If you read my earlier post about the Italian cook-off at Prego Westin Pune organized by GourmetItUp and FBAI, you know I had a blast. There was so much to say that I chose to write two different posts. One to tell you about the fantastic experience promised by GourmetItUp that will turn anyone into a foodie. And the second one to focus on the food – a delectable 6 course Italian meal made with the best ingredients!
Chef Giuseppe at Prego – Westin Pune believes in making the natural flavor of the ingredients shine. And he showed us how to do it using the minimum amount of spices and additives.
Can pasta itself have a taste? Yes it can, just as a hot Roti or phulka just off the flame tastes sweet letting the actual taste of the wheat shine through.
We were a select group of 6-7 people, food bloggers and foodies from Pune, and we split into three different teams to cook. Everyone had their favorite drink at hand, chilled Budweiser or Charosa white or red. All the ingredients were perfectly portioned out so that we could follow the steps Chef Giuseppe showed us. Throughout the cook-off, the team at Prego took care that we were supplied with everything we needed and they did a commendable job of it.
First on the menu was Eggplant Parmigiana. Unlike popular myth, the word parmigiana refers to the type of eggplant rather than parmesano reggiano or parmesan cheese. The chef pointed out the critical steps starting with salting the eggplant to let all the bitter juices run out. The eggplant slices were deep fried, layered with tomato sauce and cheese and then baked until the cheese just melted.
A light and flavorful first course to kick off our GourmetItUp experience.
Next on the menu was Panzanella salad. I love, love, love panzanella salad. And the more stale and rustic the bread, the better it is going to taste. We used a country loaf like a boule and some tomatoes, cucumbers and onion. Torn basil leaves added a fresh flavor, and simple olive oil and vinegar dressing coated everything.
The Panzanella salad was followed by another salad. Another favorite – pear, gorgonzola and walnut salad over arugula! Yum..are you salivating already? I actually dreamed about this the night before – yes, I have food dreams, ya’ll – I dreamed I was eating the chopped salad at Maggiano’s which has loads of blue cheese pieces and nuts, and then the pear, walnut, gorgonzola salad at Cheesecake Factory.
The pear was sweet and was balanced by the salty, creamy gorgonzola, crunchy walnuts and slightly bitter arugula. A balsamic reduction added some more sweetness, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil intensified all the flavors.
After sampling these three courses, we embarked on a mammoth task – a first for me! Making pasta from scratch. But the step by step instructions from Chef Giuseppe made it sound really easy. All you need is some good upper body strength ;). The pasta turned out to be sublime, although I will confess that it tasted eggy to me. I will be trying out an eggless version at home soon.
With the pasta being so fresh, we made a simple sauce of tomatos, onions, basil and parmesan cheese and tossed the pasta lightly in it. Crumbled buffalo mozzarella topped the pasta to give the final ‘caprese’ touch.
A fish course followed that I had to pass on, but the Livornese sauce will be making an appearance in my kitchen soon. It seemed a lot like a Puttanesca, an olive based sauce I am very fond of.
Such a grand meal had to end on a sweet note, and Nutella stuffed mini calzone were deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar and served with ice cream that tasted like sweet cream. Anyone for seconds?
My thoughts on the Prego Experience
I salute Chef Giuseppe for preserving the authentic flavor of Italian food, and not Indianising it as many are wont to do. I really enjoyed eating food that was striking in its simplicity and the high quality ingredients shone through.
If you like runny sauces or think pasta sauce is made from ketchup, Prego will surprise you. But if you want an elegant and ethnic experience, then it is the place to go.
I was glad to know they use San Marzano tomatoes in all their sauces, and also the best olive oil from Italy. I think the sweet Italian tomatoes make all the difference in the taste.
Prego offers a lot of variety for vegetarians too and there is enough of starters, pastas, pizzas and desserts that you can visit multiple times. Other items I would love to try from their menu are the gnocchi, lasagna, tiramisu and their wood fire oven baked pizzas.
With a service like GourmetItUp, you can easily book a table and enjoy a multi course meal, and also gain some points for it.
Have you ever been to Prego? What do you think about it? Sound off below so everyone can benefit.