Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Reverie…A Dream unfolds

‘Dre…am…Dream, Dream..’ the words of the popular 60’s song played on at the back of my mind. Well, I am not going poetic…that is what Akriti and Virendra promises one….A Reverie is where those who want to celebrate the true pleasures of life come together.
What is so unique about this restaurant that has the ‘creme a la crème’ of the country dine there every season? A restaurant that is voted by national dailies like the Asian Age as ‘a gastronomical orgy’, by the Indian Express as ‘everything served is almost steeped in the essence of love.’ Well Joe was looking at me with a very peculiar expression as I was reading it out….believe me these national dailies seemed to be going ballistic

Well there is another feather in their cap…this year they have been judged as the 3rd Best stand alone restaurant in India, on par with the Indigo in Mumbai which was visited by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt…and the 7th best restaurant when you take into account the starred hotels and the stand alone restaurant, by the Times food guide. So what’s s great about the food, I wonder? ‘It is the secret of Molecular Gastronomy,’ Virendra confesses, ‘Akriti does a lot of research on food.’ Point well taken. In today’s market it’s not only the skill of making good food, but also the passion exhibited to research novel ideas to delight the customer. Akriti has created meals that have placed her among the top 10 Young Best chef’s in India, in the Taste and Travel magazine.

So what is ‘Molecular Gastronomy’? Simply put… ‘it is the chemical combination of what goes well with which dish.’ Old hat, I thought to myself…we all know that French beans, carrots and baked potatoes go well with a good steak. But how wrong was I proved to be. Akriti is doing a lot of work with a laboratory in Singapore which studies the art of using certain materials to extract or break down, and hence enhance the texture of food. In the Scottish Salmon, Akriti uses two extracts from the aloe raisin of the actual ingredient…chlorophyll and fennel extracts. She uses nitrous oxide to bring down and change the texture of food in some dishes with different extracts and textures.

The starters on the menu are simply listed as Cheese tasting and Prawn tasting etc. Believe me those words are deceptive. The Prawn tasting is an oval platter of three well decorated islands of food. King prawns with Wasabi mayonnaise and shredded sushi nori….salad of papaya, cucumber and shrimp with black bean ‘mirin’ glaze….seafood consomme with ‘dashi’. Well this platter had the flavor of the Japanese continent. The wasabi, sushi nori, the mirin….all explained in the little booklet that is attached to the menu. An education for me. You see you know what is going into the food. I gingerly open the sticks which are tied up wig-wam style to sample the prawns….you see even in the eating there is a science. The prawns go down first, followed by the salad and lastly the consommé… ‘to cleanse the palate for the next course,’ explains Akriti.

So what is so different about the Cheese tasting? I wonder. Mini Insalata Caprese, with cherry tomato and basil oil…Middle eastern ‘Labaneh style’ yoghurt cheese…Gorgonzola mousse. This is distinctly Mediterranean and she has blended the flavor of the different cheese so well…the gorgonzola, the labineh being the middle eastern soft tangy yoghurt cheese, everything minute to the bite...cheese, tomato with the flavored basil olive oil. I could go on and on about the starters. The Poultry tasting....chicken liver pate with cognac, salad leaves with smoked chicken, quail eggs with fig onion relish…definitely Continental. Were these dishes good… siree…they were mind boggling excellent.

For the main course, Joe decided to have the Chilean Sea Bass. Now mind you…they go to the airport every morning to pick up their imported foodstuff….Australian Duck…variety on the menu. I decided to have the Filet Steak. The dishes arrive…we look forward in anticipation. The chandeliers hanging from the palm trees highlight the artisitic presentation. The filet steak with its onion jam and ratatouille is in a red wine reduction with peppercorns and fresh rosemary extract. T is accompanied by Italian porcini mushroom cream sauce or a blue cream sauce…you take your pick Believe me I tried both…they were delicious. Joe’s Chilean Sea Bass had a triangle of roasted corn cream mash with a baked vegetable spring roll on top. The onion, coriander and lime salsa was served in a ceramic soup spoon. Was he doing a salsa? Tongue, lips and molars moved in perfect harmony. A dreamy look in his vacant eyes. Believe me, salsa can also be enjoyed Joe’s way.

Did we have place for desserts? When a different menu is presented…you cannot say no. Akriti has a different menu for everything. Coffee, Hazelnut and caramel composition, and Chocolate composition... those were what we ordered. Beethoven…Mozart…and now Akriti…the desserts had musical chimes echoing everywhere. The first had a madras coffee and butterscotch brulee, a warm puff pastry with Nutella cream and Italian expresso icecream with caramel hazelnut crunch…and the latter, a warm sticky fudge chocolate tart with white chocolate, Dark chocolate mouse with silver leaf and Belgian chocolate icecream with mild fresh Rosemary infusion. How did Beethoven put his notes together…maybe Akriti put her ingredients together…..if I go into detail about the smooth creamy textures vying with the crunchy flavors that titillated my palate, you all will go green with envy.

And so my friends Dream….Dream…Dream, or you can let it unfold in Candolim, at ‘A Reverie’….a place where Heaven can wait.

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