I’ve been on a binge of Chef’s Table, a Netflix documentary featuring the best chefs in the world. Episode one featured Massimo Bottura, chef of a three-star Michelin restaurant in Modena, Italy, fawning over high-quality aged cheese wheels. He later used one of them in his restaurant as a platform for stirring pasta, which is known as dalla forma. The dish on the screen already tantalised me, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out that I would be able to try cheese wheel pasta right here in Singapore, at District 10! District 10 Bar & Restaurant’s cheese wheels come straight from Italy for use in their pastas for the month of October. Eating good pasta is one thing, but dalla forma – or pasta that was finished in a cheese wheel – is another experience altogether.
Tagliatelle being finished in the Grana Padano cheese wheel.
Finishing the pasta in a cheese wheel is the additional step that elevates dalla forma over conventional pasta. Where the convention would be to simply grate the cheese and sprinkle it over, this novel approach infuses cheese into the pasta more strongly and thoroughly. Freshly al dente pasta is poured into the cheese wheel, and the heat of the noodles melts the cheese that the strands comes into contact with. As the pasta noodles are stirred thoroughly, they pick up a nice coating of cheese, and the distinctive cheese flavour has now been distributed evenly throughout the pasta.
District 10 opted to use Grana Padano instead of the more oft-used Parmigiano-Reggiano for their cheese wheel pasta because Grana Padano, after a patient 18 months of aging, has a milder flavour and a nice grainy texture that complements instead of overpowering the existing flavours in the sauce.
Our waitress who prepared the dalla forma for us.
The cheese wheel pasta was served in a way to grab the attention of diners nearby the person who orders it; the cheese wheel is rolled out on a trolley, the waiter ringing a bell until it stops in front of the diner, the pasta is poured into the wheel and stirred in the middle of the dining area. The rich umami aroma spreads in the air, and the audio-olfactory attraction leaves nearby diners with a case of ‘I’ll have what he’s having’.
Homemade Tagliatelle topped with Alba Black Hair Truffle ($36++), finished in Grana Padano
The dalla forma was a popular dish that night, as the cheese wheel trolley was brought out often for other customers before we got our pasta. We soon became conditioned ala Pavlov to salivate when we heard the ding of the bell as the trolley wheeled out. We soon got our turn to try the pastas, and our desires were supremely gratified. My favourite pasta that night was probably the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara ($26++), a dish that the Grana Padano enhances to another level of delightful satisfaction.
Spaghetti Alla Carbonara ($24++), finished in Grana Padano
Linguine with cherry tomato, basil and rosemary chicken tossed in a light saffron sauce and finished with Grana Padano ($26++)
In addition to pasta noodles, you can also opt for two kinds of risottos to be finished in the cheese wheel: Risotto Alla Parmigiano with Porcini Mushrooms ($26++) and Risotto with Basil Pesto and Tiger Prawns ($26++).
Wagyu Beef Carpaccio ($18++)
If you’re not in the mood for cheesy goodness, District 10 also has other delectable dishes on the menu, such as the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio ($18++), a beef ceviche served with rocket, and garnished with balsamic vinegar and solid cheese slices, and sweet desserts such as the Traditional Italian Tiramisu ($14++).
Traditional Italian Tiramisu ($14++)
District 10 Bar & Restaurant is a warmly lit little bar with delectable food; perfect for a night out with close friends after a long, tired day at work. But the end of the day, the dishes left their greatest mark on me were those that were mixed in the cheese wheel. Every mouthful of Grana Padano-laced pasta was intensely pleasurable, and you cannot help but focus on it as you chew slowly. Dalla forma is not the kind of dish one comes across in Singapore every day and it certainly is a shame that it is only available at District 10 until 31 October 2016, so grab this opportunity to have a taste of an authentic Italian style of pasta while you still can!
Thank you District 10 for the invitation.
81 Clemenceau Ave
Monday- Thursday 11:30AM – midnight
Friday 11:30AM – 1:00AM
Saturday 11:30AM – Midnight
Sunday 9:00 AM – 11:00PM