The name of this festival is a bit of a tongue twister: Piadina and Spiedini. But when the food arrives, it goes down splendidly well, all the same. The Park Pod’s new festival hopes to offer Italian cuisine that isn’t commonly heard of. No pasta, no pizza, no spaghetti. You’re probably thinking — what’s left? Says Junior Sous Chef Chaitanya who put the menu together, “Our spread comprises authentic Italian street food – the spiedini are the skewered starter options and the piadina are flat bread wraps that are a little heavier.” The focus is on simple cooking with minimal seasoning. “We wanted to bring the flavours of the meat to the fore, more than anything else,” chef Chaitanya explains.
A platter of fresh focaccia bread is served alongside a chilli tomato Sicilian dip, a slow-cooked melting pod of garlic (this is a must try) and basil butter. And if you’re worried about overdosing on these, there are a couple of bread sticks to chew on as well. We’re all warmed up for the first course now. Round one: the spiedini. Cubes of basa fish wrapped in pancetta (pork belly) roasted light brown on their skewer appear as divine as they taste. Attached to the pancetta is a slice of leek which makes for crunchy contrast with each bite. First impression - Yum. “Typically in Italy, the spiedini only has lamb meat balls,” reveals the chef, “but we’ve experimented with lots of options for variety.” And they do not disappoint. Vegetarians can look forward to gorgonzola cheese stuffed mushrooms with stray raisins scattered on top for that occasional pop of sweetness. As for those on a diet plan, chef Chaitanya suggests the lightly cooked combination of artichokes, olives and tomatoes.
By the time we hit the piadina, our taste buds are reeling from all the flavours. There’s a delicious beef picatta: omelette, cheese, shreds of beef – all rolled into one. Baked potato mini canapes topped with crusty parmesan cheese make for an addictive side platter. The prosciutto and parmesan are maybe a tad too salty for a South Indian palette to adjust to quickly. But a sip of water later and it’s time for one dish on the menu this reporter has been waiting to try all afternoon. It’s a three cheese piadina – ricotta, gorgonzola and fontina (cheeses) all in one wrap.
The Piadina and Spiedini festival starts today at Italia, The Park Pod. For details, contact 044 4295 5555