Tag Archives: Gurgaon

Parisian Choux Pastry Goes Desi

Eclairs au chocolat used to be my favourite. Not surprising at all, as most of us love chocolates and when combined with an eclairs, the combination is pure sin. I say used to, as my preference changed just recently. On my recent trip to Delhi and Gurgaon, I sampled some new divine eclair flavours, which have led me to relinquish my fav chocolate eclairs. And I don’t regret the shift.

Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts recently launched their first-ever global éclair program in partnership with award-winning pastry chef and new LM100 member Johnny Iuzzini. who is from the Catskills region in upstate New York. I was lucky to get an opportunity to indulge in a variety of modern twists to the chic Parisian treat, including both classic flavours as well as unique creations inspired by the destination.

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It was an absolute culinary treat as I got to sample some unique eclairs at Le Meridien Gurgaon and then Delhi. As part of the programme, each hotel offered their own modern take on three signature éclair flavours – coffee, chocolate and vanilla – as well as one locally inspired flavour. It was a revelation to see each chef’s creativity and penchant for innovation.

I loved the Mishti doi eclairs at Le Meridien Gurgaon. The Bong in me could not resist that one. The chef had obviously perfected it. The Kalakand one at Le Meridien Delhi was delectable and the winner. Sweet and strongly reminscent of the North Indian sweet Kalakand. Absolutely loved it.

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“Through local recipes and a modern perspective on this quintessentially French pastry, Le Méridien éclairs enable us to offer unique, memorable guest experiences in our signature Le Méridien Hubs and restaurants around the world, ”  Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader, Le Méridien & Westin, told me  I could not agree more with him.

Through this unique culinary collaboration, Chef Iuzzini will create eight signature éclair recipes exclusively for Le Méridien over the next 12 months, inspired by a global tour of select Le Méridien destinations.

“I am excited to work with Le Méridien in particular because of the brand’s commitment to unlocking the destination through locally-inspired cuisine, and I look forward to reinventing the éclair with the help of Le Méridien’s talented chefs around the world, ” gushed Luzzini.

Darjeeling tea, ginger and jaggery caught his fancy while in India and Luzzini created the Darjeeling Express eclairs. It was an amalgamation of unique flavours, subtle, spicy and sweet.

So the choux pastry—traditionally filled with pastry cream, custard, or whipped cream and topped with fondant icing just went desi. I am lovin’ it!

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South Indian Fare + Global Flavours = Kobri Food Truck

A restaurant on wheels is always a fun prospect to eat from. Of course extremely popular in the West, one does not see too many in India owing to licenses and permission problems, yet, thankfully, a few are mushrooming all over India. Delhi and NCR seem to be leading the way. I was lucky to sample the food from Kobri, a food truck parked at The Heritage Transport Museum, one afternoon, courtesy, Le Meridien Gurgaon.

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The menu for the day was on the blackboard outside the truck and the chefs lead by Rajneesh Kumar, Head Chef, Flavour Labs,  were chopping, mixing, preparing, frying at a frenetic pace. The excitement as building. South Indian fusion food is Kobri’s speciality. After all, Kobri means coconut in Kannada.

This unique food truck is part of a hospitality setup called Flavour Labs and was conceptualised in 2013 during the Stanford Business School’s Ignite program in Bangalore. Launched in October 2014, Kobri is based in Gurgaon and mostly caters to the larger NCR region, Rohan Rajgarhia, one of the partners informed me.

The founding team comprises of entrepreneurial professionals with a passion for incredible food experiences, who have backgrounds in hotels & hospitality, healthcare, corporate strategy, analytics, customer service; and academic/professional affiliations with Stanford, Cambridge, Harvard and IIT.

South Indian food is something most of us enjoy, but the fusion bit was the intriguing part. Spinach and mushroom in a white wine cream sauce topped with cheese and chilly flakes was what I settled for, in a wrap. I had made a good choice. The wrap was crisp and the filling generous. The medley of spinach and mushrooms was flavorsome and the white wine cream sauce, laced with cheese gave it a smooth texture, which led to a burst of flavours in my mouth. It was sumptuous, the veggies crunchy and affordably priced. All the prerequisites to make it work for office goers looking for a quick, filling and healthy lunch. Aaiyyo! Delectable stuff.

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The spiced mutton kababs served with salad greens and an apple and olive salsa were equally unique and interesting. However, I preferred them on idlis rather than in the wrap form.

Other options include Paneer with assorted peppers in a mild chettinad sauce and topped with salad greens, Crispy fish on a bed of beetroot and turnip roulade, served with in-house tartar sauce and fresh greens. I like the twist Chef Rajneesh has given to the dishes. The flavours are contemporary and global, appealing to all taste buds. Yet, if one is craving for a South Indian meal, these, satiate that urge too. The idli subs I thought were cute and yet, filling. With offerings ranging from Rs 140-180, food is an absolute steal.

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Apparently they have another truck called Hoppers that offers healthy comfort food. I can’t wait to try that on my next visit to Delhi and NCR. Alas! we need a Kobri in Mumbai too!