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Playful concoctions with an edge

1st Dec 2012

Chef Morgan and Grey Garden

A18, Hauz Khas Village, Facing Hauz Khas Village lake.

Ph: 011 26516450

Meal for two: Rs.1800

A festivous feast at Elma's and TLR

y mother always told me not to play with my food and rightfully so because food isn't meant to be played with. Or is it? All rules seem to fly out of the window when the result of play is meaningful, artistic, and most importantly delicious. That is why Grey Garden's newest jewel, Chef Morgan, has an unquestionable license to play with our food. Chef Morgan is originally from the UK, where he worked in esteemed kitchens at the Ritz and Gordon Ramsey's. Just before making his way to India, he worked in Berlin for a few years. I like to think of him as a mad scientist of sorts. How else do you begin to explain things like Carrot Marshmallow or Chlorophyll Croquettes, dishes from his current supper club where things went from slightly nutty to absolutely kooky? But this isn't just food that takes you over the edge only to leave you wishing you never learnt the meaning of "chocolate clay". This is conscious food that serves a purpose. It enlightens uplifts and engages all your senses.

Sadly, the previously eclectic menu that included the most delicious khichdi and Nepalese cured pork belly has been replaced for a safer pasta/pizza menu. Once again a duller majority wins. However, all is not lost. There is finally a place where a salad isn't treated as that "green thing on the side", a meal on its own that doesn't remind you of twenty others you have eaten around town.

For a healthy dose of greens try the Ricotta, Amaranth and Pear Salad. Along with the amaranth comes baby spinach, peppery roquette and soft herbs for bursts of flavour, all sourced organically from a local farm nearby. Now this is farm to table food, for this sort of freshness cannot be faked.

f course I am always a fan of a good Panzanella – tomatoes, basil tossed with slightly stale focaccia, no not to cut corners but it's the only way this otherwise soft bread can withstand the moisture from the downpour of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A salad doesn't get heartier than this.Image 2nd

No I have not gone Gandhi on my meat loving ways, so next on the list is the Prawn, papaya salad, made feisty with some green chillies, wilted roquette, sun dried tomatoes and lime pickled cucumbers.

One salad is definitely big enough for two to share, in which case you can make room for pasta or pizza or both! All pastas are made in-house. I absolutely loved the Farfalle with creamy pumpkin puree, shiitake mushrooms and in true Morgan fashion combined with something wonderfully unexpected like amaretti.

The Fettuccine too is a winner – with river prawns, plump rehydrated raisons, toasted cashews, goat milk curd, with a good sprinkling of parmesan cheese. But what makes it really special is the house-made prawn oil with saffron. Clean, uncluttered flavours are what this food is all about. My only complaint was that I could have done with a couple more prawns because the four rationed out prawns just didn't do the job.

I am bit of a ragu buff ­– so next on the list was certainly the Lamb Ragu with Pappardelle, to see if it makes the cut!

It would really be quite foolish to leave Grey Garden without trying one of their signature pizzas. The wine and rosemary poached chicken, paired with some delicious glazed figs make for something special. This combination is second only to the classic combination of chorizo, red pepper, with an added bonus of creamed garlic, my personal favourite. Next on the wish list was the Turkish Pizza with minced lamb.

Chef Morgan's treats don't just end here but extend on to the very lovely Grey Garden Terrace, which will soon have its own Tapas menu. But in the meantime keep your calendar chalked in for Morgan's Festivus rotating menu at Elma's and TLR, especially designed to remind you Christmas is around the corner – starting 14th December till the 6th of January. The turkey was certainly delicious, but at the expense of sounding like I have gone soft on you all, my two personal favourites were the creamy pumpkin soup with wonderful toasted pumpkin seeds, and the exotic mushroom pie with the most wonderful medley of oyster mushrooms and more, paired with a nice buttery crust. Soul food calling. Of course no festivity is complete without dessert which is a decadent Christmas pudding with burnt butter ice-cream and brandy custard. You may as well pop those pant buttons to make room for the complimentary choice of Mulled Wine or traditional Egg Nogg – now it's a holiday!

Follow Anisa's food adventures on her blog, Mademoiselle Chou-Fleur.

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