Dionna Young, Gleaner Writer
On receiving an invitation to celebrate and spend a relaxing weekend at Couples Sans Souci as it celebrated its seventh anniversary, I was more than delighted to accept - not only for the wining, dining and social aspect, but if anyone knows Couples Sans Souci Resort's general manager, Pierre Battagila, or even have the chance to converse with him for a few minutes, they would know that his love of adventure, history, sense of French, Italian and Jamaican culture with a bit of Venetian flair thrown in and lavish mystery meshed into one will always be more than a bountiful experience.
It's not every day you get invited to a masquerade carnival - masks and costumes included - but that's exactly what Battagila had in mind, and once in his mind, you know it's going to happen.
Reviewing and working head to head with corporate, head and pastry chefs on the dinner and dessert menus for months, Battagila, an executive chef for over 15 years who won several awards, had a lot of influence on the dishes selected for the big occasion. And what a menu to indulge in!
The spirit of the Casanova and Venetian culture certainly took centre stage and left observers and their taste buds in a tantalising awe. I am sure those guests with adventurous palates enjoyed the food experience, for it allowed you to sample whatever your eyes took a liking to.
Now, of course, any social food initiator knows that the key to a good food start-off would be to sample those Martini's down at the Martini station upstairs in the bar, and that's where you would have certainly found me last Friday evening.
The first thing my eyes introduced me to was the Vodka Gazpacho shooters devised and created by corporate chef Stefan Spath and head chef Maurice Lewis and, of course, Battagila.
GIVE IT A GO
If it's not the savoury and dry-yet-spicy salsa mix, consisting of lime, lemon, horse radish, Tabasco sauce and Sherry pepper sauce that sends your mouth into a total frenzy then you will certainly notice the fresh oysters. I must say, if you're not a seafood fan, I wouldn't recommend that you try it, but if you're tired of sampling the meat light snacks, then give this salsa oyster mix a go. It certainly will be an experience - to say the least.
And I wasn't able to pass the Martini station with the roasted pumpkin chips and spicy artichoke dip which, I believe, complemented the Vodka Gazpacho shooters wonderfully and the roasted garlic and spinach was definitely a new addition to my usually sought-for dips.
ON TO THE PARTY
After making my way from the light snacks and champagne section, I entered on the main grounds where the seventh anniversary masquerade party and food marquee was being held.
One of the first things I noticed was the beautiful and colourful vision of the assorted tropical and exotic fruits display and the cold seafood station (obviously, I couldn't get enough of the seafood delights). Platters of marinated fresh salmon filets with citrus marinated green olives, seafood terrene and shrimp mousse in timbals were laid out invitingly. The baked polenta with artichoke hearts and Parmesan was lightly cheesy rather than a full-on smoked-cheese taste that you can get with some Parmesan cheeses.
The roast duck - infused with charming orange zest or segments, sugar, onion, sherry vinegar, orange juice and, of course, a dash of butter to balance - was delicious and almost creamy. Usually, these combinations are dry and slightly sweet to the palate.
Pasta lovers could have delved into the northern Italian pasta, which consisted of spicy rigatoni puttanesca, extra-virgin olive oil, anchovies, garlic, olives and fresh, grated Parmesan. Now when you have that kind of combination, you can escape from meat for the night.
So you think I was finished? How could a night filled with socialising, live music, costumes and dancing end without taking guests to dessert heaven? The dessert station that was presented inside a mini-showhouse wasn't the only sweet admiration. The light, sensually sweet cupcakes were delightfully floaty and airy on the tongue and the cheesecake was oh-so-devilishly yummy and creamy-textured. And who could go without sampling the divine and rich truffles? The tequila bonbon and the Baileys gauche being my favourites. And I don't believe one person passed the fondue section without sampling a sneaky bit.
The Sans Souci spread was a wonderful experience of tasty tantalising and explorative dishes one will find hard to forget.