A farewell in courses

21 12 2012
Claudio Farewell - Group 04

Time to say farewell… Kiddo, Michele, YY, Claudio, Shook Yee, Chin Eik, and eNTeNG.

THE TROUBLE with hello is goodbye.

That line reeks with cliché, mush and sentimentality enough to last a mortal a whole lifetime.  That is, if he or she doesn’t first succumb to all the cringing he or she will have to endure.

But it can’t be denied, that line is true.

And it seems that all that is left to do is to put the “good” in goodbye.  Which I think was exactly what my friend Claudio did do.  A couple of weeks before his departure, he asked all his Asian friends – four Malaysians and one Filipino – to dinner at his well-appointed residence behind ION on Orchard.

On the morning of, he sent a reminder that oozed understated panache of eras past.

Claudio Farewell - Invitation

The Invitation

I was the last to arrive, right when Claudio was already making the finishing touches to the pasta sauce as the penne rigate bubbled away to al dente in salted water.  Still, ever the gracious host, he snuck out of the kitchen to serve me with two slices of Tuscan loaf (my guess) – crusty on the outside but fluffily chewy in the center – on which sat delicate, tender ribbons of the best Prosciutto di Parma.  This starter was paired with a glass of Bottega Prosecco.  Prosecco essentially is Italian sparkling wine.

Claudio Farewell - Food 01 Prosciutto

Prosciutto di Parma on a slice of Tuscan Loaf. I could eat this everyday!


Claudio Farewell - Food 02 Prosciutto

The translucence that permeated the paper thin Prosciutto di Parma was so inviting I could feel it awakened the usually dormant carnivore in me.


Claudio Farewell - Food 00 Prosciutto

This was the perfect bread in which to ensconce the best Italian salt-cured ham sliced paper thin. Simply perfection incarnate.


Claudio Farewell - Food 03 Prosecco

Ok, all together now. Sing with me! “Prosciutto… and Prosecco… live together in perfect harmony.”


Claudio Farewell - Food 04 Prosecco

I trust an Italian’s taste in wine.

The starter–and–wine pairing alone transported me to an enoteca or a trattoria, feeling like this privileged tourist lounging the afternoon away.  It was again one of those moments that made me reach deep into my Longchamp Parisi to check if I had my passport in hand to justify the culinary pleasures I was having.

The entrée was Penne Rigate Salmoni, paired with Chardonnay.  Every piece of penne was coated completely and perfectly with the cream sauce, sweetened by the hint of minced white onion that was allowed to sweat and soften over low heat, counterpointed by the teasing saltiness from delicate morsels of smoked salmon.  Dessert was tiramisu by Perla’s Pastry Boutique, store-bought, sure, but the Italian said it was good enough.  How could I argue with that especially when I was taking delight in slowly licking off of my dessert spoon the creamy mascarpone cheese spiked by chocolate powder?

Claudio Farewell - Food 05 Penne

Penne Rigate Salmoni. I particularly loved the actual penne pasta. It was Barilla.


Claudio Farewell - Food 06 Penne

YY was enamored with the smoked salmon that specked the pasta. Who wouldn’t be? (Oh, I think Paolo. Haha!)


Claudio Farewell - Food 07 Tiramisu

The tiramisu has landed!


Claudio Farewell - Food 08 Tiramisu

One look and anyone could tell how well the sponge cake layer (sometimes lady finger cookies) was soaked in brandy or liquer before being hit with luscious mascarpone cheese.


Claudio Farewell - Food 09 Tiramisu

As for me, I was just too happy licking the mascarpone off of my dessert fork. I was careful in taking as little an amount, little by little, as if rationing a limited supply. I teased my own self with each bite. Each one was ecstatic suspended animation.


Claudio Farewell - Food 10 Layer Cake

Chin Eik brought another dessert. This was my first time to see this.


Claudio Farewell - Food 11 Layer Cake

It was some kind of layer cake. I called it gateau de crepe. YY was reminded of “lapis”. (If I heard it correctly.)

I went to dinner expecting the food to be the pleasant surprise.  But Shook Yee, Chin Eik, YY, Kiddo and I soon realized that we were in for the ultimate in Italian generosity – thoughtful, carefully selected Christmas presents, in this case, all flown in from the States!

Claudio Farewell - Suprise 00 Shook Yee

Shook Yee was the very first to be surprised! What could it be?


Claudio Farewell - Suprise 01 Shook Yee

It’s the legendary Italian cookbook!


Claudio Farewell - Suprise 02 YY

Claudio and YY ended up exchanging presents.


Claudio Farewell - Suprise 03 YY

YY also got a cookbook. Claudio got a couple of gifts, one of which I do intend to get for myself. Haha!


Claudio Farewell - Suprise 04 Chin Eik

For Chin Eik, it was a nice bottle of wine.


Claudio Farewell - Suprise 06 Group

I can’t wait to put this cookbook to good use!


Claudio Farewell - Suprise 07 Espresso Mavchine

This top secret, super special gift was for Kiddo!


Claudio Farewell - Group 02

Of course we had to ask Claudio to sign the cookbooks.

Like Shook Yee and YY, I got a copy of the English edition of “The Silver Spoon”, “the bible of authentic Italian cooking, a bestseller in Italy for 60 years.”  Chin Eik got a bottle of really good wine.  Kiddo, teased by me as the “lucky draw grand prize winner”, got a top of the line espresso machine!  I have to say, really thoughtful presents.

Claudio Farewell - Group 01

Claudio and his friends


Claudio Farewell - Group 03

Kuya Michele joined in later in the evening. This group shot felt like a family portrait. Hahaha!


Claudio Farewell - Group 05

I think everybody felt like I was hogging the spotlight, and whatever illumination was captured in digital macro mode. So Kuya Michele said, try it with the flash. Haha!

And with my brand new cookbook, I have no excuse to not celebrate life’s moments – also in courses.  Mille grazie, Claudio!

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