First George and Gary. Now David Rocco. So now I've just got Adriano Zumbo, Thomas Keller, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Yotam Ottolenghi to go. Oh and Rene Redzepi. And Art Smith. And.. Oh you get the drift.
But I think I'm plain lucky. Because sharing a table with some of the funnest food people is just an added bonus. Plus it makes my month.
So at a sit down lunch at The West View, at ITC Maurya us food bloggers got to meet the very good-looking Canadian TV show host and Italian food guru David Rocco, who was in Delhi at the fag end of his 8-week India trip. He was in India shooting for a new series and so after visiting three cities - Chennai, Jaipur, Mumbai and now Delhi, he seemed to know a lot more about Indian food that he started off with.
Flashing that 1000-watt, Rocco swooped in on us, while we were already seated, post a quick visit to the herb garden on the terrace at West View. Oh and if you haven't been to TheWest View, go to just check out the gorgeous view of such a lush green Delhi, that it will knock your socks off.
Rocco sat down to talk to us about his trip. About the different things he'd learnt. Of the flavours he'd tasted. Of the new things he'd made. Of mustard oil, which was a brand new medium of cooking for him.
He told us about how he'd learnt cooking at home (FYI he's a home cook just like many of us out there and not a trained chef). Told us how he preferred canned tomatoes to the real stuff and how deep his love was for olive oil and how he loves cooking with his kids (a la Jamie Oliver).
As us bloggers sat around quizzing him of all the things he did back home, we were also served a plated menu that was all Rocco. Although the melon and prosciutto hors d'oeuvres were served outside since a bunch of us were taking pictures of the herb garden. The bubbly was poured. And the first course brought out - Rigatoni con Pomodori e Melanzane, a Neapolitan style pasta with eggplant and Mozzarella sauce, paired with Fratelli Sauvignon Blanc. I loved the ripeness of the tomatoes, couldn't really find the eggplants. But the penne had an awesome bite to it (although the menu said rigatoni) and I really liked what we ate.
The mains came out next Saltimbocca di Pollo - Chicken with prosciutto and sage, cooked in Marsala, beetroot risotto, and baby carrots with olive oil and chili flakes, paired with Fratelli Sangiovese. I loved this course. The chicken tasted fabulous with the prosciutto and the buttery sage paired so beautifully with it. But the piece de resistance for me was the beetroot risotto. Pink, fabulous and with some gorgeous arborio and lovely bite.
He talked about how his twin girls can make a mean risotto - with spinach, beets, mushroom - and how much they enjoy it. I wish I was taught that when I was five. The dessert was brought on while Rocco excused himself for a bit. Torta Caprese, a flourless chocolate cake and Zabaglione con Frutti di Bosco - mixed fruits with espresso zabaglione. The Chocolate cake was filled wit almonds, I picked out pieces of the almonds but didn't really care for the cake. The zabaglione was rather unfortunate. Very eggy and the raspberry did absolutely no justice to the coffee-ness of the dessert.
But then Rocco came back and a nice photo session with the bloggers made the whole afternoon worth while. The best thing about David Rocco is how warm he is. And effusive. And patient. And entertaining. Oh I could go on.
Thank you ITC Maurya for such a fun time. And do see what the others had to say - Charis, Deeba, Sangeeta, Anita, Parul and Reeta Skeeter . Because I guarantee you, he was a joy to meet.