There are many good things about a meet. You meet new people, match blogs, names and faces and end up calling people by the names of their blogs or their adopted names instead of the real ones, and even before you are introduced you play the guessing game and mostly turn out right. It is like walking right into a jigsaw puzzle. [Psst... the trick is to match bakers with the thinnest of the lot.]
The evening started young and fresh for most, except for a few of us who fought through the oxygen deficient Mumbai air and reached an hour late. The restaurant is located at Andheri Kurla Road, near the airport, hence the congestion. Dynasty, another hotel nearby has more visibility and therefore serves as a landmark to get here. That is not very good, is it? Probably Courtyard Marriott could come up with a signboard at the driveway rather than inside.
Thankfully I made in time to hear Mr.Renee Torres as he wised us all about some great wines. I unfortunately was so thirsty, I dunked the first two goblets without bothering to swirl, smell or taste. The second one sobered me up enough to start the tasting. There was some good wine flowing, the best apricots and plums (dried but juicy) served, by the poolside, in the midst of good friends - a great Friday night celebration. I still need a lot of classes to validate my appreciation of wines but I am getting hooked to this ritual.
We were ushered next into Courtyard Marriott's latest offering - a Pan Asian Restaurant, Red Zen. Like the name, the decor is predominantly red. Red bowls, red chairs, red tables! The decor has been done tastefully. I would have expected red to cause overkill but it did not.
We were lucky being few and because we had the entire restaurant to ourselves.
The chefs demonstrated some quick Asian cooking. The vegan starters included spring rolls and som tam salad. The mains included a Thai curry soup (Tom yum) and phad Thai.
The drinks and cocktails drew lot of appreciation. The salad was fresh but a tad sweeter than how I like it. I won't complain though because I like dishes that either sweet or sour etc., I am not very fond of many tastes in one dish! The starter and mains were good, but not outstanding. I would pick out the soup as the best dish of amongst the vegan fare. I am not much of a dinner person as it is usually a light meal at home, but when I go out I expect a dessert at the end of a meal, even though I might not have more than two or three spoonfuls. I missed that. I have stopped telling restaurants about this because they immediately serve me a bowl of fruits with mint all over. Chefs should do better. Vegan desserts are easier to prepare than vegetarian, but addiction to cream and milk seems to have corked people's imaginations regarding desserts that can be prepared with the simplest ingredients.
What would your favourite vegan starters and desserts be for a Pan Asian themed dinner? It does not matter if it is your concoction and has not been made yet. I have in mind simple eats like sticky rice pudding or a variation on it. I would like coconut milk jelly with or without a simple fruit sauce too.
It was very well put together dinner bringing out the best in all of us. We were seated in a private dining area that gave a cozy atmosphere. Thanks to the hosts for kick starting a great weekend. It is a different matter that I spent the week in sickness.
Venue: Red Zen by Courtyard Marriott
Organized by: Rushina of A perfect bite
Menu Card (It apparently has quite a variety of vegan desserts!)
Rushina gave a lovely cook book - Dadimano Vasro. I will soon be cooking from it and posting a few recipes from the area of Palanpur, Gujarat. Is there anything specific you would like me to make?
The night ended late with Nikhil gifting us all a thoughtful bottle of homemade 'mountain jam' that we all decided was tomato chutney, reincarnated. I will tell you what I did with it very soon. The best way to enjoy the chutney would be to simply put in a crooked finger and lick the jam, a touch at a time. Wash that finger! The mountain chutney will be featured soon too.
I have made a page for Tongue Ticklers on Facebook. If you like my blog for the photographs, the writing or the ideals that spur me, please go on to the link and hit 'like' button and join me on my food journey.
If you would like to discuss food photography or vegan food join me on my FB page. If you have tried any of my recipes and found any shortcomings do let me know. I love bouquets too, the non-flowery kind! If you have any tips, pairings or family recipes you would like to share with I would be happy to see them there! Someday we could probably even try it out together:). Anything vegan, show me on the FB page!
Thanks for being there even when the posts are few, for inspiring me to go on despite the fact that sometimes I am down, for the several mails you send me expressing your personal joys and sharing your life with me. I am honoured, humbled and indebted for the love you shower on me. Ann, do let me know how your daughter's birthday cake turned out. I have been wondering whether the recipe worked for you! Allergy free recipes can be tricky but once you get it right, you will wonder whether you ever needed gluten or milk for anything!
About.com has got a good collection of vegan Thai recipes.
Labels: Harini P, Indian food blogger, Indian Food Photographer, Non-food post, Red Zen at Courtyard Marriot near Airport, Sunshinemom, Tongue ticklers