By CJ Juntereal
At Cicchetti in BGC, special dinners are planned with true collaboration as the end goal. And in previous events with local chefs, they’ve managed to find the sweet spot, with the chefs working together on each menu item, instead of just alternating on each course.
Cicchetti has upped its game for 2020 and is starting the year with a special dinner that combines Chef de Cuisine Kim Suva’s flair for Italian cuisine with the edgy Basque style of Michelin-star trained Chef Mikel Martija of Mimo San Sebastian, a company that organizes gastronomic tours, culinary classes, and other tasting experiences in Basque Country.
Chefs Mikel Martija and Kim Suva
It isn’t such a stretch to combine Italian and Basque cuisines, as both are based on the seasonality of ingredients, and share core ingredients and dishes. In fact, the six-course dinner starts off with pintxos, a San Sebastian “small snack” that involves gastronomic goodies skewered to a piece of bread. In Venice, they’re known as cicchetti. Mind you, at Cicchetti these aren’t bite-sized and need two hands to steady the ingredients while eating.
Two aperitivos follow. First, a chilled onion soup puree where the intense sweetness of roasted onions is tempered by bits of salty feta cheese and the sharpness of chopped chives. Next, Foie Gras Frito. Martija’s technique makes the foie look a little bit like a burger but maximizes the surface area that crisps up with a quick sear. Tart apple puree, a sprinkle of ground coffee, and a wafer of crisp-fried bread add balance and texture to the foie’s rich quality. Both aperitivos are paired with a crisp, dry Masotinna Prosecco.
A salad follows. Salad-sized, not degustation-sized. A pile of mixed greens, seared prawns fatter than a chubby thumb, earthy pine nuts, a light orange vinaigrette, and in Suva’s nod to nose-to-tail cooking, an intense seafood reduction concocted from the heads and shells of those giant prawns. The reduction elevates everything with a burst of umami. The salad is paired with Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
Platters of pintxos to whet the appetite before dinner
A seafood reduction adds umami to the salad
The primo piatto is Tortellini de Txangurro. While the typical Basque preparation for spider crab (txangurro) is to stuff and bake it in its own shell, Martija and Suva chose to make Italian tortellini stuffed with the shredded crabmeat. A garlic-infused almond cream sauce and macadamia nut pesto round out a dish that is truly a fusion of Basque and Italian flavors. This dish hits it out of the ballpark, and while diners might be content to end the meal here, there is still the secondo piatto of 72-hour sous vide beef cheeks, and a finale of two desserts. The crab, by the way, is paired with a beautifully balanced cocktail, Arnacia E Lomine, that combines Berry Bros and Rudd orange and thyme distilled gin with limoncello, lime, and soda into the perfect summer drink.
Tortellini de Txangurro was the highlight of the dinner
This Torrijas is worth every calorie
The Cicchetti x Mimo San Sebastian four-hands dinner is on Jan. 28 and 30. Slots for Jan. 30 are still available, with a 6:30 p.m. and an 8:30 p.m. seating. Dinner is ₱4,900 plus an additional ₱1,000 for the beverage pairing.
Cicchetti is at 8/F MDI Corporate Center, 10th Avenue corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City. Call +63 2 7 897 4756 / +63 917 321 4756 for seat reservations.