Exchange programs are nothing new. We’ve had student exchange initiatives in schools for decades now and in the corporate world many are sent to sister concerns to experience different aspects of the business, so it should not come as a surprise when the one industry where it makes the most sense to exchange information and techniques, utilizes this concept.
The Swiss Cuisine Showcase happening at Trident, Gurgaon has two celebrated chefs – Renda Fabrizzio and Pintonello Silvano – from the iconic Badrutt’s Palace hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland whipping up some Swiss delights. Switzerland holds a very important position in respect of food because due to its location, having multiple neighbouring countries, the cuisine has varied influences, which reflected clearly in the menu that was served at a special evening organized by the wonderful folks of EazyDiner. Part “masterclass” but mostly a tasting, the food consisted of the expected classic Cheese fondue infused in wine with meats and veggies, but also Cilantro’s (Trident’s award winning restaurant) signature dishes in between the course to showcase their own recently changed menu.
Fine dining taken in casually, the evening at Cilantro was a delightful mixture of high spirited drinks, myriad flavours, interesting conversations, and above all a glimpse into authentic Swiss cuisine.
Some of the highlights from the evening are;
The Capuns consisted of chard covered fresh salami and spatzli dough along with Polenta with cheese fondue and truffles. I loved the slight crispiness of the chard which it retains after being cooked and while the salami was negligible, the polenta in a “solid” form with fondue up top and truffles made for a very quaint and simple starter.
Barley Soup with Chorizo had a lovely and unusual texture to it that I found very appealing. The chorizo is a lovely alternative to “croutons”, but there was hardly enough in the soup to make an impact. The spiciness of the chorizo could have taken away from the slight blandness of the soup, but alas that was not the case.
Cilantro produced a winner from its kitchen when the Seared Tuna on crispy rice cake with spicy ponzu aioli was served. Not counting my failed attempts trying to use chopsticks, once again, I loved this “inside-out” sushi. The aioli gave the kind of kick wasabi would have normally and the crispy rice the much loved crunch to each bite.
The Prawn Tampura was probably the odd one out of the evening. Served in martini glasses, the batter had a nice spicy tone to it, but the oiliness was a bit of a disappointment. Still, it worked well with the drinks on hand.
The main consisted of Chicken Pojarski – lovely little chicken cutlet that was so soft it was melting in the mouth -, Potato Rosti, natural jus – needed more of it to really appreciate the flavor -, with black truffles – exotic I know – and sautéed sliced pork engadina style with Taglierini – delicate and just beautiful to eat. What was so fascinating about the dish was how all the different elements across the plate complimented each other and there seemed to be perfect harmony between the ingredients which all had subtle yet distinct flavours.
A gorgeous Swiss Cheese Fondue followed that was accompanied by a number of meats and vegetables. The last time I had tasted “authentic” Swiss fondue, I found it to be too wine-y, and thus acidic in nature, but in this case, although wine is prominent, it doesn’t overpower the cheese and in doing so is perfect for “dipping”.
In the end, while most raved about the chocolate mousse served as dessert, I was bowled over by the Apple Strudel. The pastry could have been a tad crispier, but for someone who normally wouldn’t have touched this dessert, I ended up wanting more. As for that gorgeous Vanilla Sauce, I wish it came in a big container alongside or at least the folks at Cilantro could have switched off the lights for a minute to allow me to lick the plate off.
It’s always a pleasure trying and appreciating cuisines from different corners of the planet. The Swiss have long been famous for their cheese and chocolates (and wine too), but their cuisine is an amalgamation of many European techniques and ingredients and that is what makes it so special.