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Secrets from Italian kitchens

In Italy and in India, even if you weigh 300 kg, your Nonna (grandmother) will always say ‘Why don’t you eat something?!’” says Roberto Apa, Head Chef—Bene at Grand Sheraton, Bengaluru, as we begin our Italian food sojourn through his beautifully crafted ‘An Italian Homecoming’, in collaboration with Roberto Zorzoli, Head Chef—Romano’s at JW Sahar, Mumbai. Traditional, homegrown ingredients, vintage family recipes, modern inspirations and of course, nostalgia, come together to create unique flavours here. 

“I prefer comprehensive selections as that gives me the chance to keep revising the menu often. The combination of dry and fresh fruits brings in layers and textures. Like the pizza from Napoli, my home town, fired over cherry wood at 400 C, brings in subtle, unbeatable flavours,” says Apa. He serves up a heavenly rendition on crispy bread—Fresellae caponata di verdure—replete with delicately flavoured eggplant, celery, olives and cherry tomato. “This is a typical Napoli preparation, conceived during the World War II when people could only afford some bread, which was usually kept for days. It was topped with juicy ingredients such as caponata to make it edible,” laughs Apa. 

For Zorzoli, who comes from the Northern side, the cuisine has strong peasant roots. “Herbs, truffles, cheese, pasta and mountain pasture meat are the basis,” he says as he whips up the dazzling ruby-coloured Carpaccio di barbabietola with finely cut beetroot ravioli encasing goat cheese, orange slivers and hazelnut drizzle. “This dish is inspired by Padua that wears its ancient history as well as its sprawling beet plantations with great pride,” he beams. The piece de resistance comes in the artfully conceived Tacchino tonnato with rosettes of finely sliced turkey, homemade tuna sauce, and pickled artichokes. “It is a much-loved appetizer. Though we use veal back home in place of turkey, the latter works beautiful in terms of the flavours and texture balance.”

Shilpi Madan for New Indian Express

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A compulsive, non conformist wordsmith. A sybaritic connoisseur of all 'tis epicurean. An insatiable sybarite. An incurable book-chomper. For me, there is nothing more powerful than the excitement of shaping the written word. I simply live to write.