There’s good food, there’s
great food and then there’s Michelin starred food! In the world of gourmet
cooking, the Michelin star is a stamp of approval for excellence in cooking and
it is something that chefs aspire to. So when I was invited by Four Seasons Wines for an evening with Michelin-starred French Chef Baptiste
Fournier, I jumped at the chance! The event was held at one of Mumbai’s
luxury hotels – the ITC Grand Central.
Chef Baptiste is the Executive
Chef of his family-run restaurant La Tour, in the village of Sancerre, two hours
from Paris. The restaurant received its Michelin star in 2011, and Chef
Baptiste, at 30, is one of the top 6 young chefs in France – the country that
leads the way in gastronomy. Chef Baptiste has trained under culinary legends
such as Guy Savoy and Alain Passard, both of who run three-Michelin starred
restaurants – the highest rating a restaurant can get. He blends classical
French cooking techniques with flavours from around the world, including Asian,
to create his signature dishes – and I had the good fortune of tasting them!
The event was an invitation-only,
formal sit-down six-course dinner at ITC Grand Central’s banquet hall, CJ’s.
Chef Baptiste was in-charge of the kitchen and each course was accompanied by a
Four Seasons wine. Four Seasons Wines is a brand of the UB Group and the wines
are developed with the technical expertise of Bouvet-Ladubay, France. The
evening began at Point of View, the rooftop lounge at ITC Grand Central, with a
glass (or two) of a lovely sparkling wine from Bouvet-Ladubay. The crowd
was a mix of eminent personalities from the food and wine industry as well as
stalwarts such as Mr. Deepak Parekh and Mr. Prahlad Kakkar. There was a
smattering of journalists and of course, your humble food blogger :) Mr. Kuldeep Bhartee, General Manager of ITC Grand Central set the tone of what was to follow, when he said "ITC Grand Central, Mumbai, has always been in the forefront of serving of world class cuisine on the global high table. Our endeavour is to constantly delve into the world of ingredients, recipes, flavours, aromas and taste to create that 'perfect gourmet experience' for our esteemed guests. The marriage of French food crafted by visiting Michelin Star Chef Baptiste paired with exquisite hand-picked wines makes a perfect recipe for an enthralling experience." And what an experience it was!
After a bit of mingling on the
rooftop, we proceeded to the banquet hall, where several tables of six had been
arranged. I found myself seated with the PR Manager of the hotel, couple of
journos and a wine writer. Conversation flowed as easily as the wine; first to
arrive was the Four Seasons Viognier, a dry wine that was paired with the
entree of Fresh Eggplant & Crunch Vegetables. The dish looked
beautiful and tasted delicious.
The second course was a Steamed
Fresh Water Perch on Spinach with a Lime Court Bouillon that
was served at the table out of a teapot. The dish was accompanied by the Four
Seasons Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity of the wine complemented the
perfectly cooked fish and the dish was a hit at our table.
Then came the dish that I was
looking forward to the most – Artichoke Risotto with Black Truffle.
After having eaten several badly cooked risottos, it was a pleasure to see and
taste how a true master handles the dish. The Arborio rice was cooked al
dente and the overall texture was perfect – not soupy or gluggy at all. The slight
sourness of the artichokes went well with the risotto and the truffle shavings
on top just lifted the dish. The Sauvignon Blanc went very well with
this dish as well. There was a collective sigh of contentment as we polished
off our plates! Unfortunately, I don't have a pic to share...
The next course was a Roast
Saddle of Lamb with Zucchini and Asparagus in a Pan Jus. The lamb was
cooked perfectly, just pink on the inside and caramelised on the outside. The
jus was a tad heavy on ginger. This dish was accompanied by Four Seasons’
award-winning, barrel aged Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that gave a
lovely aftertaste to the meat dish.
Next came the palette cleanser
course – Pineapple Ravioli, Basil and Yoghurt Sorbet. I have never tasted
a dish quite like this before. The sorbet was appropriately tart, the ravioli
sweet and the basil went winningly with the entire dish.
The final course was the Hazelnut
& White Chocolate, Ice & Crispy Cappuccino. This was another
winner of a dish; creamy and crunchy textures played together and the sweetness
of the chocolate mingled with the bitter coffee flavours. We all but licked our
bowls clean! The sorbet and the dessert were both accompanied by the sparkling Bouvet
Chef Baptiste arrived towards
the end of the meal, to a thundering applause. He was very down to earth and
modest, and cute to boot! On my way out I went up to him and thanked him for the lovely meal – in English, ending with a ‘Merci beaucoup’ :)
Having wined and dined well, we
left clutching mementos from the evening – a beautifully packed bottle of the
Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and a box of chocolates from ITC Grand
Central’s patisserie. It was definitely an evening to remember!
All images (except the last one) are courtesy Four Seasons Wines.
Disclosure: I was invited by ITC Grand Central for this event.
Labels: Chef Baptiste Fournier, Four Seasons Wines, ITC Grand Central, Michelin, Review