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Last night I ate a Bloody Mary…

Mixology at LAP Garden

By Anoothi Vishal

 

Molecular gastronomy may be a trend on the wane in the dining citadels of the West. But in Asia, the craze for Ferran Adriaesque attempts is hardly dying. In fact, in India, it is just beginning to come into its own with places such as Aurus in Mumbai, Olive in New Delhi, and Caperberry in Bangalore doing their bit to have bits of watermelon caviar or “cappuccino” of mushroom on their menus.

Last night, I went to LAP Garden, the al fresco restaurant attached to Arjun Rampal’s super exclusive club at Hotel Samrat, to get a feel of another fledgling effort at playing around with “the chemistry of food”. Aftab, an erstwhile partner at Shalom, who now looks after the restaurant, set the tone for the evening by handing out his special “foamy” martinis. Mine was a lime one with a strawberry foam on it. The foam (a little cream is used to constitute it since just fruit puree on its own can’t fluff up with air) was thick and didn’t dissolve at all into the drink. It can be premade, I was told, and is thus apt for a busy evening at the bar — that is if paying patrons don’t mind paying the same (or more) for a cocktail that shows off molecular mixology but definitely has less alcohol in the glass what with the foam taking up about 30 per cent of the volume! I felt that it could have been a little thinner on top to be more visually effective. As it is, it rather reminded me of those innocent pink icecreams with a cherry on top served in tall glasses in five star coffee shops of the 1980s.

Aftab also served us some green apple caviar pearls in a shot glass (swimming in vodka) but what I found most effective was the Bloody Mary presented as slices of jell-o, complete with a garnish of a celery stick. It came alongside our dessert and we quite enjoyed eating it alongside a champagne curd—even if the end result was a little tipsy.

 

The food also plays around with molecular gastronomy. And the chef presented us with a special dish that he had done just for us (becase we had warned him in advance of our experiment with gastronomy) – risotto papads sandwiching ratatouille. It was an interesting play of textures. But to my mind, the dish you should try out if you go to Lap Garden (it is on their regular menu) is basa (a Vietnamese fish with no distinctive flavour) topped with a foam of pernod. It was so subtle that you could actually taste the pernod. A fine and understated attempt. While Adria himself may be opening up a pizzeria next serving “real” food for a change, may be you—bred on hearty butter chicken—should try this out.

 The secret: DIY molecular gastronomy in India. Basically all one needs is to buy a kit manufactured by Ferran Adria and his brother (imported by Chenab Impex, Bangalore-based importers). A set of five 100 ml bottles of “chemicals” (including natural substances such as agar), a syringe, a CD in Spanish with demos, and other bric-a-brac is what makes up the kit. It costs Rs 1500. Doable? 

 

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