Gozo gets a Michelin star taste with Damiano Nigro, executive chef at Palás Cerequio, the restaurant at the Michele Chiarlo winey, preparing a seven-course meal to tantalise the tastebuds at Vini e Capricci by Abraham’s.
Puglia born chef, Damiano Nigro, arrived in Malta late Monday evening and headed straight into the kitchen to start preparations. Constantly picking, smelling, tasting, Damiano travels the world through the different flavours every destination has to offer.
The name Vini e Capricci is synonymous with quality foods in Gozo. Whether local or imported, owner Abraham Said, takes pride in sourcing culinary gems from around the globe, and this time, it’s Gozo that takes centre stage, as he introduces Damiano to some of Gozo’s humble but inspiring ingredients, from wild herbs to local sea salt.
Putting together a menu to serve in a different country presents challenges, mostly in the selection of ingredients. The menu for the weekend is an eclectic collaboration between the team at Vini e Capricci who conveyed their own favourite fare to Damiano, who then, together with his team, created something unique for the weekend’s menu.
Damiano has travelled extensively, working under world-renowned chefs including Marco Pierre White, Michel Roux, Gualtiero Marchesi and Alain Ducasse, to name a few. He gained a Michelin star at his restaurant Villa d’Amelia in Piedmonte in Italy.
The southern climate of Puglia creates much the same breeding ground for ingredients as in the Maltese islands, so Damiano could draw on the culinary knowledge of his youth. His use of wild Gozitan herbs, vegetables and fresh fish are highlighted in a menu that adds Michelin star quality to local ingredients.
Each course has been expertly paired with Piedmonte classics from the Michele Chiarlo winery. With Alberto Chiarlo, son of Michele Chiarlo and a Sommelier from the vineyard in attendance at the weekend, diners will be treated to some incredible vintages including the Barolo DOCG Cannubi 2015.
Perhaps the most interesting dish on the menu would be the dessert – a yoghurt foam with hazelnuts and sea urchins, paired with the Moscato d’Asti DOCG Nivole. Though not a combination one would expect from a dessert, Damiano insists that this is not such a stretch of the imagination. “In Puglia you eat burrata with sea urchins, so I’m not creating something completely new. Every dessert needs a little bit of salt to balance the flavours and with Gozo being such a small island it’s only natural to want to get this directly from the sea,” he said. We’ll have to wait for the weekend to try this one!
For more information contact Vini e Capricci
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Photography by Matt Hush