Serenaded with opera at Pullman Yangon’s E’Cucina restaurant

The Antinori Wine Dinner at Pullman Yangon Centrepoint. (Supplied)

Diners enjoyed the accomplished vocals of an opera singer between courses of first-class Italian fare at the Pullman Hotel Yangon last night (September 26).

Australian Lauren Benson charmed the room with a rendition of Mozart’s Voi Che Sapete as the starter of soft, creamy stracciatella cheese was poured onto rocket salads and scooped off plates.

Steering the wine for the evening was Guido Vannucchi, a Milanese representing Italian wine company Antinori. He paired a citrusy fresh 2015 white, Antinori Capsula Viola Bianco, with the stringy cheese and delved a bit into its history.

Spawning from rocky, crumbly soil, the Tuscan drink’s previous incarnation was called Galestro and it became a hit in the 1990s. Rome was imbibing 900,000 bottlers per year—low alcohol content, easy drinking. But too many copycat producers caused the inventor to rebrand as Capsula.

The lights dimmed again, a cue for Benson to sing a 19th century tune about love. Then consultant chef Nicolino Lalla worked the room as people feasted on his homely mushroom and sausage risotto. On top of the dish were slices of black truffle, which he lugged back by the sack from his home in mountainous central Italy. This was a rare treat in Yangon, or probably anywhere.

Vannucchi told the story of the risotto’s partner, the 2014 Antinori Cervaro della Sala. It’s a complex Chardonnay, he said, a domination of exotic fruits; mango, papaya. Although he concedes the year was not a great vintage, the wine is flavorful, clear and light. Antinori’s Italian Cervaro burst onto the scene in the early 1980s, when only France was celebrated for its quality wine, and with its grapes grown in mineral-laden soil, it changed the game.

Another game changer was Lalla’s slow-cooked pork ribs, sunk in a stew of fresh Shan tomato sauce and olives. The Mediterranean-style creation came alongside a wedge of layered potato baked with cream cheese, garlic and cornflour.

Wash it down with a hearty Bordeaux, suggested Vannucchi. The first word that sprung to his mind as he sipped the 2012 Antinori Guada al Tasso was “elegance.”

Opera singer Lauren Benson.

The evening finished as every good evening should: with a clap-a-long to an 1880 composition commemorating the opening of the first funicular cable care up Mount Vesuvius in Naples. The final meal of cannoli shells filled with ricotta cheese, chocolate chips, and pistachio was served with a boozy limoncello. Benson will be singing at Pullman on Saturdays in October, so visit its E’Cucina Italian Restaurant then for a unique dining experience.

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