A Taste of Puglia: Michelin-starred dining with Chef Felice Sgarra

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London was graced with a magnificent event at Sauterelle at Royal Exchange last month to mark the beginning of summer. It’s event A Taste of Puglia brought to an unforgettable evening of fine dining from chef Felice Sgarra. Chef Felice is the Chef Patron of the Umami of Andria, Puglia, a Michelin-starred restaurant. I was invited review this wonderfully special dinner showcasing the sublime quality of artisan produce of Puglia.

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A langoustine tartare with red lentils, lemon and wild chicory consommé was a fitting introduction to the evening. The combination of citrus flavour and the texture of lentils on the dish prepared the palette for what was an exceptional menu. The main dish of stone bass and black chickpeas from Murgia were as expected a wonderful display of taste and texture. Sautéed cardoncelli mushrooms with courgette flower and orange gel were a firm reminder of Chef Felice’s ability to create palatial dishes from simple ingredients. The subtle hint of citrus on a beautifully balanced dish of flavours was an incredible feat.

IMG_4876If all this was not enough, the dish that won me over, was extra virgin olive oil ice cream served with fresh ricotta, almonds and dark chocolate shavings. Olive oil wouldn’t be my first choice of flavour for ice cream. However, once I tasted it I wondered why it hadn’t been. It was not only utterly sumptuous but felt rich and indulgent; exactly what we must expect from a fine dessert.

The evening was a resounding success in establishing exactly why Puglia has set the bar for Southern Italian cookery. With such delightful produce created from its soil is it any wonder that the region is home to renowned restaurant Umami. We owe much gratitude to Sauterelle’s Executive Head Chef Stefano Leone for this collaboration. I only hope that Sauterelle will treat London to another fine evening with Chef Felice in Autumn.

 

Sauterelle at Royal Exchange is located at: The Royal Exchange, Bank, London, EC3V 3LR. For more information visit: Sauterelle at Royal Exchange

A Taste of Puglia at Sauterelle at Royal Exchange

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There are two very exciting things happening at Suaterelle at Royal Exchange  next week. On the 15th of May Michelin starred chef Felice Sgarra, of Umami Restaurant in Andri, will team up with Sauterelle Executive Head Chef Stefano Leone to host an evening of flavours of Puglia.

The evening promises to be a wonderfully indulgent affair with three courses of the best Mediterranean flavours cooked by Chef Felice who in just two years secured the first Michelin star for Ristorante Umami. Chef Felice transformed this 19th century villa restaurant with simple Southern Italian cooking that captured the palettes of its patrons. The Japanese philosophy of umami inspires his delicious and regional cuisine served at Restaurant Umami. As such we can certainly expect an exceptional evening of fine dining at Sauterelle.

Dishes of Puglia

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For £45 per person, guests will enjoy bubbles on arrival followed by a three course dinner starting at 7pm. Italy’s Puglia region is celebrated for its natural recipes which are often passed down through generations. Chef Felice will create classic dishes starting with red lentils and wild chicory consomme, prawn tartare with pork guanciale, artisan pasta with sweet olives and asparagus and traditional burrata from Andria. They will be followed by octopus, black chickpea, orange, courgette flower and gin. Dessert is expected to be ricotta, almond, figs and bitter chocolate as well as petit fours.

Puglian Artisanal Products

In addition to this evening of elegant dining Sauterelle will also showcase artisanal produce from Puglia on the 14th May to deepen our understanding of this regional cuisine. Suppliers such as Sinisi, Dono Dorato and Azienda Agricola Di Tria will be in attendance. A mozzarella workshop will be held at 4pm for guests enjoy the process of mozzarella-making in Puglia.

Both events promise to deliver more than a mere dining experience. Food is always better appreciated when we have a deeper understanding of it. I have no doubt that we shall enjoy our Taste of Puglia.

Tickets can be purchased at: www.dandlondon.com

Botanik Bistro and Bar – Colombo, Sri Lanka

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Colombo, Sri Lanka is beginning to make a name for itself in more ways than one. Of course the coastal city has the weather, beachfront and history on its side. All of this however, seems predictable given its emerging gourmet food movement which is inaudibly making Colombo a serious contender in the arena.

Botanik Bistro and Bar

Botanik Bistro and Bar has thrown its hat into the ring with a menu curated by Michelin starred chef Rishi Naleendra. It sits on the 6th floor rooftop of Fairway Colombo Hotel in the commercial district of Fort. The restaurant and bar signals a fearless departure from the failsafe palm trees and elephants school of thought prevalent on the island. It’s an elegant, ethereal space capturing the magnificent rise and fall of Fort’s skyline. The terrace, served by a striking 34-foot Moroccan tiled bar, faces the World Trade Centre dominating the view. As I sat under the dark sky on the bar’s terrace I felt the unmistakable scent of the sea glide past me in a warm caress of a breeze. Botanik evidently is here to entice a new breed of patronage; the free-spirited with a taste for luxury. The relaxed atmosphere by no means indicating a laissez-faire attitude to dining.

The Food

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I enjoyed a surreal evening of cocktails and dinner at Botanik. A starter of Sri Lankan buffalo mozzarella, green house tomato and anchovies served with basil was an utter delight. I was unsure of what to expect of the mozzarella as I’d only previously tasted its Italian counterpart. In terms of colour, texture and porosity it was faultless. Coupled with salty anchovies and basil the dish was a joy.

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My main of 12 hour lamb shoulder was served on roasted carrots, watercress and mint. This sure-fire crowd-pleaser didn’t disappoint. The tender lamb pulled away gently against my fork with the watercress and mint adding a feisty flavour to the palette. The star of the night for me however, was the chickpeas and feta salad served as a side. It was a fine balance of taste and texture which is not always achieved in basic dishes. This was a Mediterranean classic perfectly conquered at Botanik.

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I wrapped up my evening with lemon cheesecake served with the unsung hero of chocolate; chocolate crumb. It was clever use of a basic ingredient which added interest to a heavenly dessert contributing the perfect ending to an exquisite meal.

The genius in this menu lay in its simplicity. At any given point there were no more than three to four main ingredients on my plate. Yet their combination was so well accomplished that the results delivered an unforgettably refined dining experience. Proof that well sourced ingredients cooked with passion need no gimmicks. I followed my meal with a night-cap at the bar as I sat overlooking the bright lights of the city at night. It was as perfect a Colombo night as I could have ever wished for.

Botanik is located at 7, Hospital Street, Colombo 10, Sri Lanka. For more information visit: www.botanik.lk

 

 

Love Madrid I Fine food art of Michelin-starred Ramón Frexia

The grand finale of my exquisite culinary tour of Madrid with Luxury Travel Advisors was an unforgettable 20 course meal crafted by chef Ramón Freixa.  His restaurant is set within, Hotel Único, a former 19th century mansion in the Salamanca District. As well as two Michelin stars it also boasts three Repsol Suns, and other Spanish and international distinctions.

 

Read my full post at www.tikichris.com