It's almost four o'clock in the morning and my Blackberry messenger beeps with a new text: "If you have nothing to do, jump on a plane and join me in Delhi. The city is delirious!" I am still in the middle of a dream and don't realize exactly which of my friends wrote that message.
The only thing I do realize is that I decide in the middle of my night I actually have nothing to do in cold New York City and -visa and vaccines checked- I will definitely jump on that flight in the evening.
The 13-and-a-half-hour flight takes me directly to the white and grey marbled floor of the Indira Gandhi Delhi Airport, where 23 million passengers are handled annually. Mr Bhasker Gupta , a short young man in a white uniform, takes my luggage saying "Welcome to India, Miss Maslaton."
I am pleasantly surprised with the mild temperature of the evening (there is a 10-and-a-half-hour difference). Mr Gupta very politely thanks me very much for liking the Delhi weather and leads me to a white Hindustan ambassador car filled with impeccable white small towels aromatized with rose water, and Scarlet Dendrobium orchids. We are on our way to one of my favorite hotels in the world, the legendary Delhi Oberoi.
The luxurious hallway embellished with accents of black Onyx and granites awaits this cityâ€™s landmark, as harmonious blend of tradition and contemporary sophistication . As soon as I enter, a gracious lady with wonderfully subtle but exotic make up, a red dot in her forehead, and an elegant sober Saree uniform, Prachi Sati the hotel manager receives me with a garland of orange "holy flowers", an old custom in India for devotion marking respect and honor to visitors in temples, hospitality and greetings.
Namaste or Namaskar is the most popular form of greeting in India. It is a general salutation that is used to welcome somebody and also for bidding farewell while doing Namaskar, both the palms are placed to gether and raised below the face to greet a person. Tilak is a ritual mark on the forehead. It can be put in many forms as a sign of blessing or greeting. Aarti is performed as a mark of worship to welcome guests.
With a Namaste sign -I recognize the self in you - her palms held together, pretty Preeti Vohra of the front desk invites me to check in directly to my room. The Jasmine scent of essential oil emanates a sense of peace throughout the corridor of my floor, reminding me I am only a few hours away from witnessing the romantic blue dawn over the the heritage site of Humayunâ€™s Tomb observed at a distance through an enveloping fog from my room.
In India, life and everything you do is a ritual of colors, emotions and a surprising experience on it's own. Breakfast at the Oberoi's Threesixty° restaurant is among my favorite life experiences. Modern, sleek, inventive, and hip, the interiors as well as the menu are some of best one can appreciate in the city, especially if you wish to start a long business day.
Creativity breathes throughout the walls, essential elements like Ardosia- foliated slate- from Belgium, white and grey-veined Thassos marble from Greece , Zebrano wood from Africa, and thick glass are part of the menu as well as narrow glasses where miniature fruit smoothies showcase their colors and flavors - a feast and celebration for the eyes and palate. Few consultants assisted on the architecture and interiors- to reach the final look of the restaurant following the vision of Mr. P.R.S Oberoi's Chairman of The Oberoi Group.
I pick my favorite table around the entire glassed perimeter, timber louvers at high levels offer a sense of intimacy while featuring grandstand views of the magnificent garden all around. In the menu I notice the restaurant offers a world class and very well designed Sushi station, an elegantly designed Yakitori grill, a Wood Fired Oven for Mediterranean fare and a contemporary Tandoor.
For Sunday brunch, this Delhi snob-haunt carries the 'Grand 360 Special'. A platter comprising sushi, sashimiand maki (six pieces each) comes considerably lower at Rs 1,900 and you can have a go at the likes of salmon, tuna, scallops, sweet shrimp, and marinated mackerel, washed down with all the Champagne you can bear to savour.
What's most impressive is the Enoteca, the Bar and Lounge at Shreesixty°. It's a unique feature of the restaurant. The Maitre tells me while I pick my choice of eggs sunny side up that over 1200 bottles of classical and contemporary wines are encased in glazed glass panels adorning the walls of the climate-controlled wine cellar.
The bar has a â€˜tasting tableâ€™ where guests are invited to taste wines from different parts of the world before making a decision on their preference or if they wish to get a sense of the sheer variety of the wine collection. This wine bar has an overall ambience of understated elegance with subtle lighting.
Emphasis on quality, freshness of ingredients and clear and distinct flavors are the hallmarks of Chef Augustoâ€™s unique style. With a culinary experience over a decade at some of the worldâ€™s leading hotels, Augusto is also an expert in Teppanyaki delicacies. Extremely talented and creative by nature, the master is known for his innovative concoctions and is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records for making the worldâ€™s longest sushi.
Augusto O. Cabrera is the Sushi Chef at threesixty° . Originally from the Philippines, Chef Augusto is a hotel graduate from San Sebastian College. He started his career as an Assistant Sushi Chef at the Manila Midtown Hotel, in the Philippines. Chef Augustoâ€™s culinary experience spans over a decade where he has worked with leading hotel brands like the Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Le Royal Meridien and Crown Plaza across the Middle East.
Extremely talented and creative by nature, Chef Augustoâ€™s expertise lies in the innovative concoctions of â€˜modernâ€™ Sushi, which he believes, will be the â€˜all time favoriteâ€™
His signature dishes, the Tempura Maki and The California Maki, are a perfect example of contrasting Sushi wraps, made with a combination of traditional Japanese and modern Sushi recipes. A number of Sushi presentations on the threesixty° menu, such as the Cabrera rolls, Nigiri platter, Maguro Maki, and Fermented Tofu are Chef Augustoâ€™s personal creations.
Chef Dennis has been trained by Chef Augusto and has worked with him for several years. An inspired individual, Dennis is a music lover who likes to play the drums and guitar. Dennis perfectly complements Augusto and together they form a dynamic team that conjures up flavoursome creations for Japanese food enthusiasts.
After tasting a French Croissant with Orange sugar free marmalade and well infused Assam Tea, I am finally attempting to make a decision about between several Pancakes , chocolate and orange, Kerala vanilla, buttermilk, blue berry or hazelnut. My eggs, fried sunny side up will be served with griddled North Indian whole wheat bread toasts , smoked salmon and a spiced potato curry. The juice of my choice will be Mango and mint with a twits of fresh Ginger, bircher Muesli, and Kiwi parfait to end this breakfast celebration "alla Grande"
And now after my breakfast, Life in Delhi can start.
The restaurant: Threesixty Degrees- Oberoi Hotel New Delhi India Dr Zakir Hussain Marg City Centre Delhi 110003, India +91 11 24363030 The Recepe: Coconut Custard 3 eggs 1/4 cup brown sugar Pinch of salt 2 cups scalded milk 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 3 egg whites 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup grated coconut
Make a custard with the eggs, slightly beaten, the salt, sugar and milk. Heat in a mixing bowl over hot water until the mixture coats a spoon. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla and pour custard into a baking dish. Beat egg whites stiff, add sugar, coconut and vanilla. Spread over top of custard. Put in a 450 degree oven until the meringue is browned.