Bright and airy, sleek and compact. With modern seating and minimalist design. This is the feeling we get as we walk into Slo Food Co.2, the only slow food centric restaurant in Bengaluru. With a thrust on slow cooking and everything sustainable, the restaurant is turning into a haven for wellness-conscious guests on the lookout for some gourmet offerings. A concept pioneered in the 1980s by professional gourmand Carlo Petrini, who had protested against the opening of McDonald’s near Rome’s Spanish Steps, the slow food movement has gradually gathered steam across the globe in an attempt to defend conventional food traditions and support a slow way of living. Bringing this revolutionary concept into the fast-paced lifestyle of India’s Silicon City is the talented gastronome Palvinder Singh, Executive Chef from Radisson Bengaluru City Center, who enjoys regaling guests with the histories of ingredients and foods, as his dextrous hands craft out exoticas in the kitchen.
Slow food is not merely about food that takes longer to cook and therefore more time to get to your table. That’s a clear myth. It’s about providing people with food that is good for their bodies and souls, food that is good for the farmers who grow and food that does good to the planet, says Chef.
The restaurant thrives on fresh produce grown organically and sourced sustainably. Moreover, it supports the locavores movement, the millet movement and the honey bee movement. Yes, we are locavores, says Chef Singh. “Our products are produced in our immediate area, within a radius of 200 kms. This guarantees freshness with food that hasn’t travelled miles together. Likewise, it benefits us more as this is the produce of our own soil, which has gotten the same water and sunlight and it matches better with our constitutions.” Partaking in the millet movement, Chef Singh and team enjoy working with ragi, bajra, quinoa and many more fibre-rich, gluten-free millets in their salads, appetizers and mains. “Like our millet risotto,” quips Chef. To keep the ecosystem intact, he supports the honey bee movement. “By serving organic honeycomb during breakfast, besides using honey as a sugar substitute in our desserts.” The restaurant takes its infatuation with honey bees to its design, with cushy seating shaped like honeycombs and monogrammed napkins and coasters embossed with honey bee motifs seen all around.
Sous vide and vacuuming are two of the slow cooking techniques used by Chef Singh and team. The restaurant relies on utensils like crock pots, clay pots, earthen wear and brass vessels which allow meats and vegetables to cook in a gradual manner alongside the juices that they release. But given our daily routines when we all stare at a time crunch, why would we want to cook the ‘’slow’’ way? ‘’To get an evolved taste for the food that is prepared, to allow the meats, fruits and vegetables to retain all of their nutrients which are often lost through other cooking methods. And to help you digest better,’’ says Chef, as we creatively fork out the watermelon and goat cheese salad garnished with micro greens and served on a Himalayan pink salt brick. The watermelon has been vacuumised with its juices and peach syrup, all of which have penetrated its juicy flesh, enhancing its overall taste and texture.
The cool salad is followed by a bowl of Tibetan seafood broth, simmered and made in a crock pot for a good 18-20 minutes. ‘’Unlike a manchow or sweet corn soup which takes a mere 5 minutes to get to the table,” adds Chef as we spoon in to find chunks of broccoli and carrots subtly flavouring the noodle-soaked broth. We are now ready for the dessert. Yes…we have skipped the appetizers and mains as we cannot wait for Chef’s Rasmalai Tiramisu, which we’ve been told is an award-winning dessert, winner of a gold medal at a Singapore cookout.
The syrup-soaked rasmalai is presented with a dollop of orange marmalade and alongside a bed of burnt feast, a combination of milk powder and butter. The covert sourness and mild tartness of the marmalade aptly contrasts with the sweet rasmalai, while the crunchy burnt feast lends a textural contradiction to the silky soft dessert. There’s no mascarpone, or Kahlua or lady finger biscuits here. But this tiramisu is just delicious.
Cheers to slow cooking!