In one of my older posts, I talked about the Goût de France, 2016, and the really lovely tasting session I had at the French Embassy. This year, I was invited to attend the event to a few places, but thanks to my schedule, I ended up in two lovely places – one at The Lalit Great Eastern, and the other at Novotel.
I had a lovely time chatting with the Consul General of France in Kolkata, Damien Syed, who, strangely enough, shares my fascination for the French Revolution, and Marquis de Sade (of all people!), and we chatted amiably for a considerable period of time, discussing philosophy and literature.
As the day I attended was a dry day (which means no alcohol), we were served refreshing mocktails, and I was happy with my virgin mojito, which wasn’t too sweet (thank God!). Our meal consisted of a few courses, starting off with the Chicken Liver Pâté which was served inside a crisp, wafer-thin roll, placed delicately on a terrine of chicken, curls of carrot, and little dabs of balsamic around it. Dark, sweet jam cut through the richness of the pâté and added a hit of sweetness, and before I knew it, my plate was empty.
We were asked to select our mains, and I chose the Navarin of Lamb, because really, why choose anything else when you can pick a tender shank of lamb, which holds on to its shape until you pull the meat apart with your fork? The meat came with some root vegetables, and I sorely missed some bread to mop up the beautiful jus.
Before the arrival of dessert, we had a little cheese course to whet our appetite for what was to come. The cheese of choice here was Brie, sandwiched with some tart, cherry jam, between two pieces of salted cracker, served with a simple salad. The Brie, as usual, kept me interested in this plate, while I found the salad superficial for a cheese course.
Our dessert was one I had talked about previously in the post – and I am so glad they served it again – there is something about this dessert which I cannot get enough – this was a rich and gloriously satisfying end to my rather decadent meal at The Lalit Great Eastern. They also sent us away with miniature Easter Cupcakes and Hot Cross Buns, and I could not help but pick up some gorgeous Chocolate Pastries from their bakery (and did you know, the bakery gives attractive discounts after 5 pm in the evening?).
I have to admit, on the 21st I was at Novotel sampling their rather decadent French menu, paired with matched wines. I liked the white I was served – I forgot to check the name, but I assume it was a Sauvignon Blanc which is around a year and half old, rather light and fruity, with a mild, off-dry finish that is rather pleasing to the palate, right up to the end.
Here we started off with a tiny cup of Forest Mushroom Cappuccino, with a rich and rather satisfying creamy mushroom soup, topped with a mild, Grueyere cheese foam on top, and served with a Grissini rolled in herbed parmesan. It was a rather stunning start to our meal, and the chef followed this with a mild, vegetarian appetizer, Compressed Melon Blood Orange, Feta, Aged Balsamic & Basil Coulis Salad, which I had sampled before at the preview, and loved its freshness which was a perfect counterpart to the creaminess of the soup.
But well, why not sample more starters? As HD in front of me asked for some Salmon Tartare, I picked the Chicken Liver Mousse, with Port Jelly, Micro Herb Salad & Farm House Bread. At this point, A had joined us, so we ended up smearing generous heaps of the mousse on bread, and popped them in our mouth. I have to say, if you are not a fan of chicken liver this is really not going to be your favourite, but thankfully, I am, and this was incredible. The silkiness of the liver, with butter adding to its richness, was in beautiful contrast with the port jelly and the crunchy bread. The salad was vastly overlooked here, though. A little blob of chunky fig jam added another glorious textural and flavour-based contrast altogether.
Initially, I was served a main course which I had to send back because of my allergies. Then, when asked what I would like to have, I simply said rare steak, and that’s exactly what I got. The Chargrilled Tenderloin Of Beef, Café De Paris Butter, Asparagus Spears And Roesti Potatoes is what any dedicated beef lover would appreciate. The meat was rare inside – melt-in-your-mouth pink flesh, well-rested to ensure all the juices remained inside, topped with the flavourful butter which melted and coated the meat with a mild herb and spice-laden glory which I could not get enough of. The Roesti potato at the bottom was a crisp disc of riced potatoes, and being a potato lover, I did not hesitate to finish it off. The asparagus batons were crunchy, and drizzled lightly with the pan jus.
Our meal ended with desserts – I picked the Chocolate Sphere, Spicy Poached Pears, Chocolate Soil with French Vanilla Icecream. Imagine a pool of melting chocolate and ice cream, with bits of soft, wine-poached pear bits begging for attention. It makes a girl want to weep in the happiness of it all.
The Goût de France 2016 is an event I have looked forward to since the year before last, and I look forward to the next year for more great food!
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to Novotel and Lalit Great Eastern by the respective managements.