Bringing his rustic home food all the way from Sardinia, an Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea, to Prego at The Westin Gurgaon, is Chef Marco Murenu. While the restaurant exudes a classic look with its minimalistic decor, it’s Chef Murenu’s curated menu titled Flavours of Sardinia that really wins you over.
Murenu, 41, who recently joined the property and is still getting accustomed to Delhi’s heat, grew up on a 250-acre farm eating farm-to-table meals with his large family. This shaped his opinion on food, and these dishes are thus inspired by the time he spent on the farm.
With a warm smile, he introduced us to Zuppa D’orzo Ai Frutti Di Mare – barley soup with onion, carrots, celery, garlic croutons and bits of seafood mixed in it. The first thing you are bound to remember on taking a sip is home. The soup was hot, lighter on spices with a dash of pepper, while the shrimp and the crab were perfectly cooked.
Next, we tried the Pizza Ali Carcioffie Caciotta Affumicata. I have always enjoyed the extra cheese with extra toppings, but this one challenged my choices. Thin crust pizza with mozzarella, tomato and smoked caciotta cheese, topped with artichoke – its mild flavour doesn’t overpower the overall taste, and certainly adds texture. It’s best if you don’t add any chillies or oregano. Taste it in its true form.
Pancia Di Maiale Arrosto E Vernaccia is one of Chef Mureno’s own favourites. The roasted pork belly, especially when you mix it with the sweet wine sauce and the vegetables... you are sure to forget the rest and completely concentrate on your plate. In between, the chef tells us how his father was a chef in North Italy but when his grandfather became sick, he returned home to be a farmer.
“He always regretted not being able to continue his passion. So, when my brother and I grew up, I continued in the agriculture sector and my brother cooking. Suddenly, we decided to switch our professions.” And there was no looking back. With a farming background and the love for cooking in his blood, Murenu worked in England for years, from hotels to casinos. After 16 years in London, he joined Marriott and went to Jordan for three years. Then an opportunity cropped up in ‘the land of spices’ and now he’s here.
His signature dish, the one he had already warned us to keep space for was Seadas Con Miele Di Acacia – Seadas stuffed with sweet cheese and acacia honey. “Of all the unique Sardinian dishes, this is probably the best on the rest of the Italian Peninsula,” shared Chef Murenu.
Seadas are one of the best-known dishes from the region served at the end of every Sardinian meal, which uses simple ingredients like cheese and fresh acacia honey to turn it into something delicious. This Sardinian dessert, famous across the world, pairs divinely the sweetness of the honey with the saltiness of the Pecorino cheese (Since the authentic Pecorino cheese isn’t available here, the chef mixed mozzarella cheese and cow cheese to achieve a similar taste) resulting in an intriguing and intense flavour.
Though, it took us more than hour to reach the venue, we left happy and satisfied.
What: Flavours of Sardinia
Where: Prego, The Westin Gurgaon
When: Till July 15
Time: Noon to 3:00 pm, and for dinner from 6:00pm till midnight
Seadas Con Miele Di Acacia recipe
Ingredients: ■ For the dough (12 pieces approx) ■ 500 gms durum wheat flour ■ 50 gms lard or extra virgin olive oil ■ 240 ml warm water ■ Pinch of salt ■ For the stuffing (12 pieces approx) ■ 500 gms of fresh Pecorino cheese ■ Olive oil/vegetable oil for frying
Method: ■ Make a dough by combining the flour and salt with water bit by bit till you have a silky, elastic consistency. Add the lard (or olive oil) and knead until well incorporated. ■ Let the dough rest about 30 minutes, covered. ■ Roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Cut circles and put the fresh Pecorino cheese on it. Cover with another circle of dough closing it well and press the edges well with fingers or with the tines of a fork. ■ Then fry the Seadas by immersion on the hot vegetable oil, till is a golden colour. ■ Remove from pan and place on the kitchen paper till they are dry (keep warm). ■ Gently warm the honey then pour over the Seadas. Best consumed when freshly made and piping hot, and the cheese still oozing. ■ Serve with a dust of icing sugar.
Recipe courtesy: Chef Marco Murenu