March 15: The Culinary Director of Cakebread Cellar, Brian Streeter was in Delhi earlier this week and curated a special meal on Monday for invitees of La Cave at the soon-to-open new Italian Restaurant to be most likely named as Perbacco (Good Heavens!) with 3 wines that are already being imported by Brindco in India and retailed through La Cave- Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Dancing Bear Ranch 2009 that is not being imported yet, paired with dishes cooked under his supervision, writes Subhash Arora
Good Heavens! The new plush upmarket Italian restaurant at the -1 level at The Lodhi Hotel that used to be a private lounge for years, is ready to open and what better way than a dinner for 50 people with 4 wines from The Cakebread Cellars in Napa Valley which was being represented by Brian Streeter, their Culinary Director who has been a corporate Chef at the property for around 30 years. The restaurant we were told has not been named as yet though a couple of staff said it would be PerBacco (Italian word for By Jove, Good Heavens!). There are already Italian Restaurants with the same name at least in San Francisco and Singapore.
One rather unique feature of the new restaurant is a Private Dining Room which will have an attached wine cellar that will stock 130 Italian wines being imported by Brindco and each wine (including Sassicaia) will be served by the glass when it is fully operational next month, says Aman Dhall, Director of Brindco. The Cellar will be managed by Madhulika Bhattacharya Dhall of La Cave, I was told.
For the dinner today, wines from Cakebread Cellars being imported by Brindco for the last 13 years were being served from the Bar which is at the same floor independent and across the restaurant which started off the evening by popping Louis Roederer champagne. It is noteworthy that someone from this winery has been coming to India almost every year-generally Bruce Cakebread, President and COO who is in India but obliged to stay in Mumbai and sent instead Brian Streeter who had cooked a delicious meal with fresh ingredients for me a few years ago when I visited Bruce for an exclusive Lunch at the winery at St. Helena Highway in Rutherford, Napa Valley.
After the usual introductions by the suave and very competent General Manager Vikram Aditya Singh, Brian talked a bit about the food and wines to be served-with his experience he could easily double up as the export manager of Cakebread! He started the evening with Pierogi- the well known dumpling from Central Europe except he had replaced the filling with Kimchi. Pairing with Sauvignon Blanc 2016 was perfect. The fruity wine with racy acidity, with fresh and juicy flavour of guava, gooseberry and melon with a long and persistent mouthfeel was more than adequate match with the Pierogi.
Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay 2016 was the next wine to be served. With the hallmark oak presence it had the fruity aromas with shade of sweet vanilla on the nose and creamy texture thanks to the months on the lees it has enjoyed and flavours of green apples and melon with oak vanilla on the back palate. It went well with the Asparagus resting on the Corn Polenta and fresh Burrata. The pickled Mushroom gave an extra zing to the food. It was an excellent, classic match with the seared scallops with his version of Pumpkin Seed Dukkah, the Egyptian spice. I felt that the peas did not add much to the dish though, even if they were English Peas.
Spice Rubber Duck Breast with Fig Moutarde and Braised Radish was a perfect match for the Cakebread Cellars Dancing Bear Ranch (DBR) 2009, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (over 90%) and Cabernet Franc from special parcels of vines. It was a full-bodied, perfumed wine with plenty of black currents, cherries and plums and clearly the darling of the house. I decided to try it with a vegetarian dish-not an easy task surely. But the Chef quickly rustled up some green coloured pasta with black truffles that went down perfectly with the blend.
Blue Cheese Soufflé with Flower Honey Garden Beets was an excellent dish given an extra oomph by Toasted pecans and dried Persimmons-perhaps hand carried by Chef Brian from the US. This was well complimented by Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. I felt this should have been served before the Duck-both because of its texture and that of the wines, DBR being fuller and older vintage, though still too young. The wine was full bodied, with excellent structure and balance and plenty of fruit and spices.
The meal was rounded off with an Ice Cream sandwich and a Cappuccino, a very non- Italian ending. That it was the first dinner ever at the new restaurant made it memorable-so did the excellent food curated by Brian Streeter and matched excellently with wines. The serving staff was highly motivated and manned their stations rather well-making it a truly memorable evening for the guests who would want to come back when it is operational next month.
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