A date with luxury, memorable travel tales and food sagas. Sample the ingredients of a fancy life...
Top Chef Gary Mehigan at The Roseate
Gary Mehigan at The Roseate. Pic by Suman Tarafdar
It was an on-the-spur decision to substitute my name with Bono’s that stretch his characteristic smile into a wide grin. “Bono. Nice! Like the singer? Or, who knows? He will be even more famous!” Said Gary Mehigan as he signed his autograph for my seven-year-old who doesn’t miss any episode of the British-Australian celebrity chef’s latest show Masters of Taste on Fox Life.
What I noticed throughout the afternoon was how the restaurateur and TV host used that cheerful demeanour, disarming smile and unaffected candour to break the ice while interacting with complete strangers who had come to savour the meal thoughtfully curated by him at the lunch powered by HDFC Bank and Visa. An invite-only event at Chi Ni at The Roseate, it was a buzzing four hours high on taste and culinary marvels peppered by Gary’s constant repartee. Even as he explained the food put in front of the gourmands, he shared anecdotes from his Masterchef Australia stint and his previous visits to India, the country he feels has quite a few similarities with the food habits of Australia when it comes to the use of spices, ingredients and mingling of textures.
A proponent of maximising a culinary experience by incorporating fresh, local produce, the lunch showcased Gary’s expertise in playing with flavours and textures without confusing the foodie. Familiar ingredients were brought in together innovatively. That he has a fascination for Indian vegetables and savouries was made evident in the way he included some of them in the menu. For instance, crisp fried Spine Gourd came with a delish cauliflower hummus. What we Bengalis eat with our rice as kakrol bhaja, was served with a unique spin by the celeb chef. That gobi hummus was good enough to go with the fresh artisan sour dough Rye bread, too.
If you were to ask me, the vegetarian entrees clearly stood out. I’m talking of elements from the first course as well. The Peanut wafers served with a dollop of Pumpkin Rendang, crispy black rice and a curry leaf fine. The agrodolce of farmed and forest mushroom was not just great to taste, it was pretty to look at, too. The tartlet of Tarama and Yarra Valley Salmon Caviar was interesting (loved the way the roe popped in the mouth letting out a tangy yet salty liquid). This was the first time I tasted Macademia Butter and it was every bit what Gary described. Velvety, subtle and delicious. It tasted even more divine with the crudites (baby vegetables on ice), especially because of the juxtaposition of the crunch of the leaves and veggies and the soft gooey mush of the butter served with Shichimi Toragashi oil.
Of the two entrees brought out, the roasted and pickled beetroot with goat’s cheese mousse and salt and vinegar waffle chips would lose out to the exceptional braised onion served with Gruyere Espuma, candied pumpkin seed crunch and golden raisins. To create a masterpiece out of such humble homegrown ingredients like onions, cheese, pumpkin seeds and raisins is a feat in itself. The sweetness of the onions countered by the salty tinge of the cream cheese, the crunch of the seeds balanced by the mush of the raisins. The braised onions packed a chunky bite even as the cheese finished it off with a gooey flourish. The Indian element was, as Gary mentioned, the papri on which the onion was delicately perched. For me, this was the clear winner of the meal. Also because, the taste, flavours and presentation weren’t overwhelming. The balance and marriage of everything on the plate was magical.
For mains the roasted cultlet of lamb with parsley cappelletti of braised shoulder and mortadella, black garlic and lamb jus gras satiated the umami cravings of the diners while a parsley Cappellatti with ricotta, black garlic and burny butter kept vegetarians happy.
The meal ended on a heavenly note with the chef’s famed salted caramel tart, caramel popcorn and bitter chocolate and wattleseed ice cream. Trust me, it’s the best caramel tart I’ve ever had in these 36 years. And while we listened to Gary tell us how he loved jaunting around the spice markets of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities of India, I wondered which ones of them was he going to take back to Australia this time. Apart from the bagful of memories, experiences…
An instrumental rendition of two
popular Bollywood classics cuts into the steady murmur. Aradhana’s Roop tera mastana
and Kati Patang’s Pyar diwana hota hain are the preludes to
couturier Pallavi Jaikishan’s show at the FDCI India Couture Week held recently.
The walks incidentally have also been choreographed on modern romantic ballads
from tinsel town. Romance---an all-pervasive mood that has characterised doyen’s
journey in fashion since 1972. There is but one element conspicuous by its
absence. Music made by her legendary husband, Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal,
one-half of the famous Shankar-Jaikishan duo that rocked the music charts
before the latter passed away in 1971. Leaving his wife and three young children---Chetan,
Yogesh and Bhiaravi---under a pall of gloom. “Here, hear this piece I was putting
together for the show. A modern take on Sangam’s
Yeh mera prem patra par kar. If only
I had a touch more time,” Jaikishan’s voice trails off, only to add soon after,
“I’ve used so many …
Your mission is not to sedate, but
to awaken, to disturb, to communicate, to command, to instigate and even to
provoke. American art director, designer
and author George Lois’s profound words rang in my mind as I watched her greet
one and all. Dressed in a steel, black and copper Banarasi draped gown, conceived
by Pierre Charles Letz, the French president of the Fédération Française de la Création Couture Sur Mesure, Palak Shah stood out
in that haze of warm ivory, white and gold. Wearing the graceful smile of
humility yet enveloped by that confident air of success, the youngster did what
many her age would just be doodling about on their I-pads. But, Palak knows what she wants.
And she is carefully mapping the path to broaden the scope that Indian textiles.
Because of the belief that they deserve global laurels. In that surreal setting
at Bikaner house on an evening last week, if anyone doubted the versatility of
Indian handloom, Palak’s vision successfully altered that erroneous idea…
gooseflesh remembering the night her father passed away. She was just above
seven. While the world and people around her broke down with the sudden sorrow,
she sought refuge in her drawing book. “I painted till the crack of dawn, the colours
cutting out the chaos and cacophony. I couldn’t process much of the events but
there was a dull wound piercing through the heart. I had come back from school.
He was being rushed to the hospital after a sudden cerebral haemorrhage. He went
peacefully, in his sleep. But a storm brewed in my heart. I expressed my
feelings through swift brush strokes albeit in dark colours,” recalls Saumi
Nandy as we meet up in her Calcutta studio called Roong, a hub of exquisite saris,
dupattas and artworks. There is bric-a-brac for homes as well. The common
denominator in all of them is a display of Saumi’s art. Art inspired by her
experiences, travels, insights and thoughts. Introduced
to the wondrous world of books by her father, Saumi recalls how he indu…