I cant stop smiling! I am at a unique and much cherished dinner. She’s twenty two years old and has won the world’s first vegetarian masterchef. He is 56 years old, a revered Michelin starred chef from Italy. She is a Gujarati born and bred in Abu dhabi and has majored in finance and business from a prestigious American university. Whereas Roberto Franzin is from a family of professional chefs and cooks, Nikita Gandhi grew up watching her mother cook (she has never baked). Having won the masterchef series zoomed Nikita into the international lime light (and she even assisted Sanjeev Kapoor in cooking for Prime minister Modi). Roberto honed his formidable talents under superstars: Spanish Chef Santi Santimaria, and the French chef Jean François Piège and his restaurant has been conferred the coveted Michelin stars.
A TASTE OF THE FINEST
So here I am, feasting on a century of culinary history…The La Taverna restaurant is housed in the castle of Colloredo di Monte Albano, (built in 1302) and this is where Roberto weaves his magic. But today he has pulled out all the stops and we are in Casa Mia, Dubai’s superb Italian restaurant ( the President of Italy’s award as the ‘Best Italian Restaurant in Dubai’). I love the charming and relaxed ambiance and the authentic homestyle Italian food ( a rarity in this day and age of fusion and confusion). Chef Maurizio presides over this 22 year old restaurant located in the restaurant village of the sprawling and lush with greenery Le Meridean. Chef Maurizio not only wins over my palate with the simple magic of his finest ingredients but also my heart with his charm. As does the everhelpful and bubbly Deveekaa Nijhawan, who sparkles the evening
Both chef Roberto and Maurizio dazzle us. The Michelin starred dinner’s thrilling salty charged with anchovy juice spaghetti to the light as air dessert, infused with citrus sunshine and crunch of nuts is memorable.Maurizio’s wood fired pizzas have the perfect crust and topping and the velvety buratta seduces me again.
THE BEST OF BRUSCHETTA
You will be delighted to know that the “Bruschetta” this simple Italian starter based on a piece of bread can be made in so many easy-to-make ways and taste absolutely amazing. It is chef Roberto’s bruschetta, moist with cucumber and tomato juice that is simple and simply superb too.
Chef’s Franzin Bruschetta
Ingredients for 12 persons
White bread rolls (40 gr. each) 4 nos, Cherry tomatoes ripe 250 gr, Extra virgin olive oil 100 gr, Garlic 1 clove, Cucumber 1 pcs, Plum Tomato ripe 1 pcs, White onion 1/2 pcs, Basil fresh or dehydrated 10 gr.
Heat half of the oil in a frying pan and add the chopped garlic, please make sure it doesn’t get colored. Add the previously washed and chopped tomatoes and let simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and make a sauce by blending with a immersion blender, filter the sauce through a fine sieve and keep warm.
Make a juice with the cucumber and the plum tomato and add the white onion cut in big pieces, season with salt and black fresh pepper and adjust wit a bit of olive oil.
Break the white bread in bait-size chunks and toast them in the oven until golden brown and crispy.
Put a drop of tomato sauce on each plate adding one piece of toasted bread just dipped for 1 second in the vegetable juice, put a little extra virgin olive oil onto the bread and garnish with a fresh basil leaf or with a pinch of dehydrated basil.
NIKITA GANDHI’S BRUSCHETTA
Here’s Nikita Gandhi’s secret of her unique bruschetta… she layers the bread with pesto (even though that is not the standard recipe) she does it because it keeps the bread moist. “ I use pistachio instead of pine nuts (pesto is known to be green so I believe in adding green nuts)”.
She adds vinegar to her pesto so it helps preserve the pesto sauce for much longer in the fridge as well as keep it green and fresh looking for days. For the homemade pesto:
2 cups fresh basil, 1 tablespoon pistachios, 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup parmesan, freshly grated, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, To taste salt, 1 teaspoon vinegar
Blend everything together till nearly smooth.
For the tomato topping:
1 medium tomato, 1 clove garlic, minced, 4-5 fresh basil leaves chopped,
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon olive oil, To taste lime juice,
To taste salt & pepper.
Mix everything together and refrigerate to chill.
To assemble the bruschetta:
1 baguette sliced, Olive oil, 1 recipe homemade pesto, Tomato topping,
Drizzle olive oil on baguette slices and lightly toast them.
Spread pesto on it quite generously.
Spoon over chilled tomato topping.
Garnish with parmesan shards and serve.