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Posted: Monday, October 05 2009. 16:40

Restaurant Feature : A Touch of Emilia Romagna at La Piazza

La Piazza, the Italian Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Delhi is organising a promotional feature on the Emilia –Romagna region in North Italy with the guest specialist Chef Alessandro Sandrolini visiting from Muscat, writes Subhash Arora

Photos :: Adil Arora

Chef Alessandro Sandrolini

Did you know that the ubiquitous spaghetti with Bolognaise sauce does not find a place in a food Menu in Emilia Romagna of which Bologna is the state capital? Or that the so called Bolognaise sauce is not supposed to have minced meat but is made from chunks of pork? Or that if one were to really make the sauce in true Bolognaise style, one would need the kitchen work spread out for a full day? Or that there are more than one variant-including one with fish?

Welcome to the world of Emilia Romagna whose cuisine will tantalise your taste buds to go back for more, after you have been to the special promotion from this region organised in La Piazza from October 4-15, brought to you by Alessandro Sandrolini, Chef –de-Cuisine at the Grand Hyatt Muscat who has been invited as a guest chef during the promotion.

‘During this period specialties from the region will be available as a-la-carte at prices commensurate with the existing prices,’ says Alessandro who is also trying to add some dishes for the Sunday brunch. A total of about 16 dishes have been added to the promotion menu, including the appetizers, soups, antipasti and the main course. Wines from the region, especially Sangiovese and Lambrusco can be ordered by the bottle or by-the-glass.

Hand made pasta like farfalle- known as strichetti in this region, tagliatelle, stuffed ravioli etc. are the specialty of the region; Risotto is not very popular. People eat a lot of pork; Prosciutto di Parma should be a give away- so is the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. ‘We also drink a lot of red wine-mostly Sangiovese and some Lambrusco too,’ says the 40-year old guest chef who was born in the ‘kitchen’ in a family that owned a restaurant in Bologna.’

So what regional cuisine is the specialty in the Muscat property, I ask. ‘It is an Italian restaurant based on the cuisine from Emilia Romagna, which is the food in my blood,’ he says with a look of pride on his face.

And what happens after the promotion is over? ‘It is a matter of learning for us at the la Piazza kitchen. I am amazed at some of the things I am learning from him and adding to my repertoire,’ says Wladimiro Gadioli, the Russian sounding, Russian looking, true blooded Italian Chef from Brescia, in the neighbouring Lombardia region. ‘We will look at the sales analysis of the items ordered by the customers. The most popular items will be incorporated in the new Menu which will come out in November’, says the Austrian Exec. Chef Dieter Lengauer.

It may come as a surprise to non-regulars that La Piazza, which looks the same ever since it opened to full house almost 2 decades ago and is considered the ‘Bukhara’ of Italian food in Delhi, keeps on changing the menu every 3-4 months. Puneet Baijal, the F & B Director says, ‘we have different style of cooking for summer and winter-and the Menu which is revamped in November, is tweaked regularly.’

Fonduta di Parmigiano is perfect antipasti to start with. Fondue of Parmigiano cheese with truffle essence gives you a hint of truffle even though one does find small chunks of a couple of black truffle pieces settling at the bottom. To make the best of it, one would be wise to dip the spoon and scoop out the dark bits of one of the rarest commodities from the bottom while enjoying the soup. The accompanying polenta crostini, crispy from the outside and soft on the inside is an ideal mate for the fondue which would be a perfect match with Gavi di Gavi and perhaps Pignoletto, if one were fussy about drinking a wine from this region alone.

The mushroom soup was quit appetizing though I found it a bit too salty. The chef explained it away by saying that the Indian mushrooms are very strong and that is why he had hardly used any salt at all.

Chefs Alessandro and Wladimiro with home made strichetti (farfalle)

The strichetti is another delicious dish that tasted very fresh and just right in texture. I am not sure if the green peas gave any more dimension to the flavour except a nice vibrancy to the looks of the dish. The main course has an excellent choice of breaded chicken in Parmesan sauce, seared pork tenderloin or stuffed calamari.

Wines for the food

The best way to enjoy-the only way this food, is to have a glass of two of wine from the region. Try the IGT Rubicone Sangiovese they are planning to serve during the fest. Otherwise you cannot go wrong with Pinot Grigio Montresor at Rs. 1900 a bottle. If you’re a novice or out for fun, order a glass or two of red Opera Lambrusco- slightly sparkling red which is the locals’ favourite in the region. I was told there would be a special price of Rs. 350 a glass-at which price it is worth trying-who knows, if you are still a now wine-drinker,you may even start liking wine with your food-especially if it is Italian-from Emilia Romagna

Subhash Arora

 If you are in hospitality and your restaurant is planning a promotion that would be a special gastro-oenological experience, let us know. We would love to share it with our readers, if it has wine to go with it and offers special value to the customer - editor

       

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