Tag Archives: fine dining

Incredible India… Fine-Dining

16 Nov

Via this blog, you’re getting to know me… and a little my friend Annie Mariel too.   And from our adventures in Paris this past September, you may already know we like to eat in nice restaurants, especially when we travel.

Visiting Delhi gave us the chance to eat at two fine restaurants – Fire at The Park Hotel and Zest at the DLF Emporio Mall.  Here is a recollection of what we ate…

FIRE @ The Park Hotel – New Delhi

This restaurant was recommended by our hotel concierge.  We asked him that if we were Bollywood stars staying in Delhi, where would we like to eat?  Among the recommendations given was FIRE, although what he actually said was AGNI, the Sanskrit word for fire.  But AGNI is the club, not the restaurant at The Park.

AM @ FIRE   Made @ FIRE

The décor of FIRE is super modern and chic.  A panel of “flames” highlights one side of the dining room, changing in color from deep magenta to deep orange to fire red.  Super nice indeed.

We loved that in the menu all vegetarian dishes are clearly marked with a green square next to the name.  No need to creatively ask how a dish is made to make sure it is truly vegetarian.  Now, finding out if a dish is spicy to our tolerance level of spiciness that’s another thing altogether. We also liked the menu had an Organic dishes section. 

This is what we ordered… a tandoori broccoli starter to share, stewed morel mushrooms for me, some organic black lentils for Annie Mariel, and a sweet couscous and plain naan to accompany it all.

Just after we ordered, in true fine dining fashion, we received an amouse bouche – don’t ask me in detail what it was, but what I know is that in had some lentils and yogurt and it was so spicy I was not able to eat more than two bites from it.  When the server asked me if I had not liked it and I replied that it was delicious but just too spicy for me, the chef sent over some mini roti with pineapple chutney that was just divine.  The perfect cooling effect my palate needed at the time.

FIre - Amouse     Roti w Pineapple chutney

The broccoli came with picled onions and it was delicious… to me it could have been a great side dish, more than a starter.  But I enjoyed it all the same.

  Menu Fire 1      Broccoli Starter

Then the entrees arrived.   The server just serves a bit of everything on the plate for you to enjoy.  They don’t look particularly great on the plate, but they tasted delicious.  At least what I could stomach.  The morels were great, but spicy and I didn’t even dare try the lentils when Annie Mariel mentioned that they were even too spicy for her taste and she can handle heat way more than I can.  We complimented the server for her sweet couscous recommendation and the plain naan because without them, it would have been harder to eat all that spicy food.

FIRE MENU   Menu Fire 2

FIRE my food

Menu Fire 4   Menu Fire 3

But what also made the evening a success was the company… yes, I arrived at the restaurant with just Annie Mariel, but we left the restaurant with 4 new friends – Fabio from Italy, Sergio from Barcelona, my table neighbor from Bangalore and Steve from Singapore, who were all in Delhi on business.   Annie Mariel and I have a real talent to be able to make friends with total strangers when we travel and this trip to India was certainly not the exception.

I bring this up because our food was not the only dishes we tried that evening… my friend from Bangalore, being also a vegetarian, gave us a taste of his dish.  He was so intrigued when he saw me taking pictures of everything on the table, even the menu that we struck a conversation.  I believe he had the Gobhi Hara Masala, but I am not really sure.  It was also super spicy… so spicy indeed I ended up ordering a sweet lassi to help me cool off my tongue.

Food from india guy  P1090606

We didn’t order desserts because our friends Fabio and Sergio shared theirs with us… a true international night. 

Fire Friends

ZEST @ DLF Emporio Mall – New Delhi

India is a very poor country overall… but there are people in India with money; a true juxtaposition of the haves and have not’s.  That is evident when you visit this DLF Emporio mall in the outskirts of Delhi – Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Cartier, Tiffany, and every other designer store you might imagine.  And amidst all these designer stores you will also find delicious fine dining.

I learned about ZEST in a magazine we had at the hotel.  I was intrigued because it mentioned the restaurant had 6 kitchens – Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Thai and Continental.  I figured if we were not in the mood to eat Indian again there would be plenty of options there.

