Degustation at the Eau de Monsoon, the contemporary Indian restaurant at Le Meridien | some tips to eat healthy on such occasions..
I have a surprise in store for you all. Many of you have been asking for ideas on how to choose foods right for your regime when eating out. I reply many of you individually, and would take this opportunity to display it through pictures today. Surprisingly, I myself never found it too difficult to manage healthy when eating out, more because I am not a dessert person and that gives me some liberty to go easy on a few other things. Let's see how an elaborate eight course menu can be suitable for your healthy regime. I agree it is easier to avoid junk food when you are a non-vegetarian out to eat. At this eating out invite, I enjoyed clicking a lot of pictures as well, hope you like them too. Read on..
I had little idea what is in store when I was invited to the Le meridien Hotel by Akshita Jain of Blogathon. The invite said there is an opportunity to do photography at the venue along with meeting other bloggers and a few contests. This opportunity to click pictures has become a good bait for me since I bought my DSLR few months ago. We went to a few walks around Archeological park in Delhi and in busy market places or around our campus to click bird pictures. All this apart from the places we go to eat.
Yes, food photography is equally fascinating though my everyday food that comes to the blog is not photographed with much styling. There is a reason to it, minimally styled food looks doable and I want my healthy recipes to look and feel as doable as your daily breakfast toast. You know I never talk about toasts :-)
So the bait worked and I reached the venue dot at time. The first one to arrive, I was greeted by Anasuya Basu, Director of Marketing communications and we started chatting about what was this event about. Le Meridien was introducing it's Avant Garde Cuisine at Eau De Monsoon, the contemporary Indian restaurant of the hotel to the food and lifestyle bloggers of Delhi. Also to introduce us to their wine collection in company of Magandeep Singh the celebrity sommelier. I was very sure by now that the event is going to be really interesting. Took out my camera and started clicking pictures until the blogger friends started arriving.The decor of the place makes you feel like being in the rain when you look towards the water cascade across the glass walls.
This picture to me represents the soul of Eau De Monsoon ..
The chic elegant decor is something you would like to linger around..
With a drink in your hands and a few tidbits for company may be...
They have a bar counter on one side...
This Espresso Martini ..
And these lovely Bruschetta with assorted toppings. Very refreshing vegetarian ...
And meaty fruity cheesy non vegetarian toppings...
A modern wine cellar being introduced to us..
And the table that was set out for all of us 18 bloggers...
The Amuse bouche was a thick Asparagus puree flavored very delicately. It was refreshing, no overpowering flavors as it should be and yet giving a fair idea what is in store..Served in a shot glass, to be had in a single shot. I sipped slowly though, to get a lingering taste..
Then came the Deconstructed Samosa. Nice crisp thin cylinder of a pastry and lightly seasoned cubes of potato. It was nowhere close to a desi Samosa but very delectable.
Wines were poured. Pinot Noir 2009..
Magandeep introduced the wines to us. A Gobelsburger 2010 in his hand..
Chicken tikka in two different seasonings. Both were nice, nothing extraordinary. The cracker on the base was irrelevant for me but it made a nice presentation. Looks like a tight rope to walk :-)
Shrimp infused in basil and Kefir lime. The shrimp was nice fresh and juicy but the seasoning was a bit too mild seeing the amount of green paste slathered. Would have liked a bit more Basil and Lime flavors. I am not complaining as the shrimp made up for everything.
Some one on the other side of the table praised this Broccoli a lot and I decided to have a taste of this as well. This is the Broccoli that I requested for myself..It was for the vegetarians on the table.
A perfectly done spear of Asparagus but the Broccoli was just too much mush. Overcooked Broccoli is not something I want. Some liked it as I said.
The Fish course was a Seabass Madras curry. I liked the vegetables on the side.Wanted more of the crisp veggies here. Perfectly crisp snap peas and a nice juicy sauteed sliver of Artichoke. The fish portion was dull. Just that. Presentation I loved.
