|Photo courtsey: Sangeeta Khanna|
In the last six months of blogging, I've learnt a lot. But more than all that, I've made some lovely new friends. Some of whom are awesome. Some of whom are inspiring. But most of all, they are just good human beings. And I feel grateful that our paths have crossed at all.
Which is why I look forward to meeting with them, even if it means, I have to stretch myself and make it happen. Very often this also means, I am late for an event. Running between work, things for my friends and family, battling the traffic and this means that I am ALWAYS, almost always late.
That's what happened with me at the Le Meridien event last Saturday. A degustation menu that was meant to show the talent of the chefs. Because I walked in late, it meant I missed out on the mixer before where everyone got to meet the others and also a presentation. I didn't however miss two other short presentations about the hotel. And this was 2 pm, while lunch etc was to begin at 1. By the time the chef had a quick chat with us about the menu, the food was served 45 minutes after that. Which meant the event wrapped up only around 4.30. Long, no, super long lunch.
Anyhoo, I opted to sample the vegetarian menu, while my neighbour and friend sampled the meat menu. For our amuse bouche - we got the same Asparagus Cappuccino, which was excellent. It had a hot and cold layer to it, making it all the more funky.
The next course was the same too - a deconstructed Samosa
So what was it? Stir-fried potatoes with cumin, served with a pea puree and a baked filo-like pastry. I thought it was quite nice and I really liked the pea puree. But it was nothing like eating a samosa. But since I don't like samosas, it suited me just fine. My neighbour, the samosa-lover had a bit of trouble getting along with it.
We were then served the twin tandoori chicken and tandoori paneer respectively
The paneer was ho-hum, but the chicken was really nice. Succulent, with the spices hitting the right spots, I think this is an excellent dish to have on their everyday menu. I didn't care for the roti that came with it and found it rather dry and tasteless.
This is where it all started going downhill for me
The Kaffir-lime infused prawn I was to told was nice, but the Tandoori broccoli I got was an unmitigated disaster. (I am not eating prawns for a bit because I've broken into hives the last two times). The broccoli was overcooked. There was no crunch, no bite to it. It was like eating a boiled cauliflower. The marination hadn't seeped in, and so what you got were raw flavours in the mouth. Quite a disappointment.
This is was followed by the sea bass in madras curry and the maize cannelloni. The sea bass was slightly overcooked and the spices in the madras curry were still raw. And I, the maize cannelloni taster, got a hair on my plate.
While my plate was changed, by then I had lost my appetite quite a bit and they were really taking very long between the courses. Anyhow we plodded along, oven roasted chicken in makhani gravy and paneer Cottage cheese and spinach in a salan gravy was served to us.
The cottage cheese was meh. Nothing to really write home about and the chicken was quite different. I liked the roulade and the presentation, but taste wise it was nothing spectacular. I mean it tasted of your average butter chicken.
The biryanis too - lamb and morels were just alright. I thought they were underspiced and under-salted and the raita in a shot glass, as brilliant as it looked, was really inconvenient.
Also, between courses we were sent two palate cleansers - Melon and ginger with a hint of lime and a mixed berry cleaner with rock salt. Both were awesome
To tell you the truth, I enjoyed the palate cleansers a lot more than I enjoyed the meal itself. Infact if this whole meal would have been of cleansers, I am sure I'd have liked it better.
We were then served dessert. A trio in fact. Mango pannacota, Gulab jamun creme brulee and the Mascarpone kheer with pistachio.
The mascarpone kheer - while the idea was fabulous - I felt had a bit too much gelatin in it. The mango pannacotta had the same problem. But the gulab jamun creme brulee was superb. And when I saw superb, I mean it was mind-blowing. It was beautifully executive. Wasn't too sweet, had a lovely crack to it. Just a superb finish.
We were also handed out pan-flavoured chocolates, which I really liked a lot. It was filled with a pan-flavoured truffle and the chocolate was dark and not too sweet.
This was followed by coffee - by their award-winning Barista - and I was told that was superb too.
Most of our food was paired with a red and a white wine - Magandeep Singh was around to walk us through the pairings - and he also paired the dessert with a dessert wine by Torres. Which was really the best part of the meal. So much so, this was the wine the table drank the most.
I think the Meridien guys were really sweet and they handed over tiny pots of wheatgrass and mint as our takebacks. What a lovely thing to do.
So what did I think of the food? I thought it was ok. Not the best I've had. I think there's plenty of room for improvement. The service could have been faster, the food could have been better - especially the main course and the afternoon could have wrapped up much quicker.
Having said that, I still enjoyed the afternoon. Why? Cause I was around some good people.