After cooking for friends on Christmas Eve and lunch, it was finally time to be served and enjoy a beautifully prepared Christmas dinner at Gattopardo. I was particularly interested in this menu because every single dish is a match for my taste, and stewed eel has always been one of my favourites. This happens rarely with set menus, as I normally like a couple of dishes and compromise on others that I wouldn't chose to eat otherwise.
I must say that it is hard in Singapore to find such a selection: a combination of regional dishes with a touch of modern to lighten up the flavours and make the food more suited for a multiple course meal. Every single dish was brilliantly executed and had something to say.
Amouse Bouche: Mackerel fillet with caramelised onions. A great start of the meal, this Sicilian style amouse bouche combined the sweetness of caramelised onion, with the saltiness of a small fillet of mackerel.
Carpaccio di ricciola con caviale Oscietra e erba cipollina (Amberjack carpaccio with Oscietra caviar and chives). This was incredibly good. This dish looks simple, and yet many restaurants don't get it right. They either make it too plain, or too sour, or just not very interesting. This carpaccio had the right balance between oil, salt, and sour. Sicilian salt flakes still in crystalline form animated the dish, busting bubbles of flavour as they dissolved into the palate.
Brodetto chiarificato di vongole veraci e porri (Light vongole broth and leeks). The base was a classic Italian "brodo" which brought back memories of when I used to live in Italy. These flavours were very nostalgic, since I haven't had this Italian classic for many, many years. On top of the base stock, there was a delicate but distinct taste of clams.
Tortelloni della vigilia (Homemade tortelli filled with red prawn, tarragon butter and saffron pepper cheese). This was an outstanding combination of textures, enriched by a smooth buttery sauce with deep, well rounded herb flavours. The cheese was just sufficient to give an extra kick to the dish, without overwhelming it.
Capitone piccante in umido e polenta di fave secche con finocchio selvatico (Spicy Italian large stewed eel, dry fava beans and wild fennel). Whenever I go back to Italy to visit my family, my mother knows that if eels are in season, I really appreciate plenty of "anguilla in umido", which is a thinner type of eel as compared to the one served in Gattopardo, slowly cooked in tomato sauce. This dish was a mouthful of goodness. First time I had polenta made from broadbeans, but I must say it was excellent: less grainy than the corn polenta, and lighter to the palate. On top of the polenta was a layer of tender and succulent eel, flavoured by a topping of slowly braised onions and a couple of reduced cherry tomatoes. It is only a shame that instead of a couple of bites of this, I could have eaten a whole plate.
Sinfonia di cioccolato e castagne (Chestnut and sabayon cream, chocolate flkourless sponge, cherry compote). Chocolate flavours emerged from the layers of sponge, lightened by chestnut-textured layers. The Amarene (Cherry compote) added a Christmas touch to this beautifully presented dessert.
I must say that I am never disappointed eating at Gattopardo. This meal gets me even more excited to try their New Year's eve menu in less than a week! Looking forward to dishes such as the Lasagna aperta con Branzino su salsa di Zucca e riduzione di Nerello (Open lasagna with seabass, yellow pumpkin and Nerello wine reduction), the Zuppetta piccante di Scorfano (Sicilian spicy scorpion fish soup), and the Quaglie ripiene al fegato d'oca (Roasted and stuffed quail with Foie Gras and spicy pork)!