Sunday, March 16, 2008

luciano parolari - the king of rissoto





luciano parolari,who? that was my first question. then i was told that he was in mumbai and would be showcasing his culinary talents at the taj mahal hotel on 15th and 16th february. the only luciano i had heard of was the famous opera singer luciano pavoroti who died while performing on the stage some six months ago. this was a special invite and i didn't want to miss this opportunity. after all the invitation said that frank sinatra, alfred hitchcock, robert de niro and luciano pavoroti all loved his cooking.

luciano parolari is the executive chef of the "villa d'este', a hotel about 60 kms from milan. covering an area of 25 acres built in 1568 for a cardinal,it has seeen many royals and aristocrats living in it during their short holidays. in 1873, it got a face-lift and became a modern luxury hotel. the chef has a garden which was created about four years ago which provides him with fresh herbs and vegetables. there are two private villas too which are available on short-term lease. next time you think of a fancy and romantic holiday, you surely must consider villa d'este. the famous 'lake como' is nearby. luciano parolari is also an author. he has written four recipe books and has been associated with villa d'este for the last forty years.

it was,therefore,a memorable dinner that i had with my family and a few friends. famous indian chef hemant oberoi soiled his hands too in the kitchen which gave the food an eastern flavour. blogger friends would wonder what a vegetarian like me would enjoy in a dinner prepared by an italian chef. that would be an interesting thought. luciano came over to our table and realising that most of us were vegetarians suggested what we should have.which made our job easy. going through the menu card and reading the italian menu was indeed very formidable.

for appetizers we had "misto di verdure alla griglia con formaggio caprino" (grilled vegetables with goat cheese).this was followed by "risotto alla milanese con barolo e fonduta di taleggio" ( milanese rissotto with saffron,barolo wine and taleggio cheese fondue) and also "pasticcio di lasagne con verdure e mozzarella" (home-made lasagne with vegetables and mozzarella cheese). we didn't order any main course as our daughter l, herself a foodie and who has a food blog, suggested that we restrict ourselves to the appetizer and the first course. that was good thinking.the food on the table was more than filling. and for dessert we had "cupola di cioccolato amaro all'arancia e gelato al torroncino"(bitter chocolate mousse flavoured with orange and nougat ice-cream). alongwith with sparkling wine which was the right accompaniment for the heavenly food that we ate and enjoyed and the pampering by the attendants it was a royal treat. i felt as if i was dining at the villa d'este itself.

congrats to the taj management for having thought of such a combination of two famous world chefs,one italian and another indian and for having made this a special and unforgettable dining experience for us.