As JW Marriott Mumbai celebrates a weeklong birthday of the talented Italian Chef Davide Cananzi, Sameer Malkani (the Co-Founder of Food Bloggers Association of India) recently hosted an exclusive media table for six food-bloggers from Mumbai, and I am thankful to him for inviting me to this wonderful event. The Italian-cuisine promotion at Mezzo Mezzo, JW Marriott, started from 4th November and will be on till 10th November 2013. During his birthday week, the speciality chef of Mezzo Mezzo would be serving his mother’s “home-style” traditional Italian dishes. You just can’t afford to miss the excellent-quality Italian food cooked in a very authentic way by Chef Davide Cananzi!
When Chef Davide joined JW Marriott Mumbai, he already had 20 years of experience in Italy, Dubai and Kolkata. He is a member of CIM (an Italian Chefs’ group), FIC (Italian Federation Chef) and ICA (Indian Culinary Association) for West Bengal. The amazing chef has been mentioned in the Telegraph as one of the Best Executive Chefs of Kolkata for the year 2006! Hailing from Sardinia, Chef Davide learnt a lot from his mother, before being professionally trained. His birthday is just the perfect occasion for him to pay respect to his mother and to revive old “food” memories, by cooking his mother’s own recipes and serving to his guests!
As the chef was cooking delightful Italian food in the live counter, he made us understand that why adding a lot of cheese into any Italian dish doesn’t work wonders and how cooking with wine is common while cooking authentic Italian food. His cooking is like music…it is so captivating, yet so effortless and relaxing! Cooking and Chef Davide Cananzi are in perfect harmony with each other.
The first dish (which he also proudly calls Mama’s Salad) is actually called Insalta di Rucola, Nocie Pecorino Toscano. This is a refreshing salad made with fresh rocket leaves, walnuts and pecorino toscano cheese with marinated yellow squash. He divided the salad-making into two bowls: one salad was made a little sour and the other sweeter. The chef then served them together into each of the serving plates. He said that his mother taught him this unique salad, in which you get two kinds of distinctive tastes coming together as a surprise package. The salad was fresh and the flavour of the homemade vinaigrette in it made it taste just delicious! The chef explained that homemade vinaigrette made with lots of white wine vinegar makes it tastier and also stabilizes the dressing, unlike the commercial ones which separate out in layers. He also advised us to use wooden spoons for mixing the salad, especially if the salad-mixing bowl is metallic.
Davide made two dishes for the main course: one was vegetarian and the other was non-vegetarian. The picture above is not the picture of a sausage, but as the chef told us, one day, when his mother was malking a gnocchi dough, she made a mistake. Since the dough came out hard and was quite different than that of the gnocchi, she added spinach and a few other ingredients and made a mystery “mock sausage”. The chef preserved her recipe and made a terrific main course dish. Using this, he made Rotolino di Patate Ripieno (spinach or ham and mozzarella potato roulade with arrabbiata sauce). It was a burst of flavours in the mouth and I can really say without any doubt that this is one of the best Italian vegetarian main course dishes I have eaten so far!
Here, I ate the best (and the lightest) seafood risotto ever. With no butter or cheese at all in his dish, the chef cooked this risotto entirely in olive oil. He didn’t use the commonly available arborio rice. Instead, he used the carnaroli rice, which made it light and less sticky. With generous amounts of fresh shrimps thrown in, cooked with a good amount of white wine, this risotto was heavenly! The chef emphasized the need of cooking the shrimps covered, to incorporate all the flavours into the dish and to concentrate and lock-in the aroma. Every spoon of Risotto Gamberetti e Zucchini (risotto with shrimps and zucchini) was transforming me to another world: it was just perfect. This is a must-try dish, my dear friends!
Just when I was in a state where I could not even imagine that there could be anything better than this, the stars of the show arrived: Crespelle alle Mele con Salsa Alla Arancia e Cointreau (apple crepes) and Strawberry Gelato. The crepes were so light and the apples inside were crunchy and delectable. The sauce which he poured over the crepes was the only thing for which he used butter for the entire evening. He made a sauce by cooking butter, cointreau and fresh orange juice. Frankly, even this simple sauce was tasting so good. I should better believe that there is magic in his hands! Yes, the desserts were the best among all.
At the end, the chef cut his birthday cake and shared it with us. As a person, he is approachable, well-grounded and very friendly. I loved the food cooked by Chef Davide in his own natural rustic Italian style, in which every spoonful reflected simplicity, elegance and comfort. As he puts it: “Food is like me on a plate. Cooking is like my baby. You need to give it your time and patience, just like when you bathe your baby. And yes, when I am in a bad mood, I don’t cook.”
Be sure to visit Mezzo Mezzo this week to savour Chef Davide Cananzi’s wonderful Italian dishes yourself. And yes, do wish him a very Happy Birthday!
Restaurant: Mezzo Mezzo
Date: 4 November 2013 – 10 November 2013
Time: 7.30 pm onwards
Pricing: A la carte and Set Menu
Set Menu: Sampler 4 Course
Veg/non-veg set menu: INR 2099 (plus taxes)
Seafood set menu: INR 2799 (plus taxes)
Reservations: +91-22 66933344
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