Chef’s Table A memorable culinary journey

It is a privilege to have dinner with dear, beloved friends…

It is amazing to have dinner in an elegant, classy ambience…

It is an honour to have dinner with your favourite Capitan and Hotel Director plus a group of charming officers…

But imagine all this congregating around a unique gastronomic experience sailing the Arabian Sea.

Joining the Chef’s table in L’Atelier Bistrot on board MSC Bellissima was the chance to explore a culinary universe where classic dishes are elevated to an incredible level of innovation and gastronomic avant-garde complimented by a true 5 star service

Chef Francesco Mastro created a menu which spoiled all my senses with its delicacy, adventurous approach of classic dishes and unique after-taste.

Slightly grilled octopus with yogurt and parsley sauce, celery salad and dry lemon skin

In most of the octopus’ dishes, you’ll find the tentacles chopped up into inoffensive little chunks. Chef Mastro decided to serve this dish in a different way. The outside was crispy while the white meat inside was soft and tender, was almost like the texture of a perfectly cooked chicken. The yogurt and parsley sauce gave a subtitle freshness precise harmonised with the citrusy note of the dry lemon skin and the delicate bitterness of the celery salad.


Shrimp cocktail with rocket leaves, tomato concasse and Grand Marnier sauce

Sounds like a boring common dish? WRONG! The innovative plating was the first surprise and the absence of the Marie Rose sauce was a good reason to approach the plate with a lot of curiosity. The shrimps were fleshy with a sweet and delicate taste and rapping them around a bunch of fresh rocket leaves added a bittery but sweet and nutty after-taste. The two gastronomic surprises of this dish were of course the “tomato concasse” with its smooth buttery taste and the unexpected Grand Marnier sauce (never had it before with shrimps) adding the flavours expected from a barrel-aged spirit: vanilla and an oaky sweetness. What a celebration of flavours in a single, decent sized plate!


Lobster risotto served with fried parsley and creamed cherry tomato

I know the sounds heavy but the magic of Chef Mastro worked again in this dish. Creamy and thick, a perfect “al dente”, fully cooked but still keeping some firmness when you chew it. The mild bitterness of the fried parsley added balance to the dish bringing a burst of brightness while the tasty shavings of lobster on top gave the right amount of flavour.


Surt & Turf – Angus beef and king crab with asparagus and port wine reduction

What a brilliant reinvention of a classic dish this plate was! The meat was simply perfect: firm crust covering a soft succulent juicy flavour-packed meat. It was marbled to my liking, decadent yet still fine for a pleasant bite and a gentle chew. The king crab, elegant open for an easy eating were meaty and juicy, the unique sweet taste creating a delicious contrast with the perfectly cooked piece of meat. The roasted asparagus bed brought to the plate a delicate earthy taste soaking up the flavours of the beef and crab. And of course, a port reduction, made surprise-surprise PERFECT by Francesco, delivered a balance of sweetness and acidity increasing the complexity and depth of the taste of this main dish


Strawberry salad

I used to like a sorbet course served as a palate cleanser after the main course. But Chef Mastro surprised me, once again, with replacing it with a strawberry salad. The syrupy, woodsy taste of the balsamic vinegar brought in the same bowl with the fine chopped strawberries made each bite of the berry even more sweet, even more citrusy and floral getting my senses ready for the spectacular desert.


Royal cake – Chocolate praline cake with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream

The sweet “piece of resistance” of the evening made me feel sorry for attacking the beautiful decorating plate. The royal cake was spectacular to serve and marvellous to eat with its luscious layers, tender and moist at the same time,  complimented with the freshness of the berries and the passiveness sweet taste of the vanilla ice cream.


I still can write couple of paragraphs about the amazing wines served with this fantastic dinner, but that will be perfect for a separate post.

The only thing left is to say a big THANK YOU to Master Giuseppe Maresca and Hotel Director Neven Zdunic who allowed me to embark in this extraordinary culinary adventure, to Chef Francesco Mastro for creating such a memorable gastronomic experience and the entire staff of L’Atelier Bistrot on board MSC Bellissima for the privilege of an unforgettable evening.

~ by Leonard69 on January 8, 2020.

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