August 23: Olive Bar and Kitchen is celebrating 15th Anniversary at their Qutab property and Delhi Wine Club joined the celebration with the 294th wine dinner with a special progressive Mediterranean Menu crafted by Chef Dhruv Oberoi based on the new recipes and classic favourites encompassing 15 years of culinary experience, writes Delhi Wine Club founder President Subhash Arora who had selected wines from Australasia, imported by Phoenix Wines to match the food
Photos By:: Adil Arora
Delhi Wine Club has had a long relationship with Olive Bar and Kitchen since beginning in 2004. It is a matter of record and pride that the first ever wine dinner hosted at Olive Qutab was by Delhi Wine Club (DWC) on 25th April, 2004. This was our 35th event and we charged our members Rs. 900. (the current 6-course dinner on 20 August was at Rs. 2800 for members). As Arora shared an incident of 2004 with members while welcoming them (see video), he was manning the DWC stand at a wine show when A D Singh approached him. After we introduced ourselves and I explained to him what we were doing to promote wine culture, he said Olive did not have the liquor license yet but was keen for DWC to organise a wine dinner the moment he got the license.
GALLERY 2004 MENU 2004 EVENT 2004
The popularity of Olive Restaurant in Bandra with heavy Star Quotient had already started spreading to Delhi within days. Looking at AD’s passion for wine and making Olive a wine destination, I met him at the restaurant and after discussions over a meal agreed to organise the 35th wine dinner of the Club on 25th April, 2004. So welcoming was AD that the 5-course traditional Menu insisted by Delhi Wine Club had an option of 6 Main course!
We have had several events with Olive since then. It was only natural that we join its ongoing 15 year celebration at the 294th dinner with the creative star chef Dhruv Oberoi who has designed a special summer menu based on the culinary experience of the last 15 years. We selected 4 Australasian wines being imported by Phoenix Wines for the evening (at that time there used to be 5 wines or more but at the request of members we later curtailed the number to 4). My favourites Ward Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2018 and Pinot Noir 2016, and Phoenix Estate Shiraz 2017 and Cabernet 2017 were the wines poured.
SERAI- the bar
The evening started at SERAI, the revamped Bar at Olive-more comfortable and feeling bigger than before. One may even walk out to a small smokers’ corner opening into the courtyard where one may sit on comfortable sofas to enjoy the addiction. Ward Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2018 was typical from Marlborough-very fruity, fresh, and vivacious with flavours of passion fruit and gooseberry and slightly herbaceous in character. Not only was it my personal favourite, I recommended members to offer such a white wine from Marlborough to a teetotaller tasting wine for the first time.
Everyone loved the wine, accentuated by the lovely spread of two types of Indian cheeses and breads for vegetarians on one table and charcuterie with sour dough toast for non-vegetarians on the other. Different chutneys on each table helped release even more flavours and bring colour. One cannot enter Olive and leave without munching on their ever-delicious wood-oven fired pizzas. So we decided to move to the dining area across the courtyard to start the dinner with the thin crust Margherita pizza as an appetizer. It was hot and finger lickin’ good and a crowd winner.
Chef Dhruv had taken initiative here also by placing blocks of Parmigiano Reggiano (though I felt it was the more popular Grano Padano) and making an arrangement with grapes and other fruits-not only to make the table setting more attractive but also keeping people busy munching between the courses.
Gazpacheulo (Warm Gazpacho with fish stock) of crab and corn with a corn cracker and chilli crab cerviche served with chipotle corn butter to be mixed in the soup was delicious and interestingly served in the biodegradable Kulhads. Honestly speaking it did not require any wine to match but both Sauvignon and Pinot Noir were good mates with it, depending on whether you preferred white or red wine which was an excellent match with the Morocco Duck and Beets- a pulled duck leg served with poached beetroots and Jamun chutney and goat curd Lebneh (strained yogurt) with candied hazelnut duqqah deliciously matched with the Pinot Noir.
Passion fruit Sorbet with balsamic sprinkled on top was a nice palate cleanser; I loved it since passion fruit is my favourite flavour. This was followed by the second half of the dinner- the Tiger prawn raviolo was an outstanding dish. Poached in bisque, it reminded one of eating on the beach in the Mediterranean belt. Shiraz was perhaps not the best match; Pinot would have been better but still it passed the muster.
Those who ordered the French Pork Belly loved the Cabernet Sauvignon-truly a heavenly match. In fact I was not surprised when many members rated it as the best wine of the evening-even higher than Sauvignon Blanc. But those like me who ordered the Halibut cooked in French style loved the dish but it was a bit of a disaster with Cabernet Sauvignon-a classic food wine match to avoid. But we had it added in the Menu nevertheless for those who shun red meat. It reminded me of Diego Planeta, the iconic Sicilian producer who had once told me he drank only red wine and was a vegetarian (including fish; we would call him fishetarian!) and loved it. I stress the point that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
This was one dinner where a dessert wine would have been a perfect choice for the 6th course of dessert but since most Indians don’t drink dessert wines, we stay away from desert wines. The Ganache with 72% cacao dark chocolate sourced from India was a perfect match for a dessert wine or even the Cabernet Sauvignon. But what really blew us away was the ‘10 shades of wine from the belt of Mediterranean.’ The desserts made from different wines, a very interesting experience that looked good and made you asking for more.
It was interesting to note the trend of indigenisation in the kitchen- compared to the past when chefs used to pride in using imported ingredients for their fancy dishes, Chef Dhruv proudly admitted that 90% of the ingredient he used in the restaurant were Indian, sourced from all over- Maharashtra to Northeast. In effect, this ‘Made in India’ concept that ought to be more profitable and draw attention from PM Modi too.
Kudos to Chef Dhruv Oberoi and his team, Restaurant Manager Anuj Tyagi who worked with me till things were tweaked properly and the wait staff at the restaurant-ever eager and smiling to serve and help. And congratulations to Olive for the 15th year celebrations and also to A D Singh who incidentally was the first restaurateur to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the delWine Excellence Awards 2019 at Hotel Pullman New Delhi Aerocity earlier this year.
Gallery Menu Video
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