The best way to a man’s heart, they say, is through the stomach. To take this metaphor further, food is a binding factor that can also strengthen relationships and cultural exchange between nations.
And that is exactly what is happening in Jeddah with the inauguration of the third edition of the 15-day Italian food festival at Habsburg Restaurant at Rosewood Corniche on Wednesday.
Well known Italian lady chef Francesca Simoni, a native of Emilia Romagna in Bologna, will be overlooking the preparation of authentic Italian fare during the festival, which was inaugurated by her jointly with Roberta Fedele, wife of Italian consul general, and Ahmed Al-Baik, director of room service, Rosewood Corniche hotel.
The festival will have on offer exciting and the most authentic Italian cuisine using the finest ingredients and Simoni’s signature recipes from Emilia Romagna in coordination with Executive Chef Maurizio.
“The cuisine of any country is a reflection of its culture and tradition. We will offer a mix of different spices and flavors from Bologna to tickle the palates of the people of Jeddah. Words cannot express my excitement and pride at being the first female Italian chef taking part in a leading food festival in Jeddah,” Simoni told Arab News.
Stating that was her first culinary brush with the Arab people in the Gulf, she said has been to various countries across the world. “I am glad that I am starting from the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, with a professional and skilled team such as Habsburg’s. I am sure this year’s edition will be another success to add to the festival’s history. We have prepared a diverse and rich menu for our guests,” she added.
Simoni said guests at the food festival will have a variety of original Italian cuisine from Amelia Romagna including the authentic homemade pasta, fresh sea food Fritto Misto, as well as a spectacular live cooking station of the delicious risottos.
Italians have given spaghetti and pizza to food lovers all over the world. During the ongoing festival, people will get to taste other specialties from the country.
“The main dishes we will make are two types of risotto, passatelli, a traditional pasta of Emilia Romagna made with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and eggs, special bread Tigelle which is cut in half and filled with salami and cheese, and special desert called chocolate salami made of chocolate, biscuits and almond, besides rice cakes,” she said.
Simoni said another special dish by her will be Tortellini, a traditional dish of Emilia Romagna made of egg pasta and filled with cheese and other ingredients in thin layers of pasta before serving it in a triangular shape.
Chef Simoni is currently working for one of the most respected and prominent Italian restaurants, Amerigo 1934 Trattoria, that recently won the prestigious Gambero Rosso Award for the best restaurant in Italy in 2013.
The difference in this year’s festival is the presence of the lady chef who has brought small bread like Tigelle and Borlengo, authentic Parmesan cheese selections and row pasta varieties brought specially to cater to the guest, said Chef Maurizio.
Fedele, on behalf of Simon Petroni, Italian consul general, thanked the Rosewood Corniche hotel for organizing this festival for the third time. “Such cultural activities promote Italian culture, capabilities and traditions as food is always a major source to promote cultural exchange,” she said.
The festival will have four to six different authentic Italian dishes go to with the traditional main course.