M.P.D @ Lafayette Gourmet 

Alter ego personality clashes are uncommon among most….. FALSE!!! 
In my opinion- everyone has at least two personalities within whether they identify with it or not. Now take someone with Multiple Palate Disorder and an overriding sensation of being spoilt for choice, with 11 cuisines fighting for ones palate sample at La Fayette Gourmet, Dubai Mall and you would understand the term- Sensory Overload. 

A sanctuary, right within a bustling mall that serves the likes of lip smacking Rotisserie, Moroccan, Italian, Asian, Sushi Art, Indian, Grills, Mediterranean and mouthwatering beverages to choose from it really sends even a seasoned palate into a tantalising tease. 
Introduced by a family friend, Andrea- with the menu being conceptualised even before I set foot in Dubai, this restaurant’s reputation precedes itself and does have a dedicated fan following. Little wonder given the fact that Lafayette translates to ‘faith‘ a la ‘faithful‘ 

To segregate the meal let me first start off with a out of bed kickstart- Turkish Coffee. As the famous Turkish proverb goes; “Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love”. 
Turkish Coffee

I love the traditions that go along with the way one consumes a Turkish coffee- the meticulous details followed. There’s a certain way of preparing it. Other than having Turkish coffee beans, you need small coffee pot (copper is recommended) called “cezve” and Turkish coffee cups (thin porcelain cups like espresso cups) called “fincan”. If the beans are not ground, a Turkish coffee grinder (kahve degirmeni) is required for that smooth flow and taste to boot. 

Note: If you are not making your own Turkish coffee but being served, let the host/waiter know in advance how much sugar you want in it. It can either be served as sade (without sugar), az sekerli (a little sugar), orta (medium sugar) or sekerli (sweet).

Steeped deep in tradition, after drinking the coffee, there’s another waiting for the ones who like fortune reading. This tradition of reading someone’s future from the coffee grounds is called “fal” and very popular in Turkey. They say “Don’t believe fortune telling but don’t be left without it”. 

Did you know? Back in the old times when a woman was asked for marriage, potential husbands were served coffee and allowed to judge whether the woman was a good match for marriage based upon her ability to make coffee. Some prospective brides used to add salt instead of sugar in order to avoid an unwanted marriage. And if they wanted to end the marriage talks, they used to spill coffee over the guests. Even today, in modern Turkey, some people still keep traditions alive.

If the coffee didn’t jumpstart my senses the next serving sure did. 

Lafayette Wasabi prawns with mango salsa. Aptly described as a ‘riot’ to ones olfactory senses- succulent crunchy farm fresh prawns coated with a wasabi dip and sweet mango salsa. The first reaction is the crunch followed by the tingling hair follicles stimulated by the wasabi dip and the mango salsa playing agony aunt to ones singed tongue. This is a dish that hits the spot- in a matter of literal speaking. 
Something to cool oneself down with an Italian salad had its calling in the Burrata mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes and gazpacho vinaigrette

Ideal to share just the way the ‘Italians like it’ (sic), it’s reminiscent of the way cheese is to be consumed. Rich creamy gelatinous textures, engulf ones palate and scraps back a rolling jawline to consume it in entirety, it’s a sin to relinquish this dish in haste. The juicy tomatoes and crunchy bruschetta accompaniment all pans out perfectly much like a synchronised orchestra with tones of ‘Whiplash’ in between. Bang for the buck- (no pun intended.)

Nearly consumed yet craving for more I decided to skip dessert with more focus on the Warm Goat Cheese parcels with roasted beetroot salad, rocket leaves and raspberry vinaigrette. Yes I can see all you folk rolling your eyes in wonder at a first- (no dessert?), just goes to show how M.P.D skewed the food made me. It made me switch loyalties. Sigh!!! I go shoot myself now. 

