Culinary Event | Up Close and Personal with Chef Saby & Leonardo … & Sizzling Gamba {recipe}

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
Mae West

We were brought believing that too much of a good thing is bad! Times have clearly changed and with good times come dispelled notions! Our afternoon at the decidedly charming Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli sponsored by Leonardo Olive Oil was nothing short of magic.

{Warning: Long post}
Leonardo Olive Oil @ Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli Nine Delhi food bloggers, Italian cuisine and olive oil that flowed nonstop, celebrity Chef Saby with his passionate efficient team, warm and light hearted hosts Himani & Chandana, and one of my favourite eating places OLIVE – it was food heaven under one roof! Four hours with one of India’s top 10 chefs passed by in a heartbeat!Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI’m an ardent admirer of the super talented Chef Saby. Having missed a couple of opportunities to see him create culinary magic, this was one event that I wasn’t going to miss. Apprehensive about meeting a guy who has won just about every chef award in India, cooked for India’s top families like the Bachchans & Ambanis, someone inspired by Sydneys Tetsuya, he instantly put us at ease. Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

 Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI walked in on the dot of 12 noon, the given time … everything was ready, in place and waiting. Have been to events before where apparently a wait of 30 minutes+ is seemingly acceptable. Not so here. The anti pasti counters gleamed invitingly, Leonardo flavouring the spread –  apple relish, onion & chili jam, mushroom pate, hummus, Caprese salad, the exotic cheese platter, stuffed little red peppers with whipped feta {my favourite}, Leonardo olives, more olives, cured meats …Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi Himani Dalmia, Senior Manager Corporate, Leonardo and Chandana Paul went out of the way to make us live the experience – Up Close and Personal with Chef Saby and Leonardo”! It was soon time for Olive fish & chips, asparagus the vegetarian option! Crisp & delicious! Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiThe Chef? Jack of all trades and master too, wonderful human being, as level headed as he is large hearted, ever smiling, humorous, an engaging speaker, fantastic team leader, eagle eyed, perfectionist … too many adjectives but it’s impossible to describe the man in a few words! His accolades speak for him – Best Chef of India Awarded by President of India, National Tourism Award, 2011-12, Director of Kitchens – ai, lap, olive qutab, olive beach , the moving kitchen by olive yet so down to earth! {He even walked us to the porch and waited for our respective cars to come}.Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

For him, cooking is an art, the ultimate form of expression. “The platter is my canvas and the food ingredients, my colour!” … in the case of this artist you can eat his art. At Olive, he brings his love for all things culinary to life as he cooks right in front of the guests at a rustic kitchen called the Greenhouse on the Ridge. His recipes, as always, satiate and leave guests asking for more.

He threw his kitchen open to us, patiently guiding us into every nook and cranny {it was buzzing at lunch}, explaining kitchen procedures, chef training, sourcing fresh produce … the works! Once inside the cold room, you can imagine the grin when we saw the Padano! If we could have lifted that 40kg block of cheese we would have run for it!Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiThe menu for the day demonstrated different uses of Leonardo products – pasta, green and black olives, India’s first non-alcoholic beer, and olive oil of course! Non stop banter and photographs continued while discussing olive oil, the myths particularly surrounding pomace, the changing face of ‘food on our table’ … Pasta Marinare @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiOlive oil is the juice of the olive, the only oil on the market that is extracted from a fresh fruit is universally accepted as the healthiest of all edible oils. Adding olive oil to your diet is the easiest change you can make towards a healthier lifestyle. I ♥ olive oil! Mr V N Dalmia @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiLeonardo Olive Oil the first Indian brand of olive oil introduced in 2003 is a brand owned by Dalmia Continental Private Limited the flagship company of VN Dalmia {seen above; he joined us for lunch}. It offers four of the finest versions – Leonardo Gold, Leonardo 100% Pure Olive Oil, Leonardo Olive Pomace Oil and Leonardo Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The product list includes Leonardo Olives, Hudson Canola Oil, Granora Pasta, Indian pickles too.

Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

Photo courtesy Rekha @ http://www.mytastycurry.com/

By the time we were done, we were ready to burst, yet Saby could have hypnotised us to eat another marathon round! He held us in good humour woven around the food and drinks, gently introducing each variety of olive oil used in the menu from batter fried asparagus shoots and basa fish, to the mind blowing apple & feta saladLeonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi… to moorishly beautiful fresh baked artisan skillet bread {close to the Indian pav something like I recently made, but up several notches} served with individual pestle and mortals to make your own olive oil dip {YUM} …Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi… melt in the mouth classical lasagna Bolognaise in a skillet, followed by black truffle porcini risotto {excellent was the word} …Black truffle porcini risotto … and then a variety of wood fire pizzasMarinara pizza; Asparagus, smoked Scarmoza cheese, walnuts, Parmesan, truffle oil; Spinach, sundried tomato, olives, feta; Pepperoni jalapeno; Olive’s signature Milano paper pizza … fresh from the rustic oven in the courtyard of this picturesque restaurant.Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiHe has us eating out of his hands, all this while his super efficient team set up the dessert counter and had us hopelessly distracted! I’m definitely a small eater but I was amazed at how far I stretched it. How could there possibly be so much deliciousness on a single day? I am proud to say I tasted everything, well almost  … Sizzling Gamba @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI’ve never had a gamba before, not always food adventurous, but having it stirred under your nose does something to your taste buds. Mouthwatering and sizzling good, I loved the way it was served? Beautiful flavours, the undertones of olive oil marrying the ingredients so well, the freshness of the produce and the passion of the chef! {You an find the recipe at the bottom}Tiramisu @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiOlives signature tiramisu made with inhouse mascarpone had me swooning! It was delightful, as was the praline mud cake! I regret that I didn’t get as far as the apple & walnut crumble with the stunning spun sugar! Desserts @ Tiramisu @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiSaby or Chef Sabyasachi Gorai is the Executive Chef at Olive in Delhi. Launched in 2003 by AD Singh, Olive was immediately chosen as one of the world’s best new restaurants. One of Delhi’s must visit eat out places offering hand picked recipes from the Mediterranean, overlooking the romantic Qutab Minar, it is housed in an ancient Mughal mansion.Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhChic in every way –  the old world character beautifully blends with the rustic charm of old wood, vintage furniture, light furnishings, an open courtyard, indoor eating places, a terrace sit out overlooking the monument … and of course, the ancient banyan tree! {Thank you Sangeeta for clicking me clicking Olive}Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi My deep love for the vintage feel and distressed wood makes me love this place!  The Olive Bar and Kitchen is a rustic hideaway where good food, laughter, culture and conversation come together in a delightful Mediterranean melting pot. Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi Thank you Himani and Chandana for playing the perfect hosts on behalf of Leonardo, and for the generous goodie baskets!Leonardo Olive Oil Meet - Goodie basketsThank you Saby, Vaibhav and Astha for the outstanding food, warmth and fun you served up, and for the ‘bottle cakes‘ and chocolates …Bottle Cakes @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi …and thank you Sid for being the glue that binds the Delhi food bloggers together!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Food Event | Wine Tasting … a wine for every season at Four Seasons!

“If your heart is warm with happiness, you’ll need a glass – if sorrow chills your heart, have two!”
Hannu Lehmusvuori

Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing, New DelhiPut together a bunch of food and lifestyle bloggers {read  eight ladies and a lad} with a few bottles of good wine, a connoisseur who is surprisingly refreshing and great company … and suddenly a searingly HOT afternoon quite unbearable at 45C becomes animated FUN! We were hosted by Four Seasons for a Wine & Food Pairing session at the quaint and charming Fres Co in the heart of New Delhi.Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing, Fres Co, New DelhiFour Seasons Wine & Food Pairing, New Delhi

Whether it is the sprightliness of a fresh spring morning, the joyous warmth of a glorious summer afternoon, the tingling nip of a crisp autumn twilight or the biting chill of an icy winter night, to everything there is a season. And to every season, there is an experience. An experience captured by Four Seasons selection of the finest Indian wines.

Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing

Photo courtesy Sangeeta

We walked in hot and bothered, complaining about the unbearable Indian summer. Purba, the lady with the funny bone, had us in splits, her one liners completely justifying her humor and satire blog A-musing. With her came the only ‘cat’ among the pigeons, Prateik aka Snow Leopard …  it was the pigeons day out as the sweet fellow lent us his ear and we chattered voraciously!Four Seasons Wine & Food PairingThe lovely Shamita Sinha, Miss Earth Universe and a wine connoisseur, a truly passionate wine lover, held our rapt attention for the next two hours. What followed was animated discussions, unraveling the magic of Four Seasons, understanding their philosophy, exploring Baramati virtually where they host their vineyards, and how FS is inspired by French wines  … all this through swirls and sips of different wines from the Four Seasons range paired perfectly with delicious grub.Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing, Fres Co, New DelhiWe began with a still Rosé wine, Mr PABs favourite summer wine, Blush as the attractive salmon pink wine is aptly called. It was crisp, light and refreshing, a beautiful accompaniment for light summer fare … perfect! We’ve been looking for a good Rosé after the fabulous one that Mr PAB got back from France. After a couple of really disappointing local ones, Blush really stood out.Four Seasons Wine & Food PairingShamita Sinha, Miss Earth Universe and Wine ConnoisseurNext up was a still white wine Chenin Blanc, then a still red wine Merlot. We missed tasting the Barrique Reserve, but that was OK. Forks were beginning to fall every now and then, the happy gathering cheered on! Shamita talked us through the old school of thought, wine at room temperature and how the concept came to be in temperatures of 13-14C Europe of the past … and how that just didn’t work especially here at 40C! Times have changed so the rules have to go, basic guidelines lead the way, fusion cuisine is in … ultimately your palette is your guide and best friend.Four Seasons Wine & Food PairingDry vs Sweet, Red vs White, food pairings and fusion food pairings, the richness of the cuisine and the intensity of the wine, light summer fare with light summer wine, Indian cuisine and wine pairings, the tanins, the blush, colours from red to straw to white, the health benefits of drinking wine in moderation, antioxidants and also the ‘yeast’ monster at play here too … yes we talked!Sushmita & Sangeeta

Four Seasons, Wine & Food Pairing, New Delhi

Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing

Photo courtesy Sangeeta

Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing

Photo courtesy Anupama

It was wonderful to meet Sushmita, Sangeeta and Anupama for the first time, bloggers who loved the wine as much as the company. Rekha and Rituparna were there too in fine form, enthusiastic and bubbly as ever. It was a wonderful afternoon get together of high spirited women and a lad; we had a giggly good time. We got a heads up on the nuances of everything wine we could ask for from the very unassuming, down to Earth, warm and affable Shamita.Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing, Fres Co, New DelhiThank you Four Seasons for having us over, for introducing us that hot afternoon to your beautiful range of wines and the inspired story behind it. Our incessant chatter and involved conversation might have told you that we enjoyed the afternoon immensely, wines and all, right down to the last drop!

Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing

Thank you Ashu for organising the meet, and Jyoti for co-ordinating it this end.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India


Italian Food Event| Sapori de lombardia – Menu Sampling at Italia

Life is too short, and I’m Italian. I’d much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0.
Sophia Bush

Lombardian promotion at ItaliaLombardy seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, with Nicolle Minetti and Silvio Berlusconi keeping the news hot with the  bunga bunga investigations. Meanwhile, Lombardy is doing the foodie rounds here in New Delhi with a unique Lombardian promotion at Italia,  the celebrated award winning Italian restaurant from The Park, which offers a variety of authentic Italian cuisine.

Lombardy which lies in the North of Italy is very famous for its food, culture, fashion, joy for life and football. Culinary delights from this part of  Italy are very rich and mainly consist of rice, cheese and meats. Butter and cream are used much more liberally than the traditional olive oil base for sauces. Famous Italian cheese like Gorgonzola, Parmigiano reggiano, Taleggio and Provolone are produced in this region. Beef, lamb and pork are in abundance in the recipes of Lombardian food. Signature dishes include risotto milanese, veal ossobucco, cotoletta alla milanese, cassoeula, baked polenta gnocchi, pasta norma, tortellini bolognaise to name some.

I was recently invited to sample the Lombardian menu at Italia for a food event held to celebrate the cuisine from the region. The restaurant manager, Vikas did everything to make us feel at home, and Chef Sumopriyo came to talk us through every course. There were surprisingly very few patrons at the restaurant that afternoon, it being a public holiday; maybe a late lunch was the call for the day.Lombardian promotion at ItaliaThe restaurant offers a fine dining experience, is well laid out and offers seating both indoors and outdoors, both casual and semi-formal. We chose to sit indoors as the winter sun was very hot outdoors. Interestingly, Italia also offers the option of ‘Private Dining‘, a separate room you can reserve for a private party, which offers seating capacity for up to 12 people. My plebeian tastes however make me feel happy sitting amongst the crowds… Lombardian promotion at Italia 26th January, Republic Day, meant a ‘dry day‘ in India, so there was no wine with the meal, but I have to say it wasn’t missed. An array of dazzling mocktails made way for starters. Polenta frita or pan fried polenta cakes, which I had sans pancetta, with mozarella was a perfect beginning to the meal.  The texture was wonderful, mildly crisp, and the flavours outstanding. {Didn’t get a picture here as the platter was far too inviting!}. The  focaccia was sadly dry and tasteless,  nothing to write home about.

