The Pune Gourmet Club convened after a long break, and we seemed to have lost faith in our ability to cook dishes with strange-sounding names! Despite Shankar’s initial apprehensions about handing over the task of creating a Kashmiri Wazwan to the Waza at the Northern Frontier restaurant, the meal was an almost unqualified success. (Like the gourmets we are in training to be, we give full marks only with some reluctance!)
The restaurant is quite modest in size and 46 of us were a tight squeeze, eliminating the opportunity to exclaim over the food and wine with anyone other than our table companions. The wines for the day were from Chateau d’Ori, the first offerings from their organic vineyard at Dindori. A Cabernet Merlot accompanied the first course of succulent Kabargah ta Tabaq Maz, and Kebab. The mutton ribs disappeared as fast as they arrived on the table, much to the amazement of the vegetarians who were still finding their way around their Paneer Tikka, and Nadru (lotus roots) chips.
The Cabernet Syrah was served with the Rishta, meatballs in gravy, which was the only dish that didn’t find immediate favour. The meatballs tasted a bit undone and rubbery, and needed to be washed down by copious quantities of the wine! The plum coloured wine meanwhile left us with a purple hue around the lips and on the tongue, and while we didn’t think too highly of this after effect, Avik Duke of Chateau d’Ori assured us that it was only created by really premium wines! We take his word for it.
“You can always measure success by the mood and the flow of conversation. I did not see a single grouchy face and the mood at every table was upbeat,” says Shankar of this first ever restaurant meet. We had a large contingent of guests this time, and one of them remarked that PGC has raised the bar for other clubs, which is certainly fine praise. A standing ovation was accorded to Waleed, Northern Frontier's Waza, and indeed he did a wonderful job. Perhaps it was a good idea for us not to have cooked after all!