As soon as I mentioned the words nine-course meal, my social networking timeline erupted with reactions that mixed envy, shock and disbelief. How the heck can you manage to eat your way through a nine-course meal, they all wondered. Truthfully, I was wondering that too, as I sat, admittedly a bit bewildered, amidst media people during the press launch of L’Incontro.
Someone handed me a Peach Bellini. I took a few sips and prepared to settle down, chatted with some people from Appetite magazine as uniformed waiters passed around trays of appetizers – a dense and creamy gnocchi gorgonzola and crisp asparagus straws with a piquant pomodoro sauce. There is something about crisp fried vegetables that make me happy, this ironic combination of healthy veggies going through one of the more unhealthy of cooking procedures.
From the corner of my eye, I see a tall, elegant woman approach. She was introduced as Tina Pamintuan, the new owner of L’Incontro Ristorante Italiano. She’s been handling the reins of the restaurant since March this year, taking over the 10-year old restaurant from its previous Italian owner. She sees the restaurant as a comfortable place for meeting up, emulating a casual Italian dining table rather than a stiff formal restaurant. True enough, with its homey touches and interesting decor, you’d feel welcome in even your most relaxed clothes.
As we were waiting for lunch to be served, a magazine shoot was wrapping up at one corner of the restaurant. While it wasn’t on the menu, Tina invited us to try the pasta being prepared at the shoot set-up. It was a thing to behold—freshly cooked pasta was being tossed on a gigantic block of aged cheese, before being ladled unto our plates. We were then given the choice to top our pasta with fresh tomatoes, cheese and some basil.
Some time later, we were ushered into a small private room with a long table. Bathed in copious amounts of natural light, it felt like we were on the set of some European film where a large family gathers for some important family announcement. In this case though, it’s a simple one—lunch is served!
What Italian meal doesn’t start off with a caprese salad? L’Incontro’s salad was set in layers—tomato, cheese, tomato, sprinkled with fresh pepper and herbs then drizzled with olive oil and dotted with a thick balsamic. Lovely paired with a sparkling Italian Prosecco.
Following the salad was something they called Crespella with Tartufo Sauce. As intimidating as the dish sounds, it was actually a simple ham and cheese crepe, bathed in a mushroomy sauce. While the mushroom tends to overpower the subtle truffle, it still made for an nice, comforting dish.
Next to be served was the Seabass Al Sale — a whole seabass baked under a salt crust. Dishes like this are always so enticing to look at. But while the fish course was intriguing, I’ve always been a meat and potatoes girl so it’s understandable if it’s the meat course that really made its mark on me.