|Tucked away on the eighth floor, far away from the buzz of The Leela Kempinski hotel at Sahar, Mumbai, is Stella, an exclusive Italian fine dining restaurant. As you enter the elegant establishment you pass through a wine library which, it is whispered, stocks an incredible 250 labels at any given point of time! writes Suneeta Kanga.|
When I had the pleasure of dining there on behalf of Sommelier India, the Roman Food Festival was on (catch it before August 14th). Chef Maximilliano Cotilli and Sommelier Zubani Davide were in the house. The choice, they said, was between à la carte and a set five-course menu which they promised would explore a wide cross section of Roman food. Naturally, we opted for the set courses and allowed ourselves to be dictated by the suggestions of the chef and sommelier.
Their pairing of food and wine was exquisite. It was as if piano and percussion were caught on a jazz stage in a dialogue where contemporary and traditional played on your palate to produce an experience to cherish long after the evening was over.
If Chef Maximilliano dished out a Porchetta con insalatina di Rughetta e Parmigiano (oven baked suckling pig with rocket lettuce salad and parmesan cheese), Sommelier Davide conjured up a Pomino Bianco (a 2005 Tuscany, which was an excellent year for Marchesi de’Frescobaldi). The faint gold of the wine with its balanced notes and blossoming bouquet mingled well with the delicate flavours of the pork and parmesan. The lettuce, crisp and crunchy, rounded off a perfect first course.
By now we were primed for a flawless evening. The conversation was bubbling over and the piped orchestral music was a frothy backdrop to a gastronomic treat the likes of which Rome would envy.
The Brodo di pollo con Stracciatella (a Roman chicken clear soup with egg drop) came and went; and in true Italian style it was time for a little pasta in mozzarella sauce. These were good. But in a world where excellent is the norm they seemed rather usual.
My taste buds perked up again when Davide uncorked a Promis, Angelo Gaja (Tuscany 2006) to accompany Maximilliano’s beef roulade. Again it was a combo that rocked me to the roots. The fullness of the grain-fed Australian meat was complemented perfectly by the richness of the Merlot-Syrah-Sangiovese mix. As Sommelier Davide puts it, “The best way to know about wine is to drink it.”
Orchestrating the grand finale was an opulent Port, Graham’s (a 2000 Portugal), and a Bigne’di san Giuseppe con spumone di Albicocche (beignets of apricot spume doused with ice-cream), a delectable and fitting end to a marvellous meal.
If you are in Mumbai, Stella is just a hop and a skip away from the international airport. Miss Stella and you forego a stellar fine dining opportunity.