There was an Oven roasted chicken after this course and that was quite forgettable. Not bad, just a normal roasted chicken.
But what came after that was a pleasant surprise. A large plate, a small spoon sized white scoop.
A muskmelon,lemon and ginger sorbet in a bite sized scoop. It was a blast on my palate and I don't even like sorbets much. A very nice innovative palate cleanser. Loved it.
The Biryani came next wth a dramatic presentation. Covered in a bowl with a purdah, looked quite nice but was very mediocre. I understand Biryanis are best cooked in huge Deghs , small bowls don't work for the dum process. I felt the portion was just too large as a part of an eight course meal.
I have a rant. A raita for Biryani shouldn't come in a shot glass whose rim is smaller than the spoon and the raita is thick and creamy. Perfect texture for a raita but it can neither be poured over the Biryani being so thick and creamy, nor it can be scooped out with the spoon. I don't want to struggle with my food unless it is a crab claw :-)
Then came one more palate cleanser I loved. It was a mixed berry reduction with kaala namak (rock salt) and a tiny piece of guava. This is creativity at it's best. Just loved it and requested a second portion shamelessly. Nivriti was my company in this sin :-)
While we were giggling over the mixed berry, the dessrt wine made it's entry and they announced that it was a discovery moment. The dessert was a surprise. Made us really eager to know.
The dessert wine, served in a shot glass was Muscatel Oro. Very tasty wine to sip slowly. Sweet deep flavors. Very potent.
The dessert platter was beautiful. We had to guess what was what. This foamy dome shaped dessert is a Mascarpone kheer on a Pistachio biscuit served with a creme foam. It was nice but for someone like me who isn't much a dessert person, it was just okay. The far left is a mango Pannacotta with a berry reduction on the side and a Chocolate sliver. Rightly sweetened, nice texture but I rarely like Pannaccotta, so wouldn't talk much about it..
What was the most intriguing for me, is this Gulabjamun Creme brulee. Two small Gulab jamuns, dunked in a Tea liquor creme mixture and baked like a Creme brulee. It had a hard crust like proper Creme brulee, not tapping hard but quite flaky hard and it was sweet. Just too sweet for me but so good I licked clean the bowl. Have a closer look..
And there was this award winning shot of Espresso and Kahlua topped with a froth of Tia Maria mixed by a very beautiful girl from Assam, Manisha. This is the Illiccino as Manisha introduced, winner of a world Barista championship. The brown sugar rim of the shot glass was just fantastic with the kick of coffee and liquors.
The degustation ended with some more chatter, some more giggles and promises to meet again. It was time to say good bye to to everyone. Anasuya Basu and Meena Chopra gifted us all with these small pots of Mint and Wheat grass, a delight for a gardener like me. I used the wheat grass in a salad as it was not enough fro juicing. I must tell you it tastes great in salads as well.
The Mint would keep me company in the garden for a long time.
All of us including Ruchira, Rekha, Sushmita, Rituparna and myself had a good time together. Nivriti was an added bonus to our pack :-)
As mentioned in the beginning, I often suggest people regarding how to choose sensibly when eating out. In this eight course lunch for non-vegetarians, I found there was too little of vegetables, raw or cooked. I would have liked a little more vegetables on the sides of meat and fish servings. I compensated by requesting for a Broccoli dish which I didn't like much but compensated for my vegetable serving in a meal. The Deconstructed samosa, the rice in the Biryani and the crackers with the Twin Chicken tikka can be easily avoided as the meat portions were enough filling as a serving.The vegetarian menu was more rich with vegetables, there were more grains on it as were the proteins. Large servings so you could easily avoid too much carbs and eat the protein portions happily. I always feel it's not so tough to eat sensibly on a formally laid out meal. Just be aware what you want and avoid the others. And most importantly, you might need to skip the next meal if you have had a heavy meal in such a case.
Hope it helps a few of you. Please let me know if it does.