Gusto Italiano: “Gifts of the Forest with the wines of Fontodi” at Il Lido

From 1 September till 3 October 2013, the spotlight is on Italian gastronomy. Gusto Italiano is a new gourmet programme that showcases the food, culinary talents and produce of Italy in new and exciting ways, bringing you a series of dinners and culinary classes that will feature outstanding local culinary stars and renowned Italian restaurants across the island.

Interested parties may take a look at the event calendar and book through here: Tickets are selling fast!

Truffle Arancini – Canapé from Il Lido

I recently attended the “Gifts of the Forest with the wines of Fontodi” dinner at Il Lido, which was one of the most palatial dining experiences I’ve had in awhile.

Chef Beppe de Vito of Il Lido celebrates the cuisine of his home region Puglia during this exquisite dinner, showcasing a range of ingredients that have been foraged from the forest and flown in specially for this occasion. The highly regarded wines of Fontodi offers the perfect complement to each well-crafted course.

This luxuriously appointed dining room is where we enjoyed our 6-course dinner.

Before the dinner officially commences, guests were ushered to the snazzy bar area where we enjoyed glasses of sparkling white wine (Caviro, Tintoretto Prosecco Extra Dry) and scrumptious canapés.

One of the canapés we delighted in is the cherry tomato that’s stuffed with crab salad and topped with salmon caviar, which I find refreshing and highly appetising.

3-Year Old Parmigiano Cheese

Servers also went around with a serving tray containing a ginormous block of cheese –a 3-year old Parmigiano cheese to be exact. You can start visualising our exhilaration each time the server comes by –this is rustic finger grub at its finest.

The Truffle Arancini – essentially fried risotto balls with scarmoza cheese, topped with truffle mayo and a shaving of black truffle – is outrageously delicious. It has an irresistible crisp crust that encases moist and creamy risotto filling within. This has got to be one of the best, if not the best, canapés I’ve ever had thus far.

Amuse Bouche – Lobster & Lardo Crostini

This palate teaser comprises lardo, a type of charcuterie or salume made by curing strips of pig fat with herbs and spices, stacked atop lobster and crostini.

Amuse Bouche – Sea Urchin Sabayon (paired with the 2007 Fontodi, Chianti Classico en magnum)

A second amuse bouche came along when one would typically be expecting the appetiser course. The Sea Urchin Sabayon really opened up our appetites with its sultry creaminess and non-overwhelming ocean scent.

Goose Liver with Vine Snails, Figs, Almonds (paired with the 2007 Fontodi, ‘Case Via’ Pinot Nero)

Moving on to the appetiser course. A tempting slab of goose liver is seared to a beautifully caramelised crust, and is accompanied by vine snails, a plump wedge of fig, a crisp paper-thin slice of sweet potato, and a nutty almond and parsley sauce.

Homemade Pasta with Wild Boar, Chicory, Pecorino (paired with the 2003 Fontodi, ‘Case Via’ Syrah)

The pasta course is a highlight. The Wild Boar Ravioli is draped with Pecorino cheese fondue, which made this irresistible dish even more so.

Wagyu Beef with Cardoncelli and Parsley Root

My enthusiasm plummeted to a low level upon tasting the wagyu beef. It was nothing to shout about. Flavours on the plate were one-dimensional. The beef fell short on flavour and could have benefited from a touch more seasoning or a robust sauce.

Wild Pears, Oregano Caramel and Mango Sorbet (paired with the 2003 Fontodi, Vin Santo)

Forget the wagyu beef. Dessert redeems whatever disappointment I experienced in that one course, and I was soon back to the chirpy and excited diner, happily discovering the various textures on the plate, notably from the soft and impactful poached pear and the refreshing sorbet.

Gusto Italiano is organised by Sphere Exhibits Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH), together with presenting partner The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC).

It’s a great initiative to bring like-minded gourmands together to savour the best of Italian Gastronomy.

Reservations and ticket purchases can be made through the official website or through the hotline at .

HSBC cardholders will enjoy 20% off Gusto Italiano events and 15% off a la carte food bills at EATaly participating restaurants.

For participants who enjoy cooking Italian cuisine, “Flavours of Italy Culinary Workshops” offer the ideal opportunity to learn from eight of Singapore’s leading Italian chefs. They will share their expertise in the comfort of the well-equipped ToTT Cooking Studio. There will be four demonstrations per day, each lasting an hour, and will take place on 21-22 September.

For more information of the various events and registration details, visit