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It’s unlikely that even the most seasoned traveller wouldn’t consult the magazine Travel + Leisure before a trip – a publication famous for its ratings of the best hotels in the world. This year’s list will be announced in their next issue, but already know that Milan’s Park Hyatt hotel is the 2012 winner for “World’s Best Service”, along with being the Winner of the Travellers Choice Awards from TripAdvisor.
Located in a splendid palace dating back to 1870, then revisited by the architect Ed Tuttle (as in the picture below), the 5-star hotel is also a shrine to fine dining and drinking. FDL has asked two of the hotel’s directorial staff to share the secrets to preparing some of the world’s best dishes and cocktails.
Andrea Aprea, born in Naples in 1977, has been the executive chef at Vun – the Park Hyatt’s restaurant – for just under a year. But he’s already made his mark with his Mediterranean-style cuisine.
Let’s say we want to create an entirely “Made in Italy” dinner: what are your three golden rules?
1) Pay careful attention to the cooking of the pasta: this is the key to understanding a chef’s skill. With spaghetti, for example, cooking time should never exceed 8 minutes.
2) Don’t be shy with the oil, and always use extra-virgin olive oil. This is the secret to many Italian dishes.
3) Always finish cooking the pasta in the saucepan. The rule is to cook pasta for a quarter of the time in water, then drain and finish in the pan, together with the sauce for a couple of minutes. This is how you can get the perfect mixture, without adding more oil.
What do you miss most about Naples here in Milan?
The pizza. There are some great pizza chefs in Milan, but down in the South, there’s just a little touch that makes a difference. But my beloved mozzarella di bufala is available here: I’ve found a producer, Barlotti. The only defect I’ve found is that here, everyone keeps it in the refrigerator. But it should be bought and eaten on the same day – otherwise, it’s not worth buying.
What’s the worst defect a chef can have, even someone who’s not a professional?
Cooking without either passion or a sense of sacrifice.
Francesco Pierluigi, from Rome, is the bartender at the Park Hyatt. His favorite drink? The timeless Bloody Mary.
The secret to perfect cocktails?
Use seasonal fresh fruit and the best brands of liquor available. When it comes to making a great drink or a great dish, it’s worth it to spend more.
What should every amateur barman have at home?
Ice. You can’t make anything without ice. There should always be ice cubes in the freezer.
Friends arrive unexpectedly and they ask you for a cocktail. You’re unprepared. You’ve got a few bottles and some ice. What do you make?
I’ll teach you a quick drink that will impress your friends, it’s called the Negroski. All you need is vodka, Martini Rosso, and Campari. Every Italian household should have at least these three bottles at home.
The worst drink that a lover of cocktails could be served?
Without a doubt, a watery Martini. It’s like eating overcooked spaghetti.