Pietrasanta Italian Restaurant
Am thankful to be learning much more from the wine tutor than information about fermented grape juice. Last week he was talking about what to do with wine knowledge:
- as a restaurant owner/manager or sommelier/waitstaff, if a customer (“jackass” said someone) returns bottles of wine claiming that they are bad, when in fact his tastebuds have been adversely affected by the coffee he just had, then apologise and offer him another sort of drink instead – no need to embarrass him in front of his guests by pointing out the error of his ways. Always ask the customer what they want and don’t contradict them by claiming that your method is superior – if he wants his red cooler, chill it; if he wants his champagne decanted, do it. The customer is entitled to have things done his way since he is paying for the experience (i suppose unless you are that kick-ass sommelier Sam Sifton encountered at Per Se who can guarantee a far superior experience).
- as a guest, if it is a social occasion, don’t make strange sucking sounds and spit out your wine. Just enjoy it and enjoy the company. If you find a fault in the wine (say, the musty odour of 2,4,6-Tricloroanisole) during a party, there is no need to declare this to the whole group – many cannot smell TCA at all and the existence of TCA doesn’t harm anyone. Just pour away your glass quietly. However, if you suspect cork taint during a wine tasting, you should point this out for the benefit of everyone so a new bottle can be opened.
It was interesting that the wine educationalist didn’t give potential embarrassment or the probability of being perceived as arrogant as reasons to desist from such actions; rather, he pointed to the purpose of the occasion. A lesson about context, then.
(Me, i am usually rude for two reasons: (i) facts and truth are important to me and i feel it unethical for baseless generalisations or patently erroneous information to be given and accepted without question; and (ii) undying curiosity that will not rest until i get to the bottom of certain things. This is why, even in the supposedly more enlightened Gifted Education Programme, i was known to be the disruptive student who “talked back” to teachers (a no-no in Asian schools) and was constantly “distracted”.)
The lesson was taking for a trial run when we met at Pietrasanta at Portsdown for dinner. Was positively brimming with questions about the wine menu and the wine cellar, but after a brief struggle, managed to get this under control and have a good focused conversation with the dinner companion.
The Scamorza con Prosciutto (“seared smoked scamorza wrapped with parma ham”) starter was the right balance of texture – chewy melted Italian cheese and thin crisp prosciutto and not too salty – easy to prepare but tasty and there wasn’t a trace of oil on the plate with this one. Tagliatelle con Salsiccia e Tartufo (“Home-made Tuscan Spaghetti with Sausage and Truffle”) – crumbled sausage and two slivers of truffle (probably anointed with truffle oil) in a cream sauce – again, quite simple but satisfying after a long day at work. Similarly, the Merluzzo alla Griglia (“Grilled Cod Fish served with Tomatoes, Cannellini Beans and Onion Salad”) – fresh, grilled just enough to cook but not to harden, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. A good meal, but i still don’t know much about the wines we had.
We visited Pietrasanta when it first opened. It seems after a few years, the Massimini brothers, Giuseppe and Chef Loris, have cottoned on to the preferences of Singaporean customers while retaining some degree of authenticity. All about the context, then?
Pietrasanta, The Italian Restaurant
5B Portsdown Road, 01-03
Wessex Village, Wessex Estate