Women's International Day celebratory lunch at Casablanca, Double Tree by Hilton
"Today is yours and so is every other day"
Thank God I am a woman!! In fact I am PROUD to be one!! For nothing, absolutely nothing in this world would I want to trade my special place for anyone else's, in this life or any other life!!
I have the power to create, soothe, nurture and mould!! I know I can love unselfishly, give without expecting anything back, give unquestioning support to my family and friends, have a smile on my face though I come back dead tired from work. Even when burning with high fever all that worries me is whether the kids and husband have had their dinner, stay strong in the toughest of situations, entertain guests at the drop of a hat and much much more. All this because I am a woman and deep inside it is just this that makes me feel so powerful and beautiful. No one can understand this power hidden within us. It is not for us to show or prove ourselves to others. We are what we are!! To celebrate this strong essence of being a woman, we were invited for a celebratory lunch on "International Woman's Day" on the 8th of March, hosted by Double Tree by Hilton, Gurgaon at their Moroccan specialty restaurant, Casablanca, slated to be first of its kind in the city. Inside, there were over a 100 women invited from all walks of life. It was so nice to see happy faces everywhere, chatting nineteen to a dozen, enjoying a day off from their daily routines. Monisha Dewan, the general Manager of the hotel played the perfect hostess. She graciously looked after us all afternoon and we enjoyed her hospitality till the very last minute. We were also introduced to the hotel's Executive Chef Rajat Tuli and Chef Rachid Choukkiwho is the Chef de Cuisine of Casablanca. Being a native Moroccon he truly helps in bringing out the authentic touch to the cuisine. We started off the afternoon with a Cosmo Martini which was unanimously chosen as the favorite by everyone on the table. I remember how popular this cocktail had become after it featured on the popular show 'Sex and the City' on HBO. Nice and fruity, with just the right balance of vodka and cranberry juice we all soon went in for seconds. Along with the drinks we had some lip-smacking starters, which of course our dear friend Parul, familiar with the cuisine kept briefing us about. Parul is amazing with her in-depth knowledge about everything regarding Gourmet food from the different kinds of wines, different cuisines, to where to find a particular ingredient to knowing about the best eating joints. (We will really miss you Parul !!)
Amongst all the appetizers, my favorite were the Mini Quail Pastilles. Sweet and savoury perfectly balanced, stuffed with minced meat and lightly dusted with a layer of sugar and cinnamon they were just divine!! After finishing two, I had to literally stop myself for going in for a third keeping in mind the lovely lunch waiting ahead for us. I also loved the Lamb Merguez,Fava beans with beetroot shots, Lamb Medfouna, Prawns Pil Pil and an assortment of different Canapes. Everything was lightly spiced and tasted amazing.
For lunch, we moved inside to the restaurant where a lavish buffet awaited us. As you enter you are really taken in by Casablanca's old world charm. Complete with its traditional Moroccon decor, so elegantly done up with the Marakesh lanterns, musicians playing folk music, the smiling wait staff in their traditional attires, the cabanas in the garden, the crockery with the colorful moorish geometric design, ambient lighting certainly helped amp up the charm, enhancing the exotic feel of the place. You just couldn't help but fall in love with the place.
We were spoiled silly for choice. In addition to the lavish buffet inside there was also a live cooking station in the garden outside where you could ask the chef for a grill of your choice.
Back inside, we found already served on our table some sumptuous looking Chicken and Lamb skewers, Lavash (a soft thin flatbread) served with delicious bowls of Hummus, Harissa (Moroccon red chilli paste) Baba Ghanoush and Olives. Quite contrary to what I had thought, the Harissa was mildly spiced and had a pleasant taste.
Also alongside was a plate of Briouts, with a delicious filling of Halloumicheese inside. Hot and crispy with the melted cheese like a volcano exploding from inside, they were absolutely yummy, leaving us all drooling for more.
Next to come were the Chicken Shawarmas, succulent and delicately spiced, I can swear that they were the best I have ever eaten. Then came the much awaited Tagines. As the name implies, they were the stars of the show, all served in their distinctive conical-lidded bowl. The Quail tagine topped with roasted almonds and caramelized onions, slightly sweet to taste, won me over from the first bite. The Rabbit Tagine with green peas and preserved lemons was soft and tender. Though delicious, I found my taste buds partial towards the quail tagine.
Next came the dessert, a Saffron and Orange Blossom flavored Ice Cream and Fresh Fruits flavored with Orange Blossom. Strong in flavors its ideal for people who are fond of fruity flavors.
We ended our lovely meal with a cup of Morrocan mint tea. I believe the pouring technique is an art in itself as crucial as the quality of tea - the technique perfectly demonstrated to us by Chef Rachid.
As all good things come to an end, so did our wonderful afternoon. Thanks Monisha for having us over and weaving a great magical afternoon which will be cherished by all of us for a long time.