Friday, July 6, 2007

Branded Cuisine

What makes a party a night to remember? The company of good friends, of course, and the classic combination of good food and wine to complete the evening. The wine says a lot about the occasion. Special events are celebrated with a bottle of champagne followed by a nicely prepared menu with complementing wines. I know the basic rules, white wine with fish and white meats, and red wine with red meats, white wine served before the red wines and lightest wines before the heavier wines.

All over Bangkok are places to enjoy a variety of exquisite cuisines and wines. Catering to my need to outdo my last party, I went out to search for a place that can translate an evening into a unique experience. I have asked around and everyone had their own favorite Italian restaurant, that is because Italian cuisine is simple and has its appeal with its distinctive art of cooking the freshest ingredients of the season. But what I believe separates each of the Italian restaurants from one another are the chefs, and being true to their craft they will have their own way to turn a dish into their own signature dish. Somehow if a place changes its chef, there is a significant change in the menu, like the same chiffon dress has a different flair should it be designed by Prada or Chanel. So I decided to have Chef Marco Cammarata’s brand of cuisine.

I’ve known Marco since I joined his cooking class two years ago and have experienced his brand of cooking. More of a food designer than a chef, he creates dishes that are simple yet has a flair. So meticulous, he gives attention to details, serves wine in chilled glasses to keep its right temperature (white wine 8-12°C, red wine 18-20°C), and makes personalized menu for two or more persons, on a day or two notice. He is a firm believer of the harmony of food and wine. “Cooking is like chemistry where ingredients are mixed while focusing in a way that the taste of the food will interact with the flavor of the wine to create the balance on the palate”, says Marco.

His restaurant, Bel Guardo houses 200 labels of wines (G/F Paragon Complex; Tel: 02 6109380/1). It is decorated with casual elegance, full glass windows, cozy chairs and tables with crisp white table cloths. Over espressos, we discussed the menu for 12 guests. He first asked me to choose the wines for the party and brought it out to sample. He sniffed it and sipped it and composed the dishes from it. Like Armani designing a suit, he went through the ingredients piece by piece. He described a simple risotto dish which has its basic white wine, onion and parmesan cheese enhanced it with zucchini and morel then topped it with prawns wrapped in pancetta. He explained that the dish itself is simple but with full respect for the ingredients, not one overpowers the taste of the other. He then paired this with a chardonnay where the contrasting taste of both the dish and the wine complement each other. He ends saying, “… contrasts in wine and food give a positive effect, a white Savignon Blanc balancing the saltiness of marinated salmon and the similar taste of a Chianti wine and roast veal with red wine-blueberry reduction creates the sensation in the mouth.” He also entertained extraordinary requests for the other guests who might have a special diet, “…everything’s possible”. Just right there and then I was convinced how well the evening is going to turn out.

I had a delightful afternoon planning the sumptuous menu. I became reacquainted with the flavors and pleasures of wine, what a mere glass of wine can do to enjoy a meal. In contrast to what people think is confusing, is quite simple. Choose the wine you like, doesn’t have to be the most expensive, then harmonize it with a simple dish and taste the difference. It’s is not nuclear physics, just common sense. The spectrum is wide enough to play around. Find your own preference, it can only be as enjoyable as you want it to be. Remember, life is too short to drink bad wine.

(1,200 Baht/person)

Salmone Marinato alle Erbe e Spezie con Vinaigrette all’Arancio
Marinated Herbs and Spices Salmon with Orange Vinaigrette
2003 Calenne IGT, Puri Charlotte (Trebbiano Sauv. Blanc)
2200./ bottle

Risotto di Spugnole e Zucchini con Gamberi Croccanti alla Pancetta
Risotto of Morel and Zucchini with Crispy Prawns wrapped in Pancetta
2004Santagostino IGT, Firriato (Catarrrato-Chardonnay)
2200./ bottle

Medaglioni di Vitello alle Erbe Fini con Flan di Porri e Salsa ai Mirtilli e Sangiovese
Roasted Veal Medallions with Fines Herbs,
Leek Flan, Blueberry-red wine Reduction
2003 Brolio Chianti Classico D.O.C, Barone Ricasoli (Chianti Blend)
2200./ bottle

Crostata di Mela Smith alla Vaniglia con Sorbetto all’Uva ed Acqua di Rosa
Green Apple Tart with a Grape and Rosewater Sherbet
2004 Bracchetto d’Aqui Rosa Regale DOCG, Banfi (Bracchetto)
1700. bottle

June Sauer

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