House of the Ris­ing Waist­line

Casa Mia of­fers a sump­tu­ous ren­di­tion of Ital­ian clas­sics

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Weekend|foodreview - ZUZAKAR KALAUNG Pho­tos: Sup­plied

YOUR brave re­viewer felt bat­tered and at his wits end try­ing to for­mu­late in­ter­est­ing places to cor­re­spond with you, the reader, about, for this week’s food re­view. Last week’s cheap and cheery ad­ven­ture hadn’t quite gone to plan, leav­ing your writer stag­ger­ing, curs­ing and grip­ping his belly in a rare state of gas­tro­nomic dis­tress.

So, there your re­porter sat star­ing blankly at a wall try­ing to pull names out of the ether for this week’s re­view. Fi­nally, with a faint sigh, un­der pres­sure from his ed­i­tor, your re­porter de­cided he would break one of his car­di­nal rules in or­der to bring you some­thing in­ter­est­ing to di­gest in this week­end’s is­sue; he was go­ing to eat in a mall.

Casa Mia re­sides in­side Sule Square and has been there since the mall opened. Your re­porter had vis­ited twice be­fore and found the food agree­able, if slightly ex­pen­sive for a ca­sual lunch. This time around, the visit would be for din­ner and we were go­ing to pull out all the stops. At 7pm sharp your re­viewer and his part­ner for the evening sat down in­side Casa Mia and were greeted by warm and friendly staff who plied us with menus and a bread bas­ket. We re­quested one bot­tle of Pel­le­grino sparkling and yours truly de­cided it would be worth sam­pling the house red – a mer­lot.

The at­mos­phere is quite pleas­ant in­side the restau­rant, it boasts soft, even light­ing, smart ta­bles set­tings and a book­shelf at the en­trance par­tially ob­scur­ing the fact that you’re in­side a cathe­dral of the bour­geoisie. Your re­viewer and his part­ner nib­bled at some bread­sticks as we watched the chintzy, daz­zling show­cases in the Mont Blanc and Rolex stores spin on their trun­dles. Now of course, there is noth­ing in­her­ently bad about those brands - it’s the cul­ture of call­ing at­ten­tion to the fact that one pos­sess lux­ury brand items which is so gauche, so in­escapably nou­veau riche. One di­gresses.

The house wine is fine. It has de­cent legs on it, car­ries an at­trac­tive, fruity bou­quet and bal­ances well be­tween its bold­ness, sweet notes and tan­nin. It’s an all-rounder that your re­viewer would put to one side to wait for the mains. Our starter would be a Caesar salad, shared, to fol­low the olive oil and bal­samic vine­gar we had poured from the table to dip our bread into (a lovely bit­ter treat you can read­ily cre­ate us­ing the com­pli­men­tary bread bas­ket).

The menu at Casa Mia ac­tu­ally at­tempts to repli­cate the cour­ses of tra­di­tional Ital­ian din­ing with bites and sal­ads be­ing fol­lowed by pasta dishes, then big mains and fin­ish­ing with sweets and cof­fee. Ul­ti­mately we would find that this sys­tem is not en­tirely func­tional as the plates in the pasta and mains sec­tions are both served large. We de­cided to try shar­ing a spaghetti car­bonara and for mains we or­dered an at­trac­tive dish of chicken in thick tomato dress­ing served with thinly sliced mush­room. The name of this fine fish es­capes your re­viewer now but it was per­fectly enun­ci­ated by our server.

The Caesar salad ar­rived in short or­der and im­me­di­ately im­pressed us with its sim­plic­ity and depth of flavour. This Caesar es­hews chicken in favour of be­ing light and springy – it’s made up of piled let­tuce, spared pieces of crispy ba­con and some thin cuts of Parme­san, all tossed through with the clas­sic cream sauce. True, as far as sal­ads go, Caesar’s are at the heavy end, but this ren­di­tion was fully ap­pre­ci­ated. The sauce is sim­ply de­li­cious; creamy, but with just enough salt to give it pep and a slight sour twist. It also is served with a per­fectly poached egg in­side, ready to break apart and run un­der the slight­est pres­sure. It would be fair to say it, on its own, should be called bal­anced for its spar­ing use of cheese and ba­con, though the crispy pork pieces were also quite de­lec­ta­ble.

