Archives: Malaysia International Gourmet Festival 2014 (01-31 October 2014)

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Marini's on 57
The Theatre of Italian Cuisine
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It’s no small secret that Marini’s on 57 has revolutionised the dining experience in Kuala Lumpur, thanks to Marini’s Group Executive Chef Federico Michieletto and Chef Fabio Ruggiero who has taken the reins. The imagination of the presentation, freshness of the produce and complexity of the flavours in deceptively simple Italian cuisine has seen the brand’s star power rocket to an all-time high – culminating in Marini’s being honoured at the recent World Brand Awards in the Restaurant category.

 A simple yet stunning table setting  The imposing Twin Towers up close and personal

Sat atop of Tower Three of the Petronas Twin Towers right in the heart of the city, the restaurant, bar and club lounge together offer 360 degree vistas of the city and possibly the closest view of the Twin Towers you can get. So when the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival Publicity Dinner came around to show off Marini’s special menu, there was no shortage of volunteers clamouring to be a part of the elevated experience. 

Mr. Patrick McVeigh, Mr. Cheah Ming Chiew, Datin Su Wai Fun, H.E. Isabel Rendon, Mr. Pio Trippa

The evening began in the opulent lounge – a dark, brooding room illuminated by Moroccan lamps on tables surrounded by deep leather chairs and hide rugs, along with an entire wall of premium whiskies. The rich scent of cigar smoke curled through the air as the guests arrived, whetting appetites for warm asparagus and chicken tarts along with pieces of tomato bruschetta, complementing cocktails infused with premium Ferrari champagne to set the bar high. 

Dato Kee Hua Chee, Tunku Dara Naquiah, Tunku Datuk Mudzaffar

Datin Su Wai Fun, Mr. Karim Khan, Dato Farah Khan, Mr. Winston Sya, Puan Sri Datin Molly Low, Dr. Elizabeth Lee, Mr. Cheah Ming Chiew

Dining that night was a smattering of royalty, Ambassadors, captains of industry and one of the country’s most renowned journalists, each personally introduced by Festival Chairman Dato’ Steve Day. They were then led through to the restaurant and the large table where the night’s gastronomic journey would take place, right next to the imposing towers lit up against the ink-black sky. 

 Goose Liver with Radish Petals Sakura  Crispy Grissini with Potato Foam and Swordfish Crudo

And what a journey it was as the guests were taken on an epic 12-course culinary adventure, each dish carefully crafted by Chef Fabio to incorporate ingredients found in both Malaysia and his native Bari in Italy. Highlights included the Insalata Di Mare, presented on a clear box with a design that made you feel like you were eating off the sandy sea floor itself – a favourite of Dr. Elizabeth Lee, Senior Executive Director of Sunway University, who called it “very pleasing on the eye and very, very pleasing on the taste buds as well.” 

The stunning Insalata Di Mare

Mr. Damian Ooi, Datuk Dr. Kelvin Tan and Dato Farah Khan enjoying the lavender pillows

The Zucchini Flower which was placed upon the now deflated pillows

One of Chef Fabio’s specialties is creating dishes using edible flowers and the Fiori Di Zucchina appetizer, or native zucchini flower, really stood out because of its taste and presentation. Before the dish came out, the guests were presented with a cushion that the staff promptly popped, releasing the scent of lavender. The diners were particularly appreciative of the innovative idea, with Festival Advisory Committee member Tunku Dara enthusing, “the pillow is so divine, a lovely idea that you can sleep first, smell the lavender, then eat!” 

 King Crab served with Native Palm Hearts  Ocean Trout with Sea Asparagus, Caviar and Horseradish

The main courses all received acclaim from the diners, with the spaghetti pasta with lemon cream receiving the most plaudits – particularly impressive because of the rich, complex anchovy sauce accompanying the dish, which took over three months to make. 

A special suprise - Chef Fabio's black and white truffle pasta

Feeling ebullient with proceedings so far, Chef Fabio produced a special course just for the night’s lucky guests: a dish of Pasta, Parmesan, and Black Truffle with White Truffle that had just arrived that very day all the way from Alba, Italy. 

Chef Fabio in action

That wasn’t the only surprise in store from Marini’s, and the diners would soon be thoroughly amused by the pre-dessert course inspired by the whimsicality of a fairground – big balls of chenille-style cotton candy. Tunku Dara especially loved the light-heartedness of the dish, describing it as “such a wonderful style of dessert, it’s moist, not too sweet, light and a fun fine dining experience.” 

The White Truffle Gelato and Caramel popcorn

The entertainment theme continued as the main dessert arrived, elevating a classic cinema snack into the stratosphere that is premium dining. This time, the exquisite white truffle was ingeniously transformed into a fresh, creamy gelato, paired with sweet caramel popcorn that came in traditional popcorn boxes, the all-important staple of the cinema experience. 

Mad Mixing Skills - Rizal shaking up a storm

With a final flourish of premium melt-in-your-mouth chocolates and a cocktail mixed with amaretto and espresso by World Champion Mixologist Rizal Junior, it was finally time to come back down to earth. With full stomachs and even fuller smiles on their faces, the guests bade their reluctant farewells, with Modesto Marini himself thanking the diners and his staff for a job well done – particularly Chef Fabio for the inordinate amount of time spent on the incomparable menu. 

Mr. Pio Trippa, H.E. Isabel Rendon and Mr. Modesto Marini

The Ambassador of Argentina and self-confessed Italophile H.E. Isabel Rendon had an excellent night saying, “At Marini’s the presentation is amazing and unique, where you can see a lot research behind it, but that’s only 50%. But what would you do with presentation if the food is not good? The quality of the food is what counts and at Marini’s along with the wine pairings, it was simply wonderful.”

The superb crew at Marini's on 57

They say you can tell a good chef and a good kitchen from the passion for their craft, and judging by the heartfelt roar that came from the team at the night’s conclusion, the red hot reputation of the Marini’s crew must be more than well deserved.

 Mr. Damien Ooi, Ms Lisa Lai and Mr. Lai Voon Hon  Mr. Michael Ong and Mrs. Shirley Ong