Focaccia’s all-new summer menu promises to make you say, cheese!
Chef Mauro Ferrari will be churning out a first for Chennai soon — paneer ice cream. We discover this over a platter of Parmesan Mille-feuille, Truffle Zucchini flan surrounded by a carrot and goat cheese cream. This is shortly before we dive into a Mushroom Risotto with black truffle cheese fondue. So here’s what we gather pretty early on into our tasting of the newly launched Focaccia menu — it’s going to making you say cheese!
To say that this can make it difficult to stop licking the sauce off your spoon over dinner at the Hyatt Regency Chennai, is putting it mildly. This is especially for the Halfmoon Ratatouille Ravioli. It’s vegetarian, so we expect to give it a taste and then quickly move on to the more carnivorous offerings of the evening — but the fresh tomato sauce with liquid burrata and fried basil reels us in by surprise.
We’re here on invitation to a preview tasting after the recent high-profile kick-off of the Spring/Summer menu alongside a fashion show (a sequel to last year) by designer Richa Goenka. But back to the ravioli which has us smitten until we’ve swabbed the plate clean — using our fingers because a fork has some disadvantages — let’s be honest.
Chef Mauro believes that simplicity and fresh ingredients make a dish — so the black truffles in our risotto have been flown in from Milan from his recent visit, while staples in Italian cuisine like parmesan and pecorino, even basil come in every couple of weeks. With cheese being such a core part of food in Italy, it came as a pleasant surprise when he got his first taste of paneer. “I’ve never tried anything like it,” shares the chef who moved to Chennai two years ago. He adds, “The cottage cheese that I am used to is very different.” He’s been enjoying it so much that these days he’s experimenting with a paneer ice cream, although it isn’t menu-ready just yet. We find our anticipation building already.
The latter half of our meal is not as memorable. Like the Pan-fried lamb tenderloin which calls to us as soon as it is laid on the table with an inviting rosy centre. But the meat is bland and has us yearning for more flavour, oddly bringing that song, Please Sir, from the movie Boys, to mind. While the Soft hot chocolate cake with lemon curd has us feverishly searching for the latter — like we are looking for buried treasure.
“You have to dig deep,” says the chef with a laugh, when he sits with us for a bit of a chat later. But we’re admittedly disappointed, especially since this dessert follows a White Chocolate Salami — which seems to be misleadingly in title because there is not a sliver of salami! We find out later that this is a classic Italian offering with bits of cookie crumble, nuts and dried fruit, so named because of the log-shaped mould that can be cut into salami-shaped slices. Ours, however, look more like finger biscuits — turning the final notes of our dining experience as sour as a lemon.
There you go — we found it!
Meal for two is Rs 2,500 plus taxes.
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