This chef from Venice creates magic on a plate, and he just got to Chennai
Offering authentic Italian flavours, cheese and wine, the Est at Hilton Chennai transforms into a fine dining delight for a fortnight
Andrea Spurio Pirani is most comfortable in a kitchen. Even though it was barely couple of hours since he had landed from Venice, the 32-year-old chef was already in an apron and busy planning a degustation menu for us. In the city for the first time, Andrea is now a fan of our filter coffee. From Hilton Molino Stucky Venice, he is the brain behind the festival, Flavours of Italy, which was kick-started today at the Hilton Chennai. We settled ourselves into the swivelling seats at their lounge restaurant, Est, for a preview of the menu, earlier this week.
Parmesan & bay leaf
Told to expect an eclectic range of wines and cheese during the festival, we find an extensive menu of Italian signatures. Soon Chef Andrea arrived at our table laden with an impeccably plated and heaped tray of a classic salumi to begin with – and our focus was firmly centred on the salty cold cuts and the crunchy gnocco fritto. A chilled glass of the bracingly crisp Italian Gavi Marchesi Di Barolo Classico Docg makes for the perfect pairing to the slices of prosciutto di Parma, coppa, speck and salame Felino. Some crunchy veggie topped bruschetta later — we gorge on the flavoursome spiedini di pollo — the crumbed and skewered chicken cubes that had hints of parmesan and bay leaf. Though we treated the caprese con burrata as an amuse-bouche – the rich creamy burrata cheese became memorable with the freshly diced, sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes.
Fanciful with fungi
When Chef Andrea shared that he loves all things raw – the blushing, pink hearted duck slices topped with crunchy beans, black truffle and balsamic vinegar salad, was a testimony to the real flavours of the meat and the vegetables. Medium done, of course the chef had brought the truffle from back home! Meanwhile, the risotto was creamy and generously dotted with succulent curls of lime scented scampi, while the uncommon orecchiette pasta showcased a smooth mushroom sauce along with slices of the fungi. For mains, we dug into the juicy devilled chicken with side of bright, crunchy peppers, broccoli and asparagus. However the broiled, melt-in-the-mouth, sea bass stole the thunder — with a delicate, crackling skin – it sat on a creamy mushroom base, beaming with a smattering of a delicious prosecco sauce!
Just as we sighed with satiety– the charming chef was back with persuasive platters of sunny-hued saffron pannacotta and the classic Tiramisu. Though the latter was a predictable dessert – it managed to garner gasps of delight at the table!
A la carte menu, on till March 20, it is open for lunch and dinner at Rs 4,500 (+ taxes) approximately, for a meal for two.