A holiday feast with Il Borro
The art of simplicity is a beautiful thing. To transform a few key ingredients into an exquisite dish takes patience, care, and the utmost respect from the hands that prepare it. Since nobody does elevated simplicity quite like Italians, Il Borro Tuscan Bistro was the obvious choice in my quest for a holiday feast fit for a queen.
Much like its cuisine, Il Borro’s interiors are clean, airy, and bathed in natural sunlight that illuminates the grey and white color palate of the restaurant. The air of sophistication, while understated, is undeniable. Under the legacy of the famed Italian fashion house Ferregamo, how could it not be? With the original residing in Tuscany – lush with vineyards, olive trees, and organic produce – Dubai’s Il Borro brings Tuscan quality and artisanship to the region while maintaining the integrity that’s synonymous with the brand. As someone who has a soft spot for food and fashion, this is right up my ally. I can’t wait to get into the kitchen and dive into some authentic Tuscan culinary delights.
When I met with head Chef Burcu Cracknell, she gave me the rundown on the dishes we would be making for our feast – Winter Truffle Tagliatelle, and a Bistecca Alla Fiorentina. Both are quintessential dishes served throughout Tuscany for lunch and dinner, particularly during the festive season. You can also find them in Umbria and Marche, where great meat and truffles are readily available. Since it’s Truffle season (not to mention that it’s one of my favorite ingredients on earth) it makes perfect sense to give them a starring role in our holiday feast.
Chef Burcu has been working with the bistro since its inception in 2017 and explains Il Borro’s philosophy in terms of sustainability. She also explains how many of the products – from dried pasta to olive oil – are brought in from Italy and their estate in Tuscany. Quality control at it’s finest.
Burcu puts a massive T-bone steak in front of me (about 2 kilos and counting) and holds her fingers parallel to the meat. “Three to four fingers thick”, she says. The carnivore in me sees a rare, succulent steak on the horizon.
The steak, marinated in a combination of herbs de Provence, rosemary, oregano, and olive oil, is left to sit in a sous-vide until ready to grill over charcoal. For us mere mortals who don’t have a sous-vide at home, have no fear! Chef explains how you can recreate the dish without any cumbersome equipment.
Before the steak is ready to cook, we set it out at room temperature, then fire up the grill.
And what a fire it was…
The smell coming from the grill was enough to induce an aromatic trance. We flipped the steak over before letting it rest on a cutting board.
A little salt and pepper to finish, we were ready to carve.
We firmly cut along the bone, careful not to miss any of the meat. After cutting into thick, luscious slices, we placed our deconstructed T-bone onto a hot plate. The plate, Chef explains, is to keep the meat warm without overcooking.
The quality of the meat and care in preparation resulted a beautifully crusted bistecca that was cooked to perfection, and a Sangiovese was the perfect partner in crime.
Now it was time for part two of our feast – Winter Truffle Pasta!
With fresh pasta made daily at Il Borro, chef Burcu explained the basics of our recipe.
A simple sauce of cream, butter, and would coat our pasta. “Make sure you put a bit of the seasoned pasta water into the cream” instructs chef. This will loosen the sauce while providing a bit of seasoning at the same time.
Once our pasta was cooked al dente, we swirled it into the cream, making sure to coat every last strand with the luxurious, silky cream. A bit of parmesan to finish, and we were almost ready to eat…
A seriously generous amount of fresh black truffle was shaved on top of our pasta, paper thin and beautifully rich.
Judging by the expression on my face, can’t you tell it was divine?
After both dishes were devoured (with the help of chef Burcu and the bistro staff of course), I left Il Borro with a full belly and a newfound basket of culinary knowledge.
One thing’s for sure, I’ll be making these dishes on New Year’s Eve and beyond. Something tells me you should too…
Happy Holidays to you all!
Get the recipe for Il Borro’s Bistecca All Fiorentina here
Get the recipe for Il Borro’s Winter Truffle Tagliatelle here
Shot on Location at Il Borro, Jumeirah al Nasseem
Photos by Tara Atkinson Photography
MUA by Maria Doyle