It is Sunday afternoon and fellow food freak Anurag Mehrotra has wrangled an invite for Pawan and me to taste Seagram’s Nine Hill wines at the newly opened Pullman Hotel (it is off MG Road in Gurgaon soon after one crosses the border). As I reach the hotel after going through all the expected security checks and reach the venue, I am swiftly greeted with a rather pleasant glass of viognier wine; mild, sweet and refreshing. Viognier is a new launch and we were the chosen few to get the first sip of this appetizer wine. The accompanying snacks are good without being spectacular. The tandoori aloo is underdone, the paneer is good quality but the methi malai sauce does nothing to enhance the taste, and the chicken liver parfait is not enough to rise out of the melba toast. The thai fish cakes are crispy, soft and delicious though.
Pawan and Anurag have joined the gang, and we are taken to the wine pairing room. The next course is crudo (Italian for raw fish dish dressed with olive oil, sea salt, and citrus juice) treated with palm sugar, ginger jam and ponzu, which is a watery Japanese sauce. This is served with sauvignon blanc of 2010 vintage. Once the wine has been allowed to breathe, it becomes rather tasty. The fish suffers from a surfeit of flavours though.
The next course fails to impress both with the wine and the food. The shiraz rose reminds me of the ‘I love you Rasna’ commercial and the accompanying murg mussallam with lentil salad has unimpressive chicken served with underdone dal. The next course makes up for the lost food opportunity so far. The tomato risotto stands out as the best dish of the day, and pairs excellently with the shiraz wine.
The roller coaster ride continues with the next course. The cabernet sauvignon reserve of 2009 vintage is a mature tasting wine. While friends on the table confess it reminds them of horse excretion, I find the wine luxurious. The accompanying food course of braised lamb shank with idiappam is avoidable. The shank is underdone and flavourless and the accompanying idiappam is a gloopy mess.
Overall, I was impressed with the quality of most of the wines (apart from shiraz rose which I thought was terrible) that were served today. I will withhold my judgment on the food till the Pullman hotel food and beverage operation settles down. I am sure I am in for pleasant surprise!
– Aalok Wadhwa