Great Dinner @ il Vicoletto Stresa on 28Aug2014

seafood tagliatelle

seafood tagliatelle

leaving london for milan, my son booked a 5am cab to london gatwick south terminal. it took 1hr 10mins even w/o traffic, so we had to rush a bit to catch our flight departing at 6.55am. we scanned the boarding pass on our phones which got us through the entry gates smoothly but the security was quite thorough. flight time was 2 hrs and milan was 1 hr ahead so we arrived at malpensa terminal 2 at 10am. we were booked on the alibus departure to stresa at 1130am & arrived 1230pm at chiesa at piazza marconi stresa, which was a very short walk to our hotel elena, very conveniently located at a square with restaurants & shops.

ristaronte il vicoletti stresa

ristaronte il vicoletto stresa

we asked the hotel to recommend some eating places, and decided to take their recommendations to try out il vicoletto on 28.8.2014. we were early at 7pm & was able to get a seat. it was full & turning away customers 1/2hr later.

bread basket

bread basket

we had a bread basket which was quite ok.

very good extra virgin olive oil & balsamic

very good extra virgin olive oil & balsamic

the balsamic & extra vurgin olive oil superb. wine was good too. 🙂

octopus salad

octopus salad

we ordered an octopus salad to share. the overall dish was quite ok except that the octopus cannot c/w the very nice grilled octopus at alle darsene in bellagio at lake como.

seafood tagliatelle

seafood tagliatelle

we ordered a seafood tagliatelle to share. it was excellent, nice creamy pasta with fresh mussels & prawns.

braised lamb shoulder

braised lamb shoulder

very tasty braised lamb shoulder though not as good as the braised lamb shoulder at honey & co.

stewed monkfish

stewed monkfish

pretty looking stewed monkfish – nice sauce, fish was bouncy but texture a bit tough, a bit like the texture of swordfish steak.

overall it was a good & enjoyable dinner. we were seated outside (our own choice as we were early & could have seated inside) & getting quite a bit of mosquito bites that went through the jeans & socks so we had to quit the place soon after finishing our food & wine.

vicoletto is a good standard restaurant & not too expensive (our dinner about €71) & sure looked like one of the better places to have dinner. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

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So-So Dinner @ Sopra Cucina on 10Sep2014

suckling pig - S$48

suckling pig – S$48

decided to have dinner at sopra cucina at pan pacific orchard after watching a movie “magic in the moonlight” at shaw lido on 10.9.2014.

sopra cucina & bar had great ambience. the inside was like a large private drawing room with chesterfield deep-buttoned leather seats. it had a charming facade & there was an open patio bar area & live music. some hungrygowhere reviewers commented on the loud & bad singing. on this evening seated inside the restaurant, the music was ok & the singing was fine & probably welcomed by the bar customers. 🙂

the restaurant had few customers on this evening.

bread basket

bread basket

the bread basket was poor (or like a pizzeria or fast-food serving) & not really consistent with the furnishings & ambience of the restaurant.

octopus salad - S$18

octopus salad – S$18

octopus salad - S$18

octopus salad – S$18

we ordered the octopus salad. it was not chef’s recommendations but apparently quite popular with customers. it was quite a large helping. the steamed octopus were ok not tough, like the ones at vicoletti at stresa, but not the standard of the grilled octopus at alle darsene at bellagio. still it was pretty good for an antipasti. 🙂

pregola frutti di mare - S$28

pregola frutti di mare – S$28

sopra cucina served sardinia (second largest island in the mediterranean after sicily & before cyprus) cuisine.  we ordered the pregola frutti di mare. the prawns were fresh. the scallops & squid were so-so. the tomato flavours were ok but felt more like an average sauce than that from nice fresh tomatoes. the pregolas looked like “barley risotto” but pasta in texture. i would rather have a spaghetti or linguine or fettucine anytime. it’s a personal preference i guess. somehow the dish did not give me the same satisfaction & enjoyment of a good pasta.

suckling pig - S$48

suckling pig – S$48

suckling pig - S$48

suckling pig – S$48

suckling pig - S$48

suckling pig – S$48

suckling pig - S$48

suckling pig – S$48

the roast suckling pig was quite flavourful & the skin was crispy. of course i would rather have the chinese roast suckling pig anytime. i supposed it’s as good as the suckling pig at capri, but for me the suckling pig with stuffing at one ninety mezze lunch was far better.

with 50% palate discounts for 2pax, the bill came to S$74nett including a glass of wine, or S$47++=S$55nett just for the 3 dishes. so price was ok but the satisfaction was not there, unlike say the scrumptious dinner at arossa on 3.9.2014.

