Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Fruit Of The Sea

Last Saturday, Neeti was out of town, in Dahanu, and I was in charge of stocking up for the week. That took me back to Lokhandwala, a place we called home for 7 years.
My first port of call was Tata Star Bazaar, where I picked p a few groceries. The meat and fish section there is nice and huge, with varied options.
There lay a wide variety of fish, resting on a bed of crushed ice, fresh from the fisherman's catch from earlier in the day - the fruit of the sea were there for us to devour and enjoy! And that's when I was pleasantly surprised to notice anchovies nicely stacked up on the ice bed.

Instantly, my mind raced back to early 2009. As chance would have it, I was at the newly opened The Aman in New Delhi for a meeting. This was an uber-luxury hotel property that had just opened, on the same plot where the Lodhi Hotel once stood. The chain of Amanresorts was founded by Adrian Zecha, a Singaporean of Czech-Indonesian descent - the concept was simple - offer super luxury comforts in far-off getaways to the rich and famous of the world, th Amanjunkies, far away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. That explains why Katy Perry chose to tie the knot with Russell Brand in Amanresorts's tented property, Aman-i-Khas, at Ranthambore way back in 2010.
The Delhi property was, however, Amanresorts' first city property.
The Aman New Delhi had a unique F&B establishment, The Tapas Bar, which was to serve authentic Spanish Tapas, finger food to go alongwith drinks. The then management of Aman New Delhi offered us lunch at The Tapas Bar, and that was where I had anchovies for the first time in the classic Spanish pickled preparation called Boquerones en Vinegre!
The memory of the unforgettable lunch at The Tapas Bar sent my digestive juices gushing out in an unprecedented avalanche!
Here we the anchovies and I had to create the Tapas magic at home with my own Boquerones en Vinegre!
I picked up half a kilo of the magical pink anchovies and rushed back home. Not only are the anchovies intensely flavourful, they pack in an amazing amount of goodness in them - omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamins. in fact, twenty grams of fresh anchovies have 0.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. This represents 19 percent of the recommended daily requirement for men and 27 percent for women.
At home, I wasted no time in cleaning them up, removing their guts and soaking them in white vinegar. The marinated fish was refrigerated for over 12 hours, in which time, the acid softened the flesh and turned it from pink to white.

Now was the time when garlic, parsley and extra virgin olive oil was added. And that went back into refrigeration for the next 6 hours.

And all that while I had an agonising wait. Finally when the wait was over, I impatiently toasted a slice of bread and topped it with a Boquerone and man, it tasted heavenly!

The next refinement was an open sandwich - bread, with blanched spinach, sliced mushrooms and topped off with Boquerones and herbs grilled to a toasty crisp perfection!

And then the latest - a belated Purim celebration with bagels from Moshe's, pepper omelette, sauteed spinach with mushrooms and green olives served with Boquerones on the side! I was indeed impressed with my creation!

As I enjoyed my Boquerones, I lamented the loss of one of Delhi's finest eateries, The Tapas Bar - a change in management and ownership meant The Tapas Bar had to make way for a more conventional pub (sic!) and The Aman itself had been renamed as The Lodhi!
But still, The Tapas Bar had given me one compelling reason to enjoy the fruit of the sea!

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