Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gourmet Evening with Michelin Star Chef Baptiste from France

How does one describe taste in words?

How does one portray food in any other way except offering a morsel of it to the person to whom one wishes to make the taste, the aroma, the texture, the temperature and the aftertaste understood?

I am having to do it now because I accepted an invitation to savour the offerings of Michelin star chef Baptise from France at ITC Gardenia, Bangalore on the 27th of November 2012.

For the first time, I know that my words, no matter how carefully chosen, will prove powerless.
I will therefore use them sparingly.
Adding to the predicament is the fact that I am no food connoisseur of any sort and have tasted a very few ‘other’ cuisines and that leaves much that I have yet to acquire a taste for.

This cuisine happened to be Italian and I thought thank God, but halfway through the evening, I thought it was unlike any Italian food I had tasted; it was almost like a new ‘other’ cuisine that I had yet to acquire taste for.

That also explains the delay in writing this article – I didn’t know what to write.

First of all thanks to ITC and team Ginger Claps for the invitation.

I entered the dining area and saw that it was washed with purple and it looked lovely. An elevated (beautified) dining area makes much difference. It increases your anticipation, it turns the atmosphere into one of celebration. And it makes you take the food seriously, to treat it as special, to dwell in every mouthful, even if it be bread and cheese.

The tables were inundated with glasses. They were meant for the four seasons wine, one flavour to be served with each course. If they had been brought in due time, no one would have noticed anything amiss, but it was a clever idea to spread them all on the tables beforehand, for they each, reflected the purple in the air and made the tables look fascinating.

There was a time when I loved the fine soft bread called croissant or crab and ate only that and considered in edible the hard, tough breads. But now, I enjoy all of them as long as they are served with cheese, which they usually are.

That’s the menu for the 6 course sit down dinner.

The second from left is the chef.

That’s the first item of the vegetarian menu – Fresh Eggplant & Crunchy Vegetables.

I should have used the flash. That’s a fine, smooth tangy paste of eggplant preparation with crunchy, cold vegetables on top.
It was an interesting manifestation of egg plant and I liked it but how would it be if served with bread to be used as a dip? There is only so much of any fine paste that one can have in spoonfuls. But there is no telling how much of it you will end up eating if you have it with bread. Just a thought.

Second course – Artichoke Risotto with Black Truffle

It was the first time I was having artichoke. I bit into it cautiously wondering what it would be like. It was tangy and I generally like tangy vegetables. But it was the texture that was the best part of it. It was made of many layers and was cooked, so that every layer offered its little weak resistance before giving in to the reluctant grinding of your teeth and releasing its juices.
The risotto could do with less cheese. The dish could do with two more pieces of artichoke.

Third course – Beetroot Orange and Goat Cheese

An almost fine paste of beetroot with the surprise of small pieces of orange marinated in it and covered with goat cheese.
Knowing what I do about beetroot, that they come in two varieties - the really sweet ones and the salty ones, I would say that to get the best results you have avoid the salty ones.
I am not sure if beetroot used in this dish was cooked or raw.
I think beetroot is generally more palatable when cooked. It may not do for this dish but a little steaming, if not cooking the beet, or using a mixture or raw and steamed beet might be good. Some sugar and a few drops of lemon juice would help I think.
Goat cheese... I have no taste for it yet and will probably never acquire any.
But I loved the orange bits and wished there were many more of them.

Fourth Course – Mushroom & Mash Potatoes with Olives

This was my favourite. Because I love mushroom, and I love olives and I love potato. In any avatar.
A simple dish with just some salt for taste, without too much processing, without bells and whistles, subtle, mild and good.

Many Indians, whose taste buds, used to strong flavours and spice, would previously dismiss anything without enough chilli and tamarind, have, by now, I am sure, begun to wake up to mild, gentle and subtle tastes.

Five – Fresh French Surprise, Pineapple and Basil

Cooked or steamed pineapple. Tasty. The small folded slices with some filling inside are a fine idea. Perhaps slicing pineapple in an oblong way and not exactly horizontally will yield bigger slices and then one could do more with them.
The light yellow green paste on top of chopped pineapple was too sour and the dish could certainly do without it.

Fellow diners.

The lady to the right is Jelena, an Italian. Her take on the food, each dish, must be so different from mine. My mind recollects in a flash my own thoughts about westerners trying to assess Indian food : )

Six – Hazelnut & White Chocolate, Ice and Crispy Cappuccino

Service was really good.
Nevertheless, vegetarians, wherever they go, ought to do a double check, whenever they are served anything.

1 comment:

Nitish Ratnam said...

The pineapple dish and the hazelnut dessert look out of the world! How on Earth did you manage to get the invite?