Let there be joy at Joia….

Last night after much anticipation I finally had the chance to dine at Milan’s michelin starred vegetarian restaurant, Joia. Having heard rave reviews and with their all natural philosophy I was curious to see how Joia interpreted the world of vegetarian cuisine and just what made their menu so special.

I had already had a sneak preview of their menu at this years Taste of Milano where they had three of their signature dishes on offer;

1. Intima relazione: Formaggio del Boscasso stagionato nella lavanda, chutney di rape e miele di castagne, pumpernickel ai semi di finocchio di montagna – Boscasso cheese seasoned in lavender, served with a horseradish, chestnut and honey chutney with a pumpernickel of fennel seeds.

2. Prosperità: Tortino croccante di coste con paté di funghi porcini e salsa orientale, gioco di maccheroni e erbe di campo – Crunchy coste greens tart with a porcini mushroom pate and oriental salsa.

3. Nuovo mondo: Zuppa rinfrescante con il cioccolato di Vestri, mirtilli e il divertimento del Joia – Refreshing soup of Vestri chocolate, blueberries and some Joia fun.

The restaurant’s full menu made for even more interesting reading and a couple of dishes instantly stood out as dishes I’d like to try; the parmesan fonduta (think fondue) with parmesan cheese and mushrooms and the ravioli arrostiti (roasted) with bolotti beans, leeks, celery served  with fried chestnuts and strawberry gelatina. Decision made I promptly ordered. Amongst the other dishes orderd by my friends were the uova apparente di broccolo e tartufo (egg of broccoli and truffles), Panzanella with crunchy vegetables, potato gnocchi (no flour) in a cheese fondue served with pears and crunchy vegetables. The descriptions given on the menu all sounded incredibly mouth watering and we were intrigued to say the least to see what a top class restaurant could do to make such dishes come alive.

As we waited (and waited) for our first dishes to arrive it was interesting to note that Joia did not serve any form of appetiser to set the meal in motion. We were eventually served some home-made bread although portions left little to the imagination and did little to stem our growing hunger. The wait was however worth the while and my antipasto of fonduta was deliciously tasty and beautifully presented with 5 teaspoons each containing a different sauce ranging from a strawberry coulis to soya sauce.

Our second courses were likewise a while in the making which on a positive note speaks of fresh preparation but on the down side left our little party of 5 somewhat on the hungry side. Luckily we had two wines to taste, courtesy of Riccardo Zanotto, which kept the conversation flowing sufficiently to bridge the wait. One was a sparkling colfondo, a much loved classic of Riccardo whilst the second was a more unusual white wine, Doschei, which was more yellow than white in colour and pleasingly unusual in its difference versus classic whites. I lack the necessary finesse to describe this difference in wine-terminology so you’ll just have to taste it for yourselves. All of Riccardo’s wines can be ordered online at http://www.selezionezanotto.com/.

Back to our culinary experience and first out were the colourfully creative gnocchi ordered by Carolina and Riccardo. My ravioli was next followed by Lisa’s choice of Testaroli and Valentina’s Dobloni risotatti. Once again the dishes were beautifully presented but what they delivered on looks they unfortunately lacked in flavour with a common air of “blandness” shared by all. An off night in the kitchen? Perhaps.

We finished our meal with a pre-dessert of fruity goodness which was once again a visual delight but this time also delivered on flavour. Carolina was so enamoured she ate two which was a good note to finish on!

So did we find joy at Joia? Not quite. But we did perhaps see a flicker of what Joia and chef Pietro Leemann is famed for with it’s beautifully scripted menu and creatively served dishes. However, my lasting thought for the night was that having dined in a vegetarian restaurant I seemed to have come away without actually having eaten many vegetables!





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: