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How to journey through Italy in two hours

Savour the best pastas of 5 Italian regions at Zafferano’s Festival della Pastaagnolotti stuffed with 12 hours marinated beef oxtail celery root puree pistachio nuts

Enjoy a dinner menu of 5 pasta dishes, a dolci and biscotti at Zafferano’s Festival della Pasta

Two satisfying hours was all it took me to journey through Italy — without having to fly there.

Travelling from South to North, I savoured a total of five regions’ speciality pastas, starting from lighter flavours before progressing to stronger ones.

Paired with glasses of Italian wine, which showcased flavours of each region’s terroir, the meal was an education on the history, provenance and culture of Italian pasta.

Festival della Pasta

zitoni with violet eggplant, fresh tomatoes Pachino salted ricotta cheese

The tubular zitoni pasta hails from the Sicilian region

Every Saturday until Jan 30, diners can enjoy a dinner menu of five pasta dishes, a dolci (dessert) and biscotti, in Zafferano’s Festival della Pasta ($85).

If the only pastas you know are spaghetti, macaroni, or linguine, you’ll be in for a surprise.

Light, vibrant flavours

orecchiette with fresh turnip top and tomatoes anchovies

Doesn’t the orecchiette resemble a small ear?

My feast began from the southern tip of Italy, Sicilia, where I enjoyed zitoni with purple eggplant, fresh Pachino tomatoes and salted ricotta cheese. The tubular pasta, uncommon in Singapore, holds chunky sauces well. Reflective of the Sicilian palate, the dish was light yet vibrant — bursting with flavours from the tangy tomatoes and creamy ricotta curds.

Next, we ventured to the regions of Puglia and Emilia Romagna where pastas inspired by body parts made their appearance. Hailing from the streets of Puglia, the orecchiette is interestingly shaped like a small ear, and was slightly chewy to the bite.

Served in its traditional style with turnip greens, a touch of olive oil and chopped anchovies, the dish had well-balanced flavours but was a tad too dry. Nonetheless, the slight bitterness from the turnip greens brought out the crisp sweetness of the accompanying glass of Chardonnay Tormaresca 2013.

Hearty and homemade

casoncelli with pumpkin mantovana Taleggio cheese fondue butter and sage emulsion walnut

The casoncelli filled with seasonal pumpkin, egg yolk, parmesan cheese, and raisins mix; is a flavourful dish

The fertile lands of Emilia Romagna are renowned for filled pasta, which is well represented by the comforting dish of homemade tortellini in clear chicken consomme. Legend has it that the navel-shaped pasta was first created by an innkeeper who peeped at a beautiful lady but only saw her navel.

Judging from my taste buds, I would probably feel very at home in Lombardia. My sweet tooth was satiated by the handmade casoncelli filled with oven-stewed “zucca” — a mix of seasonal pumpkin from Mantova, egg yolk, parmesan cheese and raisins.

If you’d like to eat your way through Italy, don’t miss out on Zafferano’s Festival della Pasta. Come with an empty belly and a curious mind.

A regional wine pairing option is also available for an additional $75.

Zafferano, Ocean Financial Centre, Level 43, 10 Collyer Quay, Singapore 049315, Tel: 6509 1488

by Samantha Francis

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