Insalata di barbabietole e formaggio caprinoNext came Insalata di barbabietole e formaggio caprino, an oven roasted beet and goat cheese salad with balsamic and argula. That had us scraping the platters clean. Excellent in every way, a fabulous blend of flavours and an endearing drizzle of balsamic over the salad! This salad had a winning touch to it … the colours, the textures, the creaminess of the goat cheese. This was my most favourite part of the meal, well almost {dessert always wins in the end}! The inclusion of arugula, a pungent, peppery salad green, continued throughout the meal, as the leaf is widely found in the Lombardy region.

nsalata di barbabietole e formaggio caprinoTime for the minestrone al risso, a classic minestrone soup with Parmesan and risotto. Risotto in the soup gives it regional character, arborio used quite a bit in the region as per the chef. There was plenty of vegetarian option in the menu put together by the chef, welcome for me as I prefer a vegetarian spread, even though I eat both. I found the higher use of polenta instead of flour in the cuisine strangely comforting and welcome.Lombardian promotion at ItaliaThe soup was followed by pizza con patate, pollo e gorgonzola, or pizza with potatoes, chicken and gorgonzola cheese. Took me right back to my one and only visit to Milan in the late 1980’s where we tasted our first authentic Italian pizza, and were totally blown away. The one at Italia was sans a pizza sauce, very light {almost too light for a main meal I would say}, a paper thin crust, almost like a popaddum, yet pleasantly satisfying. It had more a starter like feel to it.Lombardian promotion at ItaliaThe next 3 items came in small portions on a single platter {on special request to the chef} as the meal was now beginning to get filling already.  Even though the portions were small, after a while eating and tasting so much becomes laborious, and I wanted to do justice to the menu. We had risotto alla milanese, a classic saffron risotto, which I found a tad disappointing. No deep or outstanding saffron flavours in it. The tortellini alla bolognese, mince meat dumplings with Parmesan which I left for Mr PAB to do the honours as I was too full. The dumplings he said were very good, the sauce was just a regular creamy tomato one. I did sample the 3rd dish, ravioli de zucca, pumpkin ravioli in a butter walnut sauce, which offered a gentle mingling of flavours. This was one course I could have gladly skipped for the next.Lombardian promotion at ItaliaCotoletta alla milanese, breaded veal escalopes served with a spaghetti tomato basil sauce followed. This was excellent. The escalopes done just perfectly, with a great flavour combination. Very very enjoyable. On the platter too was pangasio al farno, or baked river sole with salsa verde and mustard potatoes. I am not much the fishy person, but Mr PAB enjoyed the flavour on the sole a lot. The third sampling on this platter was the malfatti ricotta e spinaci, ricotta cheese and spinach malfatti, which was very passable. I found it far too dense and low on taste. A good malfatti is amazing and addictive, even though the name might mean ‘poorly-made‘!Lombardian promotion at ItaliaThe chef had put together a selection of the menu, a total of 13 items and I do wish I had seen some mushroom on my selection;  I sorely missed that. The meal was lavish, course after course. Each course had a good selection on offer though the pressure of tasting so much was soon bearing down on me. In my humble opinion, I think the tasting menu might do better if it is trimmed down to a fewer items, and a lower cost perhaps. There is no way I could do justice to the huge selection on offer without feeling full.Lombardian promotion at ItaliaWe finished the meal with an indulgent dessert, one that was fabulous – panna cotta alla vaniglia e lamponi … an sublime & satisfying  vanilla bean panna cotta with raspberry sauce. Yes, it was wonderfully creamy {as heavy cream panna cottas always are}, not overbearingly sweet, perfectly complimented by the raspberry sauce. Thank you Italia and the Park Hotel Group for having me over to sample the menu.  I do wish I had a much larger appetite and could have sampled each item.

The event is on until the 6th of February 2011 at Italia, DLF Promenade, so do hurry over if you are in the New Delhi region.
Make sure you go with a big appetite!

Date: 21st Jan – 6th Feb 2011
Venue: ItALIa, 2nd floor, DLF Promenade
Timings: Lunch and Dinner
Average price for meal for two: Rs.2500+taxes (without alcohol)

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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