Kings & Queens III at Spice Mela - Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi
The wine paired with the Chilean seabass is a 2013 Gérard Bertrand Special reserve Sauvignon Blanc. It is rich and luscious, laced with tropical fruits, rivalling some of my favourite New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs in the same price range.
Before the final stage of the menu is introduced, I have time to reflect on the evening up to this point. One of the strengths at Spice Mela is the service and that is in evidence again. Two of the waiters are new to me, with them having been at the restaurant for only 4 months. The natural way in which they are able to talk about the dishes, the depth which they can do so and the timely manner of their service highlights that strength I mentioned a moment ago.
To accompany the thali, I am served the 2012 Joseph Drouhin Bourgogne Pinot Noir. Having enjoyed this wine at a wine dinner celebrating the wine maker, I am happy with its role in tonight's pairing. Admittedly not as full bodied as my preferred wines, I am still learning to appreciate this grape. In the end it works well with the dishes tonight because it does not drown the flavours. It is light, elegant and smooth.
To end off the evening, I have dessert. Imarti, a rose-infused lentil sweet and Caramel ghevar, a crispy Indian pancake with caramel, infused with saffron are served. The imarti gives me the same feeling I had when I saw the thali - Chef connects one to what you will see in most budget Indian restaurants around the city, but brings refinement to it. Thankfully, the imarti is not as sweet as I have had on the streets. Finally, the Caramel ghevar showcases Chef's dessert skills. It is quite a complex dessert. The pancake has a alot of texture to it - crispy and slightly chewy - and as I bite into it, I am soon delighted by the taste of caramel made from milk - yes, milk! Also, the saffron infusion is light and airy, while the berries on either side of the pancake add acidity to balance the sweetness on the plate. Finally, vark, or edible silver complete a memorable dessert.
My dessert wine, a 2011 Chateeau Du Levant Sauternes, is a sweet wine made from Semillon, Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle grapes. The honey that comes through matches the Caramel ghevar especially, very well.
So how do they compare, an inevitable question. Kings & Queens III eclipsed last year's. The dishes tasted differently. I know, that is an obvious statement to make considering the menus are different. This was the evening though when I was able to see and feel Chef Siddharth in his dishes. I believe that his close connection to this evening's menu, with some of the dishes handed down to him from his great great grand father and other items shared with him by chefs he interacted with in Rajasthan, would have inspired him. Food is not cerebral and neither is the preparation of it. Tonight there is therefore that extra emotion Chef puts in his dishes. It speaks of the immortality of souls which live on in what is on the plate, long after their bodies have been thwarted by inevitable Time.
I have no idea what Chef was thinking or feeling as he prepared the menu, but I imagine him being so in touch with his heart and soul as he brought to life dishes that his great grandfather had made. For me, dishes filled with emotion is what elevates dining; not the ingredients, the china or the silver. But make no mistake - the dishes were beautifully cooked and packed with flavour. Ultimately, this was just a glorious testament to Time which has preceded us, and lives on every night for the month of May at Spice Mela, Rosewood Hotel here in Abu Dhabi.
Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi
+971 2 813 5573
Tasting Menu AED295++ per person | AED 460++ with grapes
Kings & Queens III runs throughout the month of May.