When Life Inspires Art Inspires Food…

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“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

Many a times this phrase helps one silence others and end all debate, often in petulant defence of one’s own appreciation of something that others have ridiculed. But dig deep and I feel it holds very true for those who are not ‘on the inside’ of the art world, and have an outsider’s opinion of say a painting, or a sculpture. The fact that the beholder, like me, is not privy to the history, the hype and the halo around the artist’s name, often brings to light a fresh and honest point of view, and an appreciation that is not studied, conditioned or even imposed…

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All those who are wondering why I am jabbering on about art and the beholder, this train of thought started yesterday when I was having an intense conversation with an artist friend about…. not art, but food! For someone with a very earthy artistic sense, and a vision to use art to raise awareness about environmental issues, my friend Vik may sound like an art activist, but he really is more of a passionate foodie. So much so that he knows of these amazing hole-in-the-wall places that even I have never heard of! Hopefully that’s a situation that will get corrected by the end of this week! 😉

IMG_9693IMG_9714This conversation flowed from another evening of art and food with artist friend Ananya Banerjee. An experienced hand at successful food pop-ups, she had cooked up a storm last weekend. Set amongst her myriad beautiful paintings around her large living room, the multi-course traditional Bengali dinner of Raan Musallam, Prawn Malai Curry, Nolen Gur Flan and other dishes laid out on the dining table, waiting to be devoured, looked to us hungry ‘beholders’ as delicious pieces of art! 🙂

Quite a contrast to this dinner was yet another art-inspired evening I experienced a few weeks ago. It was the swish setting of Romano’s Lab at the J W Marriott in Sahar, the rich oak, dark leather and smooth gold interiors quietly gleaming in the soft light of the  pendant chandelier. I swivelled into a chunky high chair at the bar and got ready to enjoy an evening of fascinating story-telling. Because, with Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Nick Ord, there is never a dull moment at the bar! And true to form, Nick did not disappoint at all. He kept our small group of whiskey aficionados engrossed in the interesting less-heard story behind Martini and Bianco Vermouth, a potboiler for another time. But despite Nick’s immense knowledge, and ability to stir up the perfect cocktail just for your mood, what impressed me more that evening (sorry Nick!) was the captivating stories behind the women subjects of some of the best known art pieces of the world, told with wit, emotion, and a little personal touch by a self-assured and immensely talented up-and-coming mixologist, Feruzan Bilimoria, the star bartender at Romano’s.IMG_8717

Sure it was by design that a talented lady with bright green hair should be doing a tribute, to women made famous in art, for the Marriott’s special celebration of International Women’s Day. But the taste of the pudding, as I always believe, is in the eating, or in this case, experiencing the whole drama, creation and presentation of the three art-inspired cocktails for the evening. The first was inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, with a hint of sweet honey and a faint bitterness that kind of summed up the story behind the enigmatic lady in the painting.

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The next one, inspired by the stunning sculpture of Pieta by Michelangelo, was a Limoncello-based cocktail as a nod to the sculptor’s Italian roots, served with an intensely aromatic slice of dehydrated lemon.

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The last one was inspired by the awe-inspiring painting of the mysterious baker woman in Raphael’s La Fornarina, presented with a small bunch of fresh thyme as a tribute to the myrtle bush in the background of the painting.

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That evening made me realise that even if you are living under a rock, and know nothing about anything in art, you could still experience a little bit of the genius of the master artists, the aura around their masterpieces and the mystery around the much-talked-about women central to their works of art. What you need is a good storyteller, a representation of that art before you, and, as I truly believe, your keen eyes as the beholder!

 

 

 

 

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The Follow The Eaten Path Table Is Born!