i saw that there were several sadinian dishes like gnocchi, ravioli, the lamb & the fish which all looked pretty good on photos. still undecided whether i want to give it another try later.

c.h.e.f andy

Andy’s Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Milan Grand Tour Tasting Menu on 2Jul2014

grand tour tasting menu

coming back from a wonderful trip to amsterdam, lake como, cinque terre, and milan, i was much motivated to recreate some of the delectable dishes we had. 🙂

may calendar was crowded as i had the 11pax RI friends “fine” chinese dinner on 5.5.2014 & also the 27pax G20 RI friends dinner on 28.5.2014. some friends were away in june, so the dinner was fixed on 2.7.2014. 🙂

1 of the (dining) highlights of our cinque terre tour was the flamed pasta seafood risotto at miky restaurant in monterosso on 18.4.2014 (the lobster, langoustine cold platter was likewise excellent). it was so good we went back again 20.4.2014 to enjoy one more time before leaving for milan the next day. we also had very good pasta at manarola, levanto & milan, both pesto & tomota sauce based; & excellent grilled octopus in tremezzo, bellagio, monterosso, manarola, levanto & milan.

for my menu planning, i added lobster pasta, and since i reckoned the reason miky’s risotto was so very tasty was mostly because of the stock & i used prawn shells & heads for the stock, i added lobster bisque which made use of the same stock plus the lobster shells. i had wanted to do a pesto pasta like what we had at fresco in duomo, milan which was very good too, but it was easier to do squidink.

i wanted also to recreate the grilled octopus tentacles (alle darsene at bellagio, miky at monterosso & at manarola) but i could not find any octopus in singapore, the only ones at meidi-ya liang court were the sashimi variety selling at astronomical price.

a popular appetiser in lake como (alle darsene at bellagio, al darsena at tremezzo & miky at monterosso) was 5 or 7 different preparation of fish. i couldn’t do that but i could play with different preparation of seafood.

both the lobster bisque & risotto already included lots of vegetables, so the easiest way was to round up with rockets & mesclun salad to accompany teriyaki cod & pan-seared scallops & bring balance to the seafood tapas. 🙂

teriyaki cod

#1 teriyaki cod

pan seared hokkaido scallops

#2 pan seared hokkaido scallops

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rockets + mesclun salad

squid ala plancha

#3 squid ala plancha

pan seared teriyaki cod, hokkaido scallops, mesclun salad

pan seared teriyaki cod, hokkaido scallops, mesclun salad

pan seared teriyaki cod, squid, hokkaido scallops, mesclun salad

pan seared teriyaki cod, squid, hokkaido scallops, mesclun salad

steamed oysters

#4 steamed oysters

we started with a seafood tapas medley.

#1 teriyaki cod & #2 pan-seared scallop were accompanied with a rockets + mesclun salad. my friends loved the teriyaki cod (marinated 3 day with self-made teriyaki sauce, well infused & very flavourful).

#3 squid ala plancha (teppanyaki) came about as i could not get octopus. as squid cooked very fast & curled every time, i did not use the crockpot or sous vide method. to create flavours i used the same sichuan slight spicy sauce i used for 蒜泥白肉 and marinated 2days. taste was good.

#4 the steamed oysters were a crowd favourite. i just added 2 teaspoon light soy sauce & 2 tablespoon olive oil, some sliced ginger & chilli padi to 9 large oysters of the IQF (individual quick frozen) variety from sheng shiong which i bought for a very inexpensive S$11.95 for 1 kg. i do good orh luah (oyster omelette) with them too. 🙂

the key was the timing. i did 1.5minutes steaming & left it for another 1 minute or so poaching with fire off. the result was a delectable, plump, tasty oyster. 🙂

cured salmon

#5 cured salmon

#5 the cured salmon was another very simple new dish, following chef john of foodwishes.com recipe. i bought a very fresh salmon fillet from sheng shiong, cut like sashimi as in the video, then cured in salt & sugar but for a much longer time like 3-4hrs. the salmon was very tasty, looked great & had firmer texture than sashimi. this was great stand-in dish. i had wanted to do a razor clam ala plancha but there were no razor clams at sheng shiong that morning.

2 live lobsters from sheng shiong

2 live lobsters from sheng shiong

lobster bisque

#6 lobster bisque

lobster angel hair pasta

#7 lobster angel hair pasta

#6 lobster bisque was the another crowd favourite. everyone found it to be very intense & flavourful & smooth, like XO. indeed i had added otard. 🙂 the key to a good shellfish bisque is (1) the stock made from prawn heads & shells with the lobster heads & shells added later (2) a good vegetable base (chopped leek, celery, onions, carrots) to combine the vege sweetness with shellfish sweetness & to give the bisque “body” when blended smooth with hand blender, then adding some heavy cream & brandy ( i used otard).

