Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018



Brief highlights were a wander through the adjoining shopping mall and going to a big ass dinner on the 18th hole of the adjoining golf course in the evening chill. Also snacking at the Business Lounge in the hotel and enjoying the view and some occasional company. 

The Leela Gurgaeon Business Lounge - Breakfast with a Tiger. Or two.
We woke up late-ish and opened the curtains to a bright, hazy, burnt looking vista of patchy field and distant New Delhi traffic haze. Okay…  I boiled a kettle to share a sachet of Cafe 21 (can't remember if I used bottled or tap water - probably bottled) while Lenglui did the face and I did some Internet with the house free wifi. I seem to recall we opted to do breakfast in the Business Lounge (to which we had access as a result of staying on the designated floor) and scarfed down some bits of chapati with sauces and… something else pastry like, can't remember at present. It was all available in big gold servers though I seem to recall we got served. Not a big deal - bit bland and not much taste and dry chapati. Coffee was good.  There was fruit and bananas, and TV - seem to recall we watched some tennis or something. And newspapers - Lenglui was so happy to be able to stay in touch with the world. I took some photos of a big Tiger on the wall (which had now gone missing - must be somewhere). A wonderfully hazy view both north and south of the hotel, all dust being kicked up from the traffic and the roads. Delightful thought that we would be driving through all this at some time. 

Lenglui clearing the store of scarfs
Down in the lift and a grand stroll across the grand reception to the breakfast section where we stole a newspaper and got seated to coffee and buffet. Lots of fresh fruit and pretty much all Indian cuisine; thosai, chapati, different sauces and all very filling. The buffet was surprisingly full notwithstanding the expense and the out of town location; must be some reason to stay here - proximity to the airport? Odd. 

Lenglui and flowers in the Leela Gurgaeon Delhi
We were advised to turn right out of the door to get to the Mall which we did. We kept walking until I figured we had missed the entrance, since to continue looked like it would just lead us around the whole building. This proved so; walking back I saw people entering a small looking door which indeed proved the entrance. There was a tiny sign above to indicate and an airport security like entrance to bag check (actually, same as the hotel - separate entrance for people with bags and metal screens). 

Inside, it was…   just like most shopping malls, I guess. Three levels of shops running along each side of a central space with elevators dotted here and there. Some of the shop names were familiar - the lower level fashion brands. Seem to also recall a Marks and Sparks. We found a boutique selling some pretty and magnificent Indian style scarves and shawls and Lenglui proceeded to buy the entire shop. All of the friends back home would be getting a scarf as their next Birthday gift. I now understand the difference between Pashmina and Shahtoosh scarves and why the latter is banned and quite rightly so. Hunting animals to extinction to scalp them for their fur stains our common humanity - it is one of the very few times I hope there is God in an afterlife who is hugely vengeful against such crimes against life. 

Lenglui and White Roller
Three hours later and we figured time to head back. Not much else to buy. We did our usual hunt in the Pharmacy for any bits (nothing this time) and I seem to remember grabbing some second rate ice cream as a snack. Very perfumed and that sucky creamy milk powder sweet rather than the milky dreams of home. Well, this IS India - not much in the way of dairy given the absence of lush grass. Also is 50% vegetarian given that cows are sacred and commercial animal farms are not mainstream. I think -better fact check this one. 

Lydia, John and Lenglui
Back at the Leela, we wandered around the restaurant and bar taking some photos (which have now gone missing - arrghhh!!!) before deciding to go back to the Business Lounge for some snacks and coffee ahead of the big beano of the Welcome Dinner that would impact about 7pm. As we sat chilling, we saw some IWFS looking types starting to wander in and then we recognised Julia from New York whom we had met at the Edinburgh binge with her friend for the trip. So we chatted for a while while they ordered some wine to de-stress. Seem to recall talk of a bit of issue getting from Mumbai due to plane delays, but seems most had now made it to the Leela and we would have a full gathering of the clans at the off. 

7.15pm saw the various clans assemble in the lobby of the Leela Gurgaon and onto a bus for a five minute drive around the block to where the Champagne was waiting just off the first hole of the Ambience Green Golf Course adjoining the Leela. With the title "Flavours of India", this was being billed as a "beautiful and unique evening is planned for our opening event in Delhi. Upon arrival, you will be greeted at the first hole with fine champagne and canapes, and a few wonderful surprises. Throughout the evening, we will enjoy traditional Indian entertainment and a sumptuous traditional Indian barbecue showcasing a wide range of seafood and meat with traditional accompaniments." And wine. Dress code was Traditional Indian costume or smart casual and Ladies were requested to please refrain from wearing pointed heels/stilettos as these would be unsuitable for the grass. Not to mention would totally wreck the green for future putters seeking to win a rupee or two. 

Mubina and Ajmal from IWFS KL
The bus dropped us off and I went straight for the fizz whilst Lenglui loitered and started making new friends. Just off the bus were a number of men waiting to turbanise the IWFS gents with long lengths of cotton material that got tightly wound around the head. Make that very tightly wound around the head. Gave me a headache. I eventually gave mine up to the Lenglui who wore it wonderfully well. She wears everything wonderfully well. 

