Birthdays are always special, aren’t they? But if you have someone in your life like Teddy, it will be electric as well as special, year on year, because of the thought, care, creativity and planning that invariably goes into the celebrations.
So this year’s celebrations were expectedly thrilling, although I had no clue what I was in for! I was whisked off in the car, driven through a dark night that seemed to be gasping for breath under torrential rain, and landed up at plush St. Regis‘s elegant Asian fine-dining restaurant, By The Mekong, perched 37 floors above the lazily twinkling lights of the city of Mumbai.
What followed was a special dinner peppered with some of the choicest dishes the city has to offer, starting with an aromatic Vietnamese Pho stuffed with fresh Seafood, onto the delicate and lip-smacking Edamame, Green Peas and Truffle Oil Dim Sum, to the Yunan Style Steamed Pork Belly, to the absolutely stunning Sichuan Chilean Sea Bass, cooked whole in the Chef’s signature style and carved and presented in a light, flavourful broth that you just can’t stop eating!
And to make the celebrations even more exciting, out walked the Chef de Cuisine of the restaurant, the much-decorated and very accomplished Master Chef Shi Xilin, joining our table for one of the most fun, interesting and passionate foodie chats ever. From stories of his early days spent in native China absorbing the basics of cooking from his Mom and learning the importance of waking up very early in the morning (he still wakes up at 6 am, no matter how late it gets in the maximum city of very late diners!) to his endearing fascination for Japanese methods of cooking during his stint in Japan, to his fitness regime and diet that keeps him looking so fit and bursting with energy, Chef Xilin held us a captive audience.
Right up until the clock struck 12 and Teddy flipped on Facebook Live (watch the party come alive here!) At which point, I blew off a beautiful, blooming lotus candle and sliced into a gorgeous slab of Chocolate Cake generously baked up by the kitchen, all in the presence of the entire restaurant and staff around me, and pretty much the whole world of friends and family watching live on Facebook, wishing me Happy Birthday in a happy chorus of voices that lifted me higher, much higher, than the plush surroundings of the 37th floor.
The rain, by now a heavy curtain sliding silently down the expansive glass wall we sat cosily next to inside, artistically distorted the vista of the drenched city so far below. Reluctant to end such a beautiful, toasty evening, we called for and polished off a special platter of desserts put together by the Chef, and a delicate flute of my favourite Bellini that seemed to reflect my inner happiness in its sparkle and effervescence. And although the day of celebrations had only just begun, it was a night that will live on like a dog-eared, well-thumbed favourite book, as one of those memories most revisited in years to come.
Thank you, By The Mekong and Teddy, for making it so! :)