Spanish promotion/The Hilton Towers, Mumbai
There’s a mountain of difference between the review of a restaurant and the preview of a promotion. The main and significant difference is, of course, that the latter is before the event. So, when we visited Mumbai’s Hilton Towers there was no sign of flamenco but we have very good reason to believe that, if you go by the Frangipani today, you will be enveloped by the tenacious beats of Andalusia, and the insistent flavours of chef Jordi Gimeno’s cooking. The Spanish promotion, which will include tapas plates at the hotel’s lobby bar, the Opium Den, is on at Frangipani, the Hilton coffee shop, till 23 September. This is not the first time the Hilton has hosted Gimeno, a Barcelona native, who has also visited India on various Spanish trade commission activities. This time, Gimeno, together with the Hilton’s executive chef, Joy Bhattacharya, has devised six individual menus that will be on display every day at the restaurant’s ‘food theatre’ aka buffet counter, and includes jambalaya, Spanish potato omelette, salt cod salad, sea bass with garlic and chilli oil, and a variety of desserts, soups and salads.
The good stuff
Sangria’s a great beginning to any party, and here, there are at least three varieties to choose from. After a large chug of Sangria, we began the meal with a refreshing gazpacho, which served a delicious kick of balsamic vinegar from the marinated vegetables that went into the puree. While Indian cuisine is still the master of vegetarian food, there are plenty of green options in the promotion, for instance, fried artichoke dumplings; caponate, a melange of aubergines, olives, capers and tomatoes, served on corn toast; and artichoke and blue cheese risotto. But the ace of the menu is easily the paella, a saffron-infused seafood (prawns, squid, mussels), chicken and chorizo concoction that was delicately spiced but totally filling.
The artichoke and blue cheese risotto, which was slightly tart thanks to the titular vegetable, was a disappointment among its lightly spiced companions from southern Spain. It had enough cheese and enough Arborio rice to justify the name but not enough depth to stand out for anything.
You can approach this menu in two ways: choose to have just the appetizers or go for all three stages together. A three-course meal, including appetizers, mains and desserts plus one glass of Sangria, costs Rs1,250 with taxes.
Manju Sara Rajan
Oil-free dishes live demo/Saltz, New Delhi
If you worry about eating healthy, then spending an hour twice a week (Tuesdays and Saturdays) at Saltz, a pan-Asian restaurant in the heart of M-block market, Greater Kailash-I, might be worth your while. The restaurant organizes live demonstrations of two totally oil-free recipes each time from varied cuisines like Italian, Thai, etc. The setting is informal and the sessions start at 11am.
The good stuff
Yup, you can whip up steamed fish, cream of broccoli soup and chicken pasta with tomato basil without a drop of oil. And it still tastes good. Suparna Deb, who was attending her third session, said she had tried a couple of recipes at home and they turned out well. Khem Singh, a cook whose employer sends him to attend these demonstrations, is thrilled to add “Continental” dishes to his repertoire. Raman Verma, who came with his son Shaurya, loves cooking and was hooked for health reasons.
You can interact with the chef freely and interrupt him with questions. A copy of the recipe to be demonstrated is handed out beforehand, and once the dish is ready, everyone gets to taste it as well. The recipes chosen are not too complicated, and the chef gives handy tips on how to substitute one item with another. For example, since Shaurya hates broccoli and refused to try the soup, Verma was advised to use spinach instead.
The restaurant also has a separate Zero Oil menu for those who want to have an early, healthy lunch post the session.
The space is cramped. It’s easy to chat and cook if you’re in a small group, but if the session has many people, then too many interruptions can be annoying. Also, instead of one appetizer and one main dish per session, it would be better if Saltz includes two main course dishes (vegetarian and non-vegetarian). The sessions are on until 30 September.
The fee for each live demonstration session is Rs150 per person. If you decide to stay on for lunch, a meal for two costs, on an average, Rs700.
Seema Chowdhry Sharma