June 22: The 292nd Wine Dinner of the Delhi Wine Club on June 18 at the OKO Restaurant of The Lalit smelt delightful success with the two wines from Ward Valley Marlborough truly shining, well matched with food and the unique ambience seen at few other restaurants in Delhi, writes Subhash Arora, President of Delhi Wine Club, who was happy with the full house in the PDR despite a majority of members being out of town or the country
Photos By:: Adil Arora
OKO is a top-ended restaurant occupying the whole of top floor at the Lalit New Delhi, known as much for its fabulous, plush ambience as the Pan Asian food and service and slotted at corresponding higher price point as well. It always generates a lot of interest when we choose this venue. This time was an exception- the heat wave in Delhi has been exceptional making people run for cooler cover to the hills or foreign land.
Despite the paucity of members, it was a full house of 20 at the single long table in the exclusive PDR that brings a lot of nostalgia of the erstwhile ‘The Grill Room’ where I had organised a few private parties and also a couple of wine dinners. In fact the comment made by Deepti Chopra, a founder member as he arrived was that he used to frequent The Grill Room during those earlier years because of beautiful view and excellent European cuisine. His nostalgia perhaps also stems from the fact that he is a Modernite and the restaurant provides an enchanting view of the School (though not at night, as we noticed).
The evening started on a very positive note with the opening of Ward Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017. Perfectly chilled, it was highly perfumed with passion fruit oozing out on the nose. The medium bodied wine was vibrant and vivacious, dancing on the palate.
I wish I could say the same about Yam Som O-the Pomello salad with nuts in tamarind sauce. Actually I had been served the exotic Sashimi and Avocado Salad made with Tuna, Salmon, Mackerel and yellow Tail mixed with chopped avocado in wasabi soya dressing but I have been so smitten with the Pomello salad that wherever I eat Thai food I order this salad (I rave about Neung Roi and Ziu, for instance). But today it just did not cut it for me. The colour was not pink as it usually is from Thai Pomello and it had a bitter after- taste. Perhaps, I am nostalgic about the salad in those restaurants. However, it was a perfect match with the Sauvignon.
Kushiyaki- skewers comprising of Torikawa- chicken wings and Buta Tamanegi-Pork, both with yakitori sauce were a delightful match with Ward Valley Pinot Noir 2016. One word on Edamame pod served as garnish though. It went- rather well with the protein and even added crunch to every bite. Unfortunately, it was only garnish. I felt that 4-6 pieces served as condiment would have added texture and crunch to the whole dish. The Pinot Noir was lighter bodied, fruity, smooth, complex and well rounded and full on the palate.
In fact, I felt it matched better with the main course better - Phad Thai Noodle with Chef’s special chicken with Thai chillies and hot basil sauce as compared to the announced matching with Phoenix Shiraz as had been done by Charles Donnadieu, the corporate sommelier of The Lalit, who had taken a lot of pains matching each dish with wines. Unlike me, there were some who thought that the spiciness of Phoenix Shiraz did add to the spiciness of food though, underlying my premise that wine is a matter of individual choice and should not be thrust on anyone’s palate.
Roasted Lamb in Black Pepper Sauce with compacted Fried Rice North India style was very well executed dish. This was a classic match with Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. In fact, the wine was a full-bodied one with good red-berried fruit and slightly green peppery note.
Flambé Fruits mixed with creamy Vanilla ice cream was the perfect dessert- a delectable combination as dessert with the flambéed warm fruit softening the ice cream which in turn cooled the fruit a bit. Rather great combo that! Especially since it was not too sweet! For once a dessert cried out for dessert wine, the absence of which was filled by the Jasmine tea which was a perfect ending to a perfect evening that had been almost equally divided as the top wine choice, with the Kiwi Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc bagging the top spots.
In the cricketing parlance it was a close match between two traditional rivals, not like India and Pakistan but more like New Zealand and the neighbouring Australia which was won by New Zealand though Australia put up a big fight.
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