Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mardi Gras…it was a Fat Tuesday

Looking back on the highlights of the day…it was really a Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday. No, this is not carnival time, nor the beginning of Lent(I do not know how I get through those 40 days), but an ominous beginning to the diet restricted week.

After the hectic weekend, I was determined to stick to a fat free diet…poor Joe, he walked around the house looking like a lost soul. So as a compromise we decided to drive down South, with no destination in mind. No destination? unexpected call had us driving up the imposing portals of the Holiday Inn.

Just off the reception is the Cake shop…the reason why I mention this is because yours truly was drawn to the attractive display like a fly to the sugar syrup… pun intended. But Joe had a more serious intent in mind, ‘I have heard that they make excellent steaks here,’ he said marching me down the flight of steps to the restaurant near the poolside.

Mardi Gras….a shiver of premonition feathered down my spine…today was Tuesday, would it be a fat one? But looking at the eager delight in Joe’s eyes, I squared my shoulders and entered. Alfresco, airy, trombones, masks..those were the words that struck me immediately. The huge cane baskets right in the center of the restaurant, the shades of blue in the color scheme added to the feeling of deja –vu. Damn my diet.

I leafed through the menu….’Have the Mardi Gras Broth,’ Chef Pandey recommended. Did he read my mind? The refreshing seafood broth garnished with vegetables was refreshing. Definitely something that a calorie-conscious individual would have to keep her better half happy as he devoured with gusto, the steak placed before him. Yes I was talking about the steaks…the meat is sourced all the way from Bangalore.
Joe looked agonizingly at the menu as he contemplated his choice. There was the Pepper Steak, served in a red wine and pepper sauce, and the Steak Diane…succulent meat with sautéed mushrooms spread on top.

Well the old favorite won. I watched my better half carve the meat into little morsels…no chewing in the mouth at all, Chef Pandey’s recommendation is really worth trying. By now the young and amiable Food & Beverage Manager Rishi had reached the table. I have this funny feeling that I was being watched……you see no one is content with just a soup. ‘What about trying some of our desserts,’ he asked.

I raised my hands in mock refusal…anyone who is astute would realize that I really did not mean that. Joe was more vehement in his body language. ‘You do not have to worry,’ coaxed Chef Pandey, ‘we use non-dairy soya based cream…less calories.’

Why do these front line people have such a cajoling way of talking you out of your strict routine? ‘Just one,’ I say hesitatingly. Joe frowns.

Well you know that Mardi Gras is a festival during which their members parade in the streets, and marching bands climax the show. This seemed to be a re-enactment. There was a parade of mouth watering delicacies led by pastry Chef Allan Riyaz. There was Sacher Torte…a chocolate that is not how one would describe it…it oozes chocolate..the white chocolate cone used as the a trumpet, seemed to send me a tempting clarion call.
Next to it, the whopping sized blueberries made into a puree on top of the cream gateau….. a decorative caramel fan standing like a lone sentinel adding to its allure. I was thinking of those beautiful women in the days gone by who would hide their beauty behind the fluttering fan…boy these desserts were really making me fanciful. I shook my head to get back to the present. Then there was the Passion Fruit Exotic – a puree of passion fruit in sabayon and cream. Was I drooling…I gave a quick peek in Joe’s direction, but the passion in his face was unmistakable.

Lest I forget, there were these two old favorites…The black and the white Chocolate Forest Cake. The cherries are imported, Chef Pandey explains. Who cares…if looks could kill, those beauties were doing it right now. I dragged my eyes away…Chef Pandey was continuing…what were the words of the song ‘Killing me softly, with his song, turning my life with his words…’ Yes! Yes! That was the truth…’Try Maya,’ he urged, ‘it’s a novel Japanese Dessert…a combination of banana, honey, citrus fruit, almonds, in an orange gel sauce. See its garnished with a rose petal.’ I look at this authentic concoction, a chocolate twirl placed by the rose petal. Well the doctor had recommended honey, almonds, citrus fruit in my diet…not looking at Joe, I gave up all my good resolutions and dived into the assortment displayed… let me be honest…its just not possible to have it all. But yours truly took a nip and a tuck into each and every delicacy displayed consoling myself…as though that really mattered, that I did not have the main course.

Fat Tuesday, what a laugh. They even made a movie called ‘Blame it on Rio,’ you know these guys go bonkers during this time. All I can say, ‘Blame it on Joe.’ If he had not driven in for those recommended steaks, I would not have been in this state. I must have put on a few kilograms.

But do I regret it? No siree! The gateau’s just melt in your mouth, and the Maya…I keep on humming to myself maya, maya re……to die for.

Now, as I sit to write down my memoirs, on Fat Tuesday…sorry Mardi Gras, I have some good news to report. After standing on the weighing scale, believe me the needle has not moved a bit, what a relief…maybe it’s the soya cream? Or the recipe? Chef Pandey’s promise holds good. The desserts available at the Cake Shop are not only economically priced…but they seem to be ‘calorie free.’

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