The creamy and right consistency simply melted in the mouth. Also served was a jam tart the Bocconotto that is traditional cream and cherry marmalade cakes.
I heart the Marriott Mezzo Mezzo Mezzogiorno cuisine !!!
Photography Courtesy – Anisha Murarka and Puja Vora