From the Champagne station, we could see about fifty yards out tables and chairs and lights getting brighter in the darkening of the day. We could also see a white Rolls Royce parked on the 18th green just begging to get photographed with the assembled, which naturally happened. Beautiful motor it was, fair play. I now get the appeal of what to me is otherwise a lump of tin on wheels - very functional in motors is the Brian. 

We headed back to get some refills of the fizz before boarding a buggy for a fifty yard ride to where the tables had been set. We passed lots of members strolling across the side fairway, and being expertly dodged by our driver who must have been doing about 15km an hour but clearly keen to be doing 60. The tables were another two minute walk from the stop station. We sat and tried to keep warm against the growing chill of the Delhi evening by huddling next to one of the heaters that was radiating the raw fire and beating back the chill. Very necessary.

Bowls of curry - yum!
Most of the members were wandering about and talking to each other. Eventually all got seated, speeches of welcome and fellowship were made and it was off to the food lade tables to load up the plates with whatever looked edible. Which was pretty much everything. Lots of breads, lots of curries, I think there was tandoori chicken which was lovely - and loads of wine. We got poured some pleasant though sweetish perfumed white 

Tables on the Green
Table company was quite pleasant, though one couple were a shade…  off, is perhaps the best word. The male seemed in a permanent daze whilst the female kept either talking at him or to herself about him and fussing over him which he dutifully accepted in silence punctuated by an occasional whinge about something.  I seem to recall him getting a grump with her for not coming back with some food and him getting an earful from her and shutting up.  Quite sad - as if he had given up totally in the continual onslaught of her pecking and nipping and implicit side swiping against his manhood. And she seemed totally joyless - like nothing in the world would ever be able to match her expectation of how it should play out. I would end up barking at her for a different grouse - more on that in its place. 

Yvonne Wallis with IWFS Delhi Festival organisers
We went back to the food tables for second and thirds - well tasty curries and breads. The organisers had set up small booths with specialist activities - henna painting, and so on. And one with a snake charmer, which was of particular interest to the Lenglui. She was born in the year of the Snake but in all her time on the planet had never handled one. Probably partly through fear but mostly lack of opportunity. No more. Taking a final swig of the red, she marched to the Snake man and grabbed the reptile by the…  no, she meekly sat at the table whilst Mr Snake Man showed her how to handle the boy. The photos show a mix of elation and horror on the face. But she was happy. The snake had been grasped. 

Lenglui and Snakey
Think there were a few more speeches of thanks before the end. Everyone was knocking back the tasty red in good order and, as a result of Lenglui 's sharing her video of handling the snake, hunting the Snake Man. The red was stellar - full, rich, meaty - and banging with the bread and curry. The names all escaped me, but the prawn, chicken and vegetable curries were standout. Bordeaux and curry - who would have thought…  The Sauternes made for a lovely sweetener to end the night and get everyone ready for bed. Can't remember if there was dessert. 

We decided to leave early to get some decent sleep and a golf buggy doing 30 got us back to the hotel in short time. All in all a good night - loads of great food washed down by loads of good wine. Enjoyed this one. Slept like a pig. 

Taittinger Brut Reserve
Chateau Guiraud "Le G" Blanc Sec 2014, Bordeaux
Food and glasses
Chateau Haut-Bailly 2007 Pessac-Leognan
Chateau Guiraud 1996 Sauteurnes

On Arrival
Smoked Salmon on blinis
Parma Ham with Cape Gooseberry
Cherry Tomato Confit Brushcetta
Fig and Brie skewers

Gosht aur jau ka shorba (Lamb and Barley Broth)
Mulligatawny (Lentil and Coconut soup)
Selection of artisan breads

Chicken Tikka, onion and orange segments
Minced Lamb and Barley Salda
Chana jor garam chaat
Dahi sev puri
Sev khamani
Carrot koshambiri, Coconut, Peanuts, Raising
Kachumbar salad
Lenglui and White Roller again
Indori dahi wada

From The Grill
Sole masala
Chaampen pukhtan
Amritsari bhatti da murgh
Roomali roti

Anglo Indian
Chicken dak bunglow
Vegetable chop, kasundi, pyaz

East India
Kosha mangsho
Chingdi macher malaikiri
Cholar dal
Paneer kodaishootir
Mishti basanti pulao
Khejurer chutney

From The Konkan Belt
Meen moilee
Manglorean chilli squid
Lenglui and Turban
Ambur gosht biryani
Coorgi pandi curry
Kadambuttu, Rice dumplings
cabbage foogath
Vegetable stew
Pyaz ki pachchdi

The Royal Cuisine
Kakori Kebab
Safed maas
Salli marghi
Subz ki galouti, ulte tawe ka parantha
Noorani kofta
Assorted Indian breads
Petha, pudin raita
Aanas, angoor aur anar ka raita
Kachumber raita
Selection of poppadams

Mithai Shithai
Nano jalebi with danedar rabdi
Malai ghewar 
Glab jamun
Ananas ka halwa
Garam mawa gujjia
Chhena payesh
Gud aur badam ki phirni

House made pralines and truffles
More food
Lenglui and Young Man with Fizz

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