Lombardy Food at Focaccia, Hyatt Regency
Don't judge a chef by one bad meal! Lesson learnt! When I first met chef Ferrari, yes, that is his name, the setting wasn't perfect. There were too many people and the food simply did not live up to the mark. I wasn't even interested in going back or writing about it. A few months later, the Lombardy Food festival shows up and now we see what a little super star this chef is!
Italy, like most countries, has varied cuisines within the country and though similar, each region has its own charm. Lombardy or Milanese cuisine is the region of the risotto! And yes, extremely healthy quantities of butter! And fried cheese! So as you might guess, there is no dearth of flavour! The best way to enjoy a dinner here is to tell the chef a budget and the meats you don't eat and ask him to feed you! Trust me, it is better than your choice! Choice is extremely overrated and this way you get to taste a lot more dishes!
Our dinner started off with a Pear and Gorgonzola Cheese salad. While cheese adds flavour in most salad, it was the hero here! On a bed of poached pear with balsamic, the combination was fabulous! This was followed by a sweet n sour baked fish with raisins and veggies. Apparently this fish is cooked and then frozen under a bed of veggies. So the batter fried wasn't crisp, but beautifully wet with a slightly sweet flavour! Very different from what most of us are used to, but tasty enough for the tongue to embrace the difference! This was followed by a fantastic fried polenta with black truffle! Oh yum would be an understatement! Crispy polenta with a cheese fondue and shaved fresh truffles on top was a flavour over burst, but with only three flavours. This was playing with minimal ingredients and maximum flavours!
Then came the starch! A portion of home made pasta with truffles and a fish with risotto. Now, the pasta was a stunner. The chef makes his own pasta, told us his recipe (nope, I am not putting it here) and it felt as comforting as eating rice and sambar at home. Super simple flavours, but super comforting! Then came the same fish (the same species of fish, I mean) that was soaked under the veggies for the second course, but this time, it wasn't frozen. It was cooked fresh the same way and perched on top of risotto. The risotto was probably the only thing that wasn't as good the rest of the meal, but the fish was nice! Together, while quite nice, this was the only course that didn't belong to the meal.
Especially because the next dish that came was rock star! Beef meat balls! Just that! Meat balls on a bed of onions. If you love beef, this dish is all you need. It was pink in the middle, the onions were super yummy and the sauce beautifully tied the dish together.
We finished dinner with a trio of dessert, all of them home made! Talk about simplicity and chef Ferrari can teach us a few lessons.
Now, I guess Italian cuisine in Chennai is slowly going back to the roots and simplicity like I've been writing about, but what sets this chef apart from the rest is his ability to bring that simplicity without compromising on the plating or the flavours which a guest who pays a hefty price at a 5 star hotel would expect. A meal for two would cost about Rs. 3500, but for about Rs. 2000 per head, you can ask chef to craft a 4-5 course meal that would be totally worth it!