ZEST

We arrived at ZEST in the early afternoon after a full morning of visiting temples and shopping.  We wanted to just nibble a few things so our appetite would not be spoiled for dinner.  This is what we ordered:

Menu ZEST

Vegetable Spring Rolls – For us, the best thing we ordered. Can’t fight with anything fried…

ZEST - Spring Rolls

Grilled Paneer cheese seasoned with Carom – very spicy, but really nice.  I liked the taste the grill gave the soft cheese.  Tasted really Indian.

ZEST - paneer

Foccacia-style bread – what we got resembled nothing to true foccacia bread.  It was basically pizza dough flavored with rosemary, parmesan and garlic.  Nonetheless, really tasty…

ZEST - Focaccia

Z’attar Roasted potatoes – Too greasy for our taste, but I wanted to try z’attar.  Nothing to brag about in my opinion…

ZEST - Potatoes

Charoli Kebabs – this was our least favorite of the bunch. Too spicy to even try to understand the rest of the ingredients…

Kebabs

We loved the service, the music and the total ambiance of the place.  We would have loved to visit it at night and try some of the entrees, but this was certainly too far away from our Connaught Place hotel to visit at night.  It took us almost an hour to reach the DLF Emporio mall with the Delhi traffic.  But if you are visiting Delhi and have the time, you should certainly try it too.

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A Vegetarian in Paris… Fine-Dining in Paris

26 Oct

Annie Mariel and I love good food…  so we knew we had to experience some of the fine dining Paris has to offer, vegetarian style.

We were extremely lucky to score some tickets to the premiere of the French opera Mireille, at the Opera Garnier.  We had wanted to buy tickets to this show for about 3 months prior to our trip, but it was not until 1 hour before the show that we actually got tickets…  So it was only fitting that we celebrate this achievement or lucky strike with a nice dinner.

COSTES

We were recommended Costes by the concierge at the Intercontinental Hotel right in front of the Opera.  Located in fancy Rue St. Honoré, the choice could not have been better.   I was pleasantly surprised the menu included true vegetarian options.  This is what I ordered:  A salade caprese with tomates cerises and buffalo mozzarella fromage, a quinoa risotto with asparagus tips and a sorbet made of fruits rouges.  Truly delicious… costly, but exquisite.

COSTE - salade caprese

COSTE - Quinoa risotto

COSTE - Sorbet

Aside from the restaurant’s food, the ambiance is really nice.  Our server was super nice and cheery, putting aside all the rumors of Parisian people being rude.  Nice-looking people frequent this restaurant, so it’s nice for people gazing.  And for a night cap, the bar has a great atmosphere too.

 

BUDDHA BAR

Annie Mariel was keen on going to dinner to Buddha Bar.  It was a favorite of hers from a previous visit to Paris.  So I followed suit.  I was a bit unimpressed by their vegetarian options… if it’s vegetarian it also spicy and I do not do spicy well.    Because the menu is sushi-heavy, I though the best bet was to order some vegetarian rolls… NOT!

I had to almost “threaten” that I was merely going to watch my friend eat before I could convince the server to ask the sushi chef to make some vegetable rolls for me.  He almost argued with me the sushi rolls were already made and that was the reason I could not request anything specific…  sushi rolls already made?!?!?  Is this Buddha Bar or the sushi counter at Costco or my local supermarket???  Really??  Please!!

After much negotiation and convincing, this is what I finally ordered – Vegetable Spring Rolls and a custom-made vegetable roll, with asparagus, cucumbers and some other pickled vegetables I could not recognize.  It would have been better with cream cheese in it, but I was not about to piss-off the server and chef once more… and I got about 3 huge spring rolls, I guess he took seriously my threat that I would not eat anything there and tried to put as much food on the plate from the stuff I did order.

BUDHABAR - Spring rolls    BudhaBar - Sushi

We were sitting right in front of the Buddha statue… the music a bit too loud for my taste.  The bar extremely expensive – we paid 15€ for a drink each.   The French guys who go there, super nice thanks to Pierre and Matthieu.  They were great company and because their Spanish or English was so-so, we were able to speak French almost exclusively with them.  Superbe!!!

 

Traditional French cooking is not very vegetarian friendly, but a vegetarian can still find great eats fine-dining in Paris, even if we need to “threat” a few people for it.

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