Saturday, 20 September 2014

My Birthday Celebration at Gaia, Goodwood Park Hotel

Celebrating my birthday with my hubby


Nestled at Goodwood Park Hotel, Gaia Ristorante & Bar is the sister restaurant of the popular OSO Ristorante. ‘Gaia’, a derivation from ‘Gaea’ in Ancient Greek refers to a primal Greek goddess known as Mother Nature. In line with its name, a touch of nature is infused in the menu as well as the décor of the restaurant.

The interior

The restaurant exudes an atmosphere of relaxed elegance. The plush seats or armchairs in the main dining room help one to unwind. If you prefer an alfresco setting, you can ensconce yourself comfortably in the garden-like inner courtyard.

The private room

The private room with a glass wine cellar is ideal for private, exclusive dinners while the cosy outdoor lounge with water features provides a perfect venue for chilling out after a hectic work day.

Gaia is helmed by 27 year old Executive Chef, Emanuele Faggi who was formerly from two Michelin-starred Cracco Ristorante in Milan. The restaurant’s General Manager, Paolo Colzanie also has an impressive background, having honed his skills at Les Amis and Iggy’s and more recently at Burlamacco, an Italian restaurant in Stanley Street which he co-founded.

Previously, Gaia was headed by Domenico Piras whose focus was on hearty South Italian cuisine. I am familiar with Chef Domenico’s cooking style and love his pastas and risottos. Chef Emanuele’s style is different. It is elegant and offers a modern interpretation of Italian cuisine.

My husband and I dined at Gaia a few days ago during my birthday and we were impressed with the innovative cuisine which was a blend of Italian and Japanese influence. We sampled the Degustation Menu, which came highly recommended by the restaurant staff. 


Gamberi Rossi, Popcorn (raw red Sicilian prawn and popcorn)
Our gastronomic journey started with Gamberi Rossi, Popcorn, a delightful combination of raw red Sicilian prawn and popcorn. This appetiser was quite unique and it was also the first time I had popcorn in a restaurant. The prawns were very fresh and succulent and tasted lovely with the rich cheese dip. When accompanied with popcorn, it was surprisingly good.

Vitello Tonnato (thick slices of veal tenderloin, warm tuna sauce and crispy Sicilian capers)


Next, we had the Vitello Tonnato, which consisted of thick juicy slices of veal tenderloin, warm tuna sauce and crispy Sicilian capers. The veal tenderloin was thinly sliced and melted instantly in my mouth, When paired with the warm tuna sauce, it tasted divine. The capers gave it a tinge of tanginess and perfectly balanced the savoury flavours with a slightly piquant taste. The shredded celery enhanced the presentation and gave it a refreshing flavour.

 Uova, Parmigiano Spinach – deep-fried egg yolk, Parmesan cream and spinach

The Uova, Parmigiano Spinach – deep-fried egg yolk, Parmesan cream and spinach was another revelation of Chef Emanuele’s precision and culinary finesse. A rich egg yolk oozed out as I cautiously pried open its crispy golden crust. The combination of the crispy crust with the liquid yolk interior was intriguing and a pleasant treat for the taste buds. 

Doppo Raviolo – double filled ravioli with parma ham and Parmesan


The Doppo Raviolo – double filled ravioli with parama ham and Parmesan was another star creation of Chef Emanuele. The saltiness of the parma ham blended well with the cream parmesan. The taste was further accented with gentle hints of aged balsamic reduction and white balsamic foam, providing a delicate and skilful harmony of flavours and textures.


Merluzzo, Asparagi, Vaniglia

For the main course, I had the Merluzzo, Asparagi, Vaniglia –pan-fried black cod fish, braised asparagus and vanilla sauce. It was a simple dish which was brilliantly executed. The cod fish was served on a bed of buttery mashed potato and the asparagus tasted superb with the gentle vanilla notes. It would have tasted even better if the cod fish was a little softer.

Piccione, Mostarda, Tartufo Nero –roasted pigeon, pear Dijon mustard, red chicory ham and black truffle sauce.


My hubby had the Piccione, Mostarda, Tartufo Nero –roasted pigeon, pear Dijon mustard, red chicory ham and black truffle sauce. Although the presentation was not impressive, the flavours will completely win you over. The flesh of the pigeon was tender and tasty and complemented well with the black truffle sauce and the pear Dijon mustard and red chicory jam gave it the fruity accents, delivering heartiness in every mouthful.


Anice, Stellato, Piselli Menta – star anise mousse with mint and green tea ice cream

Next on the degustation menu was the Anice, Stellato, Piselli Menta – star anise mousse with mint and green tea ice cream was intriguing and not something which can be easily replicated in other restaurants. Star anise is a spice commonly used in Asian cooking and its alluring licorice taste is used to enhance the flavour of meats and curries. I found the dessert unique and the marriage of the different key ingredients, star, anise and green tea created a masterpiece which was satisfying to the soul and the senses.

Homemade pastry assortment

The finale item on the Degustation Menu was the Homemade pastry assortment which comprised the amaretto mousse on tart, chocolate mousse on tart, meringue with orange dust, chocolate truffle and pastry creams and mixed berries on tart. It was beautifully presented, akin to a delicate work of art. My favourite was the mixed berries on tart and the amaretto mousse on tart. Everything was so skilfully crafted that it left me completely mesmerised.

Birthday Dessert
  
My final surprise came when the staff presented the special Birthday Dessert which consisted of chocolate variations including hazelnut, chocolate mousse, chocolate rice, chocolate sponge and chocolate icing. Being a true-blue chocoholic, this satiated my cravings and provided a lovely closure to our indulgent and wonderful dining experience.
Love the ambience of the restaurant


 The waiting area
Gaia is located at Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221. The restaurant is open from 12pm to 2.30pm, Mondays to Friday for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner, Mondays to Saturdays and Public Holidays.
For reservations, please call 6735 9937.

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