Then, the spaghetti car­bonara ar­rived and the fear of heart burn set in. Casa Mia’s car­bonara is thank­fully mostly void of cream (in that cease­less de­bate, no cream wins) but still man­ages to pack a punch. It’s heav­ily laden with cheese and some more ba­con pieces. For its calorific value, it ac­tu­ally turned out to be some­what bland. It’s pos­si­ble that the sauce too closely re­sem­bled the Caesar and that is why we didn’t en­joy it as much – but ul­ti­mately your re­viewer feels it needs some­thing to give it some life, some­thing like thinly sliced gar­lic for taste and tex­ture or a lit­tle chilli. A fine ren­di­tion, but noth­ing to write home about, we turned our at­ten­tion to the new ar­rival; the chicken and mush­room.

This dish was thor­oughly sat­is­fy­ing com­fort food. Moist, lovely chicken un­der a bed of punchy, well crafted tomato base sauce, served sur­rounded by thinly sliced, strong tast­ing mush­room slices that had ev­i­dently keen kept in oil. This dish too is rich, make no mis­take, but of­fers such a pleas­ing va­ri­ety and depth of flavour as to re­ally over­taken the car­bonara com­pletely. It’s a big rec­om­mend. A fork full of chicken flesh with a good smat­ter­ing of sauce and mush­room on the spokes will de­liver a mouth wa­ter­ing hit of deep and lus­cious tomato good­ness. It’s bal­ance is com­mend­able and it was ex­actly the dish your re­viewer had hoped to en­joy his mer­lot with. It was sim­ply deca­dent, the sort of meal that leaves one gasp­ing, “why do bad things hap­pen to good peo­ple?”. Both writer and part­ner were stuffed.

Yet still, desert is an im­por­tant el­e­ment to any good re­view, and so we sol­diered on to or­der a ‘truf­fle’ ice cream treat, the choco­late vol­cano and your stuffed re­viewer or­dered him­self an espresso.

The truf­fle ice cream is sim­ply charm­ing – a mem­ber of the kitchen staff emerged with an item wrapped in smart brown par­cel pa­per and un­wrapped it to re­veal a chunky frozen nugget of vanilla ice cream that been rolled in choco­late dust. With a knife, she pierced its heart to re­veal an ooz­ing, al­most black liq­uid choco­late heart than be­gan spilling out onto the plate. It’s al­most a race against time to con­sume the truf­fle ice cream be­fore it be­gins to melt away (a clas­sic sign of qual­ity, high dairy con­tent ice cream) and your re­viewer and his part­ner got stuck in with gusto. In just a cou­ple of min­utes we had de­feated the nugget and rolled back into our chairs, gleam­ing grins of sat­is­fac­tion. And yet, the worst was not over yet.

Shortly after this, the choco­late vol­cano ar­rived. The choco­late vol­cano is a small, rather hum­ble look­ing black cake that bends and jig­gles to the touch of a spoon. It’s prop­er­ties seem odd, that is un­til you pierce its thick outer crust and the molten, baked liq­uid choco­late be­gins to hem­or­rhage. Much like the truf­fle ice cream, this is a dish that needs to be scooped quickly, but do make sure to hold the sweet, silky choco­late in your mouth long enough to fully ex­plore its depth of flavour and vel­vety tex­ture with your tongue. This dish is a show­stop­per. Pure liq­uid choco­late with a smidgen of ice cream served on the side to lend it the dev­il­ish jux­ta­po­si­tion of cold, sober­ing ice against the on­slaught of body tem­per­a­ture melted bliss that will pour across the plate. Con­sum­ing this dish with a work part­ner will re­main a pla­tonic ex­pe­ri­ence, but only barely.

When the cof­fee ar­rived, it was a fan­tas­tic cap on the whole event. Lots of fan­tas­tic crema and a deeply pleas­ing well rounded bit­ter­ness. Ev­ery­body left the meal feel­ing some­how elated but also drained by this fine din­ner which amounted to nearly K80,000. Your re­viewer did end up with heart­burn around mid­night, but such are the per­ils.

Visit when you can. ................................................ Casa Mia is lo­cated in­side Sule Square near to the in­te­rior hall­way en­trance to the Sule-shangrila Ho­tel. Book­ings: 0996 434 8881

Wel­come to Casa Mia.

Ice-cream truf­fle.

Car­bonara please.

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