If you are an Italian food buff, or even just a plain ole foodie, run don’t walk to the The Fire of Italy food festival that runs in Ottimo Cucina Italia, ITC Gardenia from January 22nd till January 31st.
This saturday, K, Piglet, and I braved manic Saturday-night party traffic and hiked it all the way over to ITC Gardenia (we live in the back of beyond, and getting anywhere is a huge ask from us), to try the menu offerings from the Fire of Italy range.
Totally worth it though, and here I am sharing just why I think the food at Ottimo rocks (in general) and in specific talk about The Fire of Italy.
- Drool-worthy presentation
The food that was presented to us was so seriously beautiful, I am talking #foodporn hard core, and if you follow me on my Instagram, you might have been bombarded by a deluge of grams each prettier than the last.
- Unusual menu
I am a diehard Italian food fan and have eaten it in many places both high and low, but Ottimo to me was by far the most unique dining experience I’ve had. The flavors here are so much more than the regular ole arrabiata and pesto options you get elsewhere.
- Beautiful setting
Of course, this is a given considering it is located within a 5-star hotel, but those velvet couches at the dining tables are seriously plush – just perfect for lounging in, after eating too much food.
The Fire of Italy
So, now let’s go to the specifics of The Fire of Italy food fest. This festival honors the cuisine from the south of Italy – specifically focusing on the deep red chilli peppers called Diavoletti or Little Devils that are one of the hallmarks of summer in Southern Italy.
For starters, we had the salt cooked onion with parmesan chilli and star anise. This was accompanied by the headiest Austrian white wine – The Gruner Veltliner from the Gobelsburger wineyard.
The wine lasted us through two starters and the salt cooked onion.
The salt cooked onion stuffed with parmesan cheese and flavored with star anise was interesting. At first, I was hesitant in biting down into an onion directly, but after a couple of tentative bites, I was hooked and ended up finishing the entire dish. I think it was the star anise that did it – delicately flavoring the parmesan cheese in the onion, and the onion itself was cooked so very well that I didn’t get that raw onion taste or smell at all.
The next dish that came by was the star of the course in my opinion, and that was the agnolotti (a type of ravioli) with liquid smoked ricotta.
If you are wondering why the pasta is green, no, it’s not a trick of the light. It’s a spinach-based agnolotti and hence the greenish tinge. The agnolotti was stuffed with ricotta cheese that had been smoked. The taste was so mind-blowing that I had to ask just how they had smoked the ricotta, but alas, that seems to be a trade secret 🙁 .
The agnolotti was paired with a rich red Shiraz wine from South Africa. The sommelier explained that the richness of the Shiraz would perfectly compliment the spiciness of our dish, and he was right.
I am fairly clueless about wine pairings and stuff, so I was really grateful to him for educating me on the different wines he paired with the food, and the reasoning behind it.
Our last dish of the day was the risotto with fontina, chilli, and dried and powdered berries.
When this plate came to the table, I literally groaned with frustration. How I wish I had the space in my tummy to do justice to this food!
I am not the biggest fan of risotto in general. Everywhere I have tried it, it’s been either too overcooked, or just bland and soggy.
Thanks to the chillies though this risotto was just perfect. Spicy but not overly so, thanks to the dried strawberries and blueberries along with it, and the super-fresh asparagus topping. And perfectly cooked, just how a risotto should be.
But where are the non-veg options?
Relax, there is a separate menu for non-vegetarians as well, which alas I can’t describe to you, as I am the sad veggie food blogger 🙁 . What I can tell you though is going by the expressions of the other foodies at the table, and by the standard of the vegetarian food, the non-veg was also mind-blowing.
Here are a few snaps I clicked of some of the non-veg fare (click for full-size photos).
And now to the dessert
For dessert, we tried the torte caprese.
This looked like a big Gems ball when placed on the table, and is deceptively simple. Once hot chocolate sauce is poured over it, the top of the hard shell melts leaving a rich, creamy, gooey chocolatey sauce on the cake below.
Mamma mia! And oh, another thing! Those two stick like things in the photos above, they were also made of chocolate and totally edible. I lapped every bit of it.
Afterwards, oh my goodness! I don’t know how I dragged myself out to the car park to go home. Both K and I looked at each other in dismay at the thought of driving back home on such a full stomach.
Thankfully, we made it home all right 🙂 .
Overall, dining at Ottimo was a fabulous experience for us. And if you are looking for a fine-dining Italian experience with a subtle twist, Ottimo is a place I’d highly recommend. The combination of great food, incredible presentation, and friendly and knowledgeable staff who are happy to guide you on your food choices make this a must-visit.
1 Residency Road
Bangalore 560 025
Pricing: Approx Rs. 2000/- per person