My ode to indolence began with glasses of fresh juices, which Chef Vijay Malhotra explained was good for me. Now naturally, I am resistant towards anything that’s supposed to be good for me, because, as per the trends, good often means bland and tasteless. However, the apple and pomegranate juice was sweet and cold and rather refreshing, so I gulped it down quickly along with a slice of warm Ragi and Amaranth Bread, slathered generously with soft butter (because health is wealth) and some Tomato-Basil Pesto. ITC has been working with India’s ancient grains, utilizing them to create dishes that are nothing short of genius, and the bread had taken them a considerable amount of time to get to the right texture – I was given some to take back home, and it tasted amazing the next day, heated up slightly, the bread fluffy and moist inside, mildly yeasty, and a crunchy exterior, made more interesting with a generous sprinkle of poppy seeds and more, and because I didn’t want to fill up on bread, I resisted and moved on to the cheese course.
ITC works with local flavours, seasonal products, and essentially, ingredients which are not just tasty, but also really good for you, because ITC’s concept is to accept Responsible Luxury, and they are the first company in India to adopt the Choose Wisely program, in association with WWF. I love the fact that they served a tender coconut and date concoction, the mildly creamy coconut flavours melding with the sweet dates – not too sweet a result, but quite a booster – I paired this with my Brie, which came with a Pretzel crust, a side of beetroot and apple chutney, together with a long sliver of radish, which is a winter favorite for me.
The play of texture here is fun – crunch from the radish, sweeteness by the chutney, and the centre stage held by the cheese, encrusted with pretzels to give it that crispy exterior which highlights the cheese in the end. I was planning on not sharing, but as there were several more courses to come, I gave some to A who gleefully scooped up his portion and smeared a generous amount of apple chutney on it before consuming.
A man came and poured us water – which is, again, from Kolkata, and yet, pure and crystal. Then, he proceeded to pour some soup for me – a rich puree of butternut and carrot, served with some ribbons of rice noodles and vegetables – K was happily dipping her spoon into it every now and then, her face a study of delight.
Although technically it should be “katsu” and not “Tonkatsu” (because the word ‘tonkotsu’ in Japanese means Pork Bone, and generally indicates at pork, and not chicken, however, the thinly coated cutlet, slathered with mayo and sandwiched between a split multigrain bun was rather delicious and I might have sneaked out towards S’s share of fries, dipping them in the creamy white katsu sauce it was served with.
Okay, for a few seconds, admire the beauty that is this pizza. There’s pockets of gorgonzola, my favourite stinky cheese, hidden under that mozzarella, and yes, that’s lamb bresoala, salty, with a delicious ribbon of fat glistening through it, right on top.
I might have filled up on this.
I’m not sorry.
This conversation is over.
I admit, after I saw these pork ribs, the rest of the afternoon turned slightly hazy for me. Of course, I saw other beauties, but at that time John Donne was quietly telling things like, “If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee”, and well, these were sweet but not sickly sweet, sticky but not painful to lick off, and the meat wasn’t mushy or chewy, but with a lovely lacing of panchphoron, which showed the thought that went into in making the dish. I might have picked a plate of this and gone over to a quiet corner to spend some time alone with it. It was worth every moment, especially with some crunchy potato strings on the side, and white rice to sop up the sticky glaze.
lamb ribs and broad beans tagineMy other favourite from the rather extensive menu was the lamb tagine with broad beans, which, weirdly enough, left me longing for a well-made cassoulet, and the cous cous on the side was quickly combined and savoured with the stray olive slices here and there. I might have taken my plate outside to enjoy the late afternoon’s sunshine and the pretty pool with the koi and lotus leaves.
Desserts were difficult to choose from, but although I enjoyed bites of the chocolate fudge, which is undoubtedly one of the best desserts of Eden Pavilion, I preferred the Milk Chocolate Parfait with Darjeeling Tea Nameleka, simply because it delivered everything it promised – light as air parfait, a smear of rich chocolate sauce, and a huddle of roughly crushed cookies to offset the smoothness of the parfait. The tea was more like an afterthought, faintly lingering in the aftertaste, reminding me of the gentle sunlight on a cold day in Kalimpong. My favourite part was the small bites D kept on taking from my dessert, as we chatted and laughed away till twilight fell.
Eden Pavilion’s attempt to work with local produce, seasonal products, and forgotten superfoods of India is a very welcome gesture from a huge group, and as I am interested in protection of heritage food, I would like to see this being implemented more around my city. I am grateful to ITC Sonar for the invite to the meal, and it remains one of my fondest meal memories from this year. You can check out more details about this by following hashtags like #ResponsibleLuxury or #TrendingAtPavilion .
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited by ITC Sonar for the tasting.