Chef Francesco Apreda's signature contemporary Italian style is inspired by his memories, travels, past experiences, and curiosity - a recurring theme throughout his dishes. This is especially evident in his new tasting menu "Flavors of a Journey," in which he "blends" herbs, spices and more in each of his dishes to create a perfect balance of flavors. Now, through the beginning of the new year, guests can partake of a captivating gastronomic journey that explores taste and memory in the enchanted atmosphere of Imàgo, overlooking the Eternal City.
The blends are created to reflect the tastes of the palate (with some artistic license): Sweet, Umami, Spicy, Bitter, Salty, Sour, and each one represents Chef Apreda's favorite cities through his unique point of view.
• London is "sweet," in an ode to the city in which he had his first important work experiences, and learned the methods and structures of cooking. In homage to the typical British "high tea" with scones, Chef Apreda created his Sweet Rain Blend (foie gras and scones counterbalanced with an astringent black tea blend along with mango, cinnamon, vanilla, toasted anise and more).
• Tokyo's dish is Octopus and Seaweed, representing a link between Italy (octopus) and Japan (seaweed), and the "umami" blend contains ginger, wasabi, seaweed, shiso leaves and other similarly pronounced flavors.
• Mumbai is represented by another strikingly bi-cultural dish. During Chef Apreda's frequent visits to India as a restaurant consultant for the Oberoi Hotel's two Italian restaurants (Vetro in Mumbai and Travertino in New Delhi), he discovered that Pasta all'Arrabiata was an Italian favorite among the "spicy" food-lovers in India. In homage to one of his favorite countries, he decided to make the dish "Indian" with his Spicy Bombay blend of chili pepper, paprika, cardamom, galangal, coriander seeds and more.
• Rome is represented by the most classic of Roman pasta sauces (Cacio cheese and pepper) applied to a risotto, another of Chef Apreda's signature dishes. The Pepper and Sesame blend is his own invention, and he uses several types of peppers and sesames for a highly aromatic, "bitter" effect.
EVO Salted Cod, Salty Sand Blend
• Naples, Chef Apreda's birthplace, is represented by a dish of Salted Cod in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, a dish typical of Neapolitan festivities. His version incorporates a "salty" blend that includes capers, black olives, oregano, dried tomatoes, and dehydrated friarielli peppers among other things.
• New York, Chef Apreda's wife's native city, is a place he loves for its eclectic style. In homage to the Big Apple, he took the classic New York cheesecake and made it pink, combining it with a blend of "sour" notes, including pink grapefruit, pomegranate, raspberries, rose petals and more.
In describing his new menu, Chef Apreda states: "I first created the Sesame and Pepper blend for my Risotto with Cacio Cheese and Pepper. It created a bit of a sensation, and I decided to explore this idea of creating blends of various ingredients in contrast to (and therefore balancing) many of Imàgo's dishes. On one of my journeys to India, I had learned the art of drying, crushing and pulverizing ingredients in order to make spices, and I applied this technique to all the dishes that most represent me in the tasting menu 'Flavors of a Journey.' However I never forget my roots - there is always something Italian in every dish."
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