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Massimiliano Blasone
Article added on March 21, 2012

Review of a dinner at Apsleys, a Heinz Beck Restaurant run by the Italian Executive Chef Massimiliano Blasone
Tested by R&L on March 13, 2012
  
Our dinner at Apsleys started with a glass of Taittinger Reserve Brut Champagne. Among the different types of bred, butter and olive oil served was an ultra light and crispy Focaccia, which stood out.

Greetings from the chef included a selection of fish crudo with brilliant versions with tuna, Scottish salmon and caviar. The vegetarian version was a well-flavored pumpkin gnocchi soup, a bit too heavy for an amuse-bouche.

We continued with a light and excellent Prawn tempera with basil oil and sweet chili, served together with a 2010 Greco di Tufo from Feudi di San Gregorio from the Vesuvius area, an internationally well-marketed brand. The vegetarian tempura consisted of seasonal vegetables, served with a 2010 Cottanera Etna Bianco Castiglione from Sicily, a gentile wine with a strong mineral character and 13% alcohol.

Regarding the wine, the next course was for both of us a journey from Italy's south to the north. The head sommelier Enrico Bucci had chosen a 2010 Ignaz Niedrist Terlaner Sauvignon Blanc from the Alto Adige to accompany our asparagus dishes. Both the scallops with caviar and asparagus cut in small cubes as well as a vegetarian dish with an asparagus cream with avocado wafer enchanted. The Terlaner Sauvignon was sharp, fruity and light, despite 13.5% of alcohol. The asparagus came from an organic, Yorkshire greenhouse chosen by the chef.

In comparison with my 2009 visit, they had introduced new glasses at Apsleys made by Dhainy. The Worcester porcelain made exclusively for
The Lanesborough with the hotel logo was no longer the standard porcelain used.

Specially made, mouthwatering spaghetti with lobster and shellfish were served together with a 2010 Santa Barbara Le Vaglie Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from the Italian Marche region. The vegetarian dish, tortellini with buffalo ricotta with basil oil on a tomato coulis, was soup-like and simply brilliant. The tortellini were served together with a 2010 Vernaccia di San Gimignano, an ancient Roman grape, by winemaker Teruzzi & Puthod from Tuscany. It had a strong mineral taste and, with its freshness, offered a summer breeze.

A risotto with a langoustine carpaccio and a risotto with artichokes and pickled artichokes followed, accompanied by a 2010 Santa Barbara Gewürztraminer from South Tyrol with gentle depth. As always, light and brilliant dishes served with white wines from Italy.

A slow cooked egg with amaranth was accompanied by a 2009 Pieropan La Rocca Soave Classico with elegant citrus notes, a well-bodied white wine with mature notes. The egg was served with black truffles from Umbria. It had been in a 70 degree Celsius water bath. We both enjoyed this special dish. A vegetarian version of Corbonara fagotelli with an egg inside and zucchini and tomatoes offered a liquid explosion in the mouth. The non-vegetarian version came with guanciale, unsmoked Italian bacon. The wine pairing consisted of a 2009 Tasca d'Almerita Chardonny from Sicily, a rich white wine with hints of honey and butter.

The next course was accompanied by the only red wine of the evening, a 2008 Orma from the Tenuta Sette Punti winery in Tuscany. Vanilla, blackcurrant and cherry were the notes of this Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wine. It perfectly accompanied a pigeon on a mustard seed sauce with potatoes. A well-thought, elegant combination. The vegetarian dish was a vegetable puff pastry with ratatouille, served with the 2008 Orma Tenuta Sette Punti.

As pre-desserts, Massimiliano Blasone offered both of us a
“flirt”, seasonal fruits, including crispy tangerine, kiwi and passion fruit, together with a Sicilian almond ice cream. As desserts we chose an apple and chocolate gianduja with lemon meringue and pistachio, served with a 2007 Comtess San Michele Appiano from the Alto Adige, respectively an apricot jelly with ginger and rosemary ice cream, served with a very sweet and strong 2009 Passito di Pantelleria from the Ben Ryé area in Sicily with 14.5% alcohol and flavors of apricots, dates and figs.

As a second dessert, the chef sent us a chocolate soufflé with Tahiti vanilla and raspberry coulis, served with a 2008 Brigaldara, Recioto della Valpolicella from the Venice region, and a milk waffle with fior di latte ice cream. The Amadeo chocolate Dome he offered us in the very end was excellent but too heavy. After a bite I opted instead for the light milk foam with coconut and enjoyed a 2007 Antinori Muffato della Sala from Umbria with it.


The dinner was served in a nice pace. With the exception of the chocolate Dome in the end, all dishes were light. Pascuale Cosmai, the restaurant manager whom I remembered from 2009, ensured an impeccable service.
Apsleys is a restaurant not to miss during your London visit. It well deserves its Michelin star!



The kitchen philosophy at Apsleys, a Heinz Beck Restaurant

The German chef Heinz Beck (*1963), who has earned three Michelin stars with his Roman restaurant La Pergola, handpicked the team for his first restaurant outside Italy, Apsleys, starting with Executive Chef Massimiliano Blasone.

The concept or kitchen philosophy at Apsleys is described as “light cuisine of Mediterranean flavors”. That's quite an understatement for a brilliant restaurant with a team of 24 cooks. They bring in a diverse mix of cultural and culinary influences. Sous chef Marco Calenzo has been working with Massimiliano Blasone (*1976) since their time together in Florence. They are a sworn-in team.

