Pasta is not just Italy’s staple food, but also one of its most famous exports. It’s quite remarkable how this simple noodle morphed over the centuries into an astounding showcase of the creativity and diversity of the Italian regional cuisines. Pasta has become popular enough that almost everyone is familiar with its most common forms and now there are even Indianised pastas! However, fresh, hand-made pastas are still a bit of a rarity in the city, and anyone wanting to try something beyond the usual favourites will be hard pressed for choices. So, I was elated when I received an invite to experience the Hand Crafted Pasta Fest at The Park.
Italian cuisine is the forte of Executive Chef Mandaar Sukhtankar, who was previously stationed at ITalia at Bangalore. To celebrate World Pasta Month, he has curated a special hand-crafted pasta menu for Verandah – The Park’s all-day diner. Since I was dining alone, I requested him to serve me small portions to enable me to try more variants. Please note that except for the dessert, the pics on this blog post do not represent actual portion sizes.
The first course was Anolini in Brodo – a stuffed pasta from Parma that’s served in a broth (Brodo) with cherry tomatoes. Both the broth and the anolini were delicious. From the mains, I sampled three dishes. The first was Fagotteli con zabaglione – a vegetarian pasta stuffed with delicious cheese and served with a Zucchini sauce. Unlike the usual pasta offering where the sauce covers the pasta, here the sauce is encased in pouch-shaped pastry and the cheese seeps out as you bite into the pasta. Next up, was Tagliolini Neri or Squid Ink Pasta. Tagliolini is a flat ribbon shaped pasta from the Liguria region of Italy. Squid Ink is a dark pigment released by squids that lends an unusual colour to the pasta. This was my first exposure to squid ink. I found the flavour to be mildly fishy, but my impression is that squid ink contributes more to the theatre than the taste. The entire dish, however, was nothing short of sensational. The squid ink pasta was served with prawns, capers, and chilli. The Prawns were juicy and had a satisfying bite, the aromatic olive oil wonderfully balanced the seafood flavours, the capers lent a crunch, and the chillies added surprising, short bursts of heat. The myriad of flavours and textures worked in concert to create an amazing experience. The final pasta was delicately rolled sheets of Prosciutto and Emmental cheese. Given my love for pork, it came as no surprise that I absolutely loved this pasta. The herbaceous light cream sauce was perfect for the dish and allowed the ham and the cheese to take centre stage.
I finished off my meal with Gelato di Tiramisu. The dish is almost a deconstructed tiramisu. You’re offered mascarpone gelato and ladyfingers with a rich coffee sauce tying the dish together.
The Pasta Festival will continue until the end of this month and is available for both lunch and dinner at The Verandah. All the dishes are on an a la carte menu that’s been priced very reasonably. The Squid Ink Pasta is the most expensive dish at Rs. 550, but all the other pastas are priced between Rs. 425 and Rs. 475 (all the prices are exclusive of taxes – no service charges is levied). The Pasta Fest offers a rare opportunity to experience exquisite, hand-crafted pastas from different regions of Italy.