I just ate the best lunch at the Shangri-La's Italian gourmet week. I'm going to make this quite short because
a) if you just google Chef Alfredo Russo, you will see how stunning his food is, and hopefully trust me when I say that it is not only beautiful, but packs more flavour than any Italian fine dining I have ever tasted;
b) the Chef is only at the Shangri-La Muscat for another few days, so you should go book a table right now;
c) I am watching Maurizio flick through Chef Alfredo's cookbook and it's making me ready for the next meal; and finally
d) I need to take a nap.
I love menus. I save them like some people save champagne corks. This one is imprinted on the inside of my eyelids forever. The veal was so melting; the zucchini lasagna so toothsome - how do you get so many layers of pure flavour into a humble and watery vegetable? The polenta dish was just everything that is good about food, on one plate - bubbling, melting, cheesy, refined rustic deliciousness. The chocolate dessert made several of my dining companions actually cry out with delight (a deconstructed millefeuille; sadly I was too shy to ask the Chef about the pastry shards, and exactly how those fresh herbs were sugar-encrusted). Every dish was perfectly composed. Maurizio taught the word 'scarpetta' to several friends round the table intent on mopping up the sauce of the savoury dishes; it's really a verb that should be in all languages but sits particularly well in Italian with its generous, indulgent, simple-in-the-best-way cuisine.
Grazie mille to Chef Alfredo for coming all this way to spread some culinary Italian love, to the lovely fellow guests today, and to the team at the Shangri-La, including the lovely Chef Gianluca and the dynamic Rasha Al Madani.