All Things Nice, blindfold dining, Chef Mayank, Chocolate, Dans Le Noir, dark, Escabeche, Food, Grana Padano, Heston Blumenthal, medieval feast, Olive Bar and Kitchen, poached pear, senses, Twisted Decadence
The food revolution is in full swing in India. Not only is food occupying a larger share of the income pie, it is a full-baked career option, a cool-as-cucumber hobby, a huge brownie point for a guy on a date-hunt and makes for great coffee table conversation… and all the food puns are very intended 🙂
Innovative events showcasing various aspects of food and dining experiences are the ‘in’ thing right now. But at a time when everyone from professional cooks to bhurji-pav stall owners are paying hair-splitting attention to plating and presentation to make their food look more inviting and palatable, Twisted Decadence, a special dining experience presented by All Things Nice, attempts to turn things on its head.
Not your average fine dining experience, this. Because, apart from a specially designed spread by Chef Mayank of Olive Bar and Kitchen, and copious amounts of good Indian and international wines paired with each one of the 3-course dinner, you actually have your dinner blindfolded! The idea, as Nikhil Agarwal, the force behind and believer of All Things Nice, explains, is to heighten the sense of taste, smell and even touch by blocking out the visual appeal of the food.
A world debate is raging on whether blindfolding or dining in darkness (as at the restaurant Dans Le Noir) really helps in greater, sensorial enjoyment of the food. Our eyes tell our brains what to expect in terms of taste – for example, if you see an orange-coloured drink, your taste buds will expect a tangy taste. But what happens if a bowl of fruits placed before you is actually reconstructed offal or organ meat? Heston Blumenthal served up a very different kind of ‘plum’ at his Medieval Feast, much to his guests’ surprise!
But this was no culinary trick! For our motley group lounging around a sprawling, white table – Shraddha, Sovna, Reeten, Craig, Prachi and Gaurav – a sommelier, a banker, a media specialist, 2 writers, and 2 wine marketers, all from different parts of the world, all united in our quest for new and exciting food adventures – this was a night of unfettered foodie fun. Right from the moment the Sula Brut Sparkling Rose touched our lips, it was chatter, laughter, jokes, stories, and plenty of warm-hearted jiggery-pokery! Piercing bits of spiced squid in a Seafood Escabeche or picking up piquant Arugula with a fork can be daunting even with eyes open, but with a blindfold on, it made for hilarious botches! When the empty fork lands up in your mouth, there is no way of knowing whether you managed to fork the delicious Duck Confit in the first place, or if it fell off on the way, and is now languishing on your lap! And how do you know if you have finished eating your Grana Padano Steak or Braised Lamb Shoulder without looking at your plate??
Yes, foraging for food with a fork around a dinner plate is not everyone’s idea of fun, and many a blindfold fell off along the way. Even those who were sold on the concept cheated a little bit, especially while scooping the Cinnamon Ice-cream or slicing through the beautifully Poached Pear, or when admiring the large chocolate leaf resting temptingly alongside the Dark Chocolate Pate. But this fascinating journey into a ‘dark’ world of textures, flavours and tastes was a great way to stoke up camaraderie, not just between the foodies around the table, but also between all the five senses that define our very personality.
Plate-Licker’s Wisdom : ‘Dark’ dining is worth a try! Have a couple of practice rounds of this at home while you wait for the next event – it promises to be a fun exploration!