Westin Kolkata Rajarhat celebrates the diversity of Italian food in a week-long festival
Italy is no less diversified than India in terms of language, culture history and, of course, food. And just like India, Italy, too, celebrates its glorious diversity in its kitchens. From the pastas and cold cuts of Bologna to cheese and ham from Parma, or pesto from Liguria, couscous from Sicily and pizzas from Napoli, Italian cuisine carries the unique characteristics of its 20 regions.
To showcase this rich diversity Westin Kolkata Rajarhat has come up with a week-long Italian Food Fiesta, where Chef Roberto Zorzoli, who heads Romano’s in JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, is cooking up storm with a variety of Italian dishes.
“Italian food is more than the stereotype of pizzas, pastas and gelatos that one is usually exposed to. The food in the north is drastically different than what they eat down south, just like India,” says Roberto Zorzoli, a 37-year-old, congenial chef, who had a stint at Hyatt Regency Chennai before joining Romano’s three years’ back.
While describing the intricacies of the regional variety, Zorzoli served us a fresh bowl of Burrata salad. The burrata made with fresh buffalo milk cheese encased in solid mozzarella had a very soft texture thanks to the stuffing consisting of stracciatella and cream. “It is very difficult, almost impossible, to import buffalo cheese from Italy since it needs to be consumed within two days. So, I taught one of our cheese makers here, how to make the perfect buffalo milk cheese for burrata,” explains Zorzoli, as we polish off the rest of the salad comprising basil leaves, Italian tomatoes and lettuce.
Then came Fritto Misto, a platter of sea food fritters containing prawns, squids and fresh fish, served with marinara sauce and Saffron mayo. Marinara sauce is nothing but an Italian version of fresh tomato sauce usually made with tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, herbs and onions, sometimes with a dash of wine. The Saffron mayo tasted quite like the English tartar sauce in terms of consistency and flavour.
This was followed by Parma ham wrapped melons that served as a perfect neutraliser after the salty fritters. No sooner than our tongues got ready for another delicacy, than Seabass al Cartoccio peeked at us from the paper wrap. The fish is wrapped in a parcel to retain the aroma of the herbs used, just like we wrap our bekti marinated with mustard paste in a banana leaf.
When we unwrapped the parcel containing the chunk of fish we were greeted with a sudden burst of intense aroma of lemons and herbs. The taste was equally good, though the seabass may come across a bit chewy and rubbery for those who have tasted it fresh from the shores of the Mediterranean.
The next dish to assault our taste buds was gnocchi -- soft, small dumplings made of flour and stuffed with potato in a bed of butter and cream. Before we could overcome the bland yet appetising flavour of the item, we were overwhelmed with risotto cooked with portobello mushrooms. It was delicate and fresh beyond what one can probably describe in words.
Zorzoli, who has a soft corner for risotto and specialises in cooking the same, mentions that the risotto was cooked with Riso Vialone Nano, which has a slightly longer grain than the typical Arborio but shorter and fatter than Carnaroli. It retains its shape while cooking and can absorb more robust flavours with ease. “This rice is of the finest quality and preferred by the rich and famous in Italy for their wedding parties,” adds Zorzoli.
The last of the savouries included Lamb Tagliata, thin slices of lamb steak served with choicest of greens. The meat was well cooked and soaked in the herbs fully.
We only had this much room in our stomachs to accommodate the much-acclaimed and talked about Italian dessert, tiramisu. Well, all I can say is that by the taste of it, I couldn’t make out whether we were gorging on it somewhere in Treviso -- a haven for cycling enthusiasts in northern Italy -- or Kolkata.
What: Italian Food Fiesta
Where: Seasonal Tastes, Westin Kolkata Rajarhat
CBD / 2, Action Area II, New Town, Kolkata – 700 156
When: July 16-22, dinner: 7.30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Prices: Rs 1,399 plus taxes