Festa Della Sensa - The taste of Italy in India

Chef Guiseppe Lioce is one of the most popular Italian chefs in India and is currently working with ‘The Westin Pune’ he has come to Bangalore for Festa Della Sensa – an Italian food festival by Bene, Sheraton Hotels (Brigade Gateway) that goes on till this weekend. And I hope you have got my message right, if you have a taste for Italian food DO NOT miss this.

Chef Guiseppe’s love for innovation in Italian food is driven by his passion to put his own interpretation in signature dishes. Some of the secret recipes from his grand parents, some from the small corner restaurant near his home, some during his travel experiences and so on… but beyond this what makes his preparations really unique and interesting is addition of his own twist to the recipe (Viz. Lamb cooked in red wine for nine hours, sliced mushrooms pickled for 2 days in lavender vinegar and some mint) and the same is what you will experience in this festival ‘Festa Della Sensa’.

Italian food is known for its simplicity and majority of the preparations consist of not more than four to eight ingredients. Hence, the quality of ingredients becomes highly critical for the food to be great. Something that you can rest assured of when you are here at Bene.

We started with Pettole Pugliese which is deep fried pizza dough flavoured with olives, sundried tomatoes and rosemary with Mediterranean Beli pepper sauce. Check out the interesting picture below. So we were supposed to first grab a bite of the Amuse Bouche and then drop some Beli pepper sauce using these droppers, interesting ain’t it.

Antipasti (before the meal) first on the list was Carpaccio di Funghi – which is thinly sliced mushrooms marinated in lavender and mint, served with shaved parmesan and garnished with green pea leaves, great taste and perfect balance of flavours. The mushrooms are left for a couple of days in the vinegar so that they lose the wild taste and get softer, cooked in the vinegar. The green pea leaves giving the entire preparation an enhanced attribute.

Frittelle di Broccoli Calabresi – Broccoli fritters served with Italian Olive Tapenade and Romesco Sauce. Again a great preparation making a common vegetable like broccoli so interesting and authentic Italian sauces to add to its awesomeness.

For Non-Veg Antipasti we had Capesante Maze e Monti РGrilled scallops served on a bed of pumpkin puree, crispy parma ham, saut̩ed wild mushrooms finished with truffle honey. And I must say this is one of the best Mediterranean combinations I have ever had the scallops being on a saltier side, the pumpkin puree on a sweeter side perfectly striking a fine balance between the two taste bridges and truffle honey adding a smooth texture to the preparation.

One of my fav from the festival Carpaccio di Tonno – Thinly sliced Tunaserved with Italian dressing, Aromatic salt and rocket salad, As you can see in the image below Chef Guiseppe Lioce used distinct elements in his preparation including petals from flowers, aromatic salt and other many such delicacies to make the food great both in looks/ presentation and taste.

Moving on to the next, for soups we had Zuppa Di Pesce and Zuppa Di Fagioli, this first one being a non-veg preparation made from a fresh seafood catch of the day (came out to be cockle shellfish squid and prawns for us) cooked in its own stock and made as a tomato based concoction with fish stock, served with garlic Crostini. The latter one Zuppa Di Fagioli which was an Italian creamy soup with chilli, parmesan cheese served with Focaccia Pugliese, the parmesan cheese which made it really thick and creamy.

How can we miss pasta when we are talking about an Italian food festival, Interestingly pasta origin goes back to about 60 decades and have been termed as ‘macaria’ by the Greeks, ‘Laganas’ by Romans and many more… My fav among pastas was Orecchiette Alla Barese, which was a cherry tomato based shell pasta having broccoli and pecorino cheese as other top contributing elements. Paccheri mare e Monti a Paccheri pasta served with pistachio pesto, calamari and prawns in white wine sauce; Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe which had black pepper sauce as the base were the other two.

In Main Course, we ate two of Chef Guiseppe Lioce’s signature dishes, the Branzino Livornese and the Stracotto di Agnello. The Branzino Livornese is baked sea bass in tomato sauce with olives, anchovies, capers, served with fried polenta and spinach. What makes this preparation so interesting is the fish which is a white, delicate-flavoured flesh and a few small bones. It is considered as a prized fish in Italian, Spanish, and Greek cuisines.

The Stracotto di Agnello an absolutely lip-smacking delicacy I would say, cooked in rosemary and red wine for about nine hours on controlled low temperature allowing the meat to absorb the flavours and aroma, the lamb was cooked so well that you can see the flesh completely dipped in the curry. And the truffle mashed potatoes being a great addition to the entire preparation.

Finishing off with the desserts we had Pasticciotto Italian custard, nutella, vanilla ice cream and all of these on a short Italian bread, Millefoglie -  a pastry kind of dessert with blueberries, vanilla ice cream and again the Italian custard. Truly heavenly!

While speaking to the chef, we came across how he has crafted these delicacies with ingredients carefully picked so that they create a marriage between the sea and the land. A truly great concept indeed! So the bottom line! DO NOT miss out this chance and I can bet you would love every bit of it.

Check out my instagram for some more great food from 'Festa Della Sensa'


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