Sicilian flavours at Etna

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Etna is an Italian ristorante in Singapore that's just a 5 minute walk from home. The place is always buzzing with diners -no wonder family and friends living in the neighbourhood have only good things to say about the food there.

We headed there for dinner a few nights ago and luckily had made reservations. There's outdoor seating but since a few drops of rain had fallen just as we left home, we chose to sit indoors.

Bread selection

It is a slightly cramped space but it was nice to sit at a table with white tablecloths and linen napkins. The liquor choices are aplenty and they have a good selection of wines. If you're not sure what to order, the staff will give you suggestions. A basket of breads that included focaccia slices is served first with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip them into.

Burrata di Andria

Named after an active volcano in Sicily, Etna specialises in Sicilian flavours, vegetables and seafood.
The antipasti we decided on was Burrata di Andria. The combination of buttery cheese and Parma ham was delicious. Sweet cherry tomatoes and peppery arugula brightened the flavours.
  
Bruschetta di Pomodoro

Bruschetta di Pomodoro was a pretty sight. Tasted yummy too though the bread had not been evenly sliced and the toppings kept falling off.


Ciriole alla Norcina

Ciriole alla Norcina was fabulous. The sauce made with mushrooms, sausage and truffle paste was big and bold with earthy flavours and the fat strands of smooth light yellow homemade pasta mopped up the sauce and had us scraping the dish clean.

Filetto di maiale Marsala

The meat course was Filetto di Maiale al Marsala. Thick but absolutely tender medallions of pork rested on a bed of mashed potatoes. Roasted baby potatoes and mushrooms were plated beside and that Marsala sauce was just wow! A serving of gremolata and briny capers along with thin slices of Parmesan cheese  provided much needed notes of acidity - a lovely balance of flavours was the result.

Pizza Etna

Imagine going to an Italian restaurant and not ordering a pizza - unthinkable! So a pizza called Etna arrived. Generous shavings of Parma ham, mozzarella and cream cheese, mushrooms and pistachios decorated the top. Quite a nice combination of toppings but we could only manage a slice each and had the rest packed up. 

Etna has a few interesting desserts on the menu. Their portions are generous and even though the three of us had shared all the dishes, we wouldn't have been able to do justice to dessert. We've saved that for next time. Service is very efficient.

Etna is at 110, Upper East Coast Road, Singapore. Phone: 64449530 and at
49-50 Duxton Road Road, Singapore. Phone: 62205513.

The Gourmet Experience Centre

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Haddows Road is the address of the Gourmet Experience Centre. This is a space where cooking experiences can be created not just by masterchefs but even by cooking enthusiasts. The Centre houses a 1000 sq. ft. cooking studio and a cook area fitted with the latest in kitchen equipment by Siemens.


Fridge-freezer


The sleek side-by-side refrigerator-freezer with black glass finish had us enthralled. It has a digital display and touch electronic controls. The shelves are adjustable. The doors too have shelves and there's quite a bit of stuff that this fridge can hold. Sigh...my dream fridge for sure...


Built in oven, combi oven & the coffee machine

Any kitchen needs an oven and this one has two!! There's a built-in convection oven and a combi steam oven. This is great for not only steam cooking but even for proofing breads! The ovens are energy-efficient and self-cleaning to boot. Fitted beside it is a built-in fully automatic coffee machine and below that, a warming drawer... my dream ovens and a coffee machine too...sigh!

Works on gas & electricity


Multi-functional cooktop

The Domino cooktop is multi-functional. There's a standard gas burner that can be used for wok cooking, a ceramic induction cooking zone and beside it, a lava grill, a deep fat fryer and a teppanyaki grill. Meats and veg can be cooked on it and even dosas, we were told. The last 3 come with flush fit covers and once the cooking is done and the covers fitted back, they practically go out of sight.


Siemen's dish washer

And who's going to do the washing up after a dinner party? This semi integrated dish washer takes care of that job. It has three racks and a fourth basket is just for cutlery. Even stemmed glasses stay stable during operation. The complete wash cycle in this machine is shorter, thereby saving water.


Island workspace

In the centre is an island countertop, providing sufficient working space. While the kitchen occupies about a third of the area, the remaining space is multi-functional - it could be converted into a dining area for guests attending a private dinner or double up as space for a cooking classes.

