Home – we can never shake off its call unless we consciously will ourselves to.
Home is an idea with a haunting pull. It follows you: You never forget it. And whether they’re right or wrong, the reasons are obvious. For Chef Mauro Colagreco, those reasons are positively formative. Home – the sum total of the experience of it, the fingerprints it left on his consciousness, the unmatchable warmth of its aura – is the horizon he runs towards with his newest opening Fiamma, at Capella Singapore.
As with his three-Michelin-starred outpost Mirazur, along the border of France and Italy, the approach he operates with is consummately and definingly naturalistic. After all, Fiamma is the Italian word for ‘fire’. Life-giving and life-nourishing, fire is, beyond its literal affordances in the kitchen, the name by which he addresses his purpose: To evoke the sense of comfort, anticipation and holism he felt when he sat down to eat his grandmother’s cooking at mealtime. Fiamma is fire and fire is family.
Capella Singapore is synonymous with grandiosity. But Fiamma’s veneer is humble – with a subtle stroke of sophistication. Literalising Colagreco’s vision of home, interior design wave-maker Andre Fu has sectioned the space into various interconnected areas such as the Den, the Oven Salon, the Kitchen Chamber, the Living Room, the Terrace, and the Private Table, deftly and artfully presented in warm tones, sepia-lit and soothing. Being there is akin to feeling gently embraced – everything is calm, but the sense of anticipation at the meal to be had is spectacularly alive.
At Fiamma, what you’re served on the plate is a manifestation of that which composes the heart. For Colagreco, that’s Italy and Argentina. At the pre-meal aperitivo stage of the experience, slices of Pizza Tartufo, starring smoked scarmoza cream, Tuscan salami and black truffle, soft, fluffy and robustly flavourful, light the match for what’s to come.
In the antipasti segment of the menu, it manifests in one of his personal triumphs, the Crudo Siciliano. Sliver-thin, the cuts of fresh sea bream alchemise with olive oil, orange, capers, mint, fennel and a garnish of Sicilian pistachios for a melt-in-mouth thrall of flavour and texture. The gentle play between savoury and citrusy flavours is also exemplarily borne in the Crudo Di Gambero Rosso Di Mazara, composed of Mediterranean prawns and kumquat.
Time for the bigger plates: And of course, pasta is amongst the star players. His Tagliatelle All’astice, is a pleasure-giving marvel of lobster and tarragon imbued with the wisdom of confit tomatoes. But the best proof that seafood is amongst the chief proponents of Colagreco’s philosophy lies in the Pescato Del Giorno (fresh fish of the day), which, as its name suggests, is picked from the best catch of the season and served alla Ligure, in the tradition of the Liguria region in northwestern Italy, where a wealth of nuts and produce grows.
Its effect on me is instant: I decide that, as good as everything else is, it’s the deal-sealer of the event. Savoury, buoyed by flavours percolating in every direction, it’s undeniably the taste of home, of ingredients painstakingly sourced, carefully prepared and lovingly served. It circles the square of taste with a hearty sweep of surging emotion whose impact lands in the textures, flavours and aromas I gratefully take in.
Being full is a privilege. But being full with what Fiamma has fed me is something else. And to underline that point in red, dessert arrives before me. Like a moth to flame, I pounce on the Tiramisu, and bask in the blessing of biscuit, Mascarpone cream, espresso and amaretto; a convergence of textures and tastes; a supreme singularity. Truly, having sweetness sing with the rich timbre that it does so with is yet another of Colagreco’s gifts.
As a host, he is most generous. As a chef, his vision affirms the sublime in the simple. In his house, the flame for home blazes – beckoningly.
Fiamma is located at Capella Singapore, 1 The Knolls, Sentosa Island, 098297.