Goût de France
Pluck, Pullman New Delhi, Aerocity
By Neelima Agrawal
This is perhaps the most impressive endeavor by any nation, to bring the world’s focus on its culinary traditions, by organizing a sit-down dinner across the world on one particular day. This marvelous celebration of French gastronomy under the Goût de France / Good France label is the initiative of the French Government. The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs organizes the event with Chef Alain Ducasse. The 4th edition of Goût de France was held on Wednesday 21st March, 2018.
Nearly 3,000 restaurants from 150 countries in five continents, served ‘French menus’. Additionally, 1,500 chefs registered in France also served the theme menu. It goes without saying, that 150 French Embassies in the 150 countries were all rejoicing French cuisine too. Manu Indian restaurants, whether fine dining or high-quality bistros, from across all the major towns, like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai Bangalore, Kochi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Pondicherry etc offered French culinary fair.
For this fourth edition of Gout de France, for the first time, the spotlight was on the newly formed Nouvelle Aquitaine region, which was selected as guest of honour. This region is also home to the world’s best-known vineyards of Bordeaux and Cognac.
Alain Ducasse also wanted this year’s event to be an opportunity to pay tribute to the famous Chef Paul Bocuse who passed away in January 2018, at the ripe old age of 93.The participating chefs had the opportunity to include one of Paul Bocuse’s dishes or a dish inspired by him in their menus.
We dined at Café Pluck, at Pullman New Delhi Aerocity, where Chef Ajay Anand served a five course French menu specially curated for the day. The art-meets-food plating of each dish, matched with an impeccable presentation and alongside great conversations is the stuff for great evenings. Past the amuse bouche, there was the popular French appetizer usually made in Truffle season, the wild mushroom, truffle Parmesan in choux bun, and chicken liver sow belly terrine, both, paired with a four year old Burgundy form Maison Louis Latour Andeche. The cheese platter was representative of the assorted flavors of tangy, mild, soft and brittle varieties made from milk of goat, sheep and cow. The famous blue cheese Roquefort, made from sheep’s milk, from the South of France, where it is traditionally aged in the Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. Ancient cheese Emmental, soft and yellow Brie, and another goat cheese. The citrus Kumquat compote, milder white wine poach apricot, crackers and pickled celery were the chef’s recommendations.
The thing about French cuisine is that it is never too much or too overpowering. As I said, art-meets-food platings with colourful smears, akin to a paint brush swipe, sprinkling of edible flowers, colour coordinated, the mouthful portions carefully cantilevered, take time to put together and are usually left to a single chef in charge. The idea is to relish and talk and sip on the wine. And by the time the Main entrée arrived, the appetite was whipped. Baked 3-cheese artichoke with broccoli and a mustard dill emulsion, and the French classic, Sea Bass, Grenobloise, paired with a red wine, the young Camas Pinot Noir, from the largest wine-growing area in France, Languedoc-Roussillio.
Chef served a classic French dessert, Pain perdu, which is a superior version of the humble French Toast. Accompanied with caramel ice-cream, crushed nougat and chocolate dust, it had the right textures on top and inside. Another similar classic French dessert also served was the Baba au Rhume, a yeast raised cake soaked in rum syrup – the stuff for sweet endings.
For those who missed this day there is good news. The 8th edition of La Fête de la Gastronomie becomes Goût de France, and will be held across France from 21-23 September, 2018. Mark it on your calendar and book the flights already.