The Centre is the baby of chef and entrepreneur, Regi Mathew. The idea behind the setting up of this enterprise is manifold:

*Want to play chef? The space can be used for hosting parties where you could either cook the meal yourself or get one of the Centre's chefs to help with the planning and cooking;

*Large windows let in plenty of sunshine and the setting and lighting is perfect for photoshoots and food-styling classes;

*Culinary workshops can be conducted here;

*Standalone restaurants and star hotels can use the kitchen and the expertise of the Centre's chefs to standardise their recipes;

*Corporates can conduct cooking and baking sessions as part of their team building sessions;

*As an experience centre for Siemens products. All the equipment is by Siemens and you could even watch a demo before deciding to buy any of them.

If you love the cuisine of Kerala, there's Kappa Chakka Kandhari on the floor below. KCK translates to tapioca, jackfruit and bird's eye chilli, 3 ingredients that are a must have in most Kerala homes! The restaurant, run by Chef Mathew, John Paul and Augustine Kurian serves 'neo-stalgic' food - the kind of food made in Kerala homes, food that every Malayalee pines for when he/she is away from home.


Kappa & fish curry

After we were shown around the Centre, we were served kappa and red fish curry, one of the most popular and iconic dishes of Kerala. Delish! Plenty more followed at the food tasting:

Crisp corn in cups, chilli mess; pork with puttu; vegetable money bags
Finger foods

Vegetarian baos; teriyaki chicken

After a while, we weren't sure if we had to eat the food or admire it. The team's culinary prowess is truly remarkable.

Orchid tempura!





Banana payasam and tres leches cake

While KCK serves a huge variety of Kerala dishes, Chef Regi is an expert in Asian and Thai cuisine in particular.

Gourmet Experience Centre
No. 10, Haddows Road,
Nungambakkam,
Chennai 600034.
9884396210

Chef Costa's Italian feast at The Flying Elephant

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He's an Economics graduate but whatever is he doing in the kitchen? Well, you have to taste his food to know that great cooking is not only picked up in cooking schools; it also has to run through your veins.

Chef Nicola Costa is from Naples and learnt cooking from his grandmother and mother. Since then, he has been around the world, working in award winning restaurants and under Michelin-starred chefs. Now at The Flying Elephant, he has curated The Italian Food Festival and believe me when I tell you that his food is simply fabulous.

Pappa al pomodoro, mozzarelline fritte e maionese al basilico
 
Introducing the first appetiser, Chef Costa told me that in Naples, Tomatoes, Tuscany compote, fried mozzarella and basil mayonnaise was a way of using up leftover bread. The compote, made with onions and tomatoes was delicious but the combination of basil mayo and the fried cheese was stunning. Hidden under the compote was indeed the bread but it was anything but leftover!

Carpaccio d'anatra affumicata, rape, misticanza, arance e polvere piccante

A second appetiser, Smoked duck carpaccio, crispy salad, oranges and spicy powder had the thinnest slices of duck resting on fried slices of brioche. Everything on the plate, from the baby arugula to the baby beets to the slices of radish, the powder and the glorious jus paid testament to the duck.

Zuccotta



Naples is the birthplace of pizza; pizza Margherita was invented there. Well, we didn't get to try the pM  but the Pumpkin cream, goat's cheese, mozzarella, toasted hazelnuts, parsley and onions was mind blowing. Pumpkin in a pizza ...I wouldn't have thought anything good could come out of such a combination but I was wrong. What beautiful balance of flavours and textures. And colours!

Lasagna verde ai funghi e tartufo

Tortelli allo zafferano ripieni di Genovese al burro nocciola

Green lasagna with mushroom and truffle was a vegetarian delight. Layers of handmade, slightly crisp pasta, a mix of mushrooms and spinach had b├ęchamel sauce generously ladled over the top. The construction was neat and it tasted fabulous. Saffron tortelli stuffed with Napoli-style tenderloin and onion ragout and burnt butter sauce was exquisite. The folds of the bright yellow pasta enclosed the most gorgeous meaty filling. Cherry tomatoes in the sauce brought in little pops of acidity.

Branzino al guazzetto e zucchine alla scapece

A vegetarian main course of bell pepper stuffed with a mix of vegetables was followed by Seabass with tomatoes, olives, caper sauce and fried zucchini. The sauce, with the big hit of acidity from the tomatoes, olives and capers was delightfully light but the fish itself was not impressive.

Caprese con crema al limoncello

Leave it to the Italians to combine chocolate and nuts into the heavenly Almond and chocolate cake with limoncello. The cake, dark and dense, didn't really need anything else but the fluff of cream with the liqueur helped to brighten the flavour of the chocolate.

It was indeed a memorable review meal, every dish was made and presented well. But you really need to hurry because Chef Costa will be at The Flying Elephant only till Sunday February 4th. The Flying Elephant is at Park Hyatt Chennai and open only in the evenings.

 
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