The recent arrival of Chef Eugenio Cannoni has breathed new life into The Sukhothai Bangkok’s La Scala restaurant. To get a taste of what this talented Italian has to offer, we thoroughly recommended trying his amazing ‘Viaggio Gastronomico’ set menu gourmet journey.
Hero Image: Amuse Bouche selections from La Scala’s ‘Viaggio Gastronomico’ set menu
Chef Eugenio Cannoni was born in the heart of Monferrato, the northern Italian region of Piedmont, and he showcases this area’s diverse culinary traditions in the magnificent dishes he prepares for La Scala’s new 4-course ‘La Tradizione’ set menu (THB 2,480), and the 6- and 8-course ‘Viaggio Gastronomico’ set menus (THB 3,200 and THB 3,800). And while virtually every single morsel I tried during my visit was outstanding, here are what I consider the five most memorable plates from his fabulous 8-course dinner feast.
After a selection of five tantalising amuse bouche starters (see hero image), the first of the menu-specific courses arrives. Referred to as ‘Scampo’, this dish consists of an exquisitely tender chunk of langoustine, draped in a paper-thin cape of smoked red bell pepper and accompanied by sweet and sour sauce created from the langoustine bisque and a red pepper glaze. The decorative plating adds an element of drama to the dish – with explosive, bright red spatters criss-crossing the stark white plate – but the taste profile itself is remarkably calm, with the smoke of the peppers adding a pleasant earthy quality, further accentuated by a dash of aromatic herbs. This dish also sets the tone for what’s to come in terms of Chef Eugenio’s inventive use of colour in his artful plating.
To me, foie gras is way overused these days, and I think many chefs include it simply to add a “perceived value” to their menus. However, Chef Eugenio’s excellent ‘Fegato Grasso’ foie gras course is anything but gratuitous. Served in two parts, the large plate consists of a sizeable portion of heavenly smooth foie gras; layered below with a bed of caramelized onion and tart calamansi paste, and above with crispy onion sheets. Alongside this dish comes a flower-shaped beetroot “waffle”, loaded with foie gras mousse that’s accented by calamansi drops and pickled onions. It’s a superb course throughout, and although I remark that it seems a tad more French than Italian, Chef Eugenio explains that the combination of onions and liver is from a traditional recipe – Fegato alla veneziana – which, of course, is usually beef liver and stewed onions (thus making his La Scala version a very imaginative variation).
When the ravioli course arrives at the table I’m intrigued by the many shades of green set before me. It almost makes me think I’m about to tuck into a vegetarian entrée, although I know already from glancing through the menu that an oxtail ragout is hidden within these delectable looking pasta shells. Interestingly, the ravioli pasta is made of kale flour, and the overall greenery in the plating is further enhanced by verdant sprigs of spinach and broccoli, as well as a few wafers of crispy kale on top. The fermented cabbage sauce cream surrounding the raviolis adds yet one more earthy shade of green, but the first bite, for me, is all about the red meat within – succulent oxtail which has been cooked and braised in the oven in traditional style. I’m told this is one of the chef’s personal favourite dishes, and I couldn’t agree more with his learned opinion.
PICCIONE E NOCCIOLE
It’s something of a rarity to see pigeon on a menu, which is a shame because it’s a lovely protein. Thankfully, the ‘Piccione e Nocciole’ course delivers pigeon in abundance, utilizing almost every part of this pint-sized poultry. Here, the dish is divided into three services, with a glazed breast taking centre stage. Accompanying the breast is a “fried leg” (most of the leftover meat collected in a breaded ball with a bone inserted), and a yummy sesame “sandwich”, stuffed with the liver and heart of the pigeon (which have been stewed with hazelnuts and aromatic herbs beforehand). The melt-in-the-mouth breast, meanwhile, is elevated with a reduction sauce made from cooking drippings, hazelnut, and a touch of yuzu, and crispy sheets of pigeon skin on top that add texture. Pigeon requires very technical and precise cooking process, and here Chef Eugenio certainly proves himself to be well up to the task.
Although the meal’s dessert finale is thoroughly delicious, I was equally taken by Chef Eugenio’s collection of ‘Petit Fours’, which display a wonderfully wide range of flavour profiles. The playful peach and yoghurt lollipop is both fabulous and fun, while the coffee tiramisu delivers Italy’s most famous dessert all in one bite (two if you’re exceedingly polite), By contrast, the flavours of Thailand are referenced nicely in the delightful jackfruit tart, while the yummy apple and thyme jelly – a sort of Turkish delight-style bite-size cube – combines the flavours of apple and thyme; a very satisfying combo and a very satisfying end to a terrific meal.
To find out more about La Scala and/or The Sukhothai Bangkok (which was recently voted the No.1 hotel in Thailand on Conde Nast Traveler’s 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards), visit the website: