By Neelima Agrawal
Great food and good company, not exactly in that order, are the key components to making a meal experience memorable. The extra bonus would be a nice venue. When I planned a farewell lunch for a dear friend at K3, the three-kitchen buffet restaurant at the JW Marriott Hotel in New Delhi, it turned out to be perfect on all counts. The magic ingredient was the amazing Daniele Trivero, the Italian Chef de Cuisine at K3, JW Marriott at Aerocity, who gave us a special treat to the typically Italian fares from his home and regaled us with stories from his early years and his passion for cooking.
An authentic cuisine of any region is the home-cooked meal, practised to perfection, bearing a legacy, prepared with love, fresh ingredients – even if it was thousands of miles away in another continent; in this case, an Italian meal in New Delhi.
Chef Daniele Trivero, served a delightful Italian lunch and joined us later to fill in the details about what we were eating.
Italy has a rich culinary tradition, and each of its regions has its own specialties, be it the wines or cheese. Chef Trivero served a meal that he said was what he grew up eating – as was served in his home – such as the freshly made crackers with homemade pickles and orange peel marmalade.
“Where is ‘Home’ Chef?” I needed to know the particular region these dishes were from. Happily, Chef Daniele’s wonder years were spent in several regions of Italy.
“I am from Biella, a small city in Piedmont, which is in the North of Italy”, said the Chef. His father Renzo, who belongs to these parts, is passionate about food and a great cook specializing in the regional delicacies from Piedmont.
Chef Trivero got an early insight, and the perfect recipes for such specialities of Piedmont, as Bagna Cauda (a warm anchovies and garlic based sauce served as a dip); the Vitello tonnato (sliced veal covered with a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce that has been flavoured with tuna, served chilled or at room temperature), and the absolutely deliciouspeaches stuffed with crushed Amaretti cookies.
Daniele also spent considerable time in his mother Rosa’s home town Gravina in Puglia, near Bari, which lies to the South East of Italy. Puglia has some of the best beaches, and an amazing cuisine as well. The Chef said about his parents, “Both have different style and the feel of cooking. It is funny to listen to them when they talk about home style food.” Ah! That is something I understand well. The loyalties to one’s own childhood connections are very strong, as is also that slight chauvinism, a universal phenomenon.
He admits that the North South mix in his origins has been a huge influence in his style of cooking. “My food is a touch of North and South Italy”, he said. He went on to elaborate about the nature of the cuisine, stating that these dishes could be served at any time of the year, barring the seasonal vegetable. Pastas like Tortellini, Panzerotti, Tagliatelle are yet homemade. The goat cheese is very popular in Italy, and is fine and flavourful.
Our assorted cheese platter had a sampling of cheese made fromgoat’s milk, from Italy’s various regions. Caprino della Val Vigezzo from Piedmonte, Primo Sale from the central Lazio region, Cacioricotta from the Southern district of Campania, Formaggio Caprino della Maremma that is made in the area of the Priorato and Parrina in the Tuscan province of Grosseto.
Happily for us, we got to sample all this, and nod in approval. There was the homemade Chicken Terrine, a classic food on Northern Italy, as also cold cuts like Parma ham, or Prosciutto di Parma, and Coppa. The Focaccia bread was perfect, as was the thin crust pizza topped with tomatoes. The Panzerotti stuffed with mushrooms was just right.
No Italian meal is complete without a wine to go with it. The Chef recommended a dry red wine, a niceBarbera or Bonarada
Made from the dark-skinned wine grape variety, Barbera is naturally high in acidity. It is a native of Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia, Campania and even the island regions, Sicily and Sardinia. The Bonarda too is a red wine grape variety found in eastern Piedmont, southern Lombardy and western Emilia-Romagna.
Also getting the nod from Chef Trivero are the more popular wines Chianti and Valpolicella Classico. Chianti is produced in the Chianti region, in central Tuscany, and Valpolicella Classico is wine made under the Valpolicella DOC of Veneto, north-eastern Italy.
The Prosecco di Valdobbiademe, a sparkling wine from the Veneto region makes for a perfect aperitif to go with a light lunch.
Our lunch was hardly that, served as it was over several courses. Stuffed to the gills, the taste buds electrified and rejuvenated with this gastronomic experience, accompanied with interesting conversation and perfect hospitality, I would rate this as one of the most delightful lunches I have had in a very long time.