I have never eaten meat that isn’t typically raised in your Old MacDonald type of farm. Blame it on the decades of influence that meat not commonly sold in supermarkets is perceived as tough and dry. So when I was first offered the invitation to a game dinner, I promised myself that I’d try to be impartial. But I didn’t expect dining at DiVino – Wine Bar & Restaurant would be a whole new ball game for me.
Before we commenced dinner, Corporate Chef Michele Senigaglia and Chef Jery Tang first wanted us to understand their hunting philosophy, stressing that they only work with suppliers who respect biodiversity and sustainable hunting. All this while promising a memorable culinary experience featuring superior game offerings based on their rich hunting history.
Game is eaten during the autumnal months in the Mediterranean and includes rich meats such as pigeon, duck, wild boar and rabbit. ”Autumn is one of my favourite seasons because it’s game season. This year, I will be using pasta, rice and chilled game to prepare a selection of delicious traditional dishes with a modern twist, made from imported meats from Italian regions such as Tuscany and Marche, famous for their game-hunting heritage and superior products,” explained Chef Senigaglia.
Image Credit: DiVino Wine Bar & Restaurant
We began the meal with an amuse-bouche of black pepper wild boar salami and wild boar sausage. The meat was chewy, with a hint of the wild. It was served with shards of salty, crumbly Castelmagno cheese and a side of pickle relish, creating a melody of salty and tangy flavours.
Next came the wild mushroom cappuccino with white Alba truffle (ask for availability). The first thing I did was lift the espresso cup and draw in a deep breath. Truffle and mushroom are some of my favourite scents. The musky aroma transported me to misty and dense green forests the moment it hit me. I was delighted when they brought the entire truffle in a glass bowl for us to inhale. The texture of the cappuccino wasn’t creamy, but it was still very fragrant and alluring, beckoning us to take the next sip. Before I knew it, I was tipping the cup vertically and relishing the bits of truffle in my spoon.
The Casarecce pasta from Gragnano with mallard duck sauce ($238) came next. I’m a big fan of pasta and am relatively sensitive to its texture. Fortunately, the tubular pasta didn’t disappoint. It was cooked al dente, along with generous fibres of duck meat soaked in a piquant sauce. I ate this dish with gusto, lapping up the remains. This course certainly set the bar high for the pasta dish that followed.
Next came the civet of wild hare laid on Carnaroli risotto with Stracchino cheese ($288). They dressed the dish with delicate black truffle petals (I ate those first!). I wasn’t used to the texture of wild hare; the meat had a strong flavour and a somewhat powdery composition. But the hare was tender, the dish was wholesome and you could almost feel a warm glow inside after the first bite.
I wasn‘t quite sure what to expect from the handmade Van Houten’s cocoa-scented tagliatelle ($278). It tasted like savoury, slightly bitter dark chocolate strands cooked in a rich deer ragu. But I was pleasantly surprised how the two star ingredients complimented each other so well. Midway through the dish, I asked for additional shavings of cheese and the flavours accentuated. I loved how the culinary design of this dish created a myriad of flavours: bitter, salty and sharp all at the same time.
The dessert – Sweet Ending (ask for availability) – left me curious and, at the same time, dreaming of something chocolatey with gelato on top. We oohed and aahed when they set the long plate of sweets in front of us: decadent Pistocchi chocolate cake, a scoop of tangy raspberry ice cream nested on chocolate soil and some mini meringue mushrooms and raspberries scattered around the plate.
The food at DiVino was wonderful and the company was great. My takeaway from Chef Senigaglia is his rule on pasta, which he stressed throughout the meal: 13 minutes in the pot, two minutes in the pan. I also left the restaurant with a renewed appreciation for wild game. I’ve learned that besides being less fatty compared to farm-raised animals, it also has a higher omega-3 fatty acid content compared to corn- and grain-fed beef, which increases its health benefits. And it’s delicious.
DiVino Group are currently showcasing their game menu at DiVino – Wine Bar & Restaurant until 30 November 2017, with weekly specials according to availability.
73 Wyndham Street, Central, 2167 8883