Many recent surveys point out how travel for food is on the rise. People are opting for certain destinations just for the food they offer. Then there is travel to learn cooking or participate in a cooking programme offered as part of a holiday package. Some websites indicate over 50% increase in bookings for food tours.
A trip through Europe would be right on top of most people’s list, not just for its charm, but for the food as well. Confessions of a Culinary Traveller brings that experience alive right here in Delhi, where chef Christiaan Stoop of 360° at The Oberoi takes diners through a four-course trip through various European countries. Of German origin and having worked in acclaimed kitchens in the continent, Stoop brings a rather fresh perspective to the various cuisines. The butter is undetectable in his version of French food—fresh spring vegetables on a bed of corn purée accompanied by a small dollop of fiesty black garlic reduction, or lamb lion with potato gratin and mint jus. The United Kingdom is represented by the freshest cucumber jus you have encountered on which sits poached cucumber topped by a sweet note of seabuckthorn and crunch of hazelnut. Three kinds of mustard come together to form the punchy sauce from Spain accompanied by either roasted cauliflower or confit red snapper.
And, as all journeys must end at home, the German chef completes the four-course menu with his version of Bavarian crème served with a raspberry sorbet and fresh thyme leaves which take the dessert to another level.
Showing great maturity in his preparation and presentation despite his young age, Stoop shares a very candid observation. “The more you put on a plate, the more you give diners the opportunity to find fault.” The wisdom reflects in crafting of the menu as well. The usual overdose of cheese and mushrooms that seems to be most chefs’ idea of European food is given a miss. What one encounters in Stoop’s menu instead is a variety of ingredients, flavours and textures, with every course distinctly different from the previous one. There are more than adequate vegetables on every plate, the flavours are fresh and light, and the butter and cheese are kept firmly away. Truly a European summer on a plate.