Along with the blogger group of Kolkata Food Bloggers and CaL Bloggers Table, we found ourselves at the much talked after 'the authentic' Italian cuisine restaurant 'Fire and Ice' located in Middleton Street, Kolkata.
At the outset I must make it ample clear that my ideology of Italian cuisine is as cloudy as the smoky reaction that you might get by mixing fire with ice. It is very reminiscent to the illustration I heard that pizzas are the only 'round shaped' dish in the world that comes in 'square boxes' and cut into 'triangles' to be eaten. Alternatively it was far easier for me to categorize noodle as noodle, the Chinese way, and not know the difference between Fettuccine, Fusilli, Macaroni or Penne etc. I have never come across but have always wondered what would an Italian-Chinese spouse call their 'Noodle-Pasta' dish and what if a Japanese says that they invented the ramen which the Italians have pirated and called it vermicelli. However, here I was sitting at the upmarket niche Italian Restaurant trying to make sense of the menu in the offering. Thankfully, to my relief, I had with me our amazing Kolkata Food Bloggers Team and the CaL Bloggers Group who took the ordeal of choosing dishes on their hands, more as their empathy on me I reckon, after I took almost twenty minutes to decide which drink I would like to have to start off with.
The optimism I could take with myself in the Italian indulgence is that I was going there to venture into a new cuisine as a layman having little idea the difference between authentic Italian and Domino's thirty minutes home delivery 'nahi toh free' pizzas. I must admit I was looking forward to it.
I played it safe on the drinks part. After going through the elaborate wine catalog I settled for a 'mint cooler'. It took me twenty minutes to decide that and at least three 'please-give-me-five-more-minutes' sent-offs to the waiter. I am to believe that he probably mistook it as a gentle indication to do me away with it altogether because even after my fourth recall he pretended not to have heard me and, more shockingly, see me opt for the mint drink after an extensive wine browse.
Farcita was the first entree to be served. Italian round bread stuffed with Mozeralla cheese and fresh tomatoes. I think they added the tomatoes as an after-thought because it couldn't have been baked with it to remain fresh. Maybe they forgot it in the prep and tried to cover up by inserting it after the bake to make it look like a part of it. None the less, I found it to be low in flavour for my liking. I enjoyed the fresh tomatoes anyway.
The next entree was Spidini Alla Griglia or grilled boneless chicken with coloured bell peppers. It is, sort of, the Italian version of the chicken tikka kebabs. The Italians might have borrowed the idea from the Nawab of Kebabuddin when he visited Italy on his horseback back in 1487 AD or something. Jokes apart, I think the stand out was the dip (or the sauce) as it really elaborated the flavours to a new palate synergized with the grilled chicken. The chicken was soft and tender and grilled to perfection.
Randelle di Patate Fritte was the next entree. These were slices of crunchy potato fried lightly and served with tomato and pesto sauce. The potatoes were too think for my liking and exuberantly over priced at Rs 300/- per plate.
The first main course was Bolognese which is choice of pasta with meat sauce. Although the pasta was under flaoured, it was perfectly cooked. The meat sauce was that of minced lamb. I loved the flavours and the idea of having a minced meat sauce with pasta. I wished if they were more lenient on the quantity of the meat sauce.
By far the standout dish of the day was the half and half 'Fire and Ice' and 'Pepperoni' pizza. Fire and Ice had tomato sauce, mozzarella, fried potatoes, oregano and rosemary. Pepperoni had tomato sauce, mozarella, imported pepperoni and jalapeno. It was unanimously loved by everyone. It was very special and different to the usual Indian flavoured pizza. The pizza had a very soft, light yet a formed and slightly crunchy base with fried potatoes and cheese toppings. It had a subtle and balanced flavours of rosemary and tomato sauce toppings. The dish was truly a winner and I would order it again and again.
The Lasagna Tradizionale was not bad but very much similar to the Bolognese dish we had with a slightly more pronounced cheese touch to it. The sauce was the same minced meat one that was served with the pasta earlier. Look wise the dish was 'drab' as Inspector Jack Clouseau of the Pink Panther would call it. However, Garfield would have enjoyed it I am sure; not the Bengali Garfield unless you smudge a hint of fish in it.
In the dessert section we decided to go for Chocolate Mousse without ice cream. The idea behind going for mousse without ice cream was to appreciate the mousse singularly. It tasted average and we wished we had ordered the ice cream along with it.
Having learned from the mousse experience, we ensured to go for the ice cream with the apple pie as our second dessert option. The ice cream gave a very pleasing look to the dish. However, neither the ice cream nor did the apple pie either compensate or compliment each other for the lack in flavours. The ice cream was a little bland and the apple pie was very strong in cinnamon to appreciate the other ingredients that was overshadowed by it.
If the 'lack of flavours' is the general authenticity that the Italian cuisine displays then I do admit I need to develop taste for the same.
As a group it was a great dining experience together. I certainly look forward to knowing more about what the Italian cuisine has to offer.
To sum it my overall rating on 'Fire & Ice', considering the price which roughly works out to almost Rs 1500/- (for two) and the value one gets form it, would be an under exaggerated reaction of Zinedine Zidane's head butt to Italy's Materazzi in World Cup 2006 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAjWi663kXc. I wish if it could be reversed.
To read more reviews on Fire & Ice please refer the following blogs: