It was one of those relaxed weekdays, when we decided to sneak out of office early and just laze around at home- doing nothing. Tugga is usually not at home during afternoons and what better way to spend time than watch one of the many dvds that we buy but don’t get around watching them. We saw ‘The 100 foot Journey’ and we fell in love with the movie, the characters, the dialogues, the food, the place; almost everything about it. At that instance, we wanted to move to a small village in France and settle down (like that was ever possible). Well, a little day dreaming was never harmful.
It was an invitation from The Lalit Great Eastern for a sit down dinner with The Consul General of France on the 18th of March 2017, for a preview to the upcoming Gout De France 2017 on the 21st of March 2017. I couldn’t be happier and all the memories of Madame Mallory, the owner of the Michelin starred restaurant, came flooding back to my mind; how she made sure the plating was perfect and how she pushed her chefs to create magic with ingredients. That’s what French food is all about- dainty petit portions, elegantly presented on a plate and each mouthful takes you to heaven. I was completely fired up to enjoy this gastronomy.
The Legacy Grill was a perfect setting for hosting this dinner. After pleasantries were exchanged, we sat down and first came the soup. It was a lovely green lettuce soup over a bed of onion custard- smooth and buttery; it was a perfect beginning.
What came next blew my mind, especially since it consisted of 2 favourite ingredients of mine- chicken liver and mushrooms. A pate is always delectable but this one was extraordinary. I was told that the Hotel had impressed everyone at the French Consulate during the curtain raiser event of Gout De France 2017 with their pate. It was a chicken liver pate with a multitude of different elements. Yes, you heard me right. When we talk about elements, we remember Masterchef Australia and how the pressure test is all about getting a million elements correct on the plate. There was the pate and then there was another portion of the pate rolled up in a white wine jelly. There were 4 kinds of mushrooms (enoki, shitake, porcini and oyster) done in different ways. The porcini was actually in the form of dried powder adding a very subtle earthy flavour to the smooth pate. There were pickled mushrooms, which were sweet and tangy. There were small cubes of Sauterne jellies, which were bursting with sweetness in the mouth. I could go on and on with this dish. And it came with a glass of Riesling 2014 which was quite sweet, with a mild level of acidity, making it a perfect pairing with the spiced chicken liver pate. From the corner of my eye, I noticed Anindya polish everything off the plate. All in all, the chicken liver pate was outrageously fabulous. Executive Chef Madhumita Mohanta had outdone herself once again.
The main had options of fish and lamb. While everyone at the table opted for fish, I went for the lamb. It was a big hearty portion of meat in the centre of a large plate garlanded with garlic mash, puy lentils and black olive dirt. The lamb was baked with stuffing of its own kidney fat, which enabled it to remain juicy in the centre, while it sat on a jus made with its own juices and the usual carrots, wine and herbs. While the pate had seduced me, this portion of the lamb managed to engulf my soul. Having a very simple and pure flavour profile, it still managed to excite the palate. This too came with a glass of my favourite Merlot from Bad Boy Thunevin. While I was devouring the lamb, the rest of the table were enjoying their delicate fillet of fish in a veloute which was velvety and just plain good. Did you think that I would not taste from Anindya’s plate? This dish also had a number of elements including a rucola crepe and fennel croquette.
The cheese course followed with a glass of sparkling wine. Fromage or cheese is something the French cannot live without. This was a plateful of Roquefort cheese, brie and tartare cheese which danced along with some apple chutney and prune and ginger jelly. It created a path for the final assault- a mille feuille. Layers of golden pastry wrapped in chocolate crumbs, dots of hazelnut chocolate mousse and cremeaux; this one turned out to be just like Madam Mallory says- ‘a passionate affair of the heart.’ This French classic was a sweet and salty dessert and was beyond sublime and came with a bubbly dessert wine.
It was time well spent with interesting conversation and extraordinary food. It was a food lover’s dream come true. It is not often that chefs get to display their culinary techniques and expertise on French cuisine in the city. So when the opportunity arrived, Chef Mohanta left no stones unturned. Apart from the 21st of March,the day Gout de France 2017 is happening, lovers of French cuisine will have the opportunity of experience this culinary brilliance till the 26th of March for dinner service only, at The Legacy Grill of The Lalit Great Eastern.
It was such a boon that my good friend and an acclaimed blogger Subhadip who blogs at Indianvagabond was carrying all the lights necessary to take some stunning pictures. Not only that he agreed to share the pictures with me also. Thank you Subhadip