Within 20 minutes of meeting Simone Depalmas, the Italian chef had already convinced us that it was a good – no, an infallible – idea to pack our bags at once and move to Sardinia.
This was not just because he was feeding us with creations inspired by the Italian coast such as squid ink tagliolini with king prawn and bottarga, and smoked mackerel on grilled polenta cakes, showcasing the culinary heritage of his home country.
But as we were stuffing our faces, the 40-year-old chef – who has lived in Singapore for the past five years with his wife and son – also showed us his selfies relaxing on the beach against a backdrop of white Sardinian sand and impossibly turquoise waters. And it became increasingly clear that the only life worth living was the Mediterranean island life.
Depalmas is the executive chef of Sinfonia Ristorante at the Victoria Concert Hall. Formerly FOO’D By Davide Oldani, the restaurant was rebranded in April, retaining the same staff and decor but offering a whole new menu. Having worked with Michelin-starred Oldani to open the restaurant in Dec 2016, Sinfonia now offers a menu designed by Depalmas himself.
And you're invited to explore his Mediterranean flavours right here in our tropics.
On Jun 28, Chef Depalmas is hosting a special five-course dinner – showcasing exclusive off-menu items and canapes. This is the latest in a series of exclusive events from CNA Lifestyle Experiences.
One notable off-menu item is the Mediterranean sea bass. The large fish, weighing between 4kg and 6kg, is flown in from Italy and served just off the bones from a live station.
“It is simply baked in a sea salt crust. When guests arrive, I open it up at the station. The flesh is very white and very juicy – it’s amazing. I serve it finished only with extra virgin olive oil, because the quality of the fish is super,” he said. “This kind of dish can only be done when you have very fresh fish.”
When it comes to seafood especially, Depalmas is very particular about showcasing its freshness. “For me, this is the best way to eat fish. It’s the same with live prawn or scampi – just steam or grill it and finish it with olive oil. Don’t put any sauce on top – if you do that, it’s because you want to cover the taste. It makes no sense,” he asserted.
Back home in Sardinia, “When I’m on the beach, I take the shellfish straight from the sea and eat it – it’s so fresh.”
SEA URCHIN PASTA AND BRULEED CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE
It’s easy to think that he’d rather be working on his tan at home in Italy, but he also loves living in Singapore, he said, citing the ready availability of good food late at night as one of the reasons.
Many of his dishes are a nod to local obsessions, such as angel hair served with sea urchin. “In Singapore, you put sea urchin on everything,” he chuckled.
Then there’s a cauliflower soup that he’s very proud of. “This one is so nice. In Singapore, you like cauliflower so much. But it’s interesting because I put roasted prawn on top,” he said, which gives the flavours more dimension.
There’s also his chili crab pasta. “I make it with trofie pasta, which is very interesting. It’s a handmade pasta typical in the Liguria region. You prepare long pieces, press each one, and move down the line, one by one,” he said.
One of the dishes that left a silly smile on our faces was his bruleed chicken liver mousse with truffle, served with roasted focaccia. The burnt caramel crunch – dare we say it? – rang out in symphony with the unctuous liver flavoured with wines including Madeira, marsala and port.
But we’re not sure if it was also because Chef had generously invited us to come and grill with him on the beach in Sardinia, showing us photos of little brown piglets sizzling merrily in front of crystal waters, white sand and an azure Sardinian sky.
“Back home, after work, I go straight to the beach and have a drink. Everybody knows me. I grill with ingredients as simple as aubergines – I roast them for hours until they’re black outside and creamy inside, and then I just scrape out the insides and eat it on bread,” he said, smacking his lips happily.
Can we be friends forever, Chef?
Meet Chef Simone Depalmas at Sinfonia Ristorante X CNA Lifestyle Experiences: Five-course dinner with complimentary canapes (S$78++). Wine pairing presentation by Alan Au, sommelier. Reserve a seat by sending an email with your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, call 6385 5588.
WHEN: June 28, 7pm
WHERE: 11 Empress Place, #01-01 Victoria Concert Hall
Macaron with blue cheese and truffle
Crispy prawn, ginger sauce
Truffle, chicken liver brulee, leek, local herbs, roasted focaccia
Cauliflower soup, roasted prawn
Spicy chili crab trofie pasta
Flaming salt-crusted Mediterranean seabass
Roasted beef rib-eye
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
1. CNA Lifestyle Experiences @ Sinfonia Restaurant (“Event”) is organised by Mediacorp Pte Ltd. (“MediaCorp”). The Event will be held on 28 June 2018 at 11 Empress Place, #01-01. The cost per person is $78++.
2. By registering and/or participating in this Event, you agree, on your own behalf as well as on behalf of all persons for whom you are purchasing seats or who will be utilizing the seats purchased by you (you and each such person being a "Purchaser"), to be bound by these Terms and Conditions, and any other rules and regulations which may be prescribed by Mediacorp in relation to the Event. All orders are subject to availability and acceptance by Mediacorp. Mediacorp reserves the right to accept or reject any order.
3. Mediacorp reserves the right to add, withdraw or substitute dishes and/or change the menu during the Event without prior notice.
4. Unless otherwise stated, all sales are final and are NOT exchangeable or refundable. Any refunds shall be made only at Mediacorp’s sole discretion.
5. Mediacorp reserves the right to postpone or cancel the Event at any time. Details of any postponement or cancellation will be notified via e-mail. In the event of any postponement or cancellation, the procedures for requesting a refund and the period and time within such refund requests can be made will also be notified via e-mail.
6. Mediacorp and the venue owner reserve the right, without liability for refund, compensation or otherwise, to refuse entry to or to remove any person whose conduct is disorderly or inappropriate or who poses a threat to security, or to the enjoyment of the Event by others.
7. You agree that any and all personal information submitted may be used and/or disclosed for the purposes of communicating with you, to send you marketing and advertising materials from MediaCorp or its business partners, or for analysis and research.
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9. Each Purchaser expressly acknowledges and agrees that Mediacorp shall not be liable to any of the Purchaser(s) for any injury, loss or damage whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with this Event including any loss, damage or injury.
10. These terms and conditions and this Event shall be governed by and construed in accordance with Singapore laws.