One of things I do well is eat like one who understands everything about food. The truth is a bit away from this though… I am learning new facets of food every day. But then I am also learning new facets of so many things – things that I was not aware of just a few years back.
For instance, I am learning the fun that is there in the life of a sommelier, or in the kitchen moments of a chef, or in the day of a communication expert of a major hotel chain! I asked my wife, ‘Well, tell me Specky, what would happen if we were to meet a top chef, a famous sommelier, and some charming communication experts in a dream hotel?’
She said, ‘We’ll fall in love with them all!’ Well, women have a way with simplifying everything in just a few words. I was expecting keywords like nervous, apprehensive, shy, reserved, reticent, and conscious to be tumbling in… but they didn’t. Good for us, because in less than three days after this little conversation we found ourselves in this dream combo – we were asked to go on a discovery of taste with Le Meridian on the 15th of September 2012.
When I informed her of this, Specky beamed and her smile told me that she was ready to fall in love again! ‘Charming,’ I mumbled.
We drove up the slightly winding path, left the car with the valet at the hotel and slowly walked into a world that is nothing short of a fairyland. No, I’m not being unduly romantic… but Meridien, art, and intuitive charm do go hand in hand. Eu De Monsoon was where we headed to… and began our journey into a mesmerizing afternoon with delightful palate teasers and colourful cocktails! Well, I am a diehard Samsung fan, being their brand ambassador, but the cocktail colours here reminded me immediately of the new Nokia launches! I whispered this to Specky and she immediately hissed back, ‘No tech talk here!’
There were the bloggers – some of them whom I had never met – and the sommeliers (Gurjit Singh Barry and Magandeep Singh), the communication team of Meridien (Meena, Anusuya, Anjali, and Aditi)… and lovely view through the large glass panels, the delectable canapés, the tantalizing drinks… and frankly, I did lose track of a lot of important informative tid-bits that came across my way! Wish I could have recorded conversations… because talking to knowledgeable bloggers like Sumit, Pawan, Anupama, Sushmita, Sangeeta, Ankita, Ankul and all the others there is nothing short of electrifyingly stimulating for the grey cells!
Much later I did manage to ask their wonderful chef Davinder Kumar about one secret of good cooking that he’d like to share with all, and he said with his mysterious and disarming smile: ‘…you have to repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat until it becomes part of yourself. I certainly don’t cook the same way I did years ago, but the technique remains. And that’s what the student needs to learn: the technique.’
‘Ah, the technique,’ I repeated with a sagacious nod and went on to tell him that the samplers or small portions he had prepared for us were simply delicious!
On an impulse I took out my Samsung Galaxy S III and searched for a quote on cooking and the first one that popped up on my mobile screen was one by Todd English:
‘I liked the energy of cooking, the action, the camaraderie. I often compare the kitchen to sports and compare the chef to a coach. There are a lot of similarities to it.’
I showed it to Specky and she quietly agreed… but I knew that she was enjoying her glass of Gobelsburger white wine with the deconstructed samosa that was one of the initial servings. Yes, there was the twin flavoured chicken tikka that I gobbled up, the Sea bass in madras curry was determined to be my favourite, and then there were a whole lot of Davinder show-cases that went rather well with the wines. Well, I say wines because I was alternating my sips with both red and white wine… quite oblivious of the hard stares I must have been getting from Specky. Well, not until she nudged and whispered, ‘Are you pretending to be the brave red-and-white warrior today?’
Believe me guys, when your wife nudges you, it is time to be careful… very careful. But then I got busy with the delicacies that Chef Davinder had so painstakingly prepared for us. In his own words, ‘Monsoon’s cuisine is intriguing. True and traditional in its roots, the dishes are prepared embracing an assortment of innovative ways.’
This Meridien lunch experience was turning out to be a really exciting day without any of the hoity-toity attitude and stiff upper lips… but then, did I tell you that Meridien is known the world over for making guests feel very comfortable and at ease. They have the best, they give their best… and people like me and all the others just smile and accept!
The party, and I can surely call this a party of discovery, became livelier with Magandeep’s smiling repartees and suddenly everyone was shedding inhibition and walking around and talking animatedly… I asked Magandeep if one needs to feel apprehensive while ordering a not so expensive wine at a restaurant, and he immediately replied, ‘Don’t order the most expensive wine just to come across as a connoisseur.’ He also told us that one need not really be too fussy about wine and food pairing and go ahead intuitively and discover our own taste!
‘Well said,’ I thought and continued with my red and white wine sips!
By the way, even Chef Davinder believes that ‘pairing is always a subjective exercise and we always hope that there are no single ‘right’ answers for the right combinations.’
Did I tell you that we were also shown the wine storage here and the sommelier was kind enough to patiently answer all sorts of questions pinged at him.
Well, we left a bit early that afternoon as my eye was misbehaving… well, all the lovely ladies there could surely have been a reason, but no, it was a mild allergy that made us take this decision. As we came out, we were also given boxes of yummy chocolates and a potted plant!
The afternoon was unforgettable… and I’m sure my new friends at the Meridien as well as from the blogger community will remain in the close circuit that the social media is good at building.
26 September 2012