FOOD in Italy is very regional. It differs from one region to another, and you can see this when you travel around this European country. It has extremely cold weather up North that can go as low as -20˚, as the South, such as Sicily, experiences a hot 40˚ weather. Such a wide range of temperature allows Italy to grow and produce a variety of products, depending on the region. The food in Northern Italy, where high mountains can be found and the weather is cold, is heavier, with a lot of rice and starch; while the food in Southern Italy, which is in the Mediterranean coast, is lighter, uses more of olive oil, basil and tomatoes, and boasts of a lot of seafood and salads.
The whole range of regional dishes from Italy—including Risotto from the mountainous North, Amatriciana and Carbonara from Rome and Central Italy, seafood and Mediterranean dishes from the South—is what Italian guest chef Salvatore de Vincentis offers in a two-month promotional series at Seda hotels throughout the country.
Dubbed La Buona Cucina Italiana, the special promotion begins at Seda Hotel BGC, where it is ongoing at the Straight Up bar on the Roof Deck until February 6, 2016. Then it moves over Seda Centrio in Cagayan de Oro City (February 9 to 20), Seda Nuvali Laguna (February 23 to 29) and Seda Abreeza Davao (March 4 to 12), before ending with a stint at Seda Atria in Iloilo from March 14 to 19, 2016.
La Buona Cucina Italiana offers an extraordinary range of authentic Italian regional cuisines served in small tasting portions, apericena style. An apericena is a buffet of aperitifs which Italians have in a bar before dinner. They eat small portions of food, such as cold cuts and cheeses, and drink wine, before proceeding to dinner. So, Chef Salvatore decided to serve his authentic Italian spread apericena style in true Italian fashion.
La Buona Cucina Italiana showcases the wide range of regional dishes that Italy has, as he puts on the buffet the best-known dishes that represent various regions. He draws heavily from the aromas and flavors of his childhood in Sorrento, which is located in the Mediterranean region of Italy and where he used to assist his grandmother and, later, his restaurateur uncle, in the kitchen. For the promotion, he stays true to the traditional ways of preparing Italian regional dishes, even importing lots on ingredients from Italy so the flavors remain authentic. He makes use of the freshest ingredients, such as Italian tomatoes, olive oil, olives, Naples’ famous white anchovies, and cheeses, because Italian cuisine banks a lot on freshness. He even makes his own fresh pasta, except for the highly prized dry pasta, such as paccheri (oversized pasta) from Gragnano.
“The region makes the best dry pasta. If you buy dry pasta from the supermarket, make sure to look at the label and find out where the pasta is made. If it says Gragnano, buy it,” says Chef Salvatore.
On the apericena table are cold cuts, fresh cheeses such as buffalo mozzarella, olives, anchovies, pastas in martini glasses, four variations of Bruschetta (traditional Tomato Bruschetta, Shrimp Bruschetta, Black Olive Bruschetta and Mushroom Bruschetta), bite-sized Caprese Salad in shot glasses, Calamari (fried battered squid rings), Classic Risotto in martini glasses (so light because the rice was cooked with butter and just a touch of Parmigiano), pasta dishes also served in martini glasses (including Martini Lasagna, Bolognese Paccheri, and Carbonara), cheeses that have been balled from their wheels (Fontal Cheese, Pecorino Cheese, and Provolone Cheese), Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza (simple and clean flavors of mozzarella cheese, tomato and basil on focaccia bread), meatballs and cold cuts).
There is also a section of the apericena devoted to desserts, including Tiramisu Madness in three variants (Classic, Mango and Raspberry), Graffa with different fillings (ricotta cheese, orange marmalade, and chocolate), Chocolate Profiteroles, and Neapolitan Baba.
“You cannot find the Baba anywhere else in Metro Manila. It’s difficult to make it, so nobody makes it. It’s oven-baked and soaked in rum,” explains Seda Hotel BGC general manager Andrea Mastellone.
While staying true to the authentic flavors of the traditional Italian dishes, these dishes are presented in modern, creative ways in their tasting portions so that they are pleasing to the eyes and appetizing to the palate.
La Buona Cucina Italiana also offers a good selection of the best Italian wines in the market.
Diners can have the apericena on its own at Php500++ or with the Wine Buffet at Php1,000++. For inquiries or reservations, call 945-8888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Seda Hotel BGC is located at 30th St. corner 11th Ave., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.)