“The curves of your lips rewrite history”, said Oscar Wilde. Love, they say, makes you do many things.
In my case, it made me wander through the bridges of Prague, past hushed queries of locals heading to hidden crevices, and past the colors that history had yet not washed away. All with a loved one who embraced my quirky self despite not being as culinarily inclined!
Prague’s star restaurateur, Sanjiv Suri, offered Mlýnec, a high-quality fusion of contemporary Czech cuisine which was located at the foot of the riverside at the Charles Bridge, possibly one of the most romantic spots in Europe. Promising authentic Michelin Star Bohemian food with some forgotten ways of cooking, the location of Novotného and the succulent views of the Vltava River and Charles Bridge were almost as drifting as the melody of music and symphony of ingredients that whisked through our plates.
Executive chef Marek Šáda used gastronomy and contemporary culinary methods and showcased the wealth of the Czech culture with a monthly shift in menus based on seasonal and local produce.
Promising to live up to my sparkling Punjabi scarf and a purposefully gaudy attire, I opted for the Absolutely Fabulous Cocktail, which combined home infused cranberry vodka, sparkling wine and chambord liquor. In a goblet made for historians, I sipped with an enchanted feel, the residue of romantic thoughts whisking into the waters of the view.
The trick to the cuisine was that it was fairly indecipherable what was an appetizer, what a dessert, and what was art. A myriad of magic at play, it was the mastery of textures and ingredients that interlaced the definitions of contemporary cooking to formulate a multi course lunchtime meal.
There was the dollop of butter, with herbs clung to it like enchanted lovers, ready to be smeared onto freshly baked bread that came warm from ovens.
The two faced salad comprised of honey gratinated goat cheese, rucolla, romaine lettuce, rhubarb and strawberries. While alone these may sound like commonplace ingredients, the combination was an artistry of plating, with the yellow of the cheeses contrasting the juicy red of the berries. The greens and reds gave it a festive spirit, and the tastes were miraculously balanced, with the saltiness of the cheese subdued with the tartness of the fruits, offset with the sumptuous sweetness of honey.
And then there was what I would call a salad for dessert: an asparagus salad of sorts, highlighting this very trending ingredient, poppy seed ice cream and olive oil. I have previously tasted sorbet for salad dressing, but the spherical presentation of this was so ethereal it almost looked extraterrestrial. The greens were bitter and crunchy, and as the poppy seed ice cream melted, it provided the perfect dressing with a light crunch that was swept together with a hint of pure olive oil. Truly, a clever and mind twisting combination.
The palette cleansing dessert, and possibly the only thing that resembled one, was a trio of sorbettos in flavors of strawberry mint, blackcurrant pepper, and mango ginger. The last one whisked me straight back to the street foods of Delhi, while the surprising addition of pepper, witnessed previously in a Michelin Star of Chicago, gave the entire gobble a spicy kick!
The final plate, like the victory of a triumphant battle, was a literal translation of historic art on a modern plate. Beetroot juice was splattered onto a white plate like a bloody good win, topped with a single, sword-like asparagus on a bed of pistachio ice cream with white chocolate. The architectural construction of the plate was so beautiful that it took several minutes to process the sheer juxtaposition at play. The fibrous vegetable, with all its bitterness, married with the feisty red bitters of the beet, with only the likes of creamy ice cream and saccharine white chocolate to offset these. Pistachio, a favorite nut, struck a balance between these in promising a favorable finish.
Who, being loved is poor? said Wilde, again. After a satiating time soaked in romanticism, the only thing I realized was that the love sonnets were about experiences like these.