Anyhow before I do, imagine an old Chinese uncle taking you to a decrepit attic on your 18th birthday and handing over a silk tightly enclosed parcel with ornate wonders and treasures within (not the creepy kind, think more like The Emperor Tomb from The Mummy franchise) – the sense of entitlement and satisfaction consume you all at once, with the warm goat cheese gushing and urging you to consume each parcel whole (no droplets of cheese will be wasted) with the roasted beetroot and raspberry vinaigrette laying a smooth tarmac of sweetness to accompany the fermented cheese atop ones tongue. 
It’s no wonder with creations like these, that this establishment has its ‘faithful‘ heading back to their doors for more, time and again. I look forward to my next dessert for Round 2. 

Images shot on Iphone6 

A Single’ton evening in a Park 

They say your aura attracts your own tribe. Rightfully so, when you find Señor Varun Carvalho on the same table as you for a whiskey paring dinner. Known for his life for fast cars, the good life and pulling out people’s teeth in his spare time while singing them to sleep (he’s not a torturer- a dentist rather) is also South Goa’s most eligible bachelor. Round two’ as we both call it (given we shared an earlier evening the last time round as well) at the Park Hyatt Masters of Food and Wine-Land and Dram Reunited. This masterclass showcase is a series of sophisticated culinary and beverage experiences hosted at Park Hyatt hotels around the world. I have been fortunate to be part of many a showcase that pay tribute to the local culture, culinary traditions, ingredients and flavors and have never left disappointed. Under the watchful eye of their award winning master chefs and the eminent Nick Ord – a renowned Reserve Brand Ambassador this was indeed an evening worth waiting for. 

You realize your in good company when you have a singing dentist and a maestro chef on either side of you. The evening reeked of sophistication with detail given to the simplest of things (case in point sparkling water with a choice of either a twist of lemon or an orange peel to the personalized table seating with name plate et all)- a classy affair indeed. 

Chef Saulo, was the genius behind the Oops Tiramisu which was showcased earlier and he never travels too far away from his roots deep within Italy. And while one sets into a melancholy of expectation (given the earlier jaunts) a blended fusion presents itself with a Chicken tikka pappardelle with white tomato makhni sauce chilly oil and garlic crisp. Imagine my glee combining two international cuisines (Indian & Italian-both close to my heart) to create this infused masterpiece. 

 Chicken tikka pappardelle white tomato makhni sauce chilly oil and garlic crisp  

Pappardelle is flat wide strips of pasta noodles popular in the Tuscan region of Italy. The name derives from the verb “pappare” to gobble up. This wide pasta holds up well with heavy meat sauces. A traditional recipe includes rabbit served over the pasta ribbons that I happened to sample a few years ago. Tender and moist indeed. It’s cousins, Tagliatelle, tagliolini, tortellini, and lasagne are some of the pastas made fromsfoglia, the “leaves” of egg-and-flour dough. 

Legend has it that the shape-strips of pasta about a half inch wide, was invented in 1487 by Maestro Zafirano, a cook from the village of Bentivoglio, on the occasion of the marriage of Lucrezia Borgia to the Duke of Ferrara. The cook was said to be inspired by the beautiful blond hair of the bride.

The Singleton of Glen Ord – 12 years   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Like a attentive accomplice was the pairing of this creative dish with the Singleton of Glen Ord aged 12 years. It’s Amber gold hues, lulls you into steady oblivion and its heady distant burning heather infuses distinct sweet pollen and dry orange skins to send your senses into a tizz. It’s a well balanced malt with a pleasant mouth feel (especially between pungent tangy morsels of the tikka pappardelle) rather very sweet then dries slightly. For a novice it’s easy to consume and if one dilutes it with water a softer notes of candle wax, brown sugar and dried flowers emerge to tickle ones buds. 

This Masters of Food and Wine experience at Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa comprised a mélange of bold Indian flavours artfully paired with single malts left one yearning for more. Leaving on a light note, here’s singing your song – Señor Carvalho till we meet again.