Caffe Sicilia with Chef Heinz Beck of La Pergola
The first time I heard of three Michelin star chef Heinz Beck, I was dining at another Michelin starred restaurant, Le Jules Verne, at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The couple on the table beside us asked the waiter for fine dining recommendations in Rome, and La Pergola, his restaurant perched high above the city with breathtaking views of Rome was mentioned. I made a mental note.
Chef Heinz Beck
Chef Beck was born in Germany and after an international career spanning many Michelin star establishments, he moved to Rome to work at La Pergola in the Hotel Cavalieri which was awarded three Michelin stars in 2006. Three years later, he opened his first restaurant in London, Apsleys – a Heinz Beck Restaurant, at The Lanesborough (St. Regis Hotel), which was awarded its first Michelin star five months after opening. He is also behind Michelin star restaurant Café Les Paillottes in Pescara, Italy. He has published numerous best selling cookbooks and is chef to the stars, having cooked for Beyonce, Leonardo DiCaprio and Michelle Obama.
During his first Australian visit, Heinz Beck hosted three public dinners and a media lunch in collaboration with Caffe Sicilia in Surry Hills. Over eight courses matched with wines by Enoteca Sileno, Chef Beck led a culinary trip to Europe with wines and flavours evoking travel and food memories.
Lightly seared tuna and wasabi, lobster with pea and gianduia
Lightly seared tuna and wasabi and lobster with pea and gianduia amuse bouche were served on arrival with Adami Garbel Prosecco from the Veneto region, an aperitif style sparkling slightly sweet and fruity.
Crispy bread cannolo with sea bass and a brunoise of melon and celery
A crispy bread cannolo with sea bass followed, served on a brunoise of melon and celery. Fresh, light and summery, the dish was paired with a NV Berlucchi Cuvee Storica 61 Rosé Franciacorta from Lombardy, a sparkling rosé with a soft foamy mousse and a good balance of acidity and fruit.
King prawns in tempura on puree of fried squid,
The next dish of king prawns in tempura seemed a little familiar but the intriguing pinkish puree of fried squid took the dish to another level. The batter was light and crisp without dominating the seafood flavours. The dish was paired with 2010 Ca Dei Frati “I Frati” Lugana DOC from Lombardy, a crisp dry white with herbal and lemon grass notes.
Next came a surprise dish that was not listed on the menu. Entitled, The Sea, it emulates waves breaking onto a stone which becomes porous and melts into the sea. The dish was presented with the dry ingredients and a square grey coloured “stone”. When the broth is poured, it immediately disintegrates and the plate becomes a fragrant pool. The raw prawns are lightly cooked in the broth and the entire dish tastes and smells of the sea. This was a heavenly dish to savour, eyes closed, as the flavours danced on the palate and evoked memories of holidays along the Mediterranean sea.
Chef Beck’s signature dish, Carbonara Fagottelli was preceded with an introduction. The chef wanted to create a light version of the popular Italian dish that wasn’t too heavy to digest. He created a liquid-filled carbonara which explodes in the mouth as the pasta almost disintegrates when you bite into it. The pasta was ever so light, more like a dumpling in texture and the entire experience is another “wow” moment to commit to memory.
The dish was paired with a wine from the region of Marche, made of the Pecorino grape, 2007 Cocci Grifoni “colle Vecchio” Pecorino Marche.
Sedanini pasta with red shrimps, smoked aubergine coulis and croutons
Sedanini are short, thin pasta, a little dense to the bite, and in this dish, they were served with barely cooked red shrimps on a puree of smoked aubergine scattered with tomato and anchovies croutons.
2011 Contini “Karmis Vernaccia di Oristano from Sardinia, a full bodied and complex white from Sardinia was a good match with the dish.
Black cod with marinated anchovies and chilli pepper sauce
The black cod with marinated anchovies and chilli pepper sauce was next, a dish that celebrates the subtle flavours of the just-cooked fish with the saltiness and bite from the anchovies. An intriguing bark-like chip with a lingering taste of black olives completed the dish.
A red wine, the 2008 Benanti Rosso di Verzella Sicily from Mt Etna in Sicily was served with the cod. The wine had similar in character to Nebbiolo with fine fruit and a medium body, and it worked well with the fish.
Veal in pistachio crust with mortadella and topinambur puree
Veal in pistachio crust with mortadella and topinambur puree could only be described as a veal that does not taste like veal. The rolled meat was served pink with mortadella, dusted with pistachio and served with topinambur, a puree of Jerusalem artichokes. The flavours took you by surprise, and this dish was a little reminiscent of the Mortadella Halabiya, a specialty of the city of Aleppo in Syria, which is made with pistcahio and spices. The dish paired well with a robust 2010 Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo from Piedmont.
Orange jelly with bergamot ice cream and edible flowers
The first dessert combined the flavours of Sicily and refreshed the palate with the light and fruity flavours in the orange jelly with bergamot ice cream and edible flowers. The aromatic bergamot ice cream lingered in the mouth and went well with the NV Rallo “Normanno” Zibbibo from Sicily, a sweet wine made from muscat grapes.
Iced sphere of red fruit on tea-flavoured chocolate cream
The final course was a visual delight with an iced sphere of red fruit on tea-flavoured chocolate cream. The dish is prepared using liquid nitrogen then put in the chiller.
Inside the sphere
Red berries burst on the palate with thick, luxurious Valrhona chocolate. The 2011 Braida Brachetto D’Acqui from Piedmonte, a sparkling red was a perfect match in flavour and colour.
The 8 course lunch not only showcased Chef Beck’s fine dining and culinary skills but reinforced his commitment to eating healthy food that does not weigh heavily on the stomach.
Sydney now has its turn to try some of Chef Beck’s ‘Legacy Dishes’ from this menu at Caffe Sicilia during December. The dishes are the crispy bread cannolo with sea bass and a brunoise of melon and celery; sedanini pasta with red shrimps, smoked aubergine coulis and croutons; veal in pistachio crust with mortadella and topinambur puree; and orange jelly with bergamot ice cream and edible flowers.
628 Crown St (opp Katsu Ramen)
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Ph: 02 9699 8787
Gourmantic was a guest at the media lunch on Friday 30 November 2012.
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