Most foodies dream of being a part of as many gourmet gastronomic experiences as possible. So when I was invited to a five course sit down dinner by a member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs, I was more than delighted to accept.
La Chaine des Rotisseurs is an organization that has it’s origins in France. The ‘Rotisseur’ was the chef who was trained in the art of roasting poultry , meat and especially game (meat ),which was most popular in the early to mid 1900s . Originally this organization comprised of mostly chefs . Slowly it grew to include food connoisseurs , food critics and sommeliers. It is now an international gastronomic society comprising of over 25,000 members ,spread over 80 countries.
Each chapter is called a Bailliage . The Bailliage de Bangalore comprises of members who appreciate the art of fine dining. During the course of the year , the members on occasion are allowed to invite one guest each to be a part of this special meal. The dress code for these dinners is always formal. The men come smartly turned out in suits or bandhgalas and the women get an opportunity to pull out their beautiful sarees or evening gowns.The members are presented with highly decorated sashes of varying colours. The colours are to differentiate between a board member, chef, food connoisseur etc.
This particular dinner was hosted at The Ritz Carlton , Bangalore. The evening began at 7.30 with an introduction to the wines from the estate of the Famille Hugel from Alsace , France.This estate was chosen to showcase it’s wines at this event by directors of the Bailliage de Bangalore on an earlier visit to Alsace. Etienne Hugel is the 12th generation in the family which has had a history of wine making that goes back 375 years. He is passionate about his family business and hopes one day to see the Alsace name be as famous as that of Champagne. His wines , he says are most suited to both Western as well as Asian flavours.
As we all took our places before our name cards, we couldn’t help but take a minute to admire the long table with it’s pristine white tablecloth and big glass goblets of vibrant green chrysanthemums interspersed with the delicate gypsophilia (baby’s breath)!
Each place setting comprised of several sets of cutlery for each course , along with several long stemmed wine glasses for sampling of the different wines from the estate Hugel. The menu was printed along with our names on an environmentally friendly cork board. The assortment of dishes varied depending on the diner’s specifications. We had all stated our preferences a week earlier by mail. In stark contrast to the brown menu card , was a white booklet placed beside it with a detailed write up on each of the wines that were to be served.
My interest in pairing the right wine with food is thanks to my husband who has encouraged me to sample different wines from India and Europe. A wine tasting is never complete without food. Crusty bread is a perfect match with good wine and can be quite addictive. It was apparent that with each course that the chef had taken into account the flavor profile of each wine to achieve the perfect balance in taste.
The textured vegetables comprising of heirloom tomatoes ,celeriac and porcini mushroom really did whet our appetities. I must add here that one tiny shallot pickled to perfection was the highlight of that delicate plate .The Riesling, being a favourite, was the perfect start to the evening’s wine tasting!
Next we were served a slow cooked New Zealand lamb. There was about a 10 minute interval between each course which gave us the chance to mingle with the others. As we sampled another Riesling (estate) it was nice to be able to interact with culinary masters who carried no airs whatsoever and just wanted to enjoy the evening same as everyone else. My companions on both sides were true conossieurs of food. The lady next to me is my friend Kavita who is also an exceptional cook. I also had the pleasure of meeting several interesting people , one among them being the charming Mr. Bikram Ghosh ,who enjoys every bit of these Chaine dinners and filled me in on a wealth of information in a most witty manner !
As we swirled the wine around in our glasses and inhaled in the scents before taking a sip,it truly taught us to appreciate the quality of the grape and the region where it was grown. At the end of this meal I had settled on my favourites the Riesling and an exceptional Pinot Gris “Grossi Laue” . If you like a deep rich white wine , then this one is a must try.
The last was a dessert wine that was simply amazing ! It was like a velvety, fruity nectar with a treacle like flavor. Because of it’s inherent sweetness it was served with a selection of sharp cheeses and crackers and was just perfect ! It’s called the Gewurztraminer “Hugel” and it entices you with it’s myriad scents.This was an evening that took my taste-buds on a truly elevated journey !
If we thought the cheese platter was an end to the delectable evening,we were wrong. There was dessert and it was quite unlike anything I had sampled. Despite being stuffed to bursting point , curiosity had me nudging my fork at the corner of the long silver cigar/ katli like roll in the centre of my plate. It came away like a creamy smear almost like a rich cashew cream sprayed with silver varq ! Of course , I had to taste and oh my it ticked all the right boxes indeed !
I also discovered that this organization is more than an evening of exemplary food and wine. It also runs the Association Caritative de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs which focuses on improving the quality of life for the underprivileged children with charitable aid programmes and projects. They also help young chefs to showcase their talents and boost them along in their culinary journey. The young chef who prepared our delicious lobster course is one among them,it was endearing to watch him accept the applause in honour of his apparent talent !
Food as we know, has the ability of connecting people across borders . La Chaine des Rotisseurs is the perfect example of that !