It is not often that everything comes together beautifully in one evening, great wine, good food, excellent wine and fabulous chemistry. It did on the 8th of Arpil in one corner of Mumbai.
The 4th Food bloggers dinner took place at the Red Zen restaurant at the 1 year old Courtyard by Marriott (not to be confused with the JW Marriott). And if you have not been there yet, I suggest you go. I vetted it a while ago, when they invited me to try their lunch bentos and came away suitable impressed (not an easy task to please my jaded palate – especially for an oriental restaurant since I have extremely high standards). So when they asked me to host a bloggers table, I was more than happy to showcase this charming little restaurant of the eaten track. As always, it was fabulous to play catalyst to bringing together a growing tribe of foodies. Thanks to Rubani, Niketa and the fabulous team at the Marriott, who went to great lengths to create the perfect evening, we had a fabulous time! We also had the largest turnout EVER which, to my mind merited a group picture that I harangued everyone into posing for.
On the menu this time is a Progressive Dinner where we began with a wine tasting session conducted by Marriotts Head Sommelier, Remi Torres, The wine tasting session started on a light note with a KUMALA (2008) Chardonnay Semillion from the Western Cape of South Africa, a very light fruity wine with citrus flavours followed by a LAROCHE(2009) De La Chevalière Chardonnay from aromatic with hints of grapefruit & White Peach. The flavours intensified with the LAROCHE(2009) De La Chevalière Cabernet Sauvignon from France that had hints of prunes and black cherries but the wine that stole my heart for the evening was the KUMALA (2008) Pinotage Shiraz from the Western Cape South Africa. A medium bodied wine with a strong introduction of coffee notes that opened up into spicy black pepper notes and wild berries on the palate. I decided to stick with that one for the rest of the evening!
Once the tasting session was done, our appetites somewhat sated for the moment with some lovely cheeses we followed the Marriott team back down to the Red Zen Restaurant for a behind-the-scenes look at the Marriot Chefs Thampy and Praiwan cooking up some fabulous appetisers inspired by Thai street food. Our mouths were set to watering with bowls of spicy Som Tam (Papaya salad as the Chefs dished up yummy things, mini spring rolls, mini chicken satay and the most fabulous Thai black pepper prawns I had eaten in a long long time. So good that i just had to get an A Perfect Bite of a shot of them. While everyone was clustering about the show kitchen, I quietly grabbed me a bowl of salad, topped it up with the prawns and snuck away to the table to savour it in solitude and watch everyone talking, meeting making new friends and having fun!
Slowly they all made their way across to us at the table, settling down as wines were topped up and conversations continued; cameras, advice on photos, people taking pictures of people taking pictures, for once food took a back seat, and fun was the flavour of the evening. We then we sat down to special Thai menu cooked beginning with a bowls of Tom Kha Gai, a galangal scented Thai coconut soup, followed by Phad Thai Pak – absolutely delicious Thai style rice noodles fried with vegetables and roasted peanut. Steamed rice followed, accompanied by Pong Kra-ree a yellow curry of wok fried prawn , Pla Saam Rod which was deliciously crisp fried fish fillet in an aromatic garlic chilli sauce Gai Phad Khieng Sod in which chicken had been wok fried with ginger, and a vegetarian Thai Green curry to round of the flavours. What a meal!
But we were not done yet, a few minutes later desserts arrives, platters showcasing an array of fabulous looking desserts, a Basil Panacotta, Philadelphia cheese cake and Chewy brownie with fudge. Forgive me Rubani and team, but I have to say this after the meal, the desserts were disappointing! I would have preferred tha decadent spring rolls you served me last time with that seductive pineapple salsa!
But those prawns more than made up!
And here are my favourite recipes from the evening... I know some of the others liked them as well so I thought I would share.
Som Tam Papaya salad
Carrot 40 g
Garlic 10 g
Thai chili 10 g
Long bean 60 g
Tomato cherry 60 g
Roasted Peanut 40 g
Green Papaya sliced 150 g
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Fish sauce 1 tbsp
Palm sugar 1 tbsp
(1) Slice and julienne the carrots and papayas.
(2) String the long bean and cut it to 1" baton
(3) In a mortar and pestle, muddle and mix all the remaining ingredients and mix well.
(4) Add the vegetables toss and mix well and serve chilled.
Phad thai pak
Tamarind juice 20 ml
Black Soya 1 tbsp
White Soya 1 tbsp
Sweet chili sauce 20 ml
Carrot 140 g
Ground Roasted peanut 120g
Bean sprouts 140 g
Cooking oil 20 ml
Rice noodles 3 mm 160 g
(1)Soak the rice noodles in hot water for about 20 mins
(2)Meanwhile in a wok add in some cooking oil and toss in the bean sprout
(3) Add the rice noodles and all the given ingredients. Stirfry till noodles are soft but crunchy
(4) Serve hot Garnished with rosated ground peanuts
Thai black pepper prawn
Prawn 18/22 tail on 160 Gms
Chopped Garlic 20 Gms
Chopped corainder 10 Gms
Black pepper 10 Gms
Oyster sauce 2 Tbsp
Cooking oil 2 Tbsp
chopped carrot 20 Gms
(1) heat up a wok
(2) add in oil and heat
(3)add in chopped garlic and carrots
(4)Add in prawns and toss with all the sauces and seasonings given.
(5) serve hot
Pla saam rod
Fish fillet ( basa) 160 Gms Garlic chopped 10 Gms
Red chili chopped 10 Gms
Chopped corainder 10 Gms
Sweet chili sauce 40 Mls
Cooking oil 2 Tbsp
Corn flour 20 Gms
Hot basil 5 Gms
(1) coat the fish with seasoning and corn flour and deep fry, keep aside.
(2)in a wok heat some oil , add in all the chopped the herbs and fish stock.
(3) adjust seasoning and consistency with corn flour
(4) arrange the fried fish in a bowl and pour the sauce over it.
The evening was covered in a story on Blogs and Brands - blogs as new influencers in Times Of India today.