Good food comes in all shapes and colours. The 'real' good food comes from fresh flavourful ingredients that have been treated well during cooking. Some extremely driven modern Chefs are doing a lot of artistry with food changing its appearance on the plate, taking the art of plating to new artistic heights. Some of these plated dishes are such a riot of colours and forms that one doesn't feel like disturbing the art piece by digging a spoon in it.
I am not too fond of syringes poking my food or the food served on weird looking contraptions, but I am fairly experimental with the play of textures and colours on my plate. The real taste of the fine ingredients shining through a dish is a treat and if it comes with some such playfulness I am all game for it.
One such meal was at Bella Cucina, the Italian fine dining restaurant at Le Meridien Gurgaon that we recently experienced. Chef Amit Kumar, the soft spoken Chef de cuisine at Bella Cucina, treated us to his special Chef's table and I can say the essence of real food shines through his food with stark honesty.
The amuse-bouche came with a fresh Nasturtium bloom, a strawberry coulis with feta ice was a riot of flavours. The Mushroom Cappuccino was so good, creamy flavour of mushrooms with a hint of saltiness from olive dust, I requested for a second serving and thoroughly enjoyed it. Served in a small cup and saucer this mushroom cappuccino comes with a Porcini brioche that accentuates the mushroom flavours.
The next course came with a jar that was opened at the table, smoke billowing out of the jar summoning our curiosity. Fleshy slivers of Tuna smoked inside the jar to be topped over a beautifully laid salad on the plate that had poached egg with spinach hollandaise, an interesting take on the classic salad Nicoise, the flavours coming together like a song. Both of us polished off the salad to the last bit of even the microgreens.
The spinach and nut ravioli was a delight to dig into. Stuffed to the gills with creamy spinach and nut (cashew and pine nuts) paste, the ravioli was topped with morel sauce with chunks of morels that made it a delectable play of flavours. Microgreens were unnecessary over this I felt, but thankfully they didn't hamper the flavours.
Next came the Pumpkin and saffron risotto which was made well but I felt it should have had more flavours of pumpkin in it. With potent undertones of saffron, lime and burnt garlic blended really well in the risotto and the husband loved it for a change. He is not much of a risotto fan.
The meat course was Australian lamb with chorizo coating and pork jus, grilled baby carrot, golden beet and scallion on the side. Great play of flavours again but I was too full by this time to enjoy meat which was rarer than I prefer and it was too big a portion, I finished the vegetables on the side though.
I decided to skip desserts but Arvind enjoyed the classic Tiramisu and a dark chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis plated creatively.
Bella Cucina, the newly opened restaurant is a good choice for Italian food in NCR as I felt the regular menu is also quite extensive yet very straightforward, classic Italian with some fun tweaks bringing the oomph factor. One can try the pizzas and several types of pastas, risottos, salads, meats and seafood, prices are lower than most five star fine dining restaurants for a change.
The cappuccino of mushroom reminded me of my own simpler version that I haven't shared here as yet. Find the mushroom cappuccino in the next blogpost and try at home if you love mushrooms.