Sunday, September 2, 2018

Zafferano - New Dishes from Chef Emanuele Faggi

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Chef Emanuele Faggi is young, creative, and absolutely brilliant. The new head chef of Zafferano, a Tuscan native, has had stints at famous restaurants(including 2-Michelin-Starred Cracco Ristorante), before taking over the kitchen at Zafferano. Chef Faggi makes sure that only the freshest produce is incorporated in his dishes, and cleverly marries seasonal produce and authentic Tuscan flavours with contemporary touches. Chef also firmly believes in the reduction of food wastage, and ever since his arrival at Zafferano, the restaurant has seen a 70% reduction in food wastage. Amazing, isn't it? "How does Chef Faggi do it?" You might ask. Well, food discards are made into powder, seasoning, or used for plating! Intrigued? You need to try his new additions to the menu then!

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We started our meal with some freshly baked bread, and an amuse bouche which was frankly quite mind-blowing. They should totally make this platter an appetizer on the menu!

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Marinated in beetroot juice for 3 days, the Salmone ($28) is a pretty dish that is served with beetroot lime sala, ‘salsa verde’, and quinoa chips. As gorgeous as it was, it wasn't really my thing, maybe because I'm not a fan of beetroot. The Gamberi($32), on the other hand, was right up my alley. Raw red prawns from ‘Mazara’ sit in the middle of a work of art, and are surrounded by warm ricotta, tomato confit, cocktail sauce espuma and basil oil. What's not to like about fresh sweet prawns, and creamy warm cheese? I also liked the nuttiness and slight bitterness that the almond flakes lent to the combination!

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Gnudo($26) is a staple in Siena, Tuscany. And you can count on Chef Faggi, a Tuscan, to send you the most delicious gnudo that's packed with ricotta, and spinach. The little parcels are sauteed quickly with baby squid before they are placed neatly on the plate. If you're a huge fan of cheese, you have to order this! I'm not even big on cheese but the explosion of warm and creamy cheese sure left me craving for more!

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Hand-crafted Bottoni($38) is filled with braised veal tongue and ‘salsa verde', and served with fresh plump oysters, and candied lemon. While the ravioli was a delight on its own, with its thin skin and highly tasty core, you must eat both the ravioli and oyster together! The sweetness, brininess, and creaminess of the perfectly-cooked oyster made the ravioli even more delicious. I was surprised by  how complementary the complex flavours actually were. The veal stock, which was poured in right before my eyes, bound the entire dish together. As the clean metallic finish of the oyster lingered on my tongue, I was left wondering how did two ingredients of vastly different taste profiles meld so flawlessly. The Bottoni was undeniably one of the highlights for me. 

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The Riso($32) is a tribute dish to Chef Gualtiero Marchesi. Chef Faggi learnt this dish from the late masterchef during his internship. The Riso is an ensemble of ‘super fino Carnaroli Acquerello’ risotto from ‘Vercelli’, saffron, and bone marrow. The rice was harder than most of the risottos that I've had and while I thoroughly enjoyed the richness and the flavours present, the rice was a tad too hard for me. This is just a personal preference though! The simple-looking dish is topped with 24 karat gold leaf for a luxurious touch, and this creation is definitely fit for a king!

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If you prefer seafood to meat, the Merluzzo($58) is an obvious choice. Alaska Black Cod is seasoned simply with sea salt, and baked. This allows for the natural sweetness and taste of the fish to shine. The firm flesh of the fish, which lay below a thin crisp skin, is complemented by vanilla scented green asparagus from Peru and roasted Red Skin potato pureé. This will please the palates of those who love themselves a good slab of cod.

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150 days grain fed Black Angus beef? I will order this dish in a heartbeat. However, the Manzo($58) tenderloin is gratinated with liquorice and capers, and completed with celery root purée, and grilled leeks. The liquorice is a little off-putting, isn't it? Roasted and finished off in the oven till slightly medium rare, the juicy tenderloin is topped with a brown-green mix of mashed capers and licorice powder. The mix was an interesting touch, but it was definitely strong tasting, and somewhat like mustard. I actually took a liking to the sharp sourness of the mix because it was appetite whetting. While the taste of the beef was overwhelmed by what it's topped with, I found this particular pairing surprisingly palatable.

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The Agnello($55) features a Queensland farm lamb rack that is first sous-vide with thyme and garlic, before it is pan-fried. The tender lamb carried just a slight hint of that distinct lamb taste. Served with roasted eggplant purée, sautéed bok-choy, and lamb jus, the lamb rack might tickle the fancy of lamb-lovers. Not me though, I'd go for the beef anytime.

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The last time I had a small taste of pigeon in Singapore, I paid an arm and a leg for it. Pigeon is not a common ingredient in Singapore, and it certainly isn't the easiest ingredient to work with. At Zafferano, diners are treated to The Roasted ‘Bresse’ Piccione($68) cooked in 2 ways. Looking every bit like an art piece, the dish is painted with mixed berries purée, and a glazing sauce. Taking centrestage are, of course, the pigeon legs which have been braised till tender.

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In Tuscany, pigeons are usually braised so the roasting of it is a contemporary take. The captivating fragrance of rosemary reached me before the dish did, and this was no doubt the most generous portion of pigeon I've had thus far. While it wasn't as tender as I would have loved for it to be, the breast meat had quite a good bite, and it was very gratifying to bite into a big chunk of pigeon like this.

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The cake is made to look like the Mimosa flower. Light as a cloud, the Mascarpone($16) is a fluffy dome made of Mascarpone cheese and cream. Sprinkled with Iranian saffron shredded sponge, this dessert has the most interesting texture I've ever encountered. I can only describe it as what a cloud might possibly taste like. Pillowy, and airy, the dessert exceeded my expectations and I actually really liked it!

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We rounded off the meals with some vanilla macarons.

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On top of a main dining room that has an abundance of sunlight streaming in, Zafferano has private rooms that cater to intimate gatherings, and company events.

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Pop by the outdoor terrace for a drink or two before dinner begins, and take advantage of the different promotions available! Ladies night is on every Thursday and ladies can have unlimited glasses of prosecco for just $33. If that sounds very attractive, then you'll want to spend Saturday nights here because you can revel in free flow Prosecco, beer or house wine, for just $28!

Zafferano's weekday lunch set has been immensely well-received, and the restaurant is a popular venue for romantic dates and corporate parties. If you'll like to have a taste of Chef Faggi's creations, have a drink overlooking the marina bay, or impress your date with a "dining in the sky" experience, you need to make a reservation today!

Oh yes, getting up to Zafferano might be a tad confusing so approach the Zafferano counter at the lobby for assistance.

Ocean Financial Centre
10 Collyer Quay, Level 43
Singapore 049315
Monday - Wednesday : 1130am - 3pm, 530pm - 11pm
Thursday - Friday : 1130am - 3pm, 530pm - 12am
Saturday : 630pm - 1130pm


Love, K 

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