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PHUKET: It would best be described as a celebration of good friends sharing great cuisine when Rose Maitland-Smith, brand ambassador for Pommery, hosted an evening of fine dining at the beautiful Da Maurizio Bar Ristorante.

Invited guests at the event last month included famed vintner Pascal Jolivet, who flew in from his Loire Valley estate in France to taste Chef Songka Saikang’s four-course menu.

“For more than 20 years I have worked with some extraordinary Italian chefs from every region of Italy here in the kitchens of Da Maurizio. I have learned something from each of them and now I can create a menu using distinctive Italian ingredients and recipes,” Chef Songka told me.

Maurizio Laureri was home with dengue fever but guests were left in the capable hands of Tonino, long-serving manager at Da Maurizio, also for 20 years, who developed the dinner menu with Chef Songka.

The appetizer was tuna carpaccio flavored with fennel, pomegranate and pink pepper.

Chef Songka then presented fresh, traditional homemade taglierini with black truffle cream for the first course that left diners enthralled.

The main course was an elegant presentation of rack of lamb with herb and mint sauce and roasted vegetables.

“The lamb at Da Maurizio is light and full of flavor,” commented Tonino.

A dessert of crepes with fresh strawberry and vanilla ice cream put a perfect finish to a great evening.

— Bruce Stanley