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Delhi Wine Club
DWC Dinner #246: Launch of Lavaash with Mud House and Kumala Wines

Posted: Wednesday, 30 September 2015 15:10


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DWC Dinner #246: Launch of Lavaash with Mud House and Kumala Wines

Sep 30: It was a moment of pride for members of the Delhi Wine Club as the recently opened Armenian Restaurant by the well known Chef Sabyasachi Gorai near Qutab, Mehrauli was formally launched at the wine dinner last Sunday, matched by the launch of two new labels from Accolade Wines-Mud House (NZ) and Kumala (S. Africa), writes Subhash Arora, who steered the Club towards the unique evening to make it historical and special

Click For Large ViewI believe there are two types of wine drinkers-those who believe only what’s in the glass -and I suspect a vast majority falls in this category. But there also people like me who like to go much beyond the glass and seek to know about the culture, geography, history, anthropology and other factors. I apply the same logic while organising our wine dinners. The wines, quality, country and region of origin, grapes, cuisine etc. and some story behind the selection are all a part of the planning process.

A recent 2-year study by UC Davies suggests that 48% of wine drinkers are looking for a unique experience. It has been like that for the Delhi Wine Club for a much longer period. Besides the venue, importer, cuisine and food-wine pairing there is that extra effort to look for that uniqueness so that the members may enjoy a pleasurable and hopefully memorable experience around wine.

Star Chef Saby launches Lavaash with DWC

Gourmets of Delhi and other cities have known the awarded celebrity Chef Saby for a decade since he started with the Olive Restaurant. He had his first wine dinner with the Delhi wine Club 8-9 years ago. We recognised his talent instantly and since then the mutual respect and trust in him has gained ground faster than the wine culture in Delhi and the rest of India. We have had several wine dinners curated by him at different restaurants where he was consulting later. Therefore, when he started the Lavaash by Saby- an Armenian cuisine restaurant near Qutab, coincidentally very close to Olive Mehrauli where we enjoyed his meals for years, I could not suppress my curiosity to taste the Armenian cuisine.

Click For Large ViewThe food tasting was intoxicating, what with the Armenian ambience he has created and the beautiful decor that relaxed you the moment you entered. I started to dream of a wine dinner there soon and I was thrilled when he agreed to my wish and suggestion of an official launch of the restaurant with a DWC dinner.

Launch of Mud House and Kumala

It was sone pe suhaga (Icing on the Cake) as I found out that Sula Selections was about to launch two wine labels of Accolade Wines, the Australian conglomerate which already exports Hardys through them in India and plans to shortly launch Mud House (New Zealand) and Kumala (South Africa) wines-the former being from a relatively newly purchased winery and the latter being the number one South African Wine label imported into UK. A tie-up with Sula and their Marketing Manager Prarrthona Chowdhury helped us plan this unique event on Sunday, September 27. Accolade’s Sales Consultant Ann-Marie Battista would also be visiting India and would be pleased to present wines and meet the members, I was told. This was the third factor in making the evening unique.

Evening in Armenia

The 40+ people who came for the evening could comfortably move around near the bar or the balcony outside which is one of the highlights of the restaurant-with hammocks and all. It’s a part of the old refurbished haveli with a lot of open areas and greens. When the weather is nice, sitting out in the balcony would be a beautiful experience. But the ingenious Chef Saby had other ideas for dinner. Since it was a Launch, he had made arrangements for Al-fresco dining on one part of the huge terrace which has a semi-open kitchenette to execute the service.

Hardys Stamp Chardonnay Pinot Noir sparkling wine NV with citrus flavours and medium finish sufficed for the excellent pass around snacks- the mouth watering Mutton puffs and the vegetarian Mochar puffs both of which had a crunchy texture and melted in the mouth. I could swear that Aloo kabli was like our street food chana-aloo ki chaat. But Saby explained that it was originally brought in by the Armenian immigrants as an ingredient in Armenian chickpea and chicken stew, the main dish to be served the last today. A bit too spicy for the Brut with only a reasonable amount of sweetness, it did not bother me and I downed two servings of these, before shifting to Kathi kebabs which were a perfect match for the effervescent bubbly.

Dinner under the stars

Click For Large ViewOne corner of the huge terrace that can hold perhaps 200-250 people for parties, has a sit-down area for about 40-50 people, an ideal spot for a sit down dinner with romantic and certainly serene surroundings. With the Qutab Minar in your sight you may not be transported to Armenia-the food does that later but you certainly feel you are transported back in time.

In a brief welcoming ceremony, Chef Saby popped a bubbly signifying the official Launch, with Ann-Marie and Prarrthona joining the members wishing him rocking success with the restaurant which is a one of its kind in Delhi. Sumac crusted Labneh Dumplings-with Tomato Chutney, hummus and lavash chips served after this ceremony, was a perfect dish for the Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2014, the typical Marlborough Sauvignon with herbaceous and green aromas and tropical flavours typical of Kiwi wines. It was a cool weather New Zealand which would have bloomed better in the mouth if slightly more chilled- a lesson once again for the staff to learn that the service temperature is as important as the wine-perhaps more if one is trying to soak in all the nuances.

