Mediteraneo on Acacia Avenue is not very old but has amassed the kind of prestige that can only be attributed to high standards and consistency. The attention to detail one notices in the fine woodwork that makes up the structure of the restaurant and rustic decor is also discernible in their food. As one of the restaurants participating in the Signature Dining category of Kampala Restaurant Week, they have prepared a number of dishes delicately and meticulously assembled to give us a glimpse of the finest culinary experiences Italian cuisine has to offer. We sampled a few choice items off their menu to give you a glimpse of what they have in store from the 1st-11th of June.
For an appetiser, we were presented with the Octopus Carpaccio, which we were intrigued by more because of the oyster than the carpaccio.
We had no idea what carpaccio was. We now know that it is raw meat cut into paper-thin slices and served with a variety of seasoning and spices.
Octopus, however is not the kind of sea-food you eat raw; more because of its very tough, rubbery texture than because it could kill you.
After boiling for a couple of hours, the tentacles are stuffed into a tube, that gives them a cylindrical shape, and then sliced really thinly. So thinly, if you laid them on a plate and held them up at eye-level, you couldn’t possibly see them. The octopus slices look beautiful from above, because the squashed tentacles make surreal little rings within the circular slices themselves, and disintegrate along those lines ays eat.
The dish is garnished with pomegranates that are bitter in comparison to the surprisingly sweet octopus flesh and paprika along the side of the plate for heat. This is the perfect kind of starter: bursting with flavour and interesting textures, while staying light enough as not to fill one up.
Check out more reviews of the participating restaurants in this year’s #KlaRestaurantWeek
For the main course, we had the Tagliolini alle Vongole, a popular Italian pasta dish.
Tagliolini is a variation of pasta made of long cylindrical noodles like spaghetti. Unlike spaghetti, however, this is not baked and hardened for preservation, but cooked in its doughy state (so as to become firm, rather than soften), thereby retaining much of its freshness and flavour.
The vongole part refers to clams, a shelled up seafood similar to mussels. Google “mussels” if that explanation didn’t help very much. The clams are prepared in a sauce made from parsley, sun-dried tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, and cook until their shells open up to reveal they fleshy treats they conceal.
What you do is empty all the clams and mix their meat into the taglioni and enjoy the flavours of the Mediterranean; light and salty with a hint of garlic and olive oil. One gets the sense, as they enjoy this dish, that its virtues are in its simplicity and restraint; no single flavour overpowers the others, but they all work in tandem for a more nuanced culinary experience.
Fine dining is not for everyone; it is for those who appreciate a good balance of flavours, textures and their complex interaction with each other.
Finally, the dessert we were presented with was the Tart with Ricotta Cheese, Raspberries and Passion Fruit Sorbet.
Ricotta is a soft, fatty cheese (this one made from goats’ milk) with a light, slightly bitter taste. When sweetened and combined with rasperries to fill a sweet tart pastry it becomes a cheese-cake in essence; combining the sweet and bitter with the subtly cheesy. Sorbet is pretty much ice cream without the cream part. Passion fruit juice is frozen and blended with lemonade for something sweet and frosty with beautiful black passion fruit seeds to garnish. Sorbet is an excellent way to finish a meal, as it is known to assist in digestion for reasons we can not explain.
Photography: Julius Caesar Kasujja