It was an evening of meet and greet at Al Messila Resort where foodies and connoisseurs of diverse backgrounds gathered to taste special panettone cake – an Italian forte.
Over 100 food enthusiasts, social media influencers and Italian cuisine enthusiasts turned up at Al Messila Resort to satiate their taste buds with the traditional Italian subtlety that was prepared by a deft chef and was presented to the visitors by the Italian ambassador to Qatar.
Pasquale Salzano, Ambassador of Italy to Qatar, invited an array food experts and social media influencers to taste and enjoy the panettone cake to mark and celebrate the ‘Week of the Italian Cuisine in the World’. The ambassador himself served the pieces of the delicacy among the invitees who remained involved in socialising while enjoying the special Italian taste.
The Week of Italian Cuisine in the World is an initiative developed to promote Italian culinary traditions and food connoisseurship as a distinctive trait of Italian identity and culture. Over the centuries, Italy’s universally beloved products have become ambassadors for Italian culinary excellence, where signature ingredients are incorporated into age-old recipes still followed by generations of artisans across Italy. Over the course of the week, participating restaurants and organisations offer a wide array of events showcasing authentic Italian traditions, high-quality products and regional specialities.
In Italy, panettone comes with an often varied history, but one that invariably states that its birthplace was Milan. The word ‘panettone’ derives from the Italian word ‘panetto’, a small loaf cake. The augmentative Italian suffix ‘-one’ changes the meaning to “large cake”.
Talking to Community, Ambassador Salzano expressed his joy over attending the event and offering an opportunity to the visitors to enjoy the special cake. “I wanted to be here personally. Panettone is a very special cake that is usually prepared for the Christmas holidays. It was definitely invented in Milan. The real speciality of the cake is that it is exchanged with families and friends as a sign of love and inclusion. It really is an Italian characteristic.
“I remember when I was a little kid, I usually waited for the Christmas to taste panettone especially. We have different options but the one we are offering this evening is a special one. It was prepared using the dates produced in Qatar. It is a very special blend of Italian cake with Qatari products. The texture is extremely soft and the taste is very good. May be we can start producing Italian panetonne with Doha dates.”
The ambassador was all praise for the chef who prepared the cake. “Pino is a mission starred chef. The chef was working in Ravello, a resort town, before he moved to Qatar. He is the executive chef at Al Messila. He along with his team prepared the hand-made panettone for the guests.”
Ambassador Salzano further said: “This is my last week in Qatar as I am leaving on December 19. I recently met His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. He awarded me Al Wajbah Medal. I am very proud of that. This week will be the time for saying good bye. I will not say goodbye forever but I will say see you again [smiles]. I stayed for about three years in Qatar and I count them best years of life. I would say that I found family here. I would never forget the love I received here.
“This was an event where I wanted to meet the close friends. I will also attend some other events this week and meet different people.”
Pino Lavarra, the chef who prepared the cake, said: “I enjoyed preparing the cake for our guests as it is our culture. I wanted to share the same feelings with our guest as we do in Italy at this time of the year.
“This is a very complicated cake. It sounds very simple but it is not. It needs perfect to make it happen. Nine times out of 10 you will fail to make it. I have used high notched pasta, eggs, sugar, oranges, grapes, dates and chocolate.”
The chef has been in Qatar for one year. He likes being here. “I love the place. I also love the new challenges. As the executive chef, I want to take the Italian cuisine to the next level here.”
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