Massimiliano Blasone describes his cooking style as Cosmopolitan Italian, by which he means “fusion without confusion”. It's a  very technical cuisine, he told me. He combines German precision with flavors from around the world. He uses the cooking techniques which he has learned in various countries to enhance traditional skills used in Italian cuisine. He cites the Thai technique of the use of compressed oxygen to tenderize meat, to improve the texture and quality of meat, as an example.

In his hands-on approach, the Executive Chef assists his team on every level. The German chef Heinz Beck spends one week per month in London to closely oversea the work at Apsleys.

Beck and Blasone together have created the menu at Apsleys, which focuses on lighter Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Signature dishes include “Seabass Cannolo with celery and melon”, “Black cod with chickpeas”, “Slow braised veal cheek with apple purée and Jerusalem artichokes” as well as “Carbonara Fagotelli”. Light and healthy cuisine.

The cellar includes some 700 to 800 wines. With some 65% of the bottles, the main accent is on Italian wines, some 30% come from France and the remaining 5% from the rest of the world.

Options at Apsleys range from the daily lunch to Beck's seven course tasting dinner menu, from formal business lunches to relaxed social dining. Two private dining rooms and two wine tasting rooms complement the restaurant.

Inspired by Venice, Apsleys design with a glass roof and plush upholstery was created by Adam Tihany with a restrained art deco feeling and impressive chandeliers.



Biography of Massimiliano Blasone

Massimiliano Blasone was born in Frosinone near Rome in 1976. His culinary career began at the age of 15, gaining kitchen experience during school holidays before entering Catering School I.P.S.A.R. in Rieti (1988-1993). He worked as a pastry chef in Venice and other northern Italian cities as well as one year in the Dutch part of Saint Martin in the Caribbean.

From March 1998 to February 1999, he worked as Commis in the central kitchen at the Cavalieri Hilton hotel in Rome. In March 1999, Massimiliano Blasone's professional career changed fundamentally when he joined Heinz Beck's team at his Roman gourmet temple La Pergola at Cavalieri Hilton. Heinz Beck's style was very creative. The German chef encouraged
“Max” to think independently. Until March 2000, Massimilione Blasone stayed as Commis at La Pergola, which at the time already had two Michelin stars.

From April to December 2000,
“Max” worked as Demi chef and later as Chef de partie for the three-Michelin-starred Residenz Heinz Winkler in Ashau, Germany. From the three Michelin starred chef, he learned the lessons of hard work, organization and an almost scientific approach to cooking, “Max” told me.

From February 2001 to March 2003, he returned to La Pergola. By then, Heinz Beck had earned three Michelin stars. As Chef tournant, Massimilano Blasone organized different jobs in the kitchen and helped create new plates.

From April 15 to June 15, 2003, he made a stage at Rosselini restaurant at Palazzo Sasso in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. From the two Michelin starred chef Pino Lavarra, he learned more about fresh produce and seafood.

From July 2003 to January 2005, Massimiliano Blasone moved with Heinz Beck to California to devise a menu and wine pairing at Valentino restaurant in Santa Monica, where
“Max” became head chef at the Italian restaurant. At Valentino, he learned a lot about wines from the owner, Piero Selvaggio, one of the leading wine connoisseurs. Together, they organized important events in the Napa Valley vineyards.

From February 2005 to August 2005,
“Max” worked as Garde manger at the two Michelin starred restaurant Duomo in Ragusa Ibla on the island of Sicily.

From September 2005 to August 2007, he became Sous-Chef at restaurant Onice at the Relais & Châteaux hotel Villa la Vedetta in Florence, where he helped the restaurant earn a Michelin star for its strong and rustic Tuscan cuisine. From September 2007 to August 2008,
“Max” worked at Onice as Chef de cuisine, keeping the Michelin star.

From August 25, 2008 to April 10, 2009 Massimiliano Blasone was the Executive chef in the Italian city of Montalcino at hotel Castello Banfi's Il Ristorante, which had a Michelin star. He enlarged his culinary horizon at the Tuscan estate which produces Brunello di Montalcino wine.

In June 2009, Massimiliano Blasone moved to London for the re-launch of Apsleys, the restaurant at
The Lanesborough, which officially took place in September 2009. “Max” was part of Heinz Beck's team and the German chef's ideal choice for Executive Chef to oversee his first restaurant outside Italy.

Massimilano Blasone, with the help of Heinz Beck, who spends roughly a week per month in London, has managed to secure a Michelin star for Apsleys by February 2010, within just five months, the quickest ever for a London restaurant to be awarded a first Michelin star!

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Massimiliano Blasone. Since September 2009, he is the Executive Chef at Apsleys, a Heinz Beck Restaurant at The Lanesborough, a luxury hotel in London. Photos © The Lanesborough, London.


View of a mural at Apsleys. Photos © The Lanesborough, London.


Apsleys with one of its famous chandeliers. Photos © The Lanesborough, London.


Heinz Beck proudly posing at Apsleys, a Heinz Beck Restaurant. The German chef has earned three Michelin stars with his gourmet restaurant in Rome, La Pergola, which I can highly recommend. Heinz Beck is very much involved in Apsleys. He spends one week per month to look after it. Photos © The Lanesborough, London.


View of Apsleys. Photos © The Lanesborough, London.


Private dining at Apsleys. Photos © The Lanesborough, London.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.