When a break beckons along with some good food, who’d not jump at it? I signed up for the SelectED events (of Select CityWalk) fun getaway to showcase their talented dining wing at the Heritage resort in Manesar. The property itself is a favourite with the weekend getaway seekers and is a delight to the eye. The meditative silence of the trees, herbs, bushes, fruits and colourful flowers are broken occasionally by the call of peacocks, sunbirds and lapwings amongst the buzz of colourful butterflies.
The deal was to experience an event by SelectED, created under the tutelage of Ishaan Sarkar, CEO of SelectED and Chef Gaurav Mathur (Ex ITC). We ended up savouring a mix of delightfully traditional Indian hospitality, a food high and some fond memories.
Having arrived at Manesar, we were ushered to our rooms where a colourful bouquet greeted us with a bottle of wine. It was only a while later, after refreshing ourselves, we discovered the bouquet was made entirely of cupcakes and not just that, a mugshot of ours was embedded in an edible cookie! And this was just the beginning of some amazing things to be experienced.
A large banquet table was set at the restaurant with the most attractive treats of bite sized desserts, cookies, finger
foods ranging from tea-infused cup cakes, spiced carrot madeleines, apple chutney samosa (innovative), smoked lamb and mint emapnadas, coffee religieuse, Chocolate Cup with Creme Chantilly and Fresh Fruit, Californian avacado pie, Bhel puri, addictive gol gappas with tabouleh, fanta and mango salsa, Ouinoa Ki Tikki and Sweet Potato and Oats Galattes amongst others.
As we took our picks from the fun offerings displayed on pretty cake platters, a server came along with a portable bhel mixing tray strapped to him. He went from table to table customising the bhel puri to everyone’s tastes. It was quite novel and another talking point was the kala khatta gola’s, perfect for the muggy weather we were experiencing. What was missing was some space and yes those finger sandwiches without which a
high-tea is incomplete.
Though we were suitably warned about the evening dinner, we still stuffed ourselves to gills and headed for some rest to our thoughtfully decorated rooms, after endless cup of coffee and tea, only to reappear at night for another round of conversations and food.
We were greeted at the banquet hall by Ishaan and his able staff with a round of wines and drinks along with appetising small bites like Marinated Lychee and Prunes, Wasabi feta, Trio of Nacho with Refried Bean/Guacamole/Sour Cream, Scallop Ceviche, Crystal Dimsum, Parma Ham Melon Pops, Bakharkhani, Hare dane ka kabab, jalapeno and cheese stuffed gucchi, ajwaini crisps, squid peri peri and chicken cigarellos.
What followed after the chit chat was a multi-course sit down dinner with personalised menus and name cards. A hush fell in the dining room as amuse bouche of makki roti and sarso saag arrived on our plates. The cuisine on offer was progressive Indian. For the main course I opted for the Grilled Lobster, String Hopper with Saffron Gravy – The lobster was meaty, soft, flaky and the saffron cream sauce, fragrant and almost did a slow dance on the taste buds. The other option of Tandoori Atlantic Salmon, Basil Pesto with Aloo chokha/ papaya relish looked as delectable on the opposite table. I wish I could have dug my fork in there as well.
A palate cleanser of Sugar cane granitas was followed by New Zealand Lamb Chops with Aam Papad and Kokum Jus was tantalizing to the whole affair. The lamb fell of the bone and the shock of sourness of aam papad and kokum jus worked its magic on the meat.
The vegetarians had their fare share of winners. In fact, I managed to sample a bit from the vegetarian menu and what an eye opener it was! The Gucchi Khichdi with Nimona Fragrant Basmati Rice and Stuffed Pickled Salan was a revelation, and Stuffed baby aubergines and sting hoppers teamed with tamarind salsa hit the spot.
The dessert platter was a mix of ghevar, gulab jamun tart and a chocolate cup with raspberry sauce. The expectations from the dessert platter were an all-time high after sampling such a delightful meal. But the platter worked in parts like the gulab jamun tart and ghevar were good (largely because delhiwalas are deprived of good, finger-licking ghevar). In hindsight, the platter was just average, given the repertoire of the evening. But the taste bud tantalizing gondhoraj macarons that awaited us at our rooms made up for that.
The next morning, I woke up hungry and only could imagine what awaited us for the brunch after the last evening’s high. The weather was nice and a part of the brunch was laid outside. There were
usual suspects of salads, cold cuts, fruits, cheese, pastas, eggs amongst counters which had Haleem, Bao, biriyani, teriyaki etc. It was like an Alice in Wonderland moment and I did not know where to begin. There was seriously too much food, if there can be a statement like that. And the joy of having cold beer at 11 in the morning is something else.
The dessert counter was the usual ice creams, yoghurts, pastries and tarts but the star of the dessert counter was the wasabi ice cream that provided a kick and ticked off the brunch on the right note.
What was exciting and good to know was that the ingredients used in each of the meals by SelectED were fresh, and
some herbs and vegetables came from their own kitchen gardens! Also, one would imagine that the food that we ate would be heavy but truth be told, none of the meals was heavy which was a double plus. And the service staff were at their courteous best and some of them even knew our personal likes and dislikes by the end of our stay, which I thought as commendable.
Our getaway had a sweet ending with a goody bag having a marvelously decorated chocolate truffle cake with traditional Indian motifs.