Remember the nursery rhyme where it starts off as "this little piggy went to the market"? Well, it is not a stretch to say that I have finally found that piggy. At Giovane Cafe & Market, it can be found as smoky cheese in the display case. In fact, looking over the rest of the market, I think I found the other piggies as well - prosciutto, sausages and so on... Joking aside, Chef Darren Brown has created a high-end market consisting of exclusive and rare products sourced from Italy (with some locally).
Grace and I were invited to check out the market as well as sticking around for dinner at the wine bar afterwards. The first thing that struck me was that I didn't recognize many of the products for sale. The reason being is that many of the items are directly imported from Italy. In fact, they carry a line of Vianova flavoured olive oils that are a direct partnership with the manufacturer. On that note, we were treated to an olive oil tasting that featured 4 different samples. Depending on the region, each had their own distinctive taste. If you are every in the market, I suggest you try some for yourself.
After our tour of the market, we sat at the wine bar and were treated to food that was sourced from the market itself. We started with a selection of cheese including Burrata flown in from Italy (since it should be consumed within 48 hours). The cheese held up exhibiting a creamy stringy interior. We also sampled the Stracciatella and by virtue of it being directly related to burrata, it shared the same stringy qualities. We added some sweet balsamic and it went really well with the bread. Lastly, we had the Scamorza Affumicata which was shaped as little piggies in the display (as mentioned earlier). This cheese was smoky and firm. Onto the next items, we sampled some house-made Charcuterie consisting of Lardo, Coppa and Duck Prosciutto. Served with each was Quince Pineapple Mostarda, Fig and Grainy Mustard. I particularly liked the duck as it was a pleasant salty with a smooth, chewy texture.
Moving on, we tried their Bianco flatbread with mozzarella, fontina, fingerling potato, garlic, rosemary. The crust was lightly crispy with a nice chewiness. It wasn't oversaturated with ingredients which meant it didn't become soggy. Furthermore, the simple ingredients enabled the natural flavours to shine including a nice drizzle of EVOO. Onto a couple of pastas, we had the Rigatoni al Norma first. The combination of tomatoes, eggplant, capers and basil created a wealth of flavours which was pretty sweet. However, the acidity from the capers helped balance it somewhat. Next, we had the Bucatini Amatriciana which featured very al dente pasta tossed in guanciale and a spicy tomato sauce. We found that the heat escalated with every chew, yet was balanced by the acidic and sweet tomatoes.
We ended up trying the Ling Cod Puttanesca as our final savoury dish. The fish was beautifully seared with a crisp exterior leading into a moist and flaky interior. There was a good level of acidity and saltiness from the olives and tomatoes. Finishing off the meal, we shared 2 desserts including the Tiramisu and Dulce de Leche Caramel Budino. The tiramisu was creamy and sweet while the budino was very sweet due to the caramelized condensed milk. Yet, we weren't here for the desserts (although they do have some good ones). Rather, we were treated to carefully prepared food which used products sold at the market. Definitely a place to check out if one was looking for that special ingredient to elevate their home-cooking.
*Note - this was an invited dinner where all food was comped
- Rare and unique items at the market
- Solid, casual fare at the wine bar
- It comes at a price