The crowd then moved on towards the banquet hall which was laid out for a formal sit down dinner. Each table was set for 6 people and as we took our places at one, we were joined by 4 very interesting dining companions. I felt like something out of Pretty Woman when I saw the cutlery laid out in front of me- 4 forks, no less besides a couple of knives and a spoon. Then in a moment of inspiration, I remembered (again from a movie) that one is supposed to start with the outermost cutlery and work your way in. As the first course, the Summer Salad was served, the emcee of the evening started introducing us to the brand and what lay ahead. I daresay she seemed like she was high already, the amount of faux pas she made. The salad itself was light and refreshing with citrus flavors and a melee of textures from the nuttiness of the cashew to the mushy carrots and the crunch of the fresh greens.
But we were a forgiving crowd and the emcee was all but forgotten as the Master Blender for Black Dog, Richard Paterson who in his kilt personified Scotland in a way no AV could have, took centerstage. And that is when the evening started! Richard is a showman. He walked and he talked, he poured and he drank. He even threw a few glasses around! All the while, keeping the audience entertained and glued to every word. He shared the history behind whiskey and also taught us how to appreciate every sip instead of drowning it in ice and soda.
As he spoke, we were served the second course, Tagliolini with Tomato Pesto and Anchovies. I am a great fan of Pesto, albeit the basil version but I must admit that the tomato based one was equally pleasing to the taste buds. This came paired with the Black Dog 12 Years and as I swirled a sip around in my mouth, I felt each taste center come alive as Richard had promised.
While we ate, a very talented musician performed for us in French, Italian and English. There never was a dull moment. Which can also be said of our table. Though we were strangers, we got along fabulously and before long we were laughing and kidding around like old friends. Spyros took to the stage now and explained how he had created the menu and how each dish was a blend of Italian tastes and Indian sensibilities. The 3rd Course, a creamy Risotto with Prawns was served thereafter, paired with the Black Dog 18 Year Whiskey. The Risotto was an interesting blend of flavors, much like the whiskey itself. With a hint of mint, small chunks of peach and flavored with licorice powder, it played a fine line between savory and sweet. But the real winners were the prawns. Succulent and cooked just right, the juicy prawns brought out the flavors of the dish even more.
As the evening progressed, I also realised the difference between each whiskey. As we moved from the 12 years to the 18 years and 21 years, the whiskey got smoother and I could even detect slight variance in flavors.
The 4th Course was perhaps our favourite course of the evening. Lamb Chops served over Creamy Potatoes drizzled with a sauce of Roasted Vegetables served with Crispy Beet. In all my years of loving and appreciating food, I have never had lamb chops so succulent. So moist in the inside and giving just the right resistance to my knife, I couldn't believe that this wasn't beef I was eating but lamb. The chops were truly incredible and the only course I polished off, even though it came in fourth and my tiny tummy was already stuffed.
Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the last course, as much as I would have loved to see how a soup made with whiskey could be served as desert. But a tiny tot waiting to go home and sleep and a hour's drive back took precedence and we bid adieu to our new friends and dining companions. An Easy Evening for sure, for the guests. But I could see the immaculate conceptualization and hard work that went into the backend to execute one so flawlessly. An Experience to remember, for sure.