Sunday 23 June 2013

Bene @ Sheraton, Bangalore - Italian Food Festival

It doesn’t happen often that, a chef comes down all the way from Sheraton, Rome to showcase the authentic regional preparations of Italy in our very own city - Bangalore. And when it does, it’s best not missed. Chef Fabio Colace and Sheraton Bangalore are hosting an Italian food festival at ‘Bene’ – a signature Italian restaurant at Sheraton Hotels, Bangalore. This event is on for just 10 days starting 21st to the 30th of June. In addition to food, Sheraton plans to engage diners with contests at individual tables where diners get to win some goodies.

A media preview dinner was organized and I was invited to the CAL Blogger’s Table to get a firsthand experience of Chef Fabio’s creations. Inspired by the history of Italian cuisine and the contest planned by Sheraton, I will not only share my experience of dining at Bene but will also share some Italian trivia along the way.
Chef Fabio Colace

A new and innovative a-la carte menu has been crafted especially for this festival and I must say goes well beyond pastas and Italian style thin crust pizzas. At our table, we indulged in a traditional 4 course meal which comprised of signature creations from the antipasto, primo, secendo and dolce sections of the newly orchestrated menu. As it is believed, meals in Italy are usually an elaborate affair and a means to spend time with family, friends or guests. So was the case on our table with food, wine and conversations.

Trivia: Italian cuisine with origins going as far back as the 4th century gets its inspiration from the diverse regional cuisines which in turn get their structure from the available ingredients and influences from their neighboring geographies.

What we ate:
Once seated at the table, in no time; we were sipping wine and relishing bread with 3 different types of dips – a tomato based dip, an herbed butter dip and the third was a cream based dip. But wait, we have not begun our meal yet; at least officially!

In quick succession, arrived ‘Il Fungo Porcino’ - an antipasto. Antipasto can be compared to an appetizer and once served signifies an official start of a traditional Italian meal. This was a single chunk of potato stuffed with minced mushrooms in the center, topped with a porcino mushroom and accompanied by delicately flavored parsley sauce. If you love mushrooms; this dish has gotta be on your table. I am not a mushroom fan yet found this dish quite interesting for it broke the monotony of the usual bruschetta.
Another View of Potato stuffed with mushrooms

Primo - ‘La Lasagne Bene’ it was. Primo is the first course in an Italian meal. There is emphasis on hot preparation and usually but not necessarily comprises of vegetarian food. ‘La Lasagne Bene’ was exactly that; alternating layers of lasagna sheet, and a veggie preparation of basil, chunks of eggplant, roasted cherries and slivers of onion all tossed in olive oil; not to mention topped with hot parmesan cream cheese. Once on our table, the staff was quick to bring on a slab of parmesan cheese which was grated finely onto our plate to our liking. The minimal use of seasoning which helped retain the original flavor of every ingredient was what worked best in this dish. Loved it!

For me, primo set the expectation really high for the next course and being a meat lover, I looked forward to ‘Secendo’ – the second course. Yes, this course is considered the main course and is usually a non-vegetarian preparation though the menu does cater well for the vegetarians too. For us non-vegetarians, it was ‘L’Agnello’; lamb loin cooked with aromatic herbs and was served with reduced balsamic vinegar sauce and roasted potatoes. This dish was fantastic and was relished with a glass of red wine. What worked for me in this dish was the flavor of the meat, rosemary herb and the balsamic sauce which were clearly felt on the palate. Roasted garlic plated on the side was a big hit with some of the diners on our table; not for me though. One thing, I believe could have made this preparation score more points versus the lasagna is the tenderness of the lamb meat. Nevertheless, its one dish I’d still wish to have again.
Trivia: ‘L’Agnello’ is a recipe from Chef Fabio’s very own region Lazio which houses the city Rome.

The vegetarians were served ‘Il Pemodoro’ which was a whole tomato stuffed with vegetable caponata and placed in a crispy basket made of filo pastry. Caponata was a sweet and sour filling made with some veggies and eggplant. This was liked by the vegetarians on our table. I dug into it too and liked the medley of flavors and the crunchiness of the filo pastry.
Trivia: Copanata is a Sicilian preparation. Sicilian food, though predominantly Italian is known to draw influence from Greek cuisine. This can be seen in Chef Fabio’s preparation of ‘Il Pemodoro’ which uses kataifi or filo pastry (Greek origin) around the tomato.

Our final course was dessert or ‘dolce’ is referred to in Italy. What grabbed our attention instantly was the plating of the dessert called ‘La Crema’ on a red plate. The frozen cream with apple sandwiched between puff pastry along with a prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine) based sauce not only looked fabulous but was down-right delicious to its last bite.

The service was fantastic; we were well attended to. The staff ensured none of us were kept waiting for either the food to arrive or our wine glasses to be refilled. Customary to Italy, post our desserts we were offered to be served a cup of coffee which I believe was a good touch. The menu was beautifully designed by chef Fabio to offer a good selection of the regional dishes of Italy. The food was fabulous and definitely provided for a unique dining experience.

A meal at ‘Bene’ for 2 which comprises of any of the above 3 courses each would cost you an average of Rs. 2000 plus taxes and charges (alcohol extra).

Sheraton is located in the Brigade Gateway campus adjacent to Orion Mall. Valet parking is available at Sheraton.

Quick Tips:
Go for a good Italian experience and fine dining. When there also take a few minutes out to take a look at the products on sale like cheese, sauces, and cold cuts which are available for purchase.

Address: 4th Floor, Sheraton @ Brigade Gateway, 26/1, Dr. Rajkumar Road, Malleshwaram - Rajajinagar, Bangalore - 560055
Landmark: Adjacent to Orion Mall in the same campus
Phone Number: +91 80 4252 1000

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