Bohemian Lunch

From the first time I met Ketaki and Shekhar Pimpalkhare, owners of Bohemian, the chemistry just clicked. Their enthusiasm for good food and great service is reflected in all three essential of a successful restaurant.

The setting - white textured walls contrasting the dark wooden rafters, works of art hanging on C channels, designer crockery on the tables, well spaced finely crafted rosewood coloured furniture, a nicely set bar and glass windows overlooking the pool. An unforgettable ambience. In another time the guest of honour at PGC's lunch meet at Bohemian on Sunday June 27, 2010 would have been Anais Nin. It would have been wonderful to make her acquaintance in a setting so perfectly suited to the indulgence of the senses.The service staff was headed by Puspendu Kayal- friendly and smiling, eager to please and assist. The kitchen - under the command of Chef Ketan rose to every challenge I posed them - from getting the Umm Ali right to the Zather grilled bread. The cleanliness of the kitchen and service was second to none - allowances being made for serving a sit down meal for 50!

The menu - Cuisine from the Mediterranean Coast - was a cooperative cooking venture with Bohemian's chef. PGC members made some of the items at home and brought 'em over and Chef Ketan prepared some dishes from his own recipes and others given by PGC. This system pioneered by PGC has yielded excellent results. Chefs get the opportunity to experiment and innovate and members revel in the joy of cooking.

Anoop and Raji Kumar, entrusted with the task of making Dolmades - a Greek delicacy - drove to a winery, collected fresh grape leaves (and tasted some wines in the process!), came back home, washed, blanched, cooked and stuffed 120 pcs of grape leaves with an extraordinary rice pilaf. Such is the dedication of PGC members to the cause of creating great food! Aditee Rele opted for mindnumbingly expensive Parma ham in creating the Italian Saltimbocca whereas I chose the less expensive option of using Sri Lankan ham. Result - Aditee's scored way above in taste and texture. Chef Ketan and his pastry chef Ramashray Singh did not bat an eyelid when I threw a few words like Zather, Lehmi, Umm Ali at them. They had never heard of these dishes but just said - send us the recipe and we'll make it. And make it they did, much to everyone's delight. Shekhar did not stint on the ingredients - pine nuts were not substituted with peanuts, Zather was bought at Rs. 1,000 a kg and Umm Ali was made with filo pastry repeatedly till it was perfect. I think PGC has met its partner in creating a gastronomic experience.

What is gourmet food without a wine to match? Good Earth Winery who sponsored the wines were out in full strength - from Nandita Khaire, their branding expert to master winemaker Dr. Rajesh Rasal, marketing honcho Navin Shankaranarayan and the willowy Sonal - doing their best to ensure everyone's glass was full. Navin offered Aarohi, their excellent Sauvignon Blanc with the starter course which consisted of two salads - Lebanese Tabbouleh made by Nilesh Kale and Catalonian Chickepeas Salad Picada created by Rohan Thacker - and an appetizer platter consisting of Moroccon Berber grilled chicken on skewers by Bohemian, Syrian Kibbeh by Naazneen Kothavala and Greek Dolmades with Tzatziki by Anoop and Raji Kumar. Bohemian presented appetizers from the coastal areas of Israel, Lebanon and Syria - spinach Fatayer, grilled flatbread with choice of two toppings - one with olive oil and zather and the other with minced lamb and pinenuts. For the vegetarians, chef Ketan served up an Italian Polenta sandwich and Bruschetta Caponata.

As the plates were cleared and the chefs began toiling over the main course, Navin introduced their new red wine - Antaraa - a Cabernet Shiraz. Bottle aged for just one month, the wine opened up nicely upon airing. It got smoother and more bouquetious (just dreamed up this word) by the passing minute. It paired beautifully with the piece de resistance of the day - Chef Ketan's Moroccon lamb tagine served on a bed of couscous accompanied by the Italian chicken saltimbocca and a sinful European style olive and chicken salami loaf by Sheela Narayan. The vegetarians had a vegetarian tagine and an excellent pan sauteed Zucchini stuffed with spinach and walnut and topped wth pomodoro sauce. The wine had everything going for it. Aroma, body, lightly tannic yet smooth on the palate with a nice finish. Wonderful with the main course. A wine to watch when it hits the stores in a month or two.

Dessert was an absolute delight. Umm Ali, an Egyptian speciality made of milk, cream, nuts and dried fruit with filo pastry is one dish that blends the moistness of a pudding with crisply baked filo sheets so adroitly that each spoonful will have crunchy flaky filo amidst milky and nutty mass of pudding. A perfect balance of flavours. It's a dessert not very easy to get right. Full marks to master baker Chef Ramashray Singh for such an excellent effort.

Bohemian owners Ketaki and Shekhar with their guests were at hand to enjoy the food and wine and mingle with PGC members.

Thanks to Umeed Kothavala for recording the event for posterity.

A big THANK YOU to Good Earth Winery for sponsoring the wines, Ketaki and Shekhar and the entire team at Bohemian headed by Chef Ketan, Chef Ramashray Singh and Puspendu Kayal for a wonderful time. Hope to dine more often at Bohemian.

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