Published: October 19, 2011 (Issue # 1679)

Top notch Italian regional cuisine is on the menu at the Corinthia Hotel’s Imperial restaurant this week as the hotel hosts the Bella Italia festival, the latest event in the Year of Italy in Russia cultural exchange program.

The restaurant is serving a special menu through Sunday prepared by double Michelin-starred guest chef Valentino Marcattilii from Imola, Italy. As well as the special menu, which includes his signature dish — one giant, delectable ravioli stuffed with spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, truffle sauce and egg yolk — Marcattilii will host a master class on Oct. 19. The culinary extravaganza will culminate in an Arrivederci Brunch at the Imperial restaurant on Oct. 23.

Alongside regional Italian cuisine, the festival also aims to showcase Italian interior design and fashion. The hotel is hosting an exhibition of Italian wares ranging from olive oil, pasta, truffle sauce and other regional delicacies to upscale ceramic kitchenware and Alessandro Gheradi shirts, whose clients include Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Visitors to the exhibition, which runs through Wednesday, will have the opportunity to sample some of the edible exhibits.

Meanwhile, the new menu at the Viktoria restaurant in the Taleon Imperial Hotel celebrates Russian gastronomic cuisine while providing new insights into the city’s architectural and historical legacy. The idea behind the new menu is to connect certain dishes with a particular historic building that can be observed from the terrace of this panoramic restaurant located on the top floor of the former mansion of the merchant Yeliseyev, on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and the Moika embankment.

The hits created by the restaurant’s chef Vyacheslav Vasiliev include mullet baked in fragrant herbs, duck fillets served with cranberry and red cabbage, sturgeon soup with a touch of champagne and quail with foie gras. The baked mullet — one of the lightest dishes on the menu — has become an instant hit. Viktoria boasts one of the finest views in town, offering close-ups of Kazan Cathedral, the Singer building, Mertens House and the Nobel House, among other architectural gems. The historical notes accompanying the description of dishes reveal secrets about the rations of the city’s hussars, aristocrats and orphanages in pre-revolutionary times.

In the second half of October, the aroma of fried chestnuts permeates the streets of French towns, and now the chain of Jean-Jacques Rousseau French bistros has imported the idea to the banks of the Neva River with the launch of a chestnut menu from Oct. 17. The highlights of the menu include chestnut soup with Parma ham, salad with chestnuts and mushrooms, chestnut muffins and home-made chestnut marmalade. The bistro at 2/54 Gatchinskaya Ulitsa on the Petrograd Side will also serve take-away grilled chestnuts sold at 100-150 rubles per portion.

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