Having never eaten a meal prepared by a Michelin Star chef I was incredibly excited about my dinner by Italian born Giorgio Diana.
He is currently being hosted at D’Olivo restaurant at the Rixos Hotel on The Palm alongside Head Chef Nurettin Celik.
Chef Diana has worked in locations around the world from Italy to Germany to the Middle East; at the age of 24 he became the youngest chef in the world to be awarded a Michelin Star and earning this only fuelled his continued passion for cooking and creating. Chef Diana will be at the Rixos Hotel until the 30th March, serving up a unique and delicious menu to tantalize your taste buds.
There is always something a little exciting about a chef hosted dinner, you never know what to expect, but you know it will be out of the ordinary! Ushered in to the beautifully elegant D’Olivo restaurant our little group of 10 waited with anticipation, glasses filled with sparkling white wine and knives & forks at the ready. We could either choose a fish or meat based menu, which caused a great deal of deliberation as we of course wanted to try everything, and were all a little worried about ‘food envy.’ Usually an absolute carnivore I decided that this would be the evening to stretch myself, so I opted for the fish menu, which sounded fresh, light and delicious!
I love menus with many small courses; they keep you on your toes and create excellent dinner conversation! So the oyster amuse-bouche was a delight, luckily I happen to enjoy shellfish so the salty oyster with flavours of the sea and a hint of lemon went down an absolute treat, it was also quite entertaining to show others how to knock them back right out of the shell. The fish menu and meat menu consisted of 6 courses and cost AED250 per person including 2 glasses of wine.
My menu choice sounded intriguing with a number of flavour combinations I had never experienced and fish I had never tried before. The first course was smoked mackerel with razor clams, mussel sand and chocolate crumble. Intrigued and having never eaten razor clams I was quite excited by this dish. The razor clams had a surprisingly soft texture and added and lovely sweetness to the plate, whilst the chocolate provided a hint of salt and bitterness. This dish was an excellently balanced introduction, which started the whole meal off to a high standard. Everyone was very much looking forward to the rest of the dinner.
The following courses were just as mouthwatering, with scallop ceviche with ginger and a coriander emulsion and next a tortellini filled with soft, sweet cuttlefish. Each course was beautifully designed, simply plated up, showing off the fresh fish and the vibrant accompanying ingredients, hints of green and yellow. Enticing and appetizing at the same time. While the fish course patrons were happily eating away we couldn’t help but have a few glances over at the meat dishes. With delicacies such and 48 sous-vide veal cheeks and grilled beef tenderloin we couldn’t help but also want to have a nibble, however, the quickly emptied plates made it rather difficult. Always a good excuse for a return visit!
For the main course we were served up sous-vide cod with beetroot, fennel, dill and a vanilla bisque. This was a rustic and earthy dish, with the cod perfectly cooked and flaking apart, the fennel adding an aromatic and bitter edge, whilst the vanilla gave a slightly sweet note, bringing the whole dish together. A delicious main course and perfect way to end the savoury portion of the evening.
I am not really a dessert person and tend to find the endless parade of cakes, mousses and cup cakes a little boring, so it takes something quite unique to make me really sit up and pay attention. Which is exactly what the meat eaters of the evening received, an orange-chocolate tagliatelle with…wait for it…marinated lamb! Of course we all had to have a taste, even though I am still not sold on meat for dessert I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, the lamb really did go with the chocolate-orange flavour, and it definitely created a buzz at the table! For the fish eaters we had a delightful plate of marinated peaches with white chocolate, fresh and simply delicious.
The end of the evening was rather interesting, to finish we were treated to a foie gras praline, and I don’t want to spoil anything so I am just going to say that you should try it and see for yourself! Chef Diana came out to say hello to us all at the end of the meal, completely charming and anxious to check we had a great meal. My first ever Michelin Star experience was a resounding success, interesting and tasty food and great conversation, what more can you ask for!