It was a gourmet Saturday for me, it started with some classic fare for breakfast from Veena Stores and rotti uta (roti meal) for lunch. From here on it became little exclusive a day starting with a private tasting of sparkling wines for the Food Lovers magazine at the Lantern at Ritz Carlton, we tasted around 9 sparklings from across the globe paired with assorted cheese and some middle-eastern dips and breads.
No my day wasn’t done yet, I brought in my evening at Bang the two month old lounge and nightspot on the hotel’s rooftop. The place is adorned with almost psychedelic lighting, relaxed lounge style seating , 20 meter long bar and at the fag-end of the place is a pavilion with a central fire pit, the roaring flame bejeweled the place. The seats around the fire were all taken and I took a seat at the bar. ‘Earth Fortune Awaits’ was my pick; one of their signature cocktails designed to be shared between two people and was served in a quirky fashion. It was a bold one with Cognac, homemade plum liqueur, ginger, honey and green tea, bold because it wasn’t very sweet but very potent and was bursting with earthy flavours that of tea, the oak, and the spice. I reserved the other crafted cocktails on the list for some other time as my table at the Riwaz, the northwest frontier cuisine restaurant at the hotel beckoned.
Riwaz had caught my eye during my last visit for its open interactive kitchen which I had seen for the first time in an Indian cuisine setting and a seat by the kitchen was a ubiquitous choice. I chose the single-diner menu; it gave me a selection of 4 starters, 2 main courses, dal, choice of bread, biryani and a dessert. My experience started with an amuse-bouche , sev-puri the Indian snack. As I sipped on my Krsma sauvignon blanc, I could see my starters being done up, the Tehdar Paneer Tikka and the Tandoori Malai Broccoli in the oven, the Bhuttiyan Kabab made of corn kernels and the delicate Subz Aur Gucchi Ki Galoti on the griddle. The starters arrived pre-plated with some condiments that included papaya chutney (marmalade like).The paneer and the broccoli held their marinades on, and the corn kebab was spiced well. The Subz aur Gucchi ki Galoti had struck my fancy when I had done a piece on vegetarian food and wine pairing. Gucchi or morels are a variety of mushrooms distinct from the others due to its spongy and honeycombed heads. They exude a lot of savory flavours and come at a cost upward of Rs 15000 a kilo. Kashmiri cuisine uses a lot of them since they are found mostly in Kashmir and the Himalayan region. The Galoti was surely exquisite and melt in mouth but sadly I was unable to appreciate the gucchi in them.
The Gucchi made up to me in the mains, the Kandahari Bharwan Gucchi Subz was delicate saffron scented gravy where the power of morels shone through. To complement this gravy was the Bakarkhani, a leavened bread with raisins, almond and saffron and copious amount of ghee, it’s divine and a must have at least once before you kick the bucket! Shiva the chef for the evening graciously explained me the nuances of the cuisine as platters of Raan and Kebabs went from the pass. I could only manage a spoonful of the motia pulao dressed up in varq, it was light and flavoursome.
The Anise torte, a chocolate fondant with a mango core and homemade rose ice-cream comprised dessert. At Rs 2300 ++ a head for a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian selection, this single-diner menu is a good bet. Napolean once said ‘An army marches on its stomach’ and food lovers perhaps thinks through one!!!