Whiskey dinner without a hiccup
A pop-up at a French restaurant features a four-course meal where every dish is inspired by the stages of making whiskey
It isn't a popular concept when it comes to Indian food, but the use of alcohol as an ingredient for dishes is an intrinsic part of much of the West, including in French cuisine. So much so, that one of chef Alexis Gielbaum's earliest culinary memories involve a chicken with wine sauce that his family would cook in Chinon in central France, where he spent his childhood. And it's these influences that partly propelled him to host regular booze-inspired pop-ups at the Worli restaurant he now helms, the latest of which will be held tomorrow.
This one, though, has a twist. It's a four-course meal where each dish is inspired by the different stages of making whiskey. The first item thus takes its roots from grains, since that's what you initially need to select while creating this alcohol. "I'm going to make a grain chip, a kind of a cracker, served with a juniper-glazed parsnip," Gielbaum tells us, adding that the next dish — seared and king trumpet scallops — will represent the malting stage in whiskey distilleries. "The sauce is made with in-house malted barley. We first wait for the fermentation to get completed, and then make a really light sauce because you don't want to kill the flavour of the scallops," the chef says.
He also reveals the third course, a confit duck cigar, inspired by the actual distillation process. "This will be paired with a bitter orange marmalade that has pure whiskey in it. And the meal ends with a dessert made with frozen whiskey," Gielbaum says about the entire menu for the night.
Confit duck cigar
What this means is that the narrative being built will take diners on a virtual tour of a distillery in, say, Speyside in Scotland, showing them how whiskey is created from being simply a bunch of grains to when it's malted, distilled, and finally turned into a bottle of single malt. But what about other alcohols? How is something like, say, white wine conducive to the sauce of Gielbaum's childhood? He says, "It adds a floral note, enhancing the flavour. Similarly, you'd use something like a cognac to add another dimension to a sauce. It's very subtle. You wouldn't think, 'Oh, that has a lot of cognac in it.' But it's there, and lends a certain depth. And likewise, with the scallops that I'll serve at this dinner — where the sauce is made with whiskey and bacon — the two ingredients go perfectly together because the bacon adds a sense of smokiness that the woody whiskey complements well."
ON June 20, 8.30 pm
AT Slink & Bardot, Thadani House, Worli Village
Cost Rs 2,500
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