A Taste of Tuscany at the Four Seasons Park Lane
I love Italy and Italian cuisine so this seemed right up my alley. Having been wined and dined in Florence, I was looking forward to what the Four Seasons London had to offer.
I was not disappointed as I rolled in one Saturday night. While waiting for my dining companion, I perused the cocktail list which featured artisanal bitters, botanicals and homemade infusions which the bar of the Amaranto uses for its imaginative concoctions. The cocktails were all updated versions of classics with a special section dedicated to the Negroni with 6 different versions to choose from, I went with the Aromatic Negroni which featured Rabarbaro Zucca, Cinzano Orancio and pear grappa. Good and strong, just the way I like them. For entertainment, there was a 6 ft tall blonde female sax/jazz flute player floating around the bar.
Dinner started with a traditional Ribollita, a Tuscan vegetable soup paired with a vermentino, the 2009 Occhio al Vento from Rocca delle Macie. All of the dishes were paired with this particular wineries offerings. Rocca delle Macie is set in the heart of Chianti Classico and is a family run business, founded by an Italian movie director in the early 1970’s. Vermentino is a variety I don’t get to drink often and I do enjoy it’s fresh and vibrant qualities.
The next dish, the spicy “pici piccanti” was hand-rolled spaghetti served with garlic and walnuts. Very flavourful and spicy for an Italian dish, the spicy notes of the food were quenched by Vernacchia 2009 that was served along with it. Italian white wines do have those savoury and herbaceous flavours which make them great food wines.
The pastas are homemade and Chef Davide DeGiovanni showed us the pastas when we toured the kitchen afterwards, one of which was the wild boar tortellone with pumpkin veloute, which was delectable. Rich and intensely flavoured dish, there was also pancetta made from crispy pork cheeks sprinkled around it – OMG! Amazing flavour, not too salty which can happen sometimes with pancetta – just a purity of flavour. Paired with a Chianti classico DOCG 2008, it was a classic, notes of cherry and red berry and a good dose of acidity and fine tannins.
A 36 hour slow cooked beef cheek served on a bed of San Gemingnano saffron risotto was so tender you could eat it with a spoon. Delicately glazed with Chianti¸the Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 was robust and complex with fine tannins and spicy, leathery notes underlined with ripe berry fruits.
A Tuscan pecorino cheese board with truffled honey was intensely perfumed paired with a 2004 Roccato 2004, this was a SuperTuscan, 50% sangiovese, 50% cabernet, powerful and deep, smooth as silk but not overpowering. I could have had plenty more of that wine but it was time for dessert.
A 2002 Vin Santo del Chianti Classico served alongside a ricotta pasticciotto. This vin santo was made with malvasia and trebbiano, slightly cloudy with nutty and membrillo flavours and aromas. I find vin santo to be one of the lighter styles of dessert wines.
Sommelier Marco Franchi showed us around the cellar afterwards which is predominately Italian but there is a selection of international wines and what I liked about the cellars were the way they were displayed in glass cases, lining the bar walls.
As a special treat, Davide gave us a preview of the up-coming truffle menu, sending out a tartare of Fassone steak piled high with shaved white truffle. Manager Sebastian Ganry brought out the Italian truffle from Piedmont to show us before we tucked into the dish. A huge lump of a truffle, the aroma is so exotic and enticing. I have fallen under the spell of truffles, something that began during my recent trip to Croatia.
Amaranto is an Italian themed restaurant and Chef Davide wants to show off the finest of his native Italian cuisine. He uses local produce as much as possible but there are some ingredients that can only be sourced from the Italian countryside. Chef Davide does featured as well as seasonal menus and the next menu will be (surprise) truffles, including the Fassone tartare with shaved white truffle (£65) that we sampled after dinner. The Taste of Tuscany menu was available for £95 pp, £165 with wine matches. For more information, visit The Four Seasons website.