I got to meet Chef Daniel Ayton at Kafe Fontana, the all day dining restaurant at Taj Palace here in New Delhi and taste British food. Getting to know the legacy of any kind of traditional food from someone who belongs to the land is the best way to explore the intricacies and I was kicked about tasting some authentic British food. This Chef's table was hosted in association with British High Commission and a variety of cheeses from Britain were introduced to us.
The special food festival A taste of Britain is going on till the end of this month. It is actually a well laid buffet alongside some Indian and Lebanese options alongside.
Chef Ayton talked about how British took influences from all over, having had colonies in all parts of the world and adapting the foods to British sensibility. We talked about English rice pudding and Kedegiri and how we have our own versions of meat stews and fish bakes after the British Raj. All our Indian hills have a rich tradition of baked English pies and stews thanks to British having their summer houses in the colder climes in the hills.
Chef Ayton has a long association with Taj London and had brought some special cheeses to be displayed here at Taj Palace, New Delhi. He patiently introduced every single cheese to us.
The British blue cheese called 'black sticks' is soft and creamy with high fat content, the taste is deeper with a pleasant after taste. Red Leicester is a mature cheddar which is very rich in flavours. Another blue cheese with lesser fat content and more dry which tasted a bit nutty. But the most interesting cheese was the Cornish Yarg, this cheese is matured wrapped in Nettle leaves and I was pleasantly surprised how nettle imparts it's flavours into this cheese. Quite nutty and a prominent whiff of nettle for sure.
I loved the Lebanese salads. Artichokes with sumac, beet root tzatziki, smooth hummus, a really fresh and flavourful tabbouleh were my favourites. A nice fattoush salad with feta, olives and lettuce with crisp fried pastry was really good too.
But the real find of the day was this fish soup called Cullen Skink (more of a Scottish soup). Made of Haddok the soup was made with saffron to add colour and flavours and the result was totally astounding. Small bits of potatoes and flavours of parsley and onion melded so well with saffron. The soup is not fishy at all.
A crumbed fish fry drizzled with melted cheese was also good. But such fish fried can never be wrong. It was a good accompaniment with the refreshing salads. The Billingsgate fish pie was a good find though, named after the Billingsgate fish market.
The fish pie was lovely, very subtle flavours and mashed potato on top. I liked it quite a lot. Creamy and nicely infused with herbs.
I can't say the same for Corn fed chicken in barbecue sauce. I wont care for corn fed chicken in the first place and the barbecue sauce was more Indianised I felt. Nothing to write home about.
A good looking Butcher's pie was a well made meat pie but I would prefer a flaky paratha with Indian style meat stew any day. It was not my thing. I don't care for soggy puff pastry over a hearty meat stew.
Among the vegetarian fare there was this gorgeous stuffed bell peppers with risotto. It was nice but I was expecting better flavours.
I liked the vegetable mille-feuille that was cooked with a rich cheese sauce.
The pesto flavoured vegetable crumble was not my kind of dish though I love vegetables in almost all forms.
Desserts are not my thing but I love to taste in small teaspoons, I like cooking and baking desserts for others after all. I enjoyed a few bites into the Sherry Trifle. Rich and flavourful, a bit over the top creamy but trifles would be like that.
This British Summer Pudding with currants and raspberries was really good. A bit tart from the berries, the pudding wont feel too sweet on the palate, just the way I like my desserts.
Among the many desserts I tried in small bites I loved the white chocolate bark with refreshing hints of mint. No I loved that white chocolate bark and intend to recreate it at home soon.
This chocolate bark stayed with me as I left Kafe Fontana feeling stuffed. This would be the only big meal of the day in any case and well enjoyed as I found a few gems here.
Even though there were a few misses in this buffet, I found a few gems to remember. Good experience overall I must add.