Thanks to TV shows, the world of Molecular Gastronomy has been watched, savoured and drooled upon. Some unbelievable creations are made, served to the diner at the table with an unbeatable dose of pure drama. What meets the eye is seldom what hits your palette in the world of Molecular Gastronomy. I was excited to be invited to experience this spectacle at Tuscany, the Italian specialty restaurant at Trident Hyderabad.
The restaurant is always tastefully done with dim lights and the tinkling view of the busy Hitech City area traffic lights. We begin the evening with the customary freshly baked foccacia and a superbly made white wine Sangria. The citrus notes enhanced by the slices of fruits was just what the evening called for.
Chef Rahul Gomes Pereira and his team along with the Executive Chef Manik Magotra spent months prepping to bring this food festival to Hyderabad. In Chef Manik’s words “To give to the city something that’s never been done before”. The Kitchen turned into a lab and experimentation began in all earnest to prep for the 10 day festival which has been on from the 15th of August until the 25th of August.
Molecular Gastronomy is a very modern style of cooking that marries the advances of science and technology with the actual preparation of food. What this means for you and me is that we are presented with stunningly plated dishes, which sometimes are very deceptive in their looks because they seldom taste what they look like. Flavours are highly saturated which makes you take notice of the core ingredients much more than what we would normally notice and the use of visually pleasing elements such as foam, smoke and liquids turning into little tiny caviar like balls or flash frozen greens or the dust of an ingredient presents itself on a plate.
The first course is an appetiser – Deconstructed Caprese. Caprese is one of my favourite ways to eat mozzarella. I even have a recipe for it on my blog. The plate arrives with small spoons laden with what looks like red coloured noodles topped with cheese. The noodles are actually flash frozen noodles made from tomatoes, the mozarella takes on a whole new texture because of the way it is presented and I am fascinated with the caviar like tiny balls of balsamic! It is a burst of flavours and the textures are so subtle that they belie their looks! I am smitten and wait for the next course.
I had a savoury cappuccino for the soup course. Presented like a regular cappuccino is, in a cup and saucer with a wafer as an accompaniment that turns out to be parmesan biscotti. The cloud of mushroom foam topped with the of porcini mushroom gives way to an intensely flavoured creamy soup. The texture contrasts between the crunchy biscotti, foam and the creamy soup is a good play off. I had more than what I intended to consume which will tell you how partial I am to mushroomy flavours. This one is not for those who do not relish the fungus.
For the main course, I sample both the Quinoa and pearl Barley and Buffalo Wings.
The Quinoa and pearl barley with truffle oil crumble is a very interesting dish that draws again on textures and flavours. There are sundried tomatoes and black olives studded into the quinoa and pearl barley, the textures complement each other. The Rucola (which I found very tough) and Orange salad that accompanies adds a nice fruity note with the balsamic and wine reduction, tempered with pomegranate molasses.
The Buffalo wings with blue cheese foam and red hot caviar is a true showpiece of Molecular Gastronomy. Chicken marinated and beaten to derive the texture wanted then slow cooked using a technique called Sous-vide which is vacuum packed food that is cooked in a temperature controlled water bath for a few hours to retain its moisture, texture intensify its flavours. The blocks of chicken are topped with a soft foam of blue cheese and topped with red hot caviar which is actually pearls made out of a spicy sauce. I loved the flavours of every element of this dish although blue cheese isn’t for those who dislike strong flavours.
Chef Pereira is delighted with the response the food festival is getting and thinks that all the hours of prep is worth the delight on the faces of his diners who going by the full restaurant are lapping up this gastronomical spectacle. Chef Manik tells me that each item on the Ala Carte menu is painstakingly constructed from scratch. The nature of preparation is such that nothing can be made much ahead, stored or preserved. Ingredients and elements disintegrate if kept, some infact are constructed just seconds before it gets plated and some things have to be done at the table itself. This means that all hands are on deck in their kitchen and the training is super intense. Sustaining an elaborate menu as a regular offering therefore is not currently possible.
The meal is almost coming to an end and we are presented with Earth ~ Dusky planet. It is a plate with a spherical chocolate shell, a hot truffle sauce is poured on it, melting the outside and revealing the core which contains a duo of mousse – one a wild berry and the other is vanilla. There is a compote of wild berries as well and chocolate sand on the plate as a contrast to the texture of the silky smooth mousse and ofcourse the drippings of the hot chocolate truffle sauce! I am not a very chocolate person, but the combination of the berry flavours with chocolate is classic and I dig into even the last bits.
Just as I think the drama won’t get better, we have another dessert plate sent to our table. This time it is Fire ~ A small block of pineapple and peppercorn crepes (Carribbean inspiration here), served with a liquorice ice cream which I am excited to try. Not happy enough with the myriad flavours on this plate, the chef decides to set it on fire and flambes the whole thing! The dark rum caramelises the flavour of the crepes, and the peppercorns hit the tip of the tongue so intensely that the crepes can be had even without the ice cream and would taste complete. The licorice icecream! Oh man it just took my breathe away ~ the flavour of the licorice is just perfect, enough to entice, but not strong enough to overwhelm. I drained every last drop of this. For me this was the piece de resistance and I ended my meal on a very high note. I do not think any other dessert will replicate this experience for me for a long time.
This was a whole new experience in food for me. It would be safe to say that this city has not experienced anything like this before and is truly something that takes you by surprise. The winner for me in this whole experience was the play of flavours. Each essence captured and intensified, the drama is just a huge bonus.
Recomended Dishes: Fire ~ Flambed pineapple and peppercorn crepes with licorice icecream
Buffalo wings with blue cheese foam and red hot caviar
Dates of the Festival: 15th August to 25th August 2015
Price: A meal for two (A la carte) would be approximately Rs. 3500 + Taxes.
Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Tuscany, Trident Hyderabad, Hitech City, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323
PS: The meal was complimentary as I was invited by the hotel to the restaurant, however the views are my own.