“From the vineyards to the glass.” Zonin
Amazing Italian food paired with fine wines from Zonin, Italy’s largest privately owned vineyard? Ummm, yes please! Last week I was lucky enough to attend a four-course wine dinner at one of my favourite Abu Dhabi establishments, Circo located in the Intercontinental Hotel. Guest of honour was Lorenzo Zonin, owner and winemaker at Podere San Cristoforo, the multi award-winning vineyard in Tuscany.
The evening commenced with a delicious glass of crisp sparkling wine Zonin Brut Prosecco Doc Cuvee 1821, perfectly paired with the initial amuse bouche course, a classic bolognese lasagna croquette with red pesto for the meat eaters. A delicate salad of white asparagus, grilled eggplant and zucchini, roasted tomato, marinated peppers, grana padano,toasted pine nuts, mini crouton with a tomato vinaigrette was prepared for little old veggie me. This was followed by Circo’s fabulous muffin shaped Italian olive bread served with herb butter and Circo’s own branded olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, always a perfect combination.
The primo course was an extremely flavoursome roasted bell pepper risotto with burrata and basil crème, I may even be as bold to say the best risotto I have ever tasted and I’ve eaten many a risotto in my lifetime, so good that both my dining partner and I woofed this dish down in record time. It was accompanied by two fine white wines, the first a crisp light bodied golden coloured Principe di Butera Insolia (2013) and the second, a delicious light Chardonnay from Puglia, Masseria Altemura’Apulo’ Fiano (2012).
My secondo course was a tasty potato, gorgonzola and leek gratin, with a moreish stuffed zucchini, mushrooms and roasted whole tomato, while the carnivores had the tomato substituted by an extremely tender slow cooked beef short rib. This course was paired with red wines, Principe di Butera Nero D’Avola (2013), a distinctive dark-skinned grape that produces a strong bodied smooth wine and the Rocca di Montemassi ‘Sassabruna’ (2012), a bold rich wine made from Sangiovese grape. Both wines were so delicious it would be hard to pick my favourite.
The final course il Dolce was an assortment of Italian cheeses including gorgonzola, taleggio, pecorino aged in olive leaves and cusie served with fruit compote and caramelised walnuts paired with a deep red spicy Masseria Altemura ‘Sasseo’ primitivo (2013). Instead of the cheese, I had the Zuccutto al Miele, a Tuscan frozen cake with fresh raspberries, mini Italian meringues and cream and my dining companion enjoyed her favourite espresso dessert served in a teacup.
The Zonin family have been vintners (wine merchants) since 1821 with seven generations of the family involved in the tradition of wine making. Today Casa Vinicola Zonin is the largest private vine growing and winemaking company in Italy with a whopping twelve estates in Italy as well as the Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia. Alongside being an owner and winemaker himself, Lorenzo is also a Wine Ambassador for his family company, Zonin 1821 which spans across Italy, from Castello d’Albola in Chianti to Masseria Altemura in Puglia.
Circo Abu Dhabi is a fine dining restaurant that serves classic Tuscan fare. Circo, the Italian for Circus, was the first of its kind in the Middle East when it opened less than a year ago here in capital. It came with plenty of history as part of the Maccioni family empire who have two other branches of the restaurant in New York and at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Circo founder, Sirio Maccioni and his wife Egidiana opened the acclaimed celebrity hangout, Le Cirque French restaurant in New York over forty years ago and now have a total of ten restaurants around the world.
This upscale restaurant’s decor and ambiance is as impressive as its menu, with all the grandeur of an old-style European circus tent recreated by the imaginative and visual primary coloured big top styled interior. Under the guise of two ringmaster’s you can enjoyed a varied menu of classic Italian food inspired by the personal recipes and traditional Tuscan cooking of Maccioni matriarch Mamma Egidiana. Handed down through generations are reinterpreted by the fantastic team of chefs at Circo Abu Dhabi, using the best and freshest produce available.
What another absolutely fabulous evening of authentic Italian food at Circo Abu Dhabi prepared by Chef Luca Banfi and his wonderful team of chefs, showcased and presented front of house by passionate restaurant manager Gianluca alongside his friendly, efficient serving team and not forgetting of course the incredible Zonin wine selections. If you have not yet tried Circo, then add it to your ‘must do’ list pronto, I can honestly say that your taste buds will be tantalised by this Italian experience! The restaurant has recently launched its new menu inspired by flavours of Italian summertime and for those of you looking for a different experience Circo also offers a Business Lunch and an Appertivo, perfect for a small group of people.
CIRCO ABU DHABI
Location: Lower Ground Floor, Intercontinental Hotel Abu Dhabi
Opening Hours: 12:00 – Midnight (Happy Hour – enjoy 50% off on selected beverages daily from 5pm – 7pm)
Telephone: 02 666 6888
Facebook/Instagram: Circo Abu Dhabi
Join Circo for their next Wine Dinner on 29th September 2015. A special evening of food and wine with a five course menu paired with special wine – AED 375 per person. Click here for the Pairing Menu
THE BUSINESS LUNCH A LA TOSCANA
Enjoy Chef Luca’s specially designed set menu served from Sunday – Thursday from 12:00 – 16:00 including water, soft beverages, coffee and tea.
Starter & Main Course – AED110 or Starter, Main Course & Dessert – AED140
Sit in the bar and patio area and enjoy canapés and two drinks per guest for AED100. Valid for groups of minimum 10 persons. (Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance)
Read my previous Circo post Restaurant Review: Circo, Abu Dhabi’s Best Kept Secret
This is a sponsored post but the views are all my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved.