Monday, December 22, 2014

Dolcetto by Basilico: An Italian Pastry Gem

If you happen to spot a white color mousse cake studded with dried fruits called "Cassata Siciliana" at any local patisserie, don't think much, just get it. It is such a traditional and peripheral cake that few pastry chefs in Singapore would ever think of making one. The rarity drove me to get a slice at Dolcetto by Basilico, despite being already full to the brims. 

This Italian pastry shop used to be my to-go place for takeaway pastries when it was still under the name of "Something to Go". The interior and menu have been revamped, but the signatures like Strawberry Torte, Praline Torte and Espresso Tiramisu still stay. In the spirit of all things Italian, all the pastries here that involved chocolate are made with Tuscany's organic chocolate brand Amedei, which is perhaps also one of the world's most expensive chocolate.
Take for example the Amedei Chocolate Pumpkin Tart ($9) that took a sinful detour from the usual pumpkin pie. The mastery of the cacao tones is virtually undisputed, so does the crisp tart shell which not overworked and perfect in volume with the filling. Pumpkin is one of my favorite ingredients but the taste seemed to have wandered off to elsewhere and did not meld together with the chocolate
The Praline Torte ($9) is hard not to love with the appealing crunchy base. But I was craving for something less milky, something more intense and I figured that the other option of Amedei Dark Chocolate Cake would have satisfied my lust for chocolate.
Bright juicy and sweet, the soft chunks of pineapple rested amidst the delectable vanilla baked custard in this humble Italian Crostata ($9). But instead of being served the traditional family way in big, rustic free-form version, it has been elevated to the fine ranks of French gateaux with mild "Violette perfumes" and a touch of gold on top of the dainty raspberries.
The Espresso Marsala Christmas Cake ($9) was our unanimous pick. It might seem like a messy pile of various textures (crunch, custard, sponge, ganache, gelee) but I loved the sweetness from the Marsala wine even though the espresso kick wasn't assertive as I had imagined. And of course the delightful sound of the crushed chocolate pearls is music to the ears.
One can't miss the conspicuous fresh-baked pane (breads) that are stacked along the wall. We've finally got a taste of the famous squid ink panini with fresh king crab and prawns ($13), a hearty dense and chewy sandwich that seemed a little deprived of tantalizing juices from the filling. The Roasted Chicken & Cheese Foccacia might not be brimming with luxury ingredients but the flavors were simple and comforting. 
Many may raise eyebrows at the sight of Squid Ink Salmon Macaron but it is quite a success. In fact, a good step to convert those who usually steer away from these sugary meringue bites. The chewy shells appeared rather flattened but the flavors were spot on, especially the Vanilla Prosecco and Cassis
Since it's Christmas, the Italian doughnut turns into a plump, glittering Christmas tree. See that hole at the corner? It's the source of goodness, the gateway to gooeylicious blueberry jam and custard heaven.
But back to the story on the Cassata Siciliana ($9), it would do this cake (and the chef) much grievance if you associate this with the sugar-laden cloyingly sweet fruit cake just because it contains dried fruits. It is more than a bit understated in appearance. Yet the consistency of the ricotta cream layer is mind-bogglingly good; of the most sublime crème studded with pistachio nuts and cherries in their most innocent form. Belying truly delicious Italian flavors beneath the old fashion facade, this piece is one that would be glued to my memory.
Dolcetto by Basilico
Cuscaden Road, Regent Singapore
Singapore 249715

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