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DAVID HOPCROFT

Goodbyes are never easy or happy .  And this is a piece for the man, who is also General Manager of the property for the last three and a half years who shaped the Le Meridien –  Gurgaon, earlier The Pullman – David Hopcroft, and our fabulous last meal together at the Bella Cucina, curated by Chef Amit Kumar.

The grand opening of Bella Cucina, Le Meridien’s new flagship restaurant for Haute Cuisine.

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For years, David Hopcroft, the ‘architect of flavours’, has been striving to reveal new tastes and experiences for his patrons. And now, for his venture in Gurgaon, which soon comes to an end, he brings you Bella Cucina, a bespoke dining experience defined by freedom of emotions and passion, but also of rigour, sobriety and method. Translated by the very talented and young Chef Amit Kumar.

Here’s a General Manager whose passion for the most refined cuisine transcends the kitchen and pushes his chef to reach out and translate his ideas into the entire restaurant.

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He and his team source the finest ingredients – from the modest vegetables to the sumptuous fruits of the sea – for the pleasure of the senses. Together, they have worked to create an inspirational cuisine, respectful of the environment, that transforms the fine dining experience in the region.

Cuisine

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Cooking felt at home, It’s my comfort zone, and will always be. I am thus a happy cook, Kumar enthuses. There is a lot of creative cooking floating about in the food market. A lot of dedicated research is what helps me keep abreast to new ideas and advancements in the field. But I also remain a curious cook. My roots carry me but do not hold me down.”

This respect for nature with an eye to progression is evidenced by Hopcroft’s decision to use local farms for fresh organic supply, supporting both the notions of sustainability and local agriculture.

Cultural Culinary Creations

Together with Chef Amit Kumar,  Le Meridien, Gurgaon presents a sophisticated menu of original creations. They include the delicate –

Flavors of Goat Cheese - Ripe strawberries cooked in sweet Riesling, along with goat cheese, this forms the bed upon which the crispy mushroom mousse filled cigar is rested along with a drizzle of melting goat cheese snow.

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Asparagus and grapefruit salad with smoked curd - Young asparagus shoots marinated in Pommery mustard are accompanied by the tangy grapefruit, balancing the tartness of the grapefruit is a smoked curd made from just cream and dehydrated yoghurt.

Scallops - The essence of sea is unchanged with the seared scallops and complimenting with cauliflower puree which make the amalgam of sea and land possible on a plate and garnish with skin of kalamata olives

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Black risotto with three seed quinoa - The texture of the risotto is altered with the soft centered quinoa. The red white and black quinoa seeds perfectly camouflage amongst black risotto rice, finishing touch of mascarpone add to the subtle sweetness in the preparation. The parmesan powder added on top adds the texture of crunch. Butter poached prawns add to the nutty and aromatic taste.

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Lamb - Sous vide lamb rack in the most simple yet flavorful marinade of garlic thyme and olive oil, does not overpower the lambs taste. The starch served with the lamb Is not in form of the potato mash, but is a crisp rosti made with eggplant at the centre and crispy grated potato on outside .

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Tiramisu, Dropped lemon tart and Espresso mousse  – The tiramisu is little on the runny side making it perfect to served in a double insulated glass rather than on a plate.

The dropped lemon tart has all that a person with sweet tooth needs ,a tangy lemon cream, crunchy base and vanilla sauce to compliment all the above.

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Tucked inside the espresso dome is the coffee laced bitter sweet espresso mousse with the tempting sour cherry splash, are certain to further tempt the discerning diner.

The exceptional drinks menu  and wine list is also given special attention, with barmen working alongside chefs to create perfect accompaniments to the delectable food on offer.

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David being an Aussie , we obviously and very happily chose a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, from the Yalumba Valley, in Southern Australia. This smooth and elegant wine, is also rich and intense, yet very easy to drink. Even through an entire meal.

Desserts also form an essential part of the menu.

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Amit Kumar’s signature dish comprises of a Cappuccino of mushroom,  lightly spiced, promising a unique, palate-pleasing creation.

Rinku Madan

Rinku Madan, an acclaimed Gourmand in India, recently completed her studies in Global Journalism at the Harvard University, Massachusetts (Grade A Honors) with the objective to pursue her writing skills in the area of Global Luxury. She had earlier studied at the French Culinary Institute in New York (an affiliate of Culinary Institute of America) to certify in the arena of Food Writing.