Blog :A Mad Tea Party
Date: 10/1/2011 5:41:08 AM
L’aperitivo Italiano at The Grey Garden
I have been vegging the last two days. TV and the couch have been a major part of this weekend. Before the weekend comes to an end I think I should clear a few pending things [too late...it's
midweek already almost end-of-week the weekend already!]. Reviews for one…
In March this year (yes, you cannot depend on me for a timely post) I was sent a box of picture perfect Washington apples by the India representatives of Washington Apple Commission(!). I was invited to a tasting session which I declined since my 9-6 time is usually spoken for during the workweek, and hence, the delivery. Each one of those seven specimens (Braeburn, Cripps Pink, Fuji, Gala, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith) were easily amongst the best apples I had ever eaten. Crisp, juicy, and falvourful.
The only problem with the apples is that they are not local. Far from it. They really are from Washington, USA! I was hoping that they had just been named after some Washington varieties grown in Himanchal. It is one thing to occasionally try out exotic fruits (and ingredients) but quite another to eat apples on a regular basis that are flown in all the way from the US of A! Is it the same as Indians in the US splurging on the recently-allowed-to-be-exported Alphonso? Perhaps not since our own apples here are neglected for lack of proper storage and transportation facilities. Look for good apples from Kinnaur and Kashmir; crisp, with just a hint of tartness. It is impressive that the imported ones sell at all since they are priced at double the local ones (Rs90 vs. Rs 180/kg!). But, then in summer Delhites will buy the ones imported from New Zealand at almost Rs300/kg! I think I might be too middle class for Delhi. If only we would import quince… Well, we could encourage the Kashmiris to plant some more quince trees instead, I suppose. Here’s a promise – if I am ever safe to return to my homeland I will start my own quince and sour cherry orchard!
Starters are the main course for some!
scrambled eggs with champagne
Some time last year I attended a tasting at the launch of a new menu at Amici, the Italian restaurant in Khan Market. But I never got around to writing a review. Later, I was invited to a Sunday brunch at the Lalit, which I had every intention of writing about…Bengali food was an additional promotion and I recall enjoying the bhindi-sarson (okra in a mustard sauce) with rice. I ate well, especially when it came to dessert. Bengali desserts are hard to pass even if you are full. There was a mind boggling array of confectionery to choose from. I was more interested in the mishti doi and kheer, of course. Sunday Brunches are a good idea and The LaLit is a good option. They do advertise unlimited champagne but you may need to remind them about that.
Lick it clean?
Mishti doi, gurer kheer…
The Grey Garden
Last Friday TH and I found ourselves at the charming The Grey Garden, yet another new restaurant in Hauz Khas village. It is a restaurant with a difference though. It was started about six months ago by three young people none of whom is a chef. Two of them are fashion designers and one a DJ! Most of the people who officiate in the small kitchen are also cooks like you and me, none of them trained.
On Friday evenings they do Suppers with everyone seated together at one table. We were at a small cocktail event to introduce Artic, an Italian vodka (I know).
The folk at Artic asked them to do an Italian themed supper centered around their vodka. We were on time but the first ones there. As we chatted with Himanshu, one of the designer owners, Harsh served us our first cocktails of the evening – Crimson Passion (nice!) for TH and a coffee based one for me (no Toro Bravo, I’m afraid). [More about the drinks here.] Soon other invitees started to arrive. It was a small group – there was Kishi of Foodaholics (she lives in my neck of the woods!), Vikas (of Tullyho fame), a few other critics and invitees – perhaps ten of us in all. As on all Friday-night Suppers at the Grey Garden, we were all seated at a communal table to enjoy good food and conversation in the company of new acquaintances.
Yummy assortment of Pizzas
Sparkling jelly and fruit
We started with a refreshingly tart chilled Raspberry Gazpacho. A tempura of broccoli, baby corn, and prawns followed. The broccoli tasted bitter which I think had little to do with the vodka in the batter. ‘Tis not the season! This was followed by an assortment of thin crust pizzas with different toppings – salmon and caviar, salame piccante, and pumpkin, sage, and caramelized onion, all very delicious. Pizza is a regular offering at The Grey Garden and they know how to do them well. The rest of the menu was specially planned around the vodka. I had the Mince meat Ravioli with Lemon Vodka and Asparagus Sauce as the main course. Unfortunately, it had been plated too early and was cold by the time it was served. It didn’t help that the asparagus had tough bits. I haven’t cooked with asparagus before so I can’t tell if that was because it had not been peeled properly or if it was just poor quality produce. For the vegetarians there was Traditional Risotto Funghi which stayed untouched on all plates. I took a spoonful from TH’s plate, my first taste of risotto outside my own kitchen. I’m afraid the rice was so undercooked that the core was still firm and dry!
The risotto…ah, well…
We washed it all down with the Tiramisu; that is how much Orange Vodka there was in it!
This was a special Supper Club evening where the focus was on the Vodka and obviously they hadn’t tested the recipes on their experimental menu. It is no excuse but I reckon they are new to the restaurant business and will figure out their food just as their neighbor, Gunpowder, eventually did. It is fine to use exotic ingredients but perhaps, they can be combined with seasonal local produce for a better (and more sustainable) experience. Some professional help to assist the enthusiast cooks in the kitchen is an idea worth exploring. Reading this you might want to give them a second chance. Stick to their popular items and you should be fine.
The Grey Garden does do things differently. I enjoyed sitting at the table sharing food and stories with people I had never met before. For the Supper Club you are always seated not with your companion. This makes it a truly urban experience which was fun [even though it is a little out of my usual comfort zone]. The design background of the owners is evident in the decor, bits of which receive a makeover every now and then. The coloured fabric ceiling and the soft lighting added to the cozy ambiance, and the white muslin aprons hanging from above added an element of curiosity as well as whimsy to the whole presentation. The 11.11 Cell Design fashion gallery next door is where their design work is displayed. Check them out.