We got to enjoy exactly such an afternoon last Saturday, thanks to Sous Chef Uday and his colleagues - Anish, Pushpendar, Ashvin and Giri - at Graze, the high-end European cuisine restaurant at Vivanta by Taj.
Formerly known as Taj Residency, this 5 Star hotel is a part of old Bangalore and after all these years, it still retains its charm. I have fond memories of going there as a kid to attend their exclusive lifestyle exhibitions (this was long before these kinds of exhibitions became a dime a dozen) and eating hot jalebis afterwards. Graze is one of their 3 restaurants and it is situated just across from the pool. Even though some of the poolside tables are tempting, the indoor setting of the restaurant is appealing enough to make one want to stay inside. What can I say? I truly appreciate places with cozy lighting and soft jazz playing in the background.
The attendees consisted of a small group (about a dozen) of vegans and non-vegans. And all of us enjoyed the demo and the food alike. Throughout the whole event, Ashvin (the Restaurant Manager) and Giri were very attentive, friendly and helpful. They took good care of us while Uday, Anish and Pushpendar taught us how to make simple yet gourmet vegan delicacies. A well planned four course meal. By the time the demo was done, the wafting flavors of spices and vegetables had us all famished and we were about ready to wolf down everything that was placed in front of us. And what a treat it was! The flavors, the textures...I'd say we were transported into another world but the ambiance at Graze was too perfect for that to happen. :)
This vegan event was the fruition of many weeks of planning and veganising. I spoke about the background and my involvement in it in an earlier blog post. Now here are some captured moments from the event itself.
The Close Up Views:
The firm feel of a tomato after being blanched in boiling water for about 8 seconds and immediately dunked into ice water. Just the peel is cooked so it comes off easily.
The simple and versatile tomato sauce.
Finely sliced lemon rind for the Polenta. These pieces were so tiny and uniform. Truly the work of a patient and skillful person!
Neatly seeded and diced provençal vegetables for the Polenta dish - Zucchini, Onion, Aubergine (Brinjal), Red Pepper, Mushroom.
Mixing and shaping the Gnocchi.
Everyone wanted a taste of the raw cashew butter that was used to make cashew cream for the vanilla ice cream.
The Scrumptious Meal:
Chunky Chick Pea and Olive Oil Dip for the Breads.
Chilled Melon Gazpacho infused with Mint and Thyme.
Salad Platter. The greens were tossed in an amaaaaazing Raspberry Vinaigrette!! *slurp* And the pickled onions topped with fried capers were yummy! I wish there were more onions and capers in there.
Hearts of Palm.
Wine Steeped Mushrooms. These were brilliant!! The colour and the flavor really added to the whole appeal of the Salad.
The Palette Cleanser. A truly refreshing Cognac and Tamarind Sorbet. Yum yum *hic*. :oP
The main course choices.
"Milanese" Polenta topped with Grilled Provençal Vegetables and served with this *heavenly* Essence of Sweet Red Peppers sauce. This signature concoction of Graze, was bursting with citrus-y flavors and was the star of the dish! All of us who ate it were completely blown away. It took me a lot of self control not to start licking the last drops directly off the plate after I'd had every bit my forkfuls of Polenta could sap up. *slurpity slurpity*
Deep Fried Gnocchi tossed in a chunky Tomato, Red Pepper Sauce and topped with crunchy, tender Asparagus.
The desserts were Vanilla Ice Cream made of Cashew Cream and Poached Pears and Figs in an Almond Tart Shell.
There is another vegan demo/lunch coming up at Graze this Saturday, May 5th 2012. The menu will be completely different.
Course 1 - Gazpacho of cherry tomatoes – served chilled.
Course 2 - Marinated beets, fresh greens, sherry vinaigrette and walnut oil.
Course 3 -“Spanakopita” of spinach, tofu and mushrooms, smoked red pepper compote and aged balsamic OR Pumpkin risotto, roasted salsify, crisp shallots and cashew sour cream.
Course 4 - Tofu chocolate mousse with cinnamon coconut milk ice cream.
The event starts at 12 noon. The price is Rs.1200 plus taxes. If you'd like to attend, call and register with Ashvin at +91 80 6660 3270 or +91 77606 35477. They're limiting the number to 15 so that the event is more personal and interactive.
Here's a picture of the dessert to tempt you. :oP
Most of these vegan dishes are going to be a part of a new vegan menu section to be launched at Graze. They also plan to have more vegan demo-lunches in the future.