Ta’ Frenc Restaurant in Gozo hosted an exquisite themed night of Piedmont cuisine, wines and grappa last Saturday (13 April, 2013), inviting Michelin star chef Maurilio Garola to team up with their own head chef Mario Schembri to produce an outstanding gourmet event.
The eight-course meal was matched with regional wines by Michele Chiarlo and a splendid grappa from Distillierie Berta, all kindly supplied by Attard & Co. (Foodstuffs) Ltd through their partner in Gozo, Abraham’s Supplies Co. Ltd. Alberto Chiarlo, Marketing Director of Michele Chiarlo, the eldest son of the owner of the eponymous Michele Chiarlo, outlined the sequence in which the wines would be tasted on the night. The aperitif was a Blanc de Blanc Pietro Chiarlo Bollicine, made of a 50:50 blend of Cortese and Chardonnay grapes, which is aged for 30 months.
Alberto, who was accompanied by his wife Simona Depaoli and Annamaria Serafino, described this Metodo Classico Cuvée as a trip down memory lane for the Chiarlo family since his father started his firm producing sparkling Piedmont wines. Giovanni Bocchino, Export Manger of Distillierie Berta, told the guests that the Elisi grappa they would be having at the end of the meal was Berta’s bestseller. Since the theme of the evening was Piedmont cuisine and wines, the grappa married perfectly with this event. He explained that an aged grappa like Elisi was not, as some people thought, rocket fuel but very much like a fine Armagnac or a Cognac.
Mario Schembri Chef of Ta’ Frenc Restaurant said it was a real honour to work side by side of Chef Maurilio Garola, an owner of La Ciau del Tornavento, in Treiso, Piemonte: “It was truly nice working with Maurilio as he wants to be a friend” and described Maurilio as very down to earth. Mr Garola, has been running his restaurant – the name means the key to the returning wind – for the past 15 years and it specialises in typical food of the region, using local ingredients, given the added flair of this creative expert master chef.
He brought ingredients from Piemonte with him to further enhance the flavours of what should be an outstanding night out. He said he too enjoyed working with Mr Schembri and the Ta’ Frenc kitchen brigade tremendously. “The menu came out as we expected and all guests were satisfied.” While he enjoyed the experience, Maurilio noted: “The more you go down south in the Mediterranean, the warmer the inhabitants are in their welcome. They make visitors feel like they are with family.”
The starter, salad with tuna steak, raw meat, shrimps in a batter and nuts from Piemonte, served in a cornet, was accompanied by the Pietro Chiarlo Bollicine. A Rovereto Gavi di Gavi accompanied the next course: eggs cooked with precious black truffles and served in individual chests. Made with Cortese grapes, this Gavi di Gavi is ample, complex, elegant, persistent and mineral on the nose with hints of grapefruit, white flowers and aniseed. It has a dry, balanced, fragrant, silky taste and good length. A signature dish of Maurilio is stuffed ravioli in butter and thyme served on a bed of hay. This was served with Le Orme Barbera d’Asti. Also a single varietal, this ruby red wine matures for eight months in large 50 hl vats and then for at least four months in its bottle. It has an elegant smell with good intensity and hints of red fruit and cherries. It has a well structured, savoury, inviting taste of mature fruit.
Two courses, a risotto with quail and Parmesan cheese and the main course, braised veal cheeks al Barolo with polenta that is stone crushed and seasonal vegetables, were accompanied by a Barolo Cerequio Michele Chiarlo. This Nebbiolo wine is made with the best selection of grands cru of the region. It is matured in 700-litre tonneaux for two years and then spends a further 15-16 months in its bottle. An ample wine that envelopes the nose, it has a clear personality, a splendid concert of sensations including mature blackcurrant, apricot and cherry, mint, gentian roots and spices. This is confirmed with a full bodied taste enriched with fine tannins that surprisingly and delicately caress the tongue.
A Nivole Moscato d’Asti Chiarlo accompanied the dessert, a combination of five traditional desserts from Piemonte including fruit and sorbet. This sweet wine has intense, aromatic, fruity flavours with sensations of sage, peach, grapefruit and meringue. The taste is delicate, light and intense, balanced with excellent, refreshing acidity.
The coffee and petit fours were served with the amber Elisi grappa, a blend of three varietals, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Cabernet, which are aged separately for a minimum of five years. Distillerie Berta issued two three-litre bottles specially for last Saturday’s event with the inscription of the event and the date.