Chinese Food Festival at Swissotel Kolkata
Kolkata's connection with China goes back to the 18th century. Having grown up in a city where most people would declare that 'Chow mein' the stir fried noodles are one of their all time favourite dishes it is of no wonder that the prospect of a Chinese Food Festival got me all excited.
My own brush with this cuisine extends a bit beyond the usual Chinese dishes which are served across this city. The Inod Chinese cuisine. The erstwhile Calcutta had a Chinatown right in the middle of the city and much later was the new Chinatown formed.
Those of us who are used to and love the cuisine from Old Chinatown would think of silky soft wonton soup, Chimney soup, mild flavours and dishes which are a perfect balance of meat and greens.
Imagine that its the weekend and you are bored and need a much needed break. How does a long drive and a stopover at a sophisticated hotel which is hosting a Chinese food festival where the Chefs have come all the way from Kunshan in China sound?
Let me give you a bit of details of what you might expect once you walk into Cafe Swiss, the 24 hour coffee shop between 26th March 2015 to 29th March 2015. Well as usual Swissotel's courteous staff is sure to put a smile on your face and make you feel very special and then comes a whole range of dishes which is not just utterly delicious but the variety itself is quite a reason for joy.
China much like India has many regions and each region has a regional cuisine to boast of much like our own country, India. This Food Festival focuses on Schezwan, Cantonese and Jiangnan cuisine.
For someone such as myself who believes in the immense power of a well made stock the very idea that some of the dishes rely on a well made stock is quite comforting. The wonton soups had something very familiar interspersed with a delicious unfamiliarity. The silky wontons are something that Old Chinatown in Calcutta is used to but the way it is served is delightfully unfamiliar. The wontons are skilfully made by our Chefs and it is served with some well made chicken stock and then you choose your condiments from Chinese pickle made of root vegetables , soy sauce, vinegar, a chili condiment which is extensively used and this chili paste is one where the chilies are soaked in vinegar for over a year. Chef Yao told me that in China the usual preferred meat for wonton is pork meat. Well here in Calcutta we are no different but the chicken used for the wonton soup for this event is equally delicious.
If you prefer meaty dishes there is plenty of options to choose from be it the delicious braised beef fillet in chili sauce or the delightful cold chicken with chili and vinegar where the chicken with its skin makes for a delightful texture along with mild yet amazing flavours but I would highly recommend that you do not miss out on the vegetarian items as well for these dishes are sure to delight you in the most unexpected way.
Take the example of the raddish pie. Flaky and crispy on the outside and creamy inside. The steamed baby bok choy in chicken broth is probably not technically vegetarian but the mild sweet flavour is an absolute delight when the heat is knocking on our doors.
The hot and sour soup is entirely different from any hot and soup soup we get in the Indian sub continent. Here the soup is mildly sour and the heat comes from black pepper.
Quite honestly I would highly suggest that you do not leave out one single dish because every dish will make you taste flavours which are familiar yet completely and delightfully unfamiliar.
And with all the steaming boiling and braising its one of the lightest meal on your stomach which means you can indulge without feeling guilty. The good news is that some of these dishes would be included in Swissotel's regular menu which is indeed something to feel joyous about.