#7 lobster pasta was a popular dish at restuarant miky monterosso. i did not take it during the recent trip as we already ordered the lobster platter. I bought 2 live lobsters from sheng shiong, grilled the lobsters on very hot pan & flamed with otard, then scooped out the meat & tomalley (the creamy lobster liver & pancreas in the head), and throw the heads & shells into the prawn stock for the lobster bisque & also the stock of the seafood risotto. when tossing the angel hair pasta for serving i scooped back the tomalley to the lobster heads.

Andy's "Monterosso Miky" seafood risotto

#8 Andy’s “Monterosso Miky” seafood risotto

Andy's "Monterosso Miky" seafood risotto

#8 Andy’s “Monterosso Miky” seafood risotto

Andy's "Monterosso Miky" seafood risotto

#8 Andy’s “Monterosso Miky” seafood risotto

#8 i was quite proud of my “Andy’s “Monterosso Miky” seafood risotto“. 🙂 while miky’s risotto has no peers & i was not able to do the flamed pasta which was very good too, my risotto was very tasty & flavourful, infused with sweetness from the prawn stock & also the same vegetable base as the lobster bisque. 🙂

squidink spaghetti

#9 squidink spaghetti

#9 squid ink spaghetti was another late replacement. it was quite good, tasty, just a touch more salty.

i thought of doing a pesto pasta at first. pesto is a good vegetarian pasta, though you can also add prawns & chicken. the vegetables (grilled sliced egg plants, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes etc) actually required more effort. squid ink was a bit easier to do. it was basically alio olio method with white wine & squid ink.

tofu cheese cake

#10 tofu cheese cake

#10 tofu cheese cake was a popular dessert as i only lately discovered. the lime juice & yogurt provided the very mild sour taste, enhanced by the mild sweetness, and a very smooth & light cream cheese & tofu texture. an excellent ending. 2 friends brought very nice rambutans & also the usual strawberries. 🙂

a friend took the very nice photos. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

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Best Meal at Lake Como @ Alle Darsene on 17Apr2014

7 lake fishes done in different ways

7 lake fishes done in different ways – 15euros

had the best meal at lake como at alle darsene on 17.4.2014. 🙂

alle darsene is located next to villa melzi, but it is on the other side, so a rather long walk from the bellagio ferry jetty. we had a leisurely morning & visited varenna (& the shopping). we walked on the narrow road just bordering villa melzi to reach alle darsene. on the way back we decided to just pay 9euro each & walk through villa melzi. ok la..it was but a pleasant stroll through the gardens. 🙂

our first order was the lake fishes (top photo), since we were at lake como. it was excellent, better even than that at daserna. all the 7 fishes, cured or smoked or pickled, as well as the roe, were all excellent. 2 thumbs up! 🙂

grilled octopus on a very tasty broth

grilled octopus on a very tasty broth – 15euros

and the grilled octopus, that was the best i had during this trip, better even than miky at monterosso, cinque terre. the broth was really good! i would recreate this at home, that is if i can find the octopus. 🙂

beef tartar with burrata & truffle - 15euros

beef tartar with burrata & truffle – 15euros

& the beef carpaccio was again par excellence. so sweet & tasty. my daughter & i loved it(though my wife was a bit off beef tartare). i could have this again! 🙂

fillet of sole pan seared then baked with lentils & mussels - 20euros

fillet of sole pan seared then baked with lentils & mussels – 20euros

and the fillet of sole was so good. even the lentils (though i don’t like too much of it) was very tasty with the sweet, lovely mussels. such great dish this! 🙂 i not so successful with western fish dishes except for my quite excellent cod, but i might try to do this as well. 🙂

very good catavelli with octopus, clams & muscles, excellent seafood broth - 16euros

very good catavelli with octopus, clams & mussels, excellent seafood broth – 16euros

the catavelli pasta was likewise excellent, and the octopus, clams, mussels & the seafood broth. 🙂 this i would also try to recreate.

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my daughter ordered a chocolate – so pretty

every single dish was excellent. this a restaurant i would not miss if i come again. 🙂

because of the location, it is inconvenient though for dinner if not staying at bellagio as there is a ferry to catch! 😦 that was why we changed our prior booking from dinner to lunch.

c.h.e.f andy