Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 42, Tuesday October 28, 2008



Check It Out

Concert of cuisine

THursday nights are always popular because of that 'school's out' feeling, where you let your hair down and party up before a weekend of chillaxing. Dining out obviously figures largely in the picture, so restaurants and eateries enjoy a spike in attendance. On Thursday last, though, the dining event at Prego at the Westin Hotel, Dhaka was THE place to be for true connoisseurs of fine dining.

Aptly titled 'Aficionado', the event, organized by BETSS, featured a ten-course tasting dinner created by Ray Liew, the Chef de Cuisine at Prego. If you caught our event preview last week, you'd know that this event was intended to switch gears from fixed menus and let the chef play around with the food.

The Aficionado menu featured exotic Italian cuisine, which broke away from the whole pizza and pasta mode that we're used to, to bring us a symphony of flavour.

The opening notes came in the form of a freshly shucked oyster, served with chilled tomato soup, garlic chips and spring onion, which created a startlingly tart combination.

There were no uncertainties about the Salmon Confit that followed, however. Lying in the creamy saffron vanilla sauce, extra virgin oil and aged balsamic, it was made to melt in the mouth.

Next up was the Sea Scallop Carpaccio, served with tuna mayonnaise, peppercorn, white wine vinaigrette and mizuna salad. A light, spicy taste, which was a perfect pause before the next grand offering. Sitting on a bed of mozzarella, lobster bisque, tomato and apple, the Lobster Raviolo was a full-bodied treat.

A refreshing cup of pineapple sorbet created the perfect interlude before the meal moved on towards the meaty matters. First up was the char-grilled Duck Magret served with borlotti beans, sautéed spinach, mustard crust and parmesan cheese, followed closely by the roast rack of lamb with fork-mashed parsley potato, mixed bean ragout, and rum jus. Together, they made for the perfect crescendo.

Moving on to sweeter things, there was the Baked Taleggio Cheese Brioche with Grappa-honey truffle sauce. This was followed by Kahlua Chocolate Fondant and banana ice-cream. The meal ended on a smooth and sweet note with coffee/tea and a selection of Westin house-made chocolate pralines.

We caught up with Chef Ray Liew, and the man was beaming from the success of the evening. “I wanted to show that there is a lot more to Italian food than pizza and pasta, particularly the seafood.” Since wine features largely in Italian cuisine, the theme of the menu was a selection of five wines, and he created dishes that would go well with those wines.

Great food, great ambience, Aficionado was a great way to end the week. For more information on upcoming events by BETSS, write to betssevents@gmail.com

By Sabrina F Ahmad
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayeed

For The Love Of Food

By Kaniska Chakraborty

Sights and sound

Puja has come and puja has gone. Leaving behind a trail of disposable plates, cups, wrappers of all sorts, empty soft drink bottles…

It is evident that puja is all about eating. Be it at home or outside. The humble roadside stall selling below par chicken roll takes the status and demand of the best of restaurants in the busiest of cities. You can't question quality or service. They will serve you if they get to see you in the sea of humanity vying for their share of sight. They will serve you what they want to. It matters little that you wanted your roll without chilli sauce. Food becomes a part of one huge assembly line. Fry, fill, sell. Anything else, they are wasting valuable time. And as we all know, time is money.

I do not know why I took the example of rolls. Probably because it is the cuisine of choice for the street revellers who wander about all night long, comparing the idols, the artwork and obviously, the rolls.

I stay away from the streets during puja. I think that is a sensible thing to do as most roads end up resembling the mosh pits at rock concerts. A sea of arms and legs and sweat and stench and new clothes and lost toddlers and loud teenagers.

Oh please! Don't brand me antediluvian! I also like my own share of fun during puja.

This year puja shaped up not too nicely. The wife was with her parents, had to get some paperwork done. And the chances of her returning before puja was bleak. But the family tradition had to be continued. So mother and son decided to go for lunch the day puja began.

After many discussions, which clearly outlined the merits and demerits of various restaurants, and comparisons of prices and fares, we eventually settled on this small outlet, which does kababs and biriyanis.

While waiting for the food to arrive, I suddenly felt this strange sensation as if not all was in sync. One of my senses was picking up something unusual. I saw the open kitchen, which had its usual assortment of hanging cubes of meat. I smelled the unmistakable aroma of meat simmered in gravy. I felt nice and cool thanks to the air conditioning, which was on overdrive. There was nothing to taste yet. And by this elimination, I came to what I was hearing. And there was the surprise.

In a restaurant with food that is definitely Indian in nature, one would expect strains of sitar, a bit of classical, may be some Bollywood oldies transformed to instrumental. But this was certainly an exception.

What I heard was the politically and socially conscious Irish rock band U2! And their older songs, to boot. The last thing you would expect.

The music went on a rock and roll ride. It changed from U2 to Eagles to Beatles to Rolling Stones. 60's, 70's and 80's rock came alive slowly over kababs and biriyani.

The kababs were decent, although a bit heavy on the turmeric. The biriyani was fragrant with ample servings of meat, albeit doused in some flavoured syrup. But that was not important. Transcending the crisp char roiled veggies, the redolent morsels of meat, the long grain rice, and the minty chutney, was the constant background of rock and roll. Certainly not part of the theme. Or was it? Was it some kind of mind altering transcendental experimentation that most 60's bands indulged in? Was I in a time warp? Did the owner of the eatery possess a sense of humour that bordered on the psychedelic?

It has been a hectic puja. Socialising, working, resting (yes, that can be demanding as well!), eating. My wife was able to make it back on the second day of puja. The rain stayed away. We took a rickshaw late at night and visited the pujas, which were close to our abode. It all fell in place.

I sincerely believe that the tone of this puja, for me, was clearly set by the surreal rock music with kababs. Can you go wrong when the best of two worlds are served to you? I think not.

Pop up

WHile cleaning your fridge, a common problem is getting rid of the stinking fish odour or spoiled food stench. Take some white vinegar in a bowl, keep it in the odour-inflicted area of the fridge. Keep the bowl on the counter for a few hours and the odour will disappear!

By Zannatul Lamea



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