Australian Spring Fest: A feast of all things Aussie at The Claridges.
What is it that makes a food festival special? The size of a place? The uniqueness of the theme? The expensive ingredients? Or the passion of its team?
I would say the passion and the drive to do something new. To reinvent the wheel even though the shop is running smoothly. The ingredients, novelty, and theme of course is important, but not as much as the drive.At the Australian Spring Fest at Pickwicks, the cozy little diner in Claridges, I found everything in the right quantity. There was thought and action, and passion.
It is also a welcome addition to Delhi’s food space where we do not see many Australian food festivals — even though we watch Masterchef Australia every night, season after season. One reason the theme intrigued me enough to drop other plans and check it out.
No, Australian festival isn’t about crocodile and kangaroo meat. As chef Vivek Rana, the executive chef at the Claridges, tells us even in Australia these meats are not eaten by everyone or everyday. It is about the diversity and inclusion of the Australian cuisine that represents Indian, Chinese, Indonesian, British and American influences. “We use the best ingredients brought in especially from Australia,” explained chef Tarun Dacha. “At Claridges we never compromise with the quality of ingredients.” He needn’t have said that for the food spoke for itself.
“Even though I hate the word fusion,” smiled Chef Rana, “that is exactly what Australian food is — an amalgamation of so many cultures.” The idea of the festival, says chef, came from the guests at the hotel a majority of whom are Australian. And so, for months, chef Rana his team, chef Dev and chef Rajesh worked to finalize the flavourful menu which is different and yet familiar. True to the generous style of Chef Rana and The Claridges, we were served almost everything from the menu till we could eat no more. Jacob’s Creek went along especially well with the food.
Sage with lamb chops, barramundi fish with mustard, pumpkin soup with vegmite toast, sliders made with lotus flower and corn; wraps with fresh vegetables and succulent meats. The courses presented were all about amalgamation of flavours — something Australia is all about and chef Vivek Rana is a pro at. Lamington cakes came with coconut and strawberry, poached pear and walnuts. I wish I had a bigger stomach.
The buffet spread has a fair share of Australian influenced offerings too for those who may want the comfort of familiar flavours with a hint of experiment. My favourite from the buffet was lamb chop korma, herb crusted chicken and lamb toasted served with blue-cheese sauce. And yes, there was donna hay‘s favourite Pavlova too. What else could you ask for!
The Australian Spring Fest is on at The Claridges Hotel until 28th Spetember. Call 011-39555000 or 08826711551 for reservations because the place has been running house full.