Oasis at Claridges, Surajkund: Bloggers' Table Wining and Dining!
Wine and I are not quite friends. We've been out before. I see wine as a snooty one, with a million layers to understand. What wine sees me as, I don't know, it keeps its feeling all bottled up. Ladies and gentlemen, pun of the year.
Jokes aside, I see people my age spouting knowledge of wines and their flavours and notes. The best I can offer in such a conversation is "Mmhmm, yeah that's nice. Can I have a glass of orange juice please?" As a blogger, irrespective of what I make, I should have a basic idea of wines and other items of food and beverage. So when the Bloggers' Table went for a wining and dining session with focus on the wining at the lovely Claridges, Surajkund, it was an offer I simply couldn't refuse.
We were escorted in by Irene, the charming Italian wine sommelier to Oasis. At night, Claridges becomes a charming candlelight-dinner location, that I must try out sometime. The whole place is done in low lights, focus lighting on the tables and the buffet (I'm getting there!) and woodsy furniture. To describe in our word, it would "sophistication".
Okay now the food. We started with a very spirited Prosecco wine. A lovely sparkling white, it was sweeter than the average white wine, almost bordering on Champagne. With it, we had a a fresh bread basket and the cutest little butter trays and varied selection of salads to taste. There was the usual Iceberg and mixed leaves, pesto marinated pasta salad, a chicken and mushroom salad, a Chinese cabbage salad and bean sprouts.
The stars of the salad bar was the delicious Fennel Infused Palm Hearts and Red Radish and the Seafood Salad with Primavera Vegetables. The palm hearts were a little bit tangy and fresh on the tongue and so soft, but with a bite. The Seafood Salad had segments of calamari and prawns with bell peppers and asparagus spears and a really light dressing. Superstars, both of them! The breads were crunchy, fresh and we couldn't keep our hands off them!
We next had a tapas platter to be paired with the Prosecco. Different cold cuts, a chicken and pistachio slice and absolutely silky Parma ham. The ham was draped like a scarf on a slice of melon. It was soft, silky and NOT as salty as I've had previously. Honestly, I wish there was more of it!
We moved on to the next course with a Tuna Carpaccio with Arugula and Capers, paired with a still white wine Soave. The Soave, Irene explained, comes from a place called Soave, outside of Verona. It had a bitter almond scent and was one of the most smooth wines I've ever tasted, though my inventory is limited at best!
The Carpaccio on the other hand. I am used to raw or at least uncooked fish being stored with namak-haldi at home. Not to be eaten. To be served wafer thin, almost transparent slices of tuna on a bed of arugula, took a little bit getting used to. Having said that, the Carpaccio was very very elegant. I did not get a fishy smell, given that tuna has a strong presence. It was akin to a watermelon slice in texture. With the Soave, it was a good play of tones on the tongue. But I feel Tuna Carpaccio and I won't be seeing eye to eye too much.
We were served our second course, Tenderloin (well done) on a Spinach Puree with Burnt Garlic with a glass of red Refosco. The Refosco, full flavoured and strong, but wonderfully smooth. Spinach Puree, simple, homebred, Burnt Garlic, I could eat it forever. The Tenderloin, tough and unyielding. I was struggling to even cut it. Chewing was another story. It may have been only my plate, since the others sliced it up easily. Even so, for an establishment like Claridges, I would expect consistency in at least five plates! Not at all recommended. The Tenderloin was, after all, not so tender.
We had the really fun Lemon Sorbet with a Fresh Berries Minestrone after this. Why fun, you ask? The sorbet was lemony, icy cold and OHMYGOD so refreshing. Every spoonful was like I had bitten on ice cold lemon slices along with pineapples, raspberries, cherries and blueberries. Pop! The saltiness of the previous courses was cut and we, actually, felt alive! We puckered up with the sorbet and the compote, in a brilliant foil to the rest of the meal.
The dessert bar was studded with performances. Some were blockbusters. Some were okay. Some a total flop. Some were redundant. There was Passion fruit Mousse (okay), Almond Financier with Sour Cherry (blockbusters), Belgian Chocolate Mousse (okay), the absolutely BEST Creme Caramel I've had (blockbuster) Coconut Gulab Jamun (redundant), Rajbhog and Barfi (redundant and redundant), a wine glass full of fresh fruits (okay) and Malpua (flop). To be honest, it's strange to see a coconut encrusted Gulab Jamun, Rajbhog and Barfi rub shoulders with a Financier and a mousse. Although the counter was expansive, I admit.
I broke my own record in my dessert pickings. Don't believe me? Have a look.
A word about the Creme Caramel. It was silky not pudding-y, wobbly, mild tasting, with a softest caramel on top, with such a smooth flavour of vanilla beans. When someone touched the table, the little serving would go all jiggly and make me laugh and be happy that yes, this is the best creme caramel I've had.
The wines were truly a good pairing with the food on our plates, with a lot of thanks going to our sommelier Irene. The food was, for the most part, good, but frankly nothing mindblowing. Over wines, fresh food, friends and conversation, it was an evening I won't forget. Oasis is an apt choice for a dinner date, I feel, and I've got to try it out soon.
As for the wine, well may be I'll hang out with wines a bit more now. She's not so bad you know!
Hey by the way, my friends Parul of The Shirazine and Mukta of Bake-a-Mania were with me, check out their experience as well!
Until the next time!