When Gnocchi meets Ratatouille

The good thing about being neighbours is that you can exchange ideas, influence each other and sometimes, even come together over dinner. France and Italy, well known for their culinary finesse, can be a gourmand’s dream come true, when one experiences their respective cuisines, over a single meal. That in essence, is what the Rome meets Paris promotion, on at Tuscany, the fine dining restaurant of The Trident Hotel, is all about.

Executive Sous Chef Praful Aina has hand picked signature dishes that epitomise the heartiness of an Italian broth; and the sleek, layered flavours of a French meal. While an Italian preparation will stress on fresh, seasonal vegetables, and herbs to add depth, the French one will focus on elevating the main ingredient to another level – by using wine or cooking techniques that harmoniously come together to create a masterpiece.

With much anticipation then, at the exclusive bloggers’ table, we were taken through a four-course meal where each dish was as tasty as it was pretty. The appetisers came first – a Salad Nicoise, with tuna, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, Nicoise olives and anchovies, all dressed up with a subtle vinaigrette. The tuna had just the right amount of flavour, and all the accompanying ingredients infused their own tastes into the salad. The Panzanella, a Tuscan style salad made with day-old bread, tomatoes and peppers, tossed in olive oil brought out the simplicity of an Italian kitchen.

This was followed by the soups; and both cuisines are known for their broths. While a hearty Italian broth will remind you of of a country kitchen,  a French one will transport you to the fashionable streets of Paris. The Chilled Vichyssoise, a cold potato and leek soup was subtlety personified. The fact that it was chilled only made it more refreshing.

This was followed by the Ribollata, a Tuscan broth made with bread and vegetables, cooked in a tomato base. Here, Chef informed us, the amount of tomato used is less than one would in a Minestrone, and the sourdough bread that blends with the vegetables as they cook, adds its own taste to the broth. I had a good, full bodied Merlot to accompany me through the courses and it made the entire experience even more enjoyable.

The main course too was as impressive as the appetisers and soups. I tried the Ratatouille, the Coq au Vin and because I don’t eat red meat, Chef made me a delicate, saffron flavoured risotto. The Coq au Vin – chicken braised with onions, mushrooms and red wine, and served on a bed of mashed potatoes – was absolutely delectable. The flavours of the red wine and onions had blended themselves well, but it was still, about the chicken. As for the mashed potatoes? They were the creamiest, buttery mashed potatoes I have ever had. The Ratatouille – one of France’s most well-known dishes, made famous as a movie by Pixar, was a synergistic blend of roasted vegetables. The Risotto was creamy and the saffron enhanced the dish with its fragrance alone.

Coming to the desserts, being a late bloomer in terms of developing a sweet tooth, I always look forward to them. And both, French and Italian cuisines boast of sweet somethings that one can never get enough of.  Here, perfectly presented again, were a Cassata – a classic Sicilian dessert, layered with nuts, strawberry ice cream and candied fruit. Chef gave it an extra layer with an almond marzipan which made this popular dessert simply delicious. As for the French Paris Brest – made of a choux pastry and praline flavoured cream and exotic fruits inside – it was just the right note to end the meal with.

 This not-to-be-missed promotion of Rome meets Paris is on till the 3rd of July at Tuscany, Trident Hotel.

For reservations you can call 040 6623 2323. The restaurant is open for dinner only.

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