Continues from: Part-1
The private dining room at Eau de Monsoon was abuzz with activity. Bloggers were happily chattering away when the meeting was called to order and we braced ourselves for the unknown. It was nothing serious, Anjali simply took us through the journey of Starwoods Hotels and Resorts while Meena walked us through what Le Meridian stood for.
As we sat wondering what happened to the food, Chef Devinder Kumar came in and introduced us to the Avant Garde concept that Eau de Monsoon was working with now. The Amuse-bouche (bite sized hors d’œuvre), a green coloured foamy asparagus puree kick started our Taste of Discovery. It was aptly done even though I maintain that asparagus doesn’t excite me much. The Amuse-bouche is always the Chef’s selection and usually not on the menu.
Now we were talking taste and discovery both and that too in rapid fire. The first to be presented from the eclectic degustation menu was the “deconstructed samosa”. A very radical take on the Indian samosa but with identical flavours. The room was abuzz with chatter since every blogger had their own perspective on the small cubes of potato served in the hollow tube of a pastry. I personally liked the take. Super Sommelier Magandeep and his team started running up our wine glasses and ensured that they stayed filled till the end.
We moved on to meatier stuff with chicken tikka. Two pieces of tikka twin flavoured – usual tikka style and mint flavoured rested on a cracker. Both were the juiciest piece of delight and I will give my thumbs up to the mint one any day or night. The kings of prawns infused with the goodness of Kaffir lime and basil floated in next. While I loved the prawn the spices could have been a little more evident. Did I say that I absolutely loved the caramelised slice of orange that came as a garnish?
The Seabass in the delicate Madras curry was well soft and moist – perfect for a gentle mid course meal. I would like to apologise here to the vegetables on the side to have neglected them completely because of this gem of a fish. An interesting take on chicken followed next. An Avant Garde Oven Roasted Chicken with Makhni Gravy which I thought could have been done better. While the gravy went well with Indian breads, was nice and surprisingly light, I would not call the chicken spectacular.
Sorbet is the time when your palate takes a downtime. A delicate melange of pureed, chilled & frozen muskmelon, lemon and ginger was served to rest our excited palates. But I was longing for more and had my eyes open for the Lamb & Aged Basmati. Served with a veil of flour over a ceramic handi, the lamb was unveiled in front of us to reveal the fantastic creation. The colours were perfect and so was the taste. The lamb was tender and I could feel the tingling of the spices. The accompanying yoghurt (the raita) was served in a shot glass and hence was a bit difficult to handle.
Before the desserts arrived, yet another palate cleanser, a lightly spiced mix of berries with a small cube of guava, was served to dilute the taste so that we could encounter the Discovery perfectly.
Magandeep by now had got his secret “vino” out to reveal, the Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro, a Spanish Dessert wine. The wine fairies served this nectar in shot glasses and got the attendees swooning over it in no time. The bottle of the wine itself seemed like a collector’s item. Thanks Magandeep Singh for introducing us to this gift from gods.
Discovery was a trio and mostly profound. While I relished the Mascarpone Kheer served on a bed of pistachio biscuit and blobbed with pistachio foam as well as the Alphonso Panna cotta with Strawberry Coulee the Caramel Mousse Gulab Jamun did not stir much in me. Perhaps, my expectations were at prime after all the gourmet stuff.
It seemed as it was time to close, however, it still would not.
Next offered around were sinful mint chocolates and then the “Illicino” was presented. Illicino is Le Meridian, New Delhi’s award winning coffee (it’s won twice straight in coffee competitions). From concept to creation, handiwork of Master Barista Manisha, this outstanding coffee was a total jaw dropper. It’s served in shot glasses and consists of espresso made with Illy coffee beans (hence the name), Kahlua and topped up with a froth of Tia Maria. This was sheer indulgence and the ultimate sin for coffee lovers. It’s hats off to Master Barista Manisha and congratulations to Le Meridian for nurturing such talent.
I don’t think many of us were wishing, but the event ultimately had to end. Our generous hostesses, Meena Bhatia & Anasuya Basu, ensured each of us got a box of chocolates from Caffe e Chocol Art accompanied with a little pot of either wheat grass or mint as a “go home now” gift. Pawan and I got lucky and got both plants – so a double “Thank You” to both of you once again.
The guided tour to the 20th floor by Anasuya Basu introduced us to the mosaic work of art on the floor of the lobby of Le Meridian, New Delhi. I don’t think anyone of us ever realised what we were walking on. She also escorted us to Le Belvedere where we were stunned by a magnificent view of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
To Sum-It-Up: It was a gathering of lovely people paired with amazing food and great wine. An afternoon that well lasted till the evening which happens seldom. What more can one ask for from life but yet another evening as such. 🙂