It all began with a glass of fruity Prosecco complemented with parmesan at their Enoteca as we settled down for a culinary afternoon with Chef Vikas Milhoutra the Executive Chef of Taj Santacruz, a month old luxury addition to the Taj collection. The afternoon was to blazon their new Franco-Italian restaurant Rivea and it was effected in style with a nine course meal paired with wines and interspersed with quirky cocktails.
Rivea offers cuisine from the French Riviera, south-eastern France and it also extends into neighboring Liguria, North-western Italy. Both cuisines influence each other, the Provencal cooking unlike distinct French cooking uses olive oil, basil and other Provencal herbs and spices and the Ligurian cuisine uses butter to finish their dishes. Vikas a veteran at the Taj group with a career spanning 25 years spoke about the cuisine and said that the two regions will give him enough canvas to cater to a larger audience and showcase food which is more than stereotypical French or Italian. He also waxed eloquent about the Indian culinary scene with respect to availability of quality ingredients, did not surprise me considering he had come back to the country after more than a decade being across the globe the last being St James Court, London.
A break basket with rich Focaccia and a mortar full of pesto both Ligurian classics set the tone for the afternoon. Green Pea soup with beet foam, Grilled Eggplant, olives, mushroom and pungent Taleggio pizza came in tandem followed by Grilled Asparagus with Truffled Hollandaise and Parmesan shavings. You get all the Franco-Italian connection here, don’t you!!! 3 cheese ravioli with Gorgonzola and a wild mushroom tortellini tossed in sage butter set the Umami levels soaring. The Tuscan trebbiano which had peaked only pushed it up. The rich trio of Goat cheese and the al dente Rivea Parmigiana brought a terrific end to our mains. I chose a Columbia Valley Riesling to polish off the former.
Lastly the desserts ushered in the joie de vivre to a 3.5 hr food-high, they were Picasso on a plate! Rivea looks promising and I certainly need to explore more from their menu, the Socca made from Chickpea flour for sure, you never know we may stumble upon an Indo-Italian connection!