Ruffino at the Centara Grand Phratamnak

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The Centara Grand Phratamnak has come a long way in a very short time.  Opened last year, GM Dominique Ronge has been in charge of what has obviously been a runaway success.  Their up-market restaurant is called Ruffino – the same as the winery whose wines we were to sample during the dinner.  Apparently the Ruffino winery and the Ruffino restaurant felt there was much to be gained in brand awareness by sharing the name.

Ruffino’s is on the top floor of the Centara Grand Phratamnak with the area also featuring the swimming pool and a lounge.  The resident DJ Diva supplies the music and the staff supplies the rest.  Having been to the lounge before, it certainly is a place to unwind.

(L to R) Dr. Iain Corness, Supparatch Piyawacharapun, F&B Sales and Marketing Manager of the Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya; Peter Malhotra, Managing Director of the Pattaya Mail Media Group; Paul Strachan, PMTV Productions Manager; and Saisamorn (DJ Yui) Pithak, from Pattaya City Hall’s Radio Station 94.75 FM.(L to R) Dr. Iain Corness, Supparatch Piyawacharapun, F&B Sales and Marketing Manager of the Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya; Peter Malhotra, Managing Director of the Pattaya Mail Media Group; Paul Strachan, PMTV Productions Manager; and Saisamorn (DJ Yui) Pithak, from Pattaya City Hall’s Radio Station 94.75 FM.

The restaurant is behind glass, with one complete wall being their temperature controlled wine cellar.  At the other end of the room there is an open kitchen, under the eyes of Venetian Executive Chef Luca Pulese, with eager kitchen staff all smartly turned out.

Ron Batori, President of the Bangkok Beer & Beverages Co., Ltd., gives a brief history about the wine being served.Ron Batori, President of the Bangkok Beer & Beverages Co., Ltd., gives a brief history about the wine being served.

With every restaurant this side of McDonald’s having “wine dinners”, this could have been a difficult market to crack for Dominique Ronge and his team at Ruffino’s, but where they positioned themselves is different from all the others.  With only limited area, wine dinners here are a much more intimate affair than in the larger properties.  You get to know the wines in a much more relaxed manner.

The wines were described by Ron Batori, the president of Bangkok Beer and Beverage, who classified them into two groups – Aliens and Natives.  I have known Ron for many years and he is one of the true fonts of knowledge about wine.  Nothing pretentious, just a very deep knowledge from being in the industry for so long.

Dominique Ronge, General Manager of the Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya, gives a warm welcome to the guests.Dominique Ronge, General Manager of the Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya, gives a warm welcome to the guests.

Aliens he said were made from grapes that were not local to the Ruffino Winery, but the vines had been imported; this covered the Orvieto and the Chardonnay whose vines were French.  The Natives for Ruffino were the Chianti’s, with Ron saying, “Chianti is what Tuscany is all about.”

He also said that Italian gastronomy has always driven Italian wines, meaning that as the cuisine has become more varied, the wines have followed.  This statement is one that Chef Luca must have considered in his matching of the food under his care, to the wines under Ron Batori’s care.

Walter Giomi (left), Assistant Italian Wine Manager of the Bangkok Beer & Beverages Co., Ltd., and Dominique Ronge (right), General Manager of the Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya.Walter Giomi (left), Assistant Italian Wine Manager of the Bangkok Beer & Beverages Co., Ltd., and Dominique Ronge (right), General Manager of the Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya.

The reception wine was a Ruffino Prosecco, an admirable fizz to start the evening, leading us to the first course of sea bream, cucumber sauce, petite salad with a horseradish vinaigrette, to be taken with the Ruffino Orvieto Classico DOC 2012.  This must have been difficult for Chef Luca, as I found the Orvieto still a little young and lacking in character.

(L to R) Supparatch Piyawacharapun, F&B Sales and Marketing Manager of the Centara Grand Pratamnak, Kobi Elbaz, Managing Director of the Tulip Group and Sirilak Khampan, PR and Sales Manager of the Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya(L to R) Supparatch Piyawacharapun, F&B Sales and Marketing Manager of the Centara Grand Pratamnak, Kobi Elbaz, Managing Director of the Tulip Group and Sirilak Khampan, PR and Sales Manager of the Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya

The second course was truly excellent with caramelized pears on a bed of chardonnay risotto with Parmesan.  Taken with the Libaio Chardonnay 2009, these two married well.  The chardonnay risotto and the chardonnay matched perfectly, and this wine was, in my view, much superior.

The third course featured a roast beef tenderloin (and it was tender), with a block of crispy bacon, potato cake, carrots and barley jus, washed down with a Chianti Ruffino DOCG 2012.  For me, the Chianti was not old enough for it to develop its real nature, but would be a good one to buy now and lay down for later.

Executive Chef Luca Pulese (center) prepares to serve the starters with his restaurant staff.Executive Chef Luca Pulese (center) prepares to serve the starters with his restaurant staff.

The next course (and I was starting to flag by this stage) had monkfish, Parma ham, mustard greens, Porcini mushrooms, in a Riserva Ducale Oro emulsion, taken with the Riserva Ducale Oro 2008 wine itself.  At six years of age, this wine was just starting to mature, and is one to drink now – too good to be left lying down!

(L to R) Carl Duggan, Executive Assistant F&B Manager, Dominique Ronge, General Manager, Supparatch Piyawacharapun, F&B Sales and Marketing Manager and Sirilak Khampan, PR and Sales Manager, of the Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya.(L to R) Carl Duggan, Executive Assistant F&B Manager, Dominique Ronge, General Manager, Supparatch Piyawacharapun, F&B Sales and Marketing Manager and Sirilak Khampan, PR and Sales Manager, of the Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya.

The dessert was an amazing pastry “parcels in wrapping paper” taken with a Vinsanto del Chianti sweet wine, again nice pairing by Chef Luca.

We enjoyed the Ruffino Wine Dinner and wines, and we suggest you keep an eye out for the next one.  I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Centara Grand Phratamnak Pattaya, 352/430 Moo 12 (down Soi 5 Pratamnak to the bottom and then turn right and you are there), Telephone 038 306 337, secure parking under the hotel.

DJ Diva poses for the paparazzi.DJ Diva poses for the paparazzi.

(L to R) Ron Batori, President of the Bangkok Beer & Beverages Co., Ltd.; Carl Duggan, Executive Assistant F&B Manager for Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya; and Kuhrl Jan.(L to R) Ron Batori, President of the Bangkok Beer & Beverages Co., Ltd.; Carl Duggan, Executive Assistant F&B Manager for Centara Grand Pratamnak Resort Pattaya; and Kuhrl Jan.

Dinner served, guests who attended the party were satisfied with the food, service and wine.Dinner served, guests who attended the party were satisfied with the food, service and wine.

(L to R) Andrea Cavazzini, Julia Kikulicheva, Daniel Boccalini and Francesco Neirotti, Italian Wine Manager of the Bangkok Beer & Beverages Co., Ltd.(L to R) Andrea Cavazzini, Julia Kikulicheva, Daniel Boccalini and Francesco Neirotti, Italian Wine Manager of the Bangkok Beer & Beverages Co., Ltd.

Ruffino at the Centara Grand Phratamnak

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