Italian food has had humble beginnings. As pointed by the food writer John Mariani “[Italian food] was considered fairly low-class but very lovable — with its pizzas and its red sauce and its marinara sauces..But it has since become not just the most fashionable food in the world but also … one of the healthiest.” In his book How Italian food conquered the world he explains that Italian food was once considered cheap peasant food but now it appears at three star michelin restaurants and on menus around the world.
As for me I am still a passionate cheese lover and I do commonly associate Italian food with heavy creams and cheese filled pastas. My favorites are the ones that are especially cheesy and loaded with mushroom (you all know of my weakness for mushroom). Carbonara sauce is another favorite. I like my pasta unhealthy and pizza too. However, I feel that most of the Italian chefs in India have been hugely disadvantaged in terms of the fact that most restaurants are not really serving authentic Italian because the ingredients sourced locally and available in abundance in Italy are not available here in India. White mushrooms are a poor alternative to fungi porcini and the olive oil may or may not be as cold pressed or as virgin or as natural as it should be. White truffles continue to be a rarity.Worst of all not even half of the restaurants come close to the perfect al dente pasta.
So when I was presented with an opportunity to attend a masterclass by Michelin Star Chef Riccardo Sculli it just felt too good to be true. Especially since our trip to London went sans any visit to Michelin Star restaurants courtesy our baby. Not even one restaurant with the tiniest bit of the star would have us in.. baby included.. and I refused to part with mon bebe of 4 months! This michelin star opportunity that too for authentic Italian meal meant my second favorite cuisine (first being Indian always) served just right! What’s more? Prepared in front of my own eyes!
Chef Riccardo Sculli is head chef at Ristorante Gamberro Rosso, Marina di Gioiosa Jonica RC, Italy. He is the first starred chef of the Reggio Calabria province and is known for his dedication, authenticity and expertise on cuisine. He finds inspiration in the sandy beaches and pristine waters of the Ionian coast. This inspiration manifested itself in the form of dishes I had the chance to first hand witness being prepared and served to taste and relish.
The 2 dishes that were prepared were Bon Bon Di Gambero which was prepared using Bon Bon Shrimp, Pumpkin, Burrata and Anchovy Bread. The second one was Spagheto Con Marluzzo Nero E Tartufo Nero which when translated to English means Spaghetti with Black Cod and Black Truffle.
The dishes’ Method of preparation glorifies simplicity at its best and if you saw my Instagram or Snapchat story you must have admired how quickly these dishes got ready to eat! The only challenge I found was the ingredients. This was reflected in the ingredients that Chef Sculli felt he had the need to bring them from Italy. Be it the extra cold pressed olive oil or the cheese or the Black truffle or the perfume he uses to scent some of his signature dishes.
Bon Bon Di Gambero and Spagheto Con Marluzzo Nero E Tarruto Nero are what the dreams of every sea food lover are made of. This sea food based Italian meal is a specialty that is worthy of admiration. The influence on the richness of this Italian segment of meal has a lot to do with Chef Sculli learning to cook in the kitchen of the restaurant owned by his family when he was a child. In fact Bon Bon Di Gambero was the outcome of one such dish combination he ventured out to prepare as a child.
Bon Bon Di Gambero’s Yellow Pumpkin sauce is reflective of the Yellow roads in Italy and the presentation of Spagheto Con Marluzzo Nero E Tarruto Nero draws inspiration from a mountain in Calabria. Chef Sculli prides himself on being self taught. The love for his land, along with his passion to express this love in the form of flavours and tastes motivated him to learn, experiment and to ultimately perfect himself.
If Bon Bon Di Gambero was more about freshly hammered Shrimp flavor dominating the taste along with cheese complimenting it then Spagheto Con Marluzzo Nero E Tarruto Nero was all about the flavors of Black Cod and the truly fresh Black truffle! The stock poured on the dish in end had such rich sea fragrance that it was too heady an experience to have just one time. If you aren’t a sea food lover you would have perhaps not enjoyed either of the dishes but there were murmurs on the table from the non sea food lovers how they too loved both the star dishes at the Masterclass.
It was truly an incredible opportunity at Sorrento in Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel for all the ardent authentic Italian cuisine lovers of Delhi to taste the authentic Italian experience especially curated by Michelin Chef Riccardo Sculli. The specially curated menu called “Barefoot in the Sand” was available at Sorrento in Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi till February 28, 2017.
I would also like to add a few shining words about Sorrento here, I think it has the most perfect outdoor setting for winter brunches with the best kind of feeling for sipping fine wines under faux vineyard greens for a roof! It’s an exclusive spot for a quality time out with your loved one.
Too full in my tummy from all the reviews,