This weekend I was invited by food consultant Nikhil Merchant and Botticino (an Italian restaurant a the Trident) for a very special cooking demonstration followed by lunch. The event was every bit informative and educative as I expected, and I had several firsts, which made the lunch especially memorable.
I spent most of Saturday morning lazily getting ready, drinking lemon infused water and eating fresh fruit ; preparing my palette for the opulence that would follow. I also began bracing myself for a long lonely drive to Nariman point when thankfully our very thoughtful host, sent a gentle reminder, that the event was at the other Trident. Who knew there was one tucked away in BKC? Anyway it was perhaps the best news of the day as it meant my lonely drive would not be so long after all. The Suburban Trident is designed more for corporate clients and caters to BKC’s high end office crowd. Bottocino is one of it’s specialty restaurants. ‘Bottocino’ is a province in Italy, which I assume inspires the name.
As soon as I reached I was welcomed with a glass of Prosecco, a dry Italian sparkling wine. Though I enjoy wine as an accompaniment and it is usually my preferred spirit, I do not claim to be very informed about wines. So I willingly listened to all the knowledge shared by the Manager about the Prosecco and all the other wines that followed.
This was followed by an introduction to Grappa, a fragrant grape brandy. This brandy is consumed after a meal, in the form of a shot or even sprayed on post-meal coffee. Incidently Italians describe this Grappa topped coffee as ‘caffe coretto’ or ‘corrected coffee’. The meal ends on a high note, literally.
Finally the cooking demo. So far I had seen pasta being made only on television. Though I love to cook, I had never tried making pasta from scratch and so I was pretty excited about learning the fine art of making Ravioli, which is undoubtedly my favourite form of pasta. My trusty apron went with me but sadly it was a demonstration and I didn’t get a chance to dig my paws into the dough. It was a treat to watch Chef Vikas Vichare’s skillful well-trained hands mould thin sheets of dough and deftly craft Chicken stuffed Ravioli.
The Fine Art of Making Ravioli
After watching mouth-watering food being made, I was obviously hungry and ready to feast. A beautifully laid table waited for us. We were served some Chianti and an amuse bouche. For all the lovely multiple course meals I’ve had, I’ve never been served an amuse bouche. In this case it was the Chef’s special take on the classic Caprese salad; made with the reddest tomatoes I’ve ever seen, fresh mozzarella and basil salt. It did everything an amuse bouche was meant to do, got the juices flowing and set the mood for the courses to follow. Just like foreplay is to the act of love making.
For an entree I chose another of the Chef’s specialties; the Pan Fried Goose Liver. Having never eaten foie gras before I was apprehensive, more for ethical reasons. I’ll try everything once and have no qualms about eating any meat as long as it is bred for consumption. I do however try to be aware of ethical debates where food is concerned and hope for a world where we achieve a balance between our need to consume and our moral/ecological responsibility. This foie gras dish was delicious. The strong fatty liver is an acquired taste, but the sides of potato galletes toned it down perfectly.
( After a little research about foie gras I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t for me. Geese are unnaturally force fed and fattened to make foie gras, which translates to ‘fat liver’. Everyone has an opinion about what is morally correct. To each his own. I have certain boundaries set for myself. Just as I wouldn’t eat shark fin soup, where the rest of the shark is left to die, I don’t feel comfortable eating the liver of a bird that has been unnaturally, brutally fattened. )
Pan Fried Liver Pate & pecorino salad with arugula and balsamic dressing
The meal ended with a Ice Cream platter. When I read this on the menu I wasn’t so excited. I’m not a huge ice cream fan, and was hoping for something more distinctly Italian. These unusual ice cream flavors however, took me by surprise and left me wanting more. Much much more. The Lemon cheesecake flavor was excellent, light and tangy with clumps of buttery biscuit mimicking the cheesecake base. My favourite by far was the Sea Salt and Burnt Sugar ice cream. Strange as it sounds, the salt and sweet caramel created a mind blowing burst of flavor, that had me wanting the next bite before I had swallowed the first. It is by far the best ice cream I have ever had in my life. I will probably go all the way to BKC just to have this glorious creation!