Trident Hyderabad is celebrating turning “1” with panache. They have been doing a lot of activities all through the month to mark this occasion and the food journey is being marked by the presence of Michelin starred Chef Adriano Baldassarre. They have an ongoing “Regions of Italy” at Tuscany their Italian specialty restaurant which I have earlier reviewed here. I was invited to sample the fare over dinner.
We started with the customary freshly baked Focaccia that you dip into olive oil. The texture so light and flavoured with mild herbs, this is something that you can fill your tummy with if you don’t watch out.
Over excited conversations over how Adriano Baldassarre came to India (he is stationed at the Oberoi in Mumbai and takes care of their Italian restaurant Vetro) and the concept of bringing him to Hyderabad, we were served two appetizers from the pre planned menu.
The Rucola Salad with Goat Cheese and Shallot dressing – I love salads and rucola and am excited to see it used as I now grow it in my container garden. The zesty leaves with the slight bitter aftertaste is something that I enjoy. The dressing was generous, and the salad came topped with slivers of green pear, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese. The salad could have had some more goat cheese, I was digging under the leaves to get some, but overall a refreshing salad. If you are trying this, please ask for the goat cheese to be upped a bit.
The Fish Emnise is Chef Adriano’s creation. The person who served it described it to me as a slow cooked carpaccio of fish. Now carpaccio as per my knowledge (and the world wide web) is a raw meat dish. However this one was more like a cold cut (it was cooked) or a cured meat. A thin pink sliver of fish, dressed minimally with olive oil, micro greens and tiny cubes of tomato. Accompanied by an olive granita, this is a cold dish. It is subtle in its flavour, but for the excellent sweet flavour of the olive granita which one spreads over the fish before eating. To a lay person like me, I would describe it as a cold cut of fish, almost like fish ham, but very subtle in its flavour. The olive granita is what enhances the flavour and experience. It was good to taste a dish so different from what one usually expects as Italian fare.
This was followed by a Pumpkin Soup. The soup had a poached egg, which almost felt like fresh mozzarella, dressed with truffle oil and garlic bread crumbs. The soup is thick and full of flavour and the egg just adds another dimension to its taste and texture. It is silky, until you encounter the poached egg. The yolk of the egg is runny tho, this may not be a pleasant surprise for those who have aversions to eggy encounters! I couldn’t finish the soup because the portion was quite large and I was looking forward to saving space to sample the rest of the meal. For the vegetarians, the soup is served with a knob of parmesan instead of the egg. Read my friend Preethi’s review of her vegetarian experience at Tuscany here.
Chef Adriano began to cook at the age of 14-15 and he learnt at home before joining a commercial kitchen. He loves to design the menu of the day based on the ingredients that are sourced freshly. He goes with his instinct and has been training the staff here at Tuscany. When asked about his recipes, unlike chefs who have trade secrets, Chef Adriano believes every hand brings a special and unique touch to the dish. He loves the chaos and energy of the kitchen and confesses that his family suffers the most with his erratic hours.
For the pasta course, two dishes were selected. One was the Duck Ravioli with mushroom and thyme. Now duck is a meat that is not easily available in Hyderabad, so any opportunity to sample it must be snapped up. The pastas at Tuscany are all freshly hand made and the flavour is so fresh that they need only a minimal sauce or dressing to bring the dish together. The tiny little circles of pasta were stuffed with seasoned and shredded duck meat and a cheese that tasted like ricotta. Cooked to perfection, the ravioli is delightful. The sauce of mushroom and thyme compliments the ravioli and this is a lot of praise from me because I am not at all fond of thyme as a herb. This is a dish that I hope they continue to offer on their regular menu once the festival is over. Rajveer Kaur, the communications manager informed me that some of the dishes will continue to make an appearance at the restaurant. Based on the popularity during the festival and otherwise, their menus are constantly changing.
The Angel hair pasta with mushroom was the vegetarian option and is a very homely pasta preparation with no frills. This is something perhaps an Italian mother would put together on a day that the family craves comfort food. Honestly, while it was a well made pasta, the contrast with the ravioli was such that I accept I was biased.
For the main course, we were served the Bekti with chilli crust and pecorino. Pecorino is a salty hard cheese that is made using sheep’s milk. It is usually used to finish off pasta or salad dishes or served with fruit like pear at the end of a meal. In this case, the cheese was used with chilli, to form the crust for the fish. Pairing an Italian cheese with a locally available Indian Betki was excellent. The flavour of the betki melded well with the salty crusty covering. Served on a bed of beetroot puree with micro greens, this makes for a pretty main course and a filling one too.
For vegetarians, the Asparagus Tart with Fonduta, olive and caper dressing is an indulgence. The crust of the tart is crisp. The cheese fonduta (fondue) is a mix of two or three cheeses which compliment each other in texture and flavour. It is dense, intense and very rich. The chopped asparagus retains its crunch and the whole tart is baked, which gives it spots of golden brown molten cheese. It everything that makes you forget your diet. Served garnished with parmesan chips and fried basil, this is a tart made with love. I love savoury tarts, but they are usually filled with a sort of custard. This is pure cheese. And was my pick of the evening.
We rounded up the meal with the classic Italian dessert, Tiramisu and a Chilli flavoured raspberry sorbet. I am quite critical of Tiramisu, having made it from scratch and therefore I retain a snob value. This one comes out with ace points. The Savoiardi biscuit crisp and light, the mascarpone cream light and yet sweetened just adequately. The layers and flavours melding so beautifully. There was silence at the table as I polished this off.
Chilli flavoured Raspberry sorbet (of which I do not have a clear photograph) however was my delightful discovery of the day. Tangy tart raspberry with just the right amount of sweet and an extremely subtle aftertaste of chilli coming through. If you want to try a light dessert, this is a must have.
Service was uncharacteristically slow on the day I dined (sunday) and I put it down to the weekend, because the staff and service at Tuscany on the other occasions that I have dined there have always been crisp.
“Regions of Festivals” at Tuscany, the Italian speciality restaurant at Trident Hyderabad
Recommendations: Pumpkin Soup, Duck Ravioli, Asparagus Tart with Fonduta, Raspberry Sorbet (the Tiramisu is fabulous, but give the raspberry sorbet a chance)
Price: Approximately Rs. 3000 for a meal for two (The price approximation is for one each of appetizer, pasta, main course and dessert shared by two, excluding alcohol)
Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323
Disclaimer: I was invited by the hotel to dine at the restaurant and the food was complimentary. However the opinions on the food and service are my own.