Over dinner at Artisan, Sofitel Mumbai, I rediscovered all the wonderful reasons why French cuisine is so close to my heart. Between sips of a refreshing Reisling from Alsace and a full-bodied Bordeaux later in the meal, we listened to Chef Neeraj Rawoot tell us about 'Gout de France'.
Artisan, Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Organised by the Ministry of Europe & Foreign Affairs in 150 countries, the annual event aims to bring together 3000 restaurants and 150 embassies in over five continents in the celebration of French gastronomy. This year, last night was the big night, with 63 participating restaurants in India serving a set French meal.
Our dinner comprised of five beautifully curated courses but I can think of six different reasons to love French cuisine:
1. The dishes sound as beautiful as they taste.
Pair this with La Vieille Ferme Blanc from Cote du Rhone
Take mille fuille for instance. The softness with which the words roll off the tongue could make one weep with joy. Even the description - layered vegetables with parsnip puree and cherry tomato sauce (mind you, not regular ones) reeks of elegance.
2. Cheese is not just cheese - it's a journey into myriad textures and tastes.
Pan seared goat cheese
One wouldn't associate cheese with dessert. But in French cuisine, it's quite possible to have comte cheese creme brulee with red wine onion marmalades, pan seared goat cheese with red wine, onion marmalade and saffron pear sauce, roquefort with beetroot dust and brie with honey and roasted fig.
3. Vegetarian food is as soulful and satisfying as meat.
There's always loads of cheese, herbs and delicate steaming to retain the freshness and flavours of vegetarian dishes like this asparagus and morel stuffed crepe with cheese sauce and wild mushroom ragout.
4. Everything just melts.
Melt-in-the-mouth rosemary chocolate mousse
Be it the crepes and mille fuille or the cheeses and almandine, one thing's for sure - French cuisine will never compel you to chew in an unbecoming manner.
5. The portions are small and they burst with flavours.
Roquefort with beetroot dust
While everything is loaded with the good stuff, the portions are tiny so you're unlikely to gain weight. But every little morsel you eat is like a bite of heaven.
6. There's always wine - and great wine at that.
Every course is paired with fine wine and if your bartender is like the ones at Artisan, they'll tell you how the nuances offset the dominant notes in your food thus elevating everything to a sublime pampering of the senses.