My Second Cucina De Badir for 2015, I had the pleasure to team up with Spanish native and personal friend – Chef Monica Sanchez, at the amazing La Spiga by Paper Moon Restaurant in W Doha…

Well known for its amazing Italian food, as well as a chic and relaxing ambience, La Spiga by Paper Moon in W Doha has captured the heart of many foodies. The restaurant provides a dining experience of authentic Italian cuisine where vibrant design and a sophisticated scene set the tone for an extraordinary food frenzy. Renowned for creating popular haunts for global trendsetters in Milan, New York and Istanbul, Paper Moon has brought its vision to W Doha for all you food fans.

Being huge fans of Italian fare, the FACT team went along to cook up some delicious treats with Chef Monica Sanchez. Jacket on and ready to do this thing, our first dish will be a delightful appetiser – one that is a bestseller for the restaurant; Tortino di Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Layered Eggplant with Tomato Sauce, Mozarella and Basil). The making of this dish is quite simple even though the dish itself is packed full of flavour and different components. The ingredients you need are; round eggplant, mozzarella cheese, grana padano cheese, tomato sauce, basil and salt. We peel, in stripes, the eggplant and cut into round moulds, sprinkling each with salt (let these rest for two hours). Coat each eggplant in flour and fry in sunflower oil. We’ve cubed the mozzarella and grated the grana padano cheese, and move onto building the parmigiana by layering the eggplant slice, tomato sauce, mozzarella, sliced basil, topped with the grana padano. We then repeat this for a second layer and complete with a slice of eggplant on top.

They don’t cut corners here; the ingredients are fresh, the menu hearty, and the service excellent!

These are then popped into the oven at 180 degrees for nine minutes (yes, a delicious appetiser in less than 10 minutes!). For plating, we warm the remaining tomato sauce, place the eggplant , spoon the tomato sauce on the side and garnish with basil sprig – voila! A beautiful and tasty appetiser. For dish number two we’re making the lip-smacking Tagliatelle Bolognese, which is traditionally cooked using beef, however, Chef Monica likes to play with new and out-of-the-box ideas, so we’ll be cooking this dish with chicken.

We make our pasta from scratch – it’s a super meticulous process, hats-off to the cooks who have the skill to do this! Chef Monica shows me the basics of how to get going and soon I’m cooking the tagliatelle in plenty of salted water. We then heat a little oil in a skillet and add the Bolognese sauce which, aside from chicken, has celery, white onion, carrots, rosemary, thyme, tomato paste, tuscan extra virgin oil, red vino, and salt and pepper (this is also made from scratch in the La Spiga kitchen!). Add the tagliatelle to the sauce with a little of the cooking water and stir delicately to let the flavours blend.

We garnish the ‘first-course’ dish with grana padano cheese, ready to tuck in. The taste is beyond incredible! We finish the cooking session with a dessert that has become the staple of any good Italian restaurant – tiramisu (yummy!). In a serving bowl we put 50g of mascarpone cream (also made in-house), then soak three pieces of biscuit in espresso and arrange them inside the bowl, followed by a covering with the remaining mascarpone cream. This is stored in the refrigerator overnight and dusted with enough cocoa powder and garnished with chocolate decoration, before serving.

Of course, there was one all ready for us! This dessert was like foodie heaven with every flavour packed spoonful! Overall, I picked up some fantastic culinary skills from Chef Monica, but also, can reassure all of you that cooking at La Spiga by Paper Moon is serious business. They don’t cut corners here; the ingredients are fresh, the menu hearty, and the service excellent. Until next time…

GO: Visit La Spiga by Paper Moon at W Doha. Call 4453 5135 for reservations and more information.