Organised by our good old foodie friends and guide Salloni and Sameer Malkani of the Food Bloggers Association of India (FBAI) at Theory in Kamala Mills, Mumbai, this apple-themed dinner was a great concept. Theory’s Chef de Cuisine Clyde Comello and Chef Simarpal Singh Virdi demonstrated a fresh, flavourful and quick apple salad in three ways, using the freshest and juiciest US apples. US Apple Export Council (USAEC) was an active part of the evening, where their representative explained to the Mumbai FBAI food bloggers about the goodness of apples. We learnt that US Apples come in many varieties and sizes and are grown and packed using state-of-the-art facilities. The USAEC has five apple-producing US states in its repertoire; namely, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Michigan and Virginia. Now we can enjoy the goodness of US apples in India too! (For a full list of US Apple suppliers, visit here.)
We started off with the drinks. The Red Wine Sangria was refreshing. The juicy US Apples in it added that extra magic I guess. The Apple and Cinnamon Sparkler was an interesting mocktail to try out. I settled down with an Apple Vanilla Sky cocktail, which had subtle hints of vanilla muddled with juicy US apples.
The four-course dinner followed soon. We were served a creamy and comforting Curried Carrot & Apple Soup. Although it was simply fantastic for my palate, I felt that just because both the ingredients (carrots and apples) were sweet, the soup would have tasted better with an extra dash of pepper! But wait, the sweetness of the soup complemented the next dish so well that after I tasted the next dish, I appreciated the fact that I had this soup to open up my tastebuds.
The Poached Apple & Goat Cheese Salad was absolutely bang-on. Right flavours and right textures in this refreshingly light salad was just the right thing to have after the Carrot and Apple soup. The tart slices of red-wine-poached apples married well with the creamy, gratinated goat cheese. Hazelnuts provided a great nutty texture, whereas the crunchy and slightly bitter endive leaves were an absolute must to the sweet, sour and creamy notes on the salad plate!
Although I didn’t taste the vegetarian dish in Course 3, people raved about the pan-seared Apple Gnocchi, made with cinnamon-flavoured butternut squash, sage butter and burrata.
The non-vegetarian course was Chicken Roulade with Apple Jus. The chicken was soft and juicy. Stuffed with Mushrooms Forestiere and gruyere on Peronata, the dish was served with Brandy apple jus. Although the dish was tasty, apple was not centrestage. Also, as a main course dish, it wasn’t a hearty dish. I craved for carbs!
I had the opportunity to taste both the desserts in Course 4. According to me, the plating of the Apple Cheesecake could have been more foodgasmic. It could have been topped with a few apples instead of raspberries. They could have done away with raspberries. Instead, to add tartness to the dish, sour apples could have done the needful. Thankfully, cubed apple pieces were served next to the cheesecake. Somehow, this dessert did not please me that much from the presentation and flavour points of view. It was served with a great Burnt Butter Ice-cream though.
My second dessert in Course 4 was a Low Sugar Apple Baklava with Home-made Vanilla Ice cream. It was very impressive. The dish was neat and not a heavy dessert at all. I loved the fact that the sweetness was minimal. The flavourful homemade vanilla ice cream came together with the Baklava perfectly. This is one dish which belonged to the apple: the fruit played a great role in leveraging the dish and was the main ingredient. I would love to eat this again!
The concept of creating a four-course meal with US Apples was definitely appreciated among the food bloggers. Next time you buy an US Apple, don’t just eat it straight. Experiment with these flavourful apples in your kitchen, if you can. For me, the apple-themed dinner was an inspiration to use this incredible fruit in cooking and baking to create dishes that are not only healthy, but taste just perfect.