I had the pleasure of revisiting some of my favourite Italian wines once again this year. The prestigious Zonin family has been producing wines of outstanding quality since 1821, and has several estates around Italy yielding distinct varieties of wines.
Chef Samuel Quan of Element @ Amara Hotel curated a special menu to complement the Zonin wines we were to have that night. A young chef who recently joined the Element team, he already accumulated several accolades under his belt, and amassed experiences working with top chefs, including Joel Robuchon. Expectations were high, and the meal was highly anticipated with the quirky, interesting names of each dish.
Naturally, in typical Italian fashion, we started the night with Prosecco. A gentle start to the evening, as we stood around mingling. The soft bubbles gave us a slight light-headedness, easing our way into the night, while the fruity aromas piqued our taste buds for the exciting dinner ahead.
To tease our palate, Chef Samuel served up an amuse bouche, Missed the Harvest Season – ‘Tomato’, avocado and edible earth. ‘Where was the avocado?’ we questioned. We got our answer when we bit into the ‘tomato’, only to realise that the pureed avocado was hidden within a red jelly-like skin. Genius, and what incredible skill that required. The light flavours of the dish paired well with the Zonin Prosecco Cuvee 1821. The meal was off to a good start.
For our appetizer, we had the Song Of The Sea – Scallop and Uni, Miso Shirasu sand, Dashi jelly and Shellfish foam. The umami aromas of the sea and the full-bodied white wine we had with it reinforced each other’s flavours beautifully. Feudo Principi di Butera Insolia is literally translated to ‘Prince of Butera’ according to our host, Mr Fraser Jones. Unlike other white wines, this wine has a heavier texture, as the skin of the grape is thicker and the hot Sicilian summers from where this wine originates gives the liquor a full-bodied flavour.
I was taken aback when I first took a sip of the Tenuta Ca’Bolani Aquilis. It surprised me with a burst of intense, food-y tartness. It seemed almost savoury, and jumped out of the glass, igniting my senses. This wine is a limited edition, with only 5000 bottles produced. Unlike most Sauvignon Blancs, the Aquilis is much more complex, and is recommended to be taken with food. This powerful wine was nicely contrasted with Chef Samuel’s ‘The Fish that Longed to be on Land’, which was a light Turbot seasoned with citrus spices with a side of Romanesco cauliflower and baby carrots.
Our main course was ‘The One that Got Away’, an exquisite skirt steak with veal tongue, pickled sunchoke and crispy kale. The skirt steak had been marinated for 6 days, and the essences of the sauce penetrated the meat to give it a delicious flavour and tenderness. Of course, this was paired with red wine, and we had two choices – Feudo Principi di Butera Symposio and Castello d’Albola Chianti Classico Riserva. Out of the two, I preferred the traditional Chianti wine. The 2010 Riserva grapes were handpicked and fermented using traditional methods, and though this thin-skinned grape was difficult to work with, the effort taken to harvest it was evident in its superior quality.
Finally, we had the cheekily named ‘Oops I dropped my Grandma’s Pot’ paired with none other than Zonin Moscato. Each individual element of this dessert delighted me – from the Yuzu sponge, to the Oreo soil and Black Sesame panacotta. With a lightly aromatic, naturally sweet Moscato, it was simply the best way to end a lovely dinner.
Many thanks to SPOC for the invitation, Luke for hosting our table, Mr Fraser Jones from Zonin and Chef Samuel from Element @ Amara Hotel for the wonderful evening.