A Private Dinner by Two Michelin Star Chef, Davide Scabin

A Private Dinner by Two Michelin Star Chef, Davide Scabin

Lucky David Constable Reviews

Davide Scabin opened his restaurant Combal.Zero in Turin in 1994. His attention was on regional dishes such as soups and roast rabbit and he has since become one of the world’s leading chefs for hypercreative and experimental cooking. One recent Monday evening I was invited to dine with Davide at London’s L’atellier des Chefs for a private dining experience, where he created ten separate pasta dishes using Pastificio Felicetti pasta from Italy, born a century ago in the Dolomite Alps.

Scabin shows all the flamboyancy that comes with two Michelin stars and has the flair of a visionary. Pasta sushi with amberjack and foie gras came as three shelled pasta parcels, each with a pasted kick underneath the shell (wasabi) and salmon and beef glazed tuna. A pretend dessert, Rigatoni Ragout Soufflé, was light and airy, giving a dense kick when eaten together, the combination of sweet and savory (beef sauce ragout) proving a reward. Another plate, this time of cinnamon (conchiglia), nutmeg (rigatini) and curried pasta (penne ritorte) again sparked life into the taste buds and showed how contrasting textures can work in moderation on the same plate. Completing the spice dish was star anise linguine and cumin chiocciole, all enveloped in a prawn bisque.

A pretty-looking spaghetti pizza margherita followed, with glazed- baked cherry tomatoes a hint of burrata cheese, green oil, burrata English sauce, oil and chilli. Close to a carbohydrate overload, tea soon followed as a rest bite, but not as we know it. The ‘Tea Ceremony’ arrived as linguine infused in tea and vegetables; including ditalini with katsuobushi and dried soya. And there was a ravioli shake to follow (Conchiglia Anchovy Shake – one of Scabin’s classic dishes from Combal.Zero) with spoon and instructions which, although created images of scanty airplane food in plastic containers, was in fact creamy and pleasing and introduced some frivolous fun to the meal.

Scabin’s chosen pasta producers, Selezioni Monogram, started with the Felicetti pasta producers in 1908. Techniques were handed down from generation to generation, creating the legacy which is today embodied in the Selezioni Monograno Valentino Felicetti moto, regarding an excellent product; a scrupulous selection of raw materials, craftsmanship according to the methods of the master pasta producers, and special attention paid to all specialized production phases. Scabin, a proven craftsman in his own right, is meticulous in his design and the final presentation. Use of spelt wheat (intense, strong, warm in colour) and drum wheat (lighter, naturally intense colouring) give him variety and an exploration into his creativity which is reflected on the plate.

The seafood conchiglioni with garlic was a striking dish. Black ink had a nebulous and dark curling effect on a clean, white plate and tasted fragrant. A small, dark dish bursting with a multitude of flavours, the menu states: chilli nori, lemongrass oyster with salt and pepper; cuttle fish and black ink. Then there were modern techniques used to impress dishes of spaghetti, fusilli, chicocciole, rigatoni and linguine, presenting modernistic twists to Italian cultural classics. This really was presenting some Italian favourites in new and exciting ways, and even Paolo Marchi (founder of Identità and Italian food editor), who sat on the neighbouring table, was clearly excited by the ‘pasta revolution’ presented to him.

On my table were Tom Parker Bowles, Metro food editor, Andy Lynes and friends Ivan Crispo, Aida Ghezai and Ben Norum. As the evening was supported by Dom Perignon, bubbles were floating freely about the room and our glasses were never empty, rumours later suggested that twenty guests consumed thirty-four bottles of vintage champagne (I was responsible for lavishing at least three single-handedly). Kudos to me indeed, and if it wasn’t for good old black London taxis then I would have found refuge in an Oxford Street gutter that evening, sleeping blissfully with a full stomach – the carbohydrate indulgence jamming my arteries like bloated hosepipes – and lucent bubbles navigating my head.

About David Constable:

David Constable was born in Kent and studied in both the United Kingdom and United States where he found it very difficult living on the student diet of baked beans and super noodles. Once released from academia and thrust into the ‘real world’ he found comfort in an eclectic mix of British, French, Italian and Mexican cuisine. His favourite restaurants in London are Roast and Launceston Place – precision of dishes and fine British game – and he enjoys red wine as much as he does his food. Amarone being his beloved tipple.

Along with his restaurant reviews, David also writes television reviews for Broadcast and a weekly media blog for Production Wizard. His website is: http://davidconstable.wordpress.com

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