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The life of a food blogger/consultant is without doubt one of the most exciting 🙂

There’s hardly a day or night when I am NOT out attending the launch of a new restaurant, bar or cafe, witnessing the birth of a new kitchen tool or a fresh food product, tasting a seasonal or festival menu,  interviewing a promising new entrant or a reputed celebrity chef, following a cooking demo by a specialist, joining a discussion or debate on the vast topic of food and beverage, trying out exciting new-age cocktails by brilliant mixologists, learning new things about good wines, whiskies, olive oils, coffee regions, refined chocolates, aromatic teas, indigenous ingredients, sustainable farming and so deliciously on…

But a couple of weeks ago, a very special event took place that, before it happened, became one to be seen at, and after it was done, became one of those you show off (just a little bit!) as having been there done that 😉 It was Follow The Eaten Path’s very own, very exclusive and very talked about Chef’s Table.

On International Women’s Day, I felt a need, an urge to do something that lies somewhere smack-bang in the middle of two extremes – the necessary but way too short-lived spa pampering at one end, and the way too serious debates and sloganeering on feminism at the other! My idea was to celebrate the women who have done something significant in life, however big or small, women who have defined the very definition of success by carving out a niche for themselves, and have enjoyed the journey as much as reaching their destination, with an inimitable zest for life. And so was born a table of 12 Power Girls – a gifted singer/composer, a popular radio jockey, a vivacious show host, a bubbly model and stage actress, a talented film actress, a senior corporate communications director, a sought-after celebrity stylist, a cutting-edge diamond merchant, a well-known wine consultant, a high-energy international beverage head, a well-traveled photographer and culinary graduate. And moi! Not your regular dirty dozen, eh? 😉

 

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The table was to be powered by the delicious, classy, French brand of Triple Sec, Cointreau,  and when I took the concept to celebrity Chef Vicky Ratnani, he was extremely excited about doing it. So much so that he not only conceptualised, created and perfected a 5-course meal (after several secret trials!), pairing each course with a Cointreau-based cocktail, but also decided to infuse Cointreau in each of the dishes in his signature, progressive style of cooking.

The resultant Chef’s Table at one of the city’s poshest and best-loved restaurants The Korner House, was one to remember for a very long time. The delectable Confit Duck, Mushroom Mille Feuille, food and the delicious cocktails were both a visual and sensual treat for us all. But apart from our common love for good food, it was also the uncommon levels of energy that created a bond between the ‘Power Girls’ who brought the house down with their singing, dancing, joking, laughing, and wholehearted celebration of the indomitable spirit of today’s successful woman… with dollops of gossip, of course! By the time the fun afternoon rolled into a groovy high-energy evening, they became BFFS, and yes, since I last checked, they still are!

Here are a few crazy, adorable Follow The Eaten Path moments from the Cointreau Power Girls Lunch that will linger on in memory, with many more moments in the making…

 

 

Red, Red Wine, and other hits…

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Good wines, good food, good music and good company…


It’s the perfect formula for a great evening on any given day, but at the Fratelli Vineyards’ dinner at the chic Stax Lounge at Hyatt Regency, it became a night to remember!
Here are a few memorable moments from the specially-crafted, 5-course Italian dinner, paired with the best of Fratelli wines by Brand Director and wine dude Craig Wedge – 

The simple yet simply outstanding 30-yolk Pasta with Black Truffles and 2-year aged Parmesan shavings, paired with the bold and beautiful blended MS Red, that would count amongst my top 5 dishes in the city.

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The always-jovial Craig’s adventure stories from near and far, and his howlarious Hindi words 😝


Everyone joining in on The Beatles ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ with the talented crooner on stage, and then G-Man joining him, booming out his own solo version of ‘Annie’s Song’.

And yes, the beautiful Maracaibo Chocolate Slice and Olive Cake dessert, with little wine pearls and freeze-dried strawberries, paired with the deliciously mature, barrel-aged Sette red wine that ended the night on an ambrosial high 🙂

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As I raise a toast to more such evenings, I leave you with one of the most beautiful lines written, from an equally beautiful song called ‘Don’t Know Why’ by Norah Jones…

My heart is drenched in wine,

But you’ll be on my mind

Forever.