Last Friday Paolo responded with his second wine dinner, a journey from the sea to the mountains of Italy, accompanied by Allegrini wines via Wine Gallery.
As the irrepressible chef explained, all cuisine should be a combination of “tradition, revolution and balance” – Paolo is plainly no follower of fads, no molecular maven.
The evening’s first offering was a variation on one of the regulars on the Patong restaurant’s regular menu, carpaccio of scallops, but with the addition of a genuinely memorable teaspoonful of sour cream flavoured with lime. Slippery smooth and then zing.
This was followed by a little duet: jumbo shrimp croquette with paprika and capers in filo pastry; and a shot glass of basil pesto foam and caramel hazelnuts. Oh yes. More, please.
Into the first course – a rock lobster risotto with saffron and radish. I have to confess that I’ve never been a great fan of risotto. There’s something slippery about it that doesn’t appeal to me. This was tastier than some I’ve had, and others at the table seemed to enjoy it, so let’s give it the benefit of the doubt.
The next course was an utter triumph. Given the ingredients it had to be, really: A large raviolo filled with a black truffle and potato filling, a shallot and green apple sauce and topped with foie gras. Pan fried, of course (is there any other way?). And just in case, Paolo came around and shaved a little more truffle on top.
“So,” asked Maurizio, “is he going up?” Definitely.
Palates cleansed next with a glass of passion fruit and prosecco. The gods were having a good day when they invented passion fruit.
Now, the main courses: A tartare of Fassone beef with capers and Parmigiano, followed by braised black Angus fillet mignon in a red wine and mustard sauce.
Fassone beef comes from a Piedmontese animal renowned for its muscle mass and sweetish taste. In this case it was mixed with Lardo di Cassone – pork fatback with herbs. The result, very tender but rather greasy.
The braised fillet was, if we’re honest, a mistake. Although it was timed to the second, leaving the interior of the meat pink, braising is a technique best left to school canteens. Once one got through the sauce, the meat was tender enough, but rather institutional in taste.
The evening was saved, however by the mascarpone mousse dessert, a grand old recipe from Maurizio’s mother, topped with cocoa nibs and a slosh of cognac. Delicious.
So Paolo has “gone up”, with a couple of downs. All applause to this delightful man for his courage in going out on a culinary limb.
If he falls off every now and again, be sure that he’ll be learning from it - and every diner at Da Maurizio will benefit.
As to the wine, Thai law does not permit any discussion of its merits.
So while you, had you been at the Da Maurizio dinner, might say that the choice of wines was excellent – particularly the Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2007 and the Amarone 2007 Corte Giara – we can’t possibly comment.
Da Maurizio is on the hill between Patong and Kalim. Website: baanrimpa.com/italian-restaurant. Book through the website or call 076 344079.
– Alasdair Forbes