Chocolate Takes the Stage

Chocolate – the word evokes a certain something in us all. For one person it’s the smooth taste of milk chocolate, for others it’s the darker and richer notes of dark chocolate that hit the spot. There are days when I just want me something chocolaty – who hasn’t right? Anyways, when a mail popped into my inbox declaring “Sweet Endings” at ITC Gardenia’s Cubbon Pavilion, with chocolate concoctions front and center on the dinner buffet, it was a siren call. One that I answered, accompanied by the man who has an even sweeter tooth than mine! On until the 27th of September, this ‘Reve de Chocolat’ fest, with the passionate and knowledgeable Chef Arvind catering to chocolate fantasies galore, is a treat, both visually and for the taste buds!

A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY
I was wondering if this would be a case of chocolate, chocolate everywhere, with garnishes and sauces in the mains, apart from the dessert spread. It can become a little forced, in such cases. To my surprise Chef had chosen to keep the focus on desserts, and added just a couple touches of chocolate to other dishes, like the beautifully delicate grilled fish with cocoa/cacao beans atop. He has also created an amuse bouche of in-house made chocolates, that start the journey off with a bang! Served with a flourish, in a glass platter atop dry ice, you will find yourself oohing and aahing as much at the presentation as at the taste and texture of the chocolates as they hit your mouth. One does of course have the entire buffet at one’s command, but really, it’s not often that you actually have a good reason to eat just desserts for your dinner, now is it? We lined our tummies with some judicious choices off the buffet (appetizers that came to the table and then salads mainly for me, and because there was a station preparing Pad Thai, and I can’t resist Thai food, a shrimp Pad Thai that was spot on); then under the watchful eyes of Chef Arvind, headed to chocolate heaven.

CHOCOLATE HEAVEN

Just one part of the spread!
Just one part of the spread!

From a chocolate fountain with marshmallows, fruits and such to dip into it, to a ganache dipped in rich chocolate and served with a few touches of almond or other accents (the ganache pieces had been made, once you showed up at the live station, the dipping and rolling happened), and also jars of chocolate covered raisins, almonds that had been rolled in chocolate and a little chilli (loved this!), there was an element of drama and a whole lot of planning and technique evident in the proceedings. This came to the fore even more, when after loading our plates with gateau, chocolate puddings and more, Chef insisted we try the Kullad Surprise (a gold foil capped Kullad jar). This was brought to the table and then hot chocolate from a kettle poured over it, causing quite a sensual delight, with the smells and overflowing chocolate! Inside, there was passionfruit, nuts, cake and more chocolate. This, along with another citrus and chocolate combo, were my desserts of the night – though truth be told, there was no going wrong here – everything was fantastic, rich, decadent and delicious! I felt elated at the end of the meal – from listening to Chef’s notes on chocolate and chocolate making, and thus learning new and interesting stuff, and from all that rich chocolate!

Natasha Ali

Natasha's first foray into food writing has been with Chef at Large. Who knew all those years spent eating food, reading about it and looking for the next restaurant to try or watching cooking shows would have left such an indelible impression?! She's back in India after having spent over a decade in the US where she studied as well as taught in academia and now works as a content writer seeing as she can write about pretty much anything. Movie mad, obsessed with the English language, and never one to turn down a glass of good wine, cup of tea, or a good book, she's open to trying any dish once, she enjoys a variety of cuisines with favorites being Ethiopian, Thai, and Lebanese. Natasha covers Bangalore for Chef at Large and can be reached at natasha.ali@www.chefatlarge.in