Burgul Kebab-merely a tikka with coriander chutney was very ‘Indian’ and ‘swaad’ but as Saby emphasised, several of our favourite dishes have originated from the Armenian immigrants in West Bengal. There had been genocide in Armenia in 1916 where 1.5 million were murdered under the Ottoman Empire. There was an exodus and many of them came to India and settled down in this part of the country. It was his childhood memories that he assembled during the last couple of years that gave the restaurant the Armenian soul. Kumala Sauvignon Blanc 2014 might be a delicious and fruity wine with plenty of acidity but paled in front of the Marlborough cousin though. Char grilled prawns were crunchy and delicious with the right amount of spiciness to go with the wine otherwise.

Paprika chicken salad with Arugula, roasted vegetables, chicken and a spicy tamarind chutney dressing and cherry tomatoes was crunchy and excellent even though Kumala Chardonnay 2014 with balanced acidity and good length did lift up the salad on the palate as the matching was well-nigh perfect.

Hand Cheese Hye Rollers was a wrap typical of Lavaash style- delicious on its own, heavenly with the Mud House Pinot Noir 2014. Decidedly the best combination of the evening, the Pinot had good balance of berry aromas and flavours and notes of sweet spices, smooth flavours and soft and silky tannins with a juicy end. Like a needle stuck in the record, we kept on asking for refills to decide it was the best wine of the evening, even though the Kumala Pinotage 2014 made a feeble attempt to get the top billing later.

The Pinotage would have perhaps been the best paired wine for those who like to rev up the spicy food a couple of notches on their palate as one found with Parbal Tolma- the well-known Punjabi vegetable ‘parmal’ stuffed with spicy mushrooms. The addition of hing sauce and kalimpong cheese, a typical cheese from Kalimpong in West Bengal makes this dish a good subject for studying food-wine pairing with different wines-I would prefer it with an off-dry Riesling-simple imported one like Dr. L or from Sula’s off-dry varietal from the domestic stable. But Pinotage established its credentials as a great value for money wine and if it’s going to be priced at Rs. 1300 as Ann-Marie told me, it is a highly recommendable wine and will sell very well in Retail.

The Chicken Kalagyosh- the Armenian Chicken and chickpea stew with paprika, parsley and olive oil as the additives was the climax for the main course. The slightly oaked Kumala Shiraz 2014 with soft tannins and vanilla and pepper flavour made it a very palatable and pleasurable wine with the dish that could pass of as an Indian fusion dish. As Saby explained this is a very common dish in Armenia and found its way onto the Indian palates through the Aloo-kabli, the delicious and dry snacks that were served as we entered. I don’t think I can ever leave the restaurant without ordering and finishing off the Matkanash, a warm bun-type of bread slit into 4 parts with seeds floating on top and some chutney stuffing, that signifies a plough field where seeds are sown, says Saby

 Click For Large ViewPicture abhi baaki hai, mere dost’ would be the refrain if Chef were to describe the last part of meal-the best was yet to come for those with a sweet tooth! While Sula could claim that their import Cointreau was the single most important ingredient in the Cointreau orange cake, it’s Saby’s transformation art that is exemplary. The jiggery palm cream that was caramelised with his favourite blow torch with dozens of plates on an improvised kitchen table made from a hand painted top, was outstanding even for someone like me who controls the sugar and calorie intake. Cointreau did make a discernible difference to the taste of coffee-an espresso with a dash of the liqueur in the quick blend.

Service with a Smile

The food was in general of Saby’s standard which is the equivalent of excellent. Service needed a bit more co-ordination but could be excused since it was the very first day and synchronising the service for 40 people can be a nightmare even at the well-established venues. The smiles on the faces of the flustered servers could melt the angriest of customers. With 7 wines to be served in a certain order with so many dishes is an ordeal to the most experienced and though I would say the service was satisfactory, it was not irritating except for a couple of members.

The launch of Lavaash with 7 wines by the Delhi Wine Club and in the presence of Ann-Marie Battista was a memorable evening and as a few members pointed out, ‘one of the best events DWC has ever organised.’ Well, one hopes not the last one.

Subhash Arora

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Tags: Delhi Wine Club, Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, Accolade Wines-Mud House, Kumala, UC Davies, Chef Saby, Olive Restaurant, Lavaash by Saby, Olive Mehrauli, Sula Selections, Hardys, New Zealand, South Africa, Sula, Prarrthona Chowdhury, Ann-Marie Battista, Hardys Stamp Chardonnay Pinot Noir, swaad, Kumala Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Kumala Chardonnay 2014, Mud House Pinot Noir 2014, Kumala Pinotage 2014, Kumala Shiraz 2014, Armenia, Lavaash


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