A chronicle of my kitchen experiments, a little healthy a little indulgent
The city from the last couple of years has been booming with food festivals or restaurant showcases, FoodLovers Gourmet City being one of them. This is the time when people who love eating out, mark their calendars, pick their favorite places and explore the menu that represents the place and showcases some of the restaurant’s best food at a prices which are very reasonable.
Though there are many restaurant showcases, what makes FoodLovers Gourmet City stand apart from them all is the Grand Finale of sorts of a 3 week celebration called FoodLovers Chefs for Charity. Food Lovers Chefs for Charity is a unique event in which chef’s from all participating restaurants (20 this year) come under one roof to offer to offer some of the items from the Gourmet City menu and 100% of the proceeds from the Chefs for Charity go to Sneha Nilaya, an orphanage run by the Franciscan Sisters Of The Immaculate Society, in Langford Gardens, Bangalore, that looks after the complete well-being of orphans and under-privileged children. The event is happening at the Ritz Carlton this time on 29th March (which sadly I will be missing as I am moving houses that day).
I had a chance of being at the FoodLovers Gourmet City preview lunch at Le Jardin @ The Oberoi, where we were in conversation with Kripal Amanna, Founder Food Lovers along with Amit Wadhawan, Executive Chef of The Oberoi, Bangalore and Abhijit Saha, Chef and Director of Caperberry & Fava.
Le Jardin, is in a all day dining restaurant at the Oberoi which serves a mix of European and Indian food, which to be honest, leaves me a bit confused but then most of the times once you start eating the food that confusion flies out of the window and the brilliant and classic food served always succeeds to impress one. When we were there the chef told us he will get us the tasting portions of the food so that we get an idea of what is in store.
We started the afternoon with some excellent Tenderloin Carpaccio with Gremolata, caper mayonnaise, baby greens it looked and tasted brilliant. I totally heart a good Carpaccio and you don’t get it often, one look at this one and the decision was made that how good it is, just look at the perfectly marbled translucent slice plated layered so well. Unfortunately I was more or less off red meats for a while and I had to skip this (with a very heavy heart) but I did steal a couple of bites from another bloggers plate and it was as delightful to eat as it was to look.
But giving up on it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, with the alternative for vegetarians being Pickled Beetroot. I think I would have wanted to eat this one even if I had opted for the capraccio, I am sucker for anything with flowers specially of the edible variety. I love seeing them on my plate and I love how a flower on the plate breaks the monotony and takes the plating to an all new level. Also I think most of the times the flower on the plate surprises the person eating since either they are expecting a “vegetal nausea” as a fellow blogger said that day or they are expecting a tasteless stuff but when then it comes and surprises you with a distinct taste it is such a pleasant surprise. This one was so flawlessly executed, beetroot so thin that I wondered how it was cut and so well seasoned, perfectly balanced with goat cheese and the crunch and sweetness of the candied walnuts and completely the story were the orange segments. For me this probably was the dish of the day
Next came the soups, Chilled Gazpacho which arrived at the table like a show stopper. Served in a bowl nestled in an ice with a slice of basil toast on top and a flower placed cleverly on the outside. The soup made a statement even before one could get around tasting it, a statement which one believed in after the first sip. My only crib with the soup may be the fact that the basil toast was slightly on the oiler side
The other soup though less of a show stopper when it reached the table was a winner for me. The Classical Chicken Consomme is something I haven’t seen on a restaurant’s menu in forever and Le Jardin surprised me by serving one that day. Crystal clear with a beautiful amber color, it was just brilliant
During lunch we also got to hear many stories of freshers in the kitchen and about the chef’s when they were freshers and some of them were such fun but some of them made me realise that the problems of the young generation wanting to do only fancy stuff, wanting to do jump years ahead and the fact that hard work is a thing of past these days are factors which are consistent across the industries.
From the Indian part of the menu, we got tasting trios. The vegetarian trio had the Lacchedaar Malai Tikka – panner (cottage cheese) marinated with saunf, layered with tamarind and mint chutney, the Tandoori Bharwan Aloo, marinated potato rounds stuffed with paneer and dry fruits and baked in the tandoor or the clay oven. The only vegetarian person on the table seemed to be happy with it, though I personally didn’t taste it.
For the non veg trio, we were served the Tandoori Jhinga, prawns marinated with spices and carom seeds and oranges.I have always been a fan of citrus and sea food together but somehow have never tried prawns and orange, this is something I am gonna try pretty soon. The Sarsoon Murg Tikka, now I am fake Punjabi, I generally don’t like mustard too much speciallu if it is too much, but this one had just a hint of mustard which I quite enjoyed, the third one Beef Pepper Fry is where my wish to not eat red meat flew out of the window, peppery beef slices served with mini uttapams and cucumber pachadi how can one resist this tell me?
We moved on the mains post this and we all ordered our mains. I ordered the Prawn Balchao, being the prawn and the coastal food lover that I am. I just couldn’t resist it. I loved what I ate but the brilliant thing is that the balchao got more than a nod of approval from the fellow Managalorean on the table. We then proceed to discuss that how the quality of the Goan Vinegar can make or break a balchao, the chef informed us of how they specially source it from the fishing community on the coast leading to the flawless balchao. And when I jokingly mentioned that I can get some of them, the chef generously gave me a bottle full (now looking for balchao recipe recommendations BTW). And before I move on to the next main, I have to mention just how lovely and comforting the dal that was served with balchao was, it doesn’t happen too often that I have prawn on the plate and I still finish the dal but that day I did
The fellow diners ordered Pan Seared Tenderloin, Ox tail stew, creamed polenta, roast vegetables and red wine jus
and Barbary Duck Confit, Sautéed potatoes, puy lentils and berry jus and they all seemed super happy with what they ate
And with this we moved to Desserts, something that blew everyone’s mind on the table that day. Textures of Berries as the dessert was called in celebration of summer and berries, had some many elements on the plate and each one of them executed with perfection. When the plate arrived I think I spent a good 5 minutes just looking at it from all angles (and I think everyone did pretty much the same). The elements were Raspberry and chilli sorbet, chocolate mousse, berry mousse, a berry macaron and glazed berries like Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackberry and my current favorite cape gooseberry placed on a chocolate bed. From sweet to spicy to tart, the dessert explored all senses. It rarely happens these days that I wipe clean a plate of dessert without having to crib about anything but the texture of berries achieved that and trust me its no mean feat. A fitting end to a brilliant meal
FoodLovers Gourmet City is on from the 13th to the 31st of March. The special menus at the 20 participating restaurants are available exclusively on reservations. For more information on the same log ontohttp://www.foodloversgourmetcity.com/home.html
The Oberoi, Bangalore
39, M.G. Road,
Bangalore – 560001
Ph: 080 2558 5858/ 4135 8202
Parking: Valet Available
3 Course: Rs. 1199/- + taxes as applicable
2 Course: Rs. 999/- + taxes as applicable
3 Course: Rs. 1299/- + taxes as applicable
2 Course: Rs. 1199/- + taxes as applicable