Chef Costa's Italian feast at The Flying Elephant



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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