There was a time when one had access to international cuisines if they were lucky enough to travel abroad for work or holidays. People are now privileged enough to travel a fair amount. Chefs and restaurants are bringing back their travels with them and try to introduce Indian audiences to different cuisines and flavours. Of course seasoned travellers will always compare and a lot of patrons find cuisines too ‘indianised’ or not authentic enough. It’s hard to say how authentic certain cuisines can get when you eat them locally because if you haven’t eaten it before or haven’t been exposed to you, you really have nothing to compare it to.
Apart from restaurants specialising in a particular cuisine (some get it right most are off the mark) the one place I find you experiencing authenticity with particular food is when hotel chains have their special food festivals. For e.g. a French food festival or a Belgian food festival is where one can honestly say that came close to the real deal. So when I was invited to the launch of a Canadian Food Festival I was thrilled. I’ve never really eaten Canadian Food or even know much about the cuisine though I have tons of friends in Canada, the only two things that come to mind when you say Canada to me is maple tree and a poutine ! Thankfully this afternoon was an eye opener for me in terms of what Canadian cuisine has to offer.
The Consulate General Of Canada in Mumbai and The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is hosting a week long Canadian Food Festival at its restaurant ‘Shamiana’. I was lucky enough to be invited to this launch event where they had quite a feast prepared. Apart from interacting and meeting some wonderful people from the Canadian Consulate in Mumbai. This was an afternoon of a lot of learning for me as I know nothing about Canadian food. The first thing I was introduced to was a wonderful blueberry flavoured ale called pump house. Served in a cocktail glass I wasn’t quite sure what I was drinking at first but I loved the flavour.
The star of the afternoon was none other than Chef Louis Charest who had prepared the meal for the afternoon and has planned the menu for the food festival as well. Chef Charest has a very impressive resume and is the executive chef for the residence of the governor general of Canada. Chef Charest has cooked for several heads of state, dignitaries, honour recipients and even royalty. I don’t know about anyone else but I consider myself extremely lucky to only be able to sample his fine cooking but even witness a quick live demonstration where he whipped up some black cod fish with a sabayon, a dish he claims Prince Charles enjoyed very much when it was cooked for him.
Chef Charest was generous enough to walk us through the buffet but honestly I couldn’t keep up. There was so much food on display! Canadian cuisine I’m told is influenced by the English and French so you tend to see a lot of similarities. Also having 25% of fresh water in the world Canadian cuisine includes a lot of sea food. It has access to some of the freshest and best produce in the world. Seafood being popular along with the country’s ample supply of maple syrup you can tell this was a strong theme in the buffet. A lot of fresh fish and seafood cooked up in different ways I couldn’t wait to try them all!
As I always say it’s tough to review every dish in a buffet but I most certainly can sum up my favourites. The Atlantic Canada lobster with gnocchi and sautéed spinach and mushroom. It was rich and creamy and the combination of lobster with mushrooms and spinach was lovely. This was my pick of the evening. The tofu garlic greens and navy beans in phillo pastry looked adorable and was a nice change to eat phillo pastry in something other than a dessert.
Whitecap Cracked Lobster With Drawn Butter
Atlantic Canada Lobster Lunenburg Lobster Gnocchi With Sauteed Spinach And Mushroom
Mutton Meat Pie
Tandoori Baked Gold River Halibut With Terra Beeta Blueberry Bombay Biryani
Acadian Maple Potato Rapple Pie
Tourtiere In Phylo Pastry
The cranberry shortbread and maple syrup covered fruits were also my favourites. There is nothing like eating a well made short bread biscuit.
It’s always a pleasure when good food and good company come together so it goes without saying that I’ve had a wonderful time at this launch. For those of you with a curious palate and an interest in exploring food, try something different and attend the week long Canadian Food Festival( it is from the 22nd to the 31st of March). You never know you might just be hungry for more.