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The Muse in the Kitchen

There's no food as rich in its simplicity as Tuscan cuisine as served at the Medici

The Medici Kitchen & Bar in the cellar of the Hotel Muse offers delectable Italian dishes prepared with fresh, premium-quality ingredients in the traditional Tuscan way.

Simplicity is central to Tuscan cuisine, which is comprised of local produce, mellow cheeses and grilled meats. It's all about using fresh ingredients and cooking them with the least seasoning to ensure natural taste.

The same applies at the Medici, where Tuscan-born chef Francesco Lenzi imports only the best from his home region and cooks it the way the folks there do.

While waiting for the antipasti, we marvel at the rich, Renaissance-style decor with neo-industrial flair. The wrought-iron balustrade, wooden tables and cushioned leather chairs make it feel like you're perhaps dining in the wine cellar of the affluent Medici family itself in Florence.

If you sit close to the open kitchen you get to watch the pasta chef at work, kneading his dough patiently. The pasta is made in house, but most other ingredients, especially the sausages and other meats and the cheeses are imported. Most vegetables come from local farmers, though some herbs are also imported to ensure authenticity.

And here comes the appetiser, Burratina di Bufala con pomodorini, rucola e pesto rosso (Bt380). It translates as "soft Southern Italian buffalo cheese with cherry tomatoes and red basil pesto". The burrata cheese combines mozzarella and cream, sack-like in appearance but with a soft filling that oozes from its shell when you cut it open. The cheese is quite mild and not too heavy, and it's surprisingly low in fat.

The next course is Tagliatelle salsiccia, funghi e pecorino (Bt320) - tagliatelle with sausage and mushrooms. The pasta is al dente and tossed lightly with olive oil, so it goes well with the slightly salty imported pork sausages and shredded mushrooms.

On top is salty pecorino - ewe's-milk cheese - which tastes and smells much milder than Parmesan. Overall, the dish is very gently seasoned, allowing for all the ingredients to show off their natural flavours.

For the real deal, the lamb and seafood rotisserie is recommended. Costolette di agnello alla scottadito (Bt790) features lamb from Australia grilled with just a few drops of olive oil and a pinch of salt and served over sautted spinach. Freshness and the right heat and timing makes a perfect grilled rack of lamb in this case rather than marinating and sauce.

If you crave vino, the Medici offers an extensive array of Old and New World wines, including a red or white Castello Banfi from Tuscany that it pours exclusively. The red (merlot and sangiovese) and the white (sauvignon blanc and chardonnay) are Bt250 a glass and Bt1,300 per bottle.

Another recommended grilled dish is Barramundi, Seppie, Capesante, Gamberi allo spiedo e frutta esotica (Bt620).

The barramundi fillet, Alaskan scallops, cuttlefish and prawns are grilled, again with little seasoning.

The interesting ingredients are the fruits served on the side, which are also grilled. You've probably seen a similar dish with tomato, zucchini or corn, but the Medici adds a fruity, sweet, flowery touch to a smoky platter. You'll be surprised how well grilled pear and apple go with grilled seafood.

Don't leave without tasting the i dolci - the desserts. You can get the popular sweets like panna cotta, tiramisu and affogato al coffee, but we loved the Tortino al Cioccolato (Bt290), a fondant with rich, creamy chocolate lava inside, served with ice cream, fresh cream and a strawberry.

The Medici has a range of gelato to choose from too, but ask for the truffle ice cream, which is only available for a brief period each year. One scoop is a staggering Bt350, but it's worth every satang.

FOLLOW THE AROMA

<< The Medici Kitchen & Bar is at the Hotel Muse on Langsuan Road near the Chidlom Skytrain station.

<< It's open for lunch from noon to 2.30 and dinner from 6 to |midnight.

<< Reservations are |recommended at (02) 630 4000.


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