After a successful run in Mumbai the Wines and Cuisine from Marche Region in Italy made a mark in Delhi with a peak into the region’s specialty dishes and their wines through the talented Michelin Star Chef Andrea Angeletti who crafted a special menu at Hyatt, pairing with five wines from the Enzo Marcella and Moncaro wineries, writes Subhash Arora.
Photos By:: Adil Arora
‘I am not a star- I only HAVE one’ says Andrea Angeletti, Chef de Cuisine and owner of a 50-cover Ristorante Le Busche
in Montecarotto, Ancona, capital of Marche. His experience at the Mumbai promotion a couple of weeks earlier was a resounding success with the Mumbaikars eating out of his hands and treated him like a rock star. ‘I am just a young chef’, he says with a wink while confiding that he has a 21- year old son Mattia who also works with him in the Ristorante
and has come with him to India with Samuele, another chef.
Andrea Angeletti worked for six years as a chef in the Restaurant located at the vineyard property owned by Moncaro, one of the biggest co-operative wineries in Italy. He bought the restaurant in 2001 from its owner. In a short span of three years, he won his first Michelin Star recognition for the restaurant in 2004- a feat he has achieved every year since.
Marche Region lies at the same latitude as Tuscany on the east coast of Italy, on the other side of Apennine Hills. Moncaro is one of the biggest and innovative cooperative wineries of Italy with 1350 growers as members, producing 22 million liters of wine annually, with a large range of wines including the signature Marche wines- Verdicchio DOC white and Rosso Conero DOC reds (Montepulciano grape is allowed to be blended with local Sangiovese grapes for this appellation) - both of which were in attendance at La Piazza for the Marche (pronounced as Mahr-kay) Cucina
promotion that ended on Saturday, September 25th.
What types of wines does he store at his restaurant? ‘My restaurant cellar has about 400 wine labels out of which 30 are Verdicchio alone. Of course, 80% wines are Italian and majority are whites as it is primarily a sea-food restaurant; balance are sourced from other countries including New Zealand, South Africa, California, Spain and Chile,’ Andrea says.
Tasting Menu at the restaurant of this Michelin single-starred Chef comes with an option of 3 or 4 anti-pasti, 2 Primi Piatti (First Plate), one Secondo Piatto (main dish) and a dessert, costing €65/70. ‘For most dishes I choose fish, pork, beef or duck. But here I have improvised and removed fish to make several vegetarian dishes,’ he says.
For instance, Zuppa di ceci con aria de rosmarino e broccoletti in agrodolce
is basically a chick pea soup which is very popular in Marche, but he makes it with fish which has been eliminated to please the vegetarians. Passatelli is a Marchese pasta specialty which Chef Andrea says has been extremely popular with the gourmets of Delhi as well as Mumbai. Braised duck ragout is typical from his region and he uses it judiciously with Tagliatelle in his Menu.
Coordinating the promotion was Chef Alessandro Sandrolini who is from Bologna and was earlier at the Oman Hyatt from where has been seconded to Delhi and has been heading the La Piazza kitchen since December last year. Is he going to incorporate some of the dishes from Marche in his regular Menu, I ask him. ‘It is natural that we will ‘borrow’ some of the ideas from a chef of his caliber,’ he admits. ‘We will incorporate his style in some of the dishes which we will create for the Menu which is due for a change in October, he says.
Marche Wines at the Hyatt
Five wines were present during the promotion from the two wineries, Moncaro and Enzo Mecella. The owner- winemaker Enzo Mecella and Mr Doriano, President, Moncaro were in India last December to launch wines from the two producers in conjunction with their Indian collaborator and exclusive importer, Riona Wines. Le vele Verdicchio from Moncaro is a DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi was surprisingly the only white wine at the promotion. The reason given was that the kind of food on the special Menu called for red wines and India being a major red wine drinking country. The wine was marked with minerality and good balance.
There were four red wines: Moncaro- Le Silve del Parco Rosso- a DOC Rosso Conero wine while the Elianto is an IGT Marche Cabernet Sauvignon.
Enzo Mecella Rosso Piceno Colle Malvano
is a blend of Sangiovese and Montepulciano varietals and is aged in big barrels (botte
) for 6-8 months. The low alcoholic content of 12-12.5% makes it an interesting wine. Braccano IGT Marche Rosso
- blend of indigenous variety Ciliegiolo (80%) and Merlot (20%) has been barrel aged for 9 months. This was an extremely interesting and unique wine with a lot of spices, black pepper, white pepper and had a decent, long and persistent after-taste. This wine with soft tannins is quite recommendable with several dishes including chicken made in red wine sauce and mutton and pork dishes and of course, pizzas and pastas at la Piazza anytime.
How was the whole concept of getting Chef Andrea created, I asked Mr Hans Raj Ahuja, Marketing Director of Riona Wines. ‘When Rajesh Rasal (winemaker for Riona) and I went to Italy on behalf of Riona Wines to select wines from Marche for the Indian market, we used to eat lunch at Le Busche as it was situated on the property of Moncaro. We were very impressed with the restaurant and Chef Andrea’s style and simplicity of cooking and his personality. We planned to give a Marche gastronomical experience for people in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai and Andrea was our natural choice. I am delighted he decided to come, first for the wine launch in December and this time for the food and wine promotion,’ he says, adding further, ‘La Piazza was our obvious choice in Delhi because of their authentic, excellent and always consistent Italian cuisine.’
It appears to be a right fit. There have been practically full houses and although the a La Carte menu was also available, there were several takers of his dishes. Last Friday when I visited the restaurant, it had been full and around 40 covers had been sold of the 4-course fixed menu with 3 wines, priced at Rs.3000 AI.
To be a successful Chef
What are the factors responsible for his becoming a successful starred chef at the young age of 35? ‘I was lucky to be selected as a Michelin Starred Chef (at which point Chef Alessandro interjects, saying that first time could be fluke, second time lucky but after that- winning the honour consistently year-after-year was simply because of his performance and talent). ‘The most important aspect of good cooking anywhere is the fresh ingredients (this reminded me of the winespeak where a good winemaker always insists that the grape quality decides the potential quality of wine). The Menu at his restaurant changes everyday based on what fresh stock of sea-food he gets in the market.
The background of the Chef also dictates the style and quality of his cooking, he feels. ‘ I grew up tasting the food of my grandmother who was an excellent cook. I remember the flavours and aromas when I came home from school and am always trying to replicate them in my cooking). He rates passion as another very important aspect. ‘This is not a vocation for anyone who would rather spend the time with the family.’ ‘One has to really enjoy the cooking without worrying about the hours,’ and this brings the next point of importance- experimentation. ‘A good chef always experiments and tries out various dishes. Learning is an ongoing process and I spend a lot of time on the internet learning about several dishes-even 3-star Chef cannot afford to be complacent or he may lose his touch,’ he says with an air of confidence.
Chef Andrea certainly made a good impression on the foodies at La Piazza with his culinary style and expertise, with help from wines of Moncaro and Enzo Mecella. One hopes he is back before long so that more of us can enjoy the gastronomical experience from Marche.
If you visit Ancona, visit his restaurant -for details visit www.lebusche.net.
More information on the wines at the promotion is available at www.rionawines.com