Thursday, 14 August 2014

Freezer, Meats and all that Jazz!!

This post is quite a revelation of the changing food scenes of an average, metropolitan kitchen of India. I can count many households where roti is not made every day, while traditional rice has taken a healthy overturn of being brown and fibrous! Did we ever stop to notice our refrigerators grow, little by little! 3-4 decades ago, Indians didn’t even know the term refrigerator. Then suddenly to have chilled water or a cold drink, fridge became popular. The freezer was a tiny frosty compartment with some paltry ice trays. It was hardly used for keeping anything sans the occasional treat of ice cream. I remember of the time when fresh food was bought every day, especially non-veg, and cooked. Even today I know of families in Kolkata who go out fish shopping twice a day, every day. 2 to 3 pcs of a fresh cut fish, made and served fresh each meal, every day. They don’t understand the power of a freezer, and frankly they never should. The taste of fresh cooked soft morsel of meat is far superior that the best qualities of imported frozen meat. But, it’s a luxury, not all of us are privy of.

Freezing is a great science that can actually come very handy for food enthusiasts like you and me. From fruits to veggies to meats to breads, anything can be preserved by freezing. I hugely use this option to have fresh baked goods. I freeze a cookie dough in portions for a fresh baked cookie or freeze portions of a bread dough for fresh loaf of, crisp on outside yet soft and supple on the inside, bread. And on the other side, I store meats, marinated in turmeric for the whole week’s use. A more recent and tasty western additions to this side are cold cuts and sausages, which is loved by all these days.
Choosing the right sausage is a bit of an ask. The imported ones are old, made long back and are lugged in varying temperatures all around the world. As it’s preserved, taste wise it doesn't matter oh so much. But the meat and the fat starts losing its structure as more time passes. Not a very healthy option, but if it’s the only option, than you have to choose it none the less.
But in Mumbai, the scene is a bit different. Here a lot of enthusiastic foodies have started exploring charcuterie using indigenous meats combined with the techniques from the west. It actually makes perfect sense as you are assured that the produce was not sitting in a cold storage for a long time, and can stay a bit longer in your freezer instead.

I was invited to review one such charcuterie café- Artisan of Sofitel Mumbai BKC. During my visit, I met German Charcuterie Chef Hans Hartman, who was visiting the hotel, trying to improve its charcuterie further. He welcomed us warmly, keeping his German humour intact! And the products I tasted were amazing too. They had many options of pork, some for chicken and hardly anything on lamb or beef. Chicken tikka masala, was an east inspired sausage with a big dose of Kasundi (bong mustard sauce). I disagreed with naming, but the sausage in itself was actually a very refreshing one. It was fat and soya free, visible as it was much harder than an average chicken sausage, and resembled the taste and texture of cooked chicken breast. Fresh and clean flavours, this is a sausage fit for any calorie conscious foodie.

The next that I truly and sinfully loved was pork belly and mushroom sausage. Wonderfully soft and full of fat-ilicious flavour, a must try I say!! The meat loaves were even better, and even tastier. Obviously the pork ones were my favourite, but the chicken wasn't bad at all.
All in all, I loved the meats I tried up there in the café. Chef Hans was delightfully humorous, and didn’t mind spending his holiday chatting with me. And the greatest testament was the fact that I bought back sausages to be had at home. The wine sausage was my favourite, but nothing could beat the taste of mushroom and pork belly sausage. Full on a big yummer!

Note- it was an invited brunch, though I did end up buying some for back home too. For 1000 bucks, we bought 2 packets of pork based sausages and 1 pack of Pista laced pork cold cuts (inclusive of taxes and service charges).

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