Salt Of The Earth
Located on the ground floor of Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, ALATi captures your imagination as soon as you enter. Huge granite pillars hold up the cavernous ceiling while your vision is channeled upwards as the dark wood lattice work stretches skywards. Keeping you grounded, aquamarine blues remind of lazy days spent on Greek islands and tasteful table decorations of lemon yellow and rosemary greens hint at the rich fare to come. Rounding out the visual feast, earth tones, like tans and browns, hammer home the classic Mediterranean look and feel. As the name implies, everything about ALATi is salt of the earth material.
There are several different seating areas which all give diners an alternative view of ALATi. We chose a table next to the window that provided us with beautiful views out across the swimming pool and gardens. Diners who want to see what’s going on can sit closer to the open kitchen and watch Chef Carlo Valenziano and his talented team go about their culinary routines. Or, if the weather is cool enough and you fancy a bit of fresh air, the al fresco terrace is the place to be – preferably with a nice chilled glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.
There are typically two menus on offer at ALATi, a seasonal menu that takes you on a gastronomic journey through the main cuisines of the Mediterranean and the classic A La Carte menu. During our visit, we had the pleasure of being able to select from the Stories of Italy menu, but we were informed the menu will switch to a Spanish flavoured bill of fare in December 2021. However, the main menu covers the traditional dishes such as flatbreads, salads, soups, pastas, mains and desserts. These are recreated to perfection and given a signature touch by the very versatile Chef Carlo and the kitchen crew.
Salt Of The Earth – Act I
With Covid-19 still fresh in the minds of everyone, there are regulations that need to be heeded and all the staff at ALATi wear face masks. Diners, too, are required to play their part by wearing a face mask in public areas but when you’re seated at your table life returns to normal. Diners are given ample time to peruse the single page menu as you would in a Greek taverna, a Spanish taberna or an Italian trattoria. ALATi also has a very good wine list if you fancy a tipple or are having a celebration (ALATi also has QR digital menus available for diners who prefer to use their personal device).
Having spent what seemed like an eternity going back and forth between the two menus, we finally placed our order. We couldn’t let the opportunity pass by without sampling the freshly-made, hot from the oven Black Truffle and Cheese Pide topped with Mozzarella Cheese, Homemade Truffle Compote and half a dozen or so razor-thin Truffle slices. Also arousing our craving for the freshest ingredients, we selected Torta di Pomodoro e Burrata (Puglia), a San Marzano and cherry tomato pie, with a healthy dollop of fresh burrata cheese, rich tomato molasses and invigorating fresh basil.
The Turkey-esque flatbread, while wonderfully tasty, was a little too much for two people at seven sizeable slices, so we asked for doggy bag. I know! Not very stylish, but definitely too good to waste. No such luck with the incredible tomato pie, though. If you like tomatoes, then this dish will thrill you to the bone as the vibrancy of the Roman red pomodoro sauce combines perfectly with a spoon of burrata and a lively leaf or two of basil. Pure delight and a very worth dish that screams rural Italy.
From The Ocean – Act II
Now, it wouldn’t be a true Mediterranean meal if you didn’t select something from the depths of Mediterranean Sea, or the more than half a dozen seas that make up the body of water that laps at the shores of 22 countries. Our choice for the next course was a multi-coloured Pulled French Spider Crab paired with a delightful fillet of European Seabass. A tower of Spider Crab Meat sat temptingly on a bed of Avocado, Celery and Tomato with a twist of Lemon Juice to add that extra tang. A tray of crispy crackers accompanies the crab dish and we tried our hardest not to overload each cracker. There’s the slightest hint of crab as you roll over the creamy base and crunch on the cracker. I’m certain a lot of effort goes into creating this dish as the presentation was outstanding.
Our waiter was one of the most patient people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and he happily brought plates and cutlery so we could share every dish. Before going hook, line and sinker for the European Seabass, I did toy with thought of ordering one of the other catches of the day; snow fish or salmon trout. However, I think I made the right decision as the Seabass was perfectly cooked – through the skin – and seared for a few seconds on the flesh side. Placed just off-centre of the plate, the seabass was served with a dazzling Broccoli and Lemon Cream, Seared Broccolini and Roasted Chilli Croutons.
Making the most of our long lunch, our next dishes brought piping hot from the kitchen were Pumpkin Velouté with Shaved Manchego, Roasted Pumpkin Oil and Seeds, and Duck Leg Confit with Butter Mashed Potatoes, Plum and Thyme Sauce. The richness of the pumpkin was checked by the sweet and fruitiness of the Manchego cheese. Together they left a velvety taste that resonated for a long time afterward. However, the outstanding feature for me was the quirky bowl in which the soup was served. Our duck confit was enormous, more like the leg of a goose or swan. The leg was gently placed on a base of the best buttery mash potatoes ever in which was a powerful plum and thyme sauce. With crispy skin and succulent meat, the duck leg was to die for and certainly well worth waiting for.
Fruity Desserts – Act III
Grazing for the best part of two hours now, we arrived at desserts. Could we handle more food, I hear you ask? Of course we could. While Chef Carlo goes the whole nine yards with his cuisine, the portions are not overly huge; flatbreads aside of course. So, tip-toeing through the list of mouthwatering desserts, I was pulled between the ever-popular panna cotta and, out of respect for the passing of Ado Campeol who along with his wife Alba di Pillo, invented a tasty Tiramisu. My wife had already pointed hers: Delizia al Limone, Amalfi Coast Lemon Sponge Dome, Light Whipped Cream, Lemon Custard and Limoncello. She loves the refreshing flavour of lemons and limes. Eventually, the trio of chocolates in the Panna Cotta al Cioccolato (Piedmont), swung it for me and the trio of chocolate intensities are served with a pistachio biscotti.
As we were spooning our desserts, up popped our friendly waiter again suggesting coffees or teas to complete our gastronomic journey through the finest Mediterranean cuisine to be found anywhere in the City of Angels. Being a traditionalist, I ordered a rich Turkish coffee to aid my digestive tract, which was now working overtime, while our waiter convinced my better half to try the Moroccan tea. Served in a silver teapot, the waiter raised the teapot above his head in one hand while holding the cup at waist height in the other hand. What a sight as he hit the cup dead centre and skilfully filled it almost to the brim! The aroma of the tea spilled out across the table filling the air with a beautiful fragrance. This little piece of showmanship was a fitting end to a truly amazing meal.
Salt Of The Earth – The End
For reservations, call ALATi at +66 (0) 2162-9000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Punch Media Digital.