Ricardo Parisse: The Four Seasons' Valentine
We headed to the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at First Residence to get the first exclusive look at Strada's special Valentine's Day menu prepared by the Italian chef...
Love was in the air as the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence invited us to try this year’s Valentine’s Day menu ahead of their romantic weekend specials. We watched the Four Season’s very own chef Ricardo Parisse, an Italian kitchen legend, prepare the four course meal that will be available at the hotel’s Strada restaurant on February 14th, prepared by the master himself, and tasted the glory before anyone else did. Needless to say, we can’t keep the excitement about this romantic menu to ourselves, and give you a first look at what to expect at the Four Seasons Cairo at The First Residence.
The age old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach made complete sense to us as we had a look on the menu Parisse had planned for the most romantic night of the year. The seafood menu featured Tuna Tonnato for a starter, Lobster Risotto and Topinambur and Salmon with mixed cherry tomato sauce as main dishes and Lychee Spaghetti as a dessert. There is hardly a choice of menu that sounds more like this Valentine’s Day will be a very special one. As Chef Ricardo is preparing all his fresh and high quality ingredients in the cooking theatre, we can barely await the final result.
The Tuna Tonnato is his first strike. The bright pinkish cut of tuna is imported from Japan and Chef Ricardo is making sure it is cooked to perfection. He tells us the heat in the pan is essential, as he wants the fish to cook well on the outside but stay raw on the inside. Along with that comes a sauce of tuna, mayo, lemon and capers, carefully drizzled on the thin and perfect slices of tuna once the loaf leaves the sizzling pan and is kept in the fridge for two hours. The Tonnato sauce is placed in the freezer for four hours itself, and so Chef Ricardo has just created an ice cream Tonnato sauce. On top of this delicious seafood blend, Chef Ricardo presents edible flowers that make sure the square dish is as beautiful looking as it is delightful in taste.
Next on the menu is a lobster and topinambur risotto. Our first thought was: What in God's name is topinambur. And look at that, even our word processor has never heard of that word. Yet, after our taste of Chef Ricardo’s menu we will never forget. Parisse tells us that Topinambur are similar to artichokes, and when cooking the menu at home we may substitute with that. On Saturday, there will be no substitutes though. The air is filled with the lovely scent of onions and lobster roasting in olive oil, and when the rice is almost ready, Parisse’s risotto starts taking shape. He tells us that the perfect consistency is key: the risotto must not be too thick, however, it cannot be runny either. Naturally, Chef Ricardo manages to give it the perfect consistency. Presented to us is a plate of a thick layer of risotto with the creamy Italian taste of lobster and topinambur.
The salmon is served on a bed of mixed cherry tomato sauce, wrapped in a leaf of spinach. To prepare the salmon, Chef Ricardo skinned the salmon fillet, cut it open without halving it and filled it with a blend of salt, pepper, olive oil and thyme, filling the salmon with goodness before it is wrapped in a plastic vacuum bag in which the salmon will be cooked. Parisse knows that not a single flavor can get lost if the fish is wrapped up. The end result convinces in taste as well as presentation, with the salmon having the perfect color and consistency, not having lost a single flavor or drop of water to dry out. Such a taste explosion needs to be eaten to be believed.
The Four Seasons’ pastry chef, Benoit, then takes over the cooking theatre to show us how he is preparing the pink lychee spaghetti. Yes, Strada is Italian, and spaghetti are Italian, but do we really need pasta in a dessert? Chef Benoit explains right away that his spaghetti will be made from a frozen lychee puree that is the epitome of a fruity sensation. On top of his unique creation of sweet pasta, he presents a raspberry sorbet that is flawless as much as it is fruity, and pink macaroons perfect the taste sensation. Garnished with a bright pink sugar coat, we have never seen a more perfect dessert for a romantic dinner. In fact, if love was a dessert it would be Chef Benoit’s Lychee Spaghetti.
Served in the beautiful atmosphere of Strada restaurant, we can only guess what the the stunning scenery will be like at night time, when Cairo’s hearts will be beating to the romance of the place and the menu of Chef Ricardo. We are informed that the salmon dish can be substituted with veal of lamb, however, true seafood lovers will think of no such thing. The perfect Italian Valentine’s Day seafood menu exists, and it is available for one night only at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence on February 14th for LE 650 per person.
Find out more about the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at First Residence on their official Facebook page here.
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