Friday, January 26, 2007

Dining Out @ Prego's Celebrity Chef - Faith Willinger

If you really love Italian food and ingredients, a must do for this weekend is dining at Prego @ the Westin Hotel who has a visiting celebrity chef and famous cookbook author,
Faith Willinger. She's also running a cooking class on Saturday but I heard it's fully booked already.

I had the opportunity to try her food last night at dinner with friends and the food really blew us away. She's brought in quite a lot of ingredients directly from Italy which makes the difference as her food is simple and showcases the wonderful ingredients. For instance, take the simple Amuse Boche she served - Fettunta with Castello di Ama. Served with excellent extra virgin olive oil, it tastes fantastic.

Even something as simple as Aged Parmigiano Reggiano was delicious on it's own with it's slightly fruity flavours. Served with precious few drops of twenty five year old aged balsamic vinegar from Modena that is syrupy and woody, it's sublime. Incidentally, Faith Willinger goes around from table to table to serve the balsamic vinegar, so you can ask her more about the heavenly balsamic vinegar. According to her, it's aged in 5 types of different wooden barrels in an attic in Italy. Depending on the age of the wooden barrels and the types of wood they use, the balsamic vineger will absorb the flavours.

I really liked the delicate flavours of the Crudo di Pesco - Raw Marinated Yellowtail with Wild Fennel Pollen and Fennel Carpaccio. The highly sought after wild fennel pollen is collected from the flowers of wild fennel which is subequently dried and used like a spice.

Next course was the Spaghetti alla Gricia con Tonno - Spaghetti served with garlic pepper brined tuna. Also a simple dish, you'll enjoy the al dente spaghetti, tossed with the salty tuna and pecorino romano.

I absolutely love this, the Orzotto Barley Risotto made with pumpkin, leeks and barley. It's creamy yet delicate. The extra virgin oil they used brings out the sweet flavours of the pumpkin making this ultimate comfort food.

There's a choice of two main courses for the set: the Bistecca alla Florentine which is Prime T-Bone Steak served with extra virgin olive oil. My friend had this and it was yummy as she shared a slice with me. The extra virgin olive oil makes everything taste better once you drizzle it on. One sticky issue about it was it still had some chewy tendons not removed when they served it.

I had the Merluzzo in Acqua Pazza - Black Cod Poached in Crazy Water which was very good too. Crazy water refers to the poaching liquid used by the Italians for the fish that is prepared with tomatoes and herbs to infuse it with flavours.

For sides, they served wood fire roasted potatoes. Parboiled before hand, they're roasted in a wood fire oven for the crisp exterior.

They also served us creamy cannellini beans tossed with sage leaves.

For desserts, there was the yoghurt served with sour cherry. The yoghurt is beautifully rich and complemented with the slightly sour cherry.

We also had the deconstructed MilleFoglie which looked like a mess but tasted so good. The flaky crunchy pastry bits combined with toasted almonds and the chantilly cream was excellent. Although it was rich with cream, it was a great way to round up a light and satisfying meal.

We also had lots of wine to drink that was paired with the food. However, there was a slight mix up with the wine served somewhere in the middle of the courses and one of the red wines tasted too acidic. At the end of the meal, you are also served Grappa specially brought in from Italy. Initially we didn't know how to enjoy the Grappa until we got a small lesson on how it was made. To taste the flavours, dip a finger into your grappa and dab it on your skin, the alcohol will evaporate allowing you to smell it. Here the grappa tastes slightly woody as they use woody stems and leaves to make it during the distilling process.

Not only did we get an opportunity to taste great Italian food and ingredients, we also spent some time chatting at the end of the dinner with Faith Willinger and her friendly team of people namely Jennifer and Tomas who's family owns the vineyard which produces the Grappa.

So what are you waiting, go call for a booking tonight or tomorrow night. For the subsequent nights, you can choose from the a la carte menu that offers these dishes and more. Whatever it is, you won't be dissapointed. My friends who ate with me love her food so much, they're revisiting the place tonight and tomorrow night with other friends while another friend is eating at the Sunday brunch where her dishes will also be featured. Sadly, I can't follow as I'll be going down to Johor this weekend but hopefully my friend, S will snap lots of great pictures for the cooking class and dinner.

Prego @ Westin Hotel
Jalan Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur

Tel No: 03-2773 8496

(To read more about it, see the
Star Newspaper)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from the restaurant for writing this review.

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Anonymous said...

Phew ! That is fine dining all right ! Only miss the shots of the champagne...

ChocolateSuze said...

oh yum that looks and sounds fantastic! ill be going to malaysia in about 2weeks dya know if the menu will be different when the celebrity chef leaves?

boo_licious said...

team bsg - Champagne was good! No need to snap a pix of that.

chocolatesuze - yeah, this is the menu prepared by the guest chef so it'll revert back to the normal menu.

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Anonymous said...

Wow...they look so yummylicious. But how much would that cost?

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