David Rocco can eat just about anything and everything from the streets on India, even from the dingiest of dhabas or rinky-dink eateries and not fall sick, ever. He attributes it to Mother India who he thinks has been protecting him through his adventurous sojourn. Meeting this fine, amicably gregarious and jacose Chef was a delight. As he cooked up a a fusion from the mystery box, ingredients of which were unknown to him, he gave out trivia on his travelogues, talking about his favourite and not so favourite dishes, intuitive innovation that he practises while cooking at home and people with eccentricities. After having tasted so much of Indian stuff, David elaborated that he just doesn’t like Bengali Sweets and that when somebody offers him a Mishti Dohi in Kolkata now, where he is shooting the next season of his food show, he is up for an escape through the roof. Though he confessed that he loves the Shrikhand, a twisted version with orange zest.
In the cookout, he was up and against Chef Manisha Bhasin who was preparing an innovative version of the Lasagne using smoked aubergine. While David was still getting his dish ready, Manisha was done and dusted with her’s which was a classy take on something so humble as aubergine. David playfully deserted the competition under pressure only to return the very next second to gear up. He mixed up out local Dal Makhni the Italian way in garlic, onions and spaghetti to create a magical version of the desk khichdi. I called it ‘Khichitaly’. It was an amalgamation of two culinary styles and quite an innovative way to eat the pasta, hereon. But I admit, I loved chef Manisha’s aubergine Lasagne – delectably creamy with an aftertaste of the ‘bharta’ stuffed and wrapped inside the lasagne sheets. The Hat of Divinity goes to Chef Manisha – ta tad tada…..
What started with sparkling wines and lovely frolicsome conversation snowballed into a lavish lunch spread – a special menu designed by David himself.
The Amuse Bouche was the micro Caprese with extra virgin olive oil – just perfect to start off the sumptuous meal. The Funghi Aromatizzato was the antipasto – a bruschetta with mushrooms tossed in garlic and basil – really delicious. Enjoying my meal with chef Manisha sitting right beside was a treat. She is just so hospitable And warm, it almost feels at home with her. A Chef of that stature, she still prefers to return home in time to cook for her kids. In the candid rendezvous with her, I got to know that the restaurant was started by her way back in early 80’s and her team which comprised only of women. Now that is kudos to women power and empowerment!
The Primi Piatti was the Scialatielli con polpo da Napoli which basically was spaghetti served with octopus in tomato sauce. It was really well cooked but people who don’t have a taste for all things marine especially octopus can replace it with chicken or prawns – so savoury and just so easy to decipher. Uncomplicated Genius!
The Secondo Piatti was a Ciambotta with polenta and sautéed rapini – almost like a stew of cornmeal with sautéed veggies and cheese on side. It’s such a summer delight – light, healthy and delicious!
Torta Caprese was my dessert – a simple flourless <strongChocolate Lava cake with pistachio gelato – made of egg white and sugar instead of flour, this cake was so orgasmic, I could eat just this for all three meals of the day. Crispy on the crust and spongy inside, it came with pistachio gelato which was incredibly sumptuous. The flavour of pistachio just came through perfectly. David was right – we had to save our last sips of wine to accompany this delicacy.
It couldn’t have gotten better than this – a lunch date with power-packed Chefs, red wine (from my favourite beaker), lip-smacking food and hearty conversations at West View, an inexpugible memory, a view that will keep coming back in flashes.