Kiwi = Bird
Kiwi = People
Kiwi = Fruit
The first 2 are not really within easy reach from my humble abode in Delhi (!!), but Kiwifruit is very familiar to me. I’ve always enjoyed the refreshing, sweet-and-tart taste of it and the almost imperceptible crunch of the little black seeds. Sliced or chopped by itself, as a frozen yoghurt topping, in a pavlova or over a tart have been my favourite ways of having this fruit. So when I was invited for a “Kiwilicious Four Course Menu” Lunch at 19 Oriental Avenue – the Asian restaurant at the Shanghri-La Hotel – I was intrigued.
I had come across the use of many other fruit like oranges, apples, pears, pineapples, mangoes, berries etc in savoury food, but the use of the kiwifruit would definitely be a first for me.
Chef Darren Conole, the Executive Chef at Shanghri-La Hotel, was asked by the hotel management and Zespri (producer and exporter of kiwifruit from New Zealand) to create a special Four Course Lunch Menu, using Kiwi in every course. I do not envy him that challenge, but I will say that he didn’t disappoint. I was surprised and amazed at what he came up with!
Before all the deliciousness was served up, he welcomed us with a glass of wine and told us candidly that the more wine he is allowed to consume, the better time we would have! And he wasn’t wrong about that either – thankfully, we got to drink a few glasses of wine of our own. Before the wine, though, we started with this kiwi lemonade drink.
Fun Fact: did you know that the original name of the kiwifruit (in English) was Chinese Gooseberry? Somewhere along the way, the “Chinese” part of it was banned and it started to be known as kiwifruit because (a) New Zealand is one of the largest producers of kiwifruit as a commercial crop and (b) the resemblance of the exterior/ fuzzy peel of the fruit to the kiwi bird.
Chef Darren giving us the lowdown on the history and nutritious values of the fruit – occasionally testing us as well!
He demonstrated a few quick recipes and we had tasting portions before the actual 4 courses of lunch -a kiwi mayonnaise served with smoked salmon and capers as well as a kiwi and pineapple reduction to go over grilled pork tenderloin fillets – which was incredible by the way.
We began the meal with an appetiser of Kiwi marinated Ceviche of Clam with Rocket Cress (Feta for the vegetarians).
Chilled Roast Pepper & Kiwi soup (not pictured) followed by the main course: Loin of New Zealand Lamb with “Kiwi de Menthe” jelly and Moroccan Jam Quinoa (Teriyaki glazed Fillet of Pumpkin with Kiwifruit beurre blanc for the vegetarians).
Sushi for dessert. This was the most surprising because the menu simply said sushi – no mention of the word dessert or sweet. Rice was cooked with milk, like kheer, and then rolled on sushi mats to enclose kiwis. The exterior was dusted with toasted coconut and accompanied with two dipping sauces – kiwi and raspberry!
Challenging as the menu sounded, it was delicious. At no point did the kiwifruit take away from the complex flavours – a job wonderfully done by Chef Darren.
Trained classically in cookery with a specialisation in French cooking, one of the main focus areas for Chef Darren has been wine and food pairing – and I’m looking forward to one of those sessions next!