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Mezzogiorno – The Taste of Southern Italy

November 9, 2013

I’m bursting with excitement! Have some great news to tell you guys; things are still in process, so can’t reveal anything, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. While you mull over what I’m planning, I’m distracting you with a review of a delicious meal that I recently had at JW Marriot Mumbai’s Mezzogiorno Festival with Chef Davide Cananzi’s delicious, home-style, Southern Italian feast.

Late last month, I was invited for an exclusive Chef’s Table with Chef Davide Cananzi, for the Mezzogiorno festival at JW Marriot’s Italian sit-down restaurant, Mezzo Mezzo. Eager to be there on time, I found myself to be the first person there! But, soon, a steady stream of bloggers came in, and I got to meet some amazing people. Samina from The Cupcake Confession, Pooja from Photokatha, Joel D’souza from Crumbs to Gourmet catering (I’m yet to get some Mexican recipes from him) and many others! Of course, there was also Devika (a delightful girl so full of amazing food knowledge and skills) from The Food & Fashion Blog (who we shared a table with and had a great conversation with on learning the culinary arts) and the duo from Story Soviets.

Getting back to the evening, the menu comprised a wide range of Antipasti (a feast was spread out across the island counter) and a another lot of main courses! It was interesting and humbling to meet Chef Davide Cananzi – a delightful man, who, with such humility, interacted with all the thirty-odd bloggers, while serving up some great food. Earlier that evening, I had also observed him personally double-checking all the condiments on the antipasti table!

Cold cuts, olives and capers
So, the food! The food was a revelation; you may not know it, but Southern Italian food is so different from Northern Italian food. The former is more Mediterranean, uses more of tomatoes, olive oil (as vs. butter in the north), is more home-style cooking, and very very communal; this is also where Pizza finds its origin.
Assortment of breads – standing proud

So, the antipasti table was a spread of cold cuts (all pork), stuffed olives (I popped a whole lot of these into my mouth), breads (a little tough, I must admit), cheese and various condiments that truly did the cheese justice, candied and pickled fruit and salads. The salads included Insalata di Grano con Olive e capperi (Bean sprout, olives and caper salad) and a rather delicious Pesce in scapece (Sea bass and calamari salad with wine saffron dressing).

Candied fruit
Assortment of cheese and condiments
What excited me the most was the Baked stuffed mussels (Cozze Gratinate al forno). This was the first time I had mussels and they were delicious; wish I’d had more. We also had a classic pizza verdure and the four seasons pizza, which was a delicious combination of different toppings on one pizza – black olives, yummy mushrooms, proscuito, and artichokes (a vegetable, I’m slowly falling in love with).
Baked stuffed mussels
Pizza Verdure
Four Seasons Pizza

We then sat down to a formal dinner, where Chef Davide personally addressed us and told us a bit about the homestyle food we were going to be served. Contrary to practice, he had decided to serve us the food right out of the pot that it was cooked in! Could it be more family-like?

Pasta al forno

The menu on the main course started with Pasticcio di pasta al forno (Baked rigatoni pasta with assorted vegetables, mozzarella and tomato). I absolutely loved the colour of the gratinated cheese and the flavour; the salt was a little lacking for me, but the dish was otherwise perfect. We had two risottos – Risotto alla Pescatora (a spicy Sicilian style seafood risotto) and a porcini mushroom risotto. I preferred the mushroom one – the porcini mushrooms blended in beautifully with the starchy risotto rice. The chicken dish called Scaloppina Gi Pollo (scallops with chicken) was chicken breasts doused in a lovely, mellow, lemony sauce). By the time we had reached our carb limit, we were regaled with two lovely desserts (no tiramisu, sadly) that we couldn’t resist.

Seafood risotto
Chicken and scallops
Mushroom risotto

The desserts were a lovely Cassata with the softest sponge ever. The other one, which I preferred was a delicious Jam tart that had the perfect combination of sweetness and texture leaving a wonderful medley of flavours in the mouth.

Jam tart
Mezzogiorno was a beautiful experience – the food, the chef, the warmth of Mezzo Mezzo and the chatter of the thirty odd bloggers shone through it all!

P.S.: You can still relish Chef Davide’s amazing food at his week long birthday celebrations at Mezzo Mezzo. Rush now! 

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2 Comments

  • Anonymous November 10, 2013 at 08:54

    Great Chef Cananzy.All knows u are one of the great Italian Master chef.

  • Shanti December 6, 2013 at 05:05

    Hi Alex, you could mail me on riotofflavours@gmail.com

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