You need not go to Stockholm in Sweden for the Nobel prize banquet. For 163 US$ a head, you can do it right here in Delhi.
The Swedish Embassy will present the 2010 Nobel spread in a paid dinner Oct 18 at its premises during the five-city Nobel Memorial Week Oct 15-23. The banquet has been prepared by chef Mark Phoenix, a sous chef at the kitchen and restaurant at the Stockholm City Hall, which hosts the annual Nobel Banquet.
Phoenix, a master chef who specialises in traditional Swedish food, has been part of the Nobel culinary team for the last six years.
“The 2011 menu has been finalised, but I cannot divulge it. It is a surprise. We have brought the 2010 menu,” the chef told IANS.
He has been camping in the country to assemble the ingredients.
The Park Hotel is helping Phoenix and his team prepare the complex array of dishes — some of which take at least four days to cook.
“Key ingredients like the reindeer meat and foie gras (duck or goose liver) were stuck at the airport but we managed to free them,” Phoenix said Saturday.
A spokesperson for the Embassy of Sweden said, “Diners will have to pay 163 US$ for a place on the banquet table.”
The dinner begins with a round of canapes — tidbits of smoked salmon with trout roe, chicken terrine will bell pepper sauce and hummus tarts.
The starters are complex, elaborate and a wee heavy with liberal meat and exotic vegetable base.
“The duck galantine with crispy vegetables and mustard jelly — the non-vegetarian option in the starters — has to be cooked over four days. I have begun cooking in phases,” Pheonix said.
The ducks have been culled locally by Pheonix for tender body meat while the foie gras, cured thigh and the shanks of ducks braised in trays of butter and duck lard (a French traditional dish) have been imported from Sweden.
“After gathering the ingredients, I make a solution of four white salt powder and marinate the duck meat for a night. The meat and the solutions are beaten in a mixer finally minced together with the rendered fat, spices like garlic, salt pepper, and an egg,” the chef said.
The minced duck meat is laid out on two trays and topped with a layer of chicken. Another layer of duck meat follows, which is then embellished with a layer of foie gras.
“The layers are sprayed with ammonia nitrate salt and pressed with a heavy weight for four hours. Before serving, the galantine is sliced and laid on plates with an assortment of crispy vegetables and mustard jelly,” the chef said.
Last year, Pheonix and his associates took six hours to “lay 1,350 plates of Duck Galantine at the Nobel dinner in Stockholm”.
The main course is a combination of “truffeled fillet of turbot with a confit of winter vegetables” and “rice chickpeas and mushroom pates with winter vegetables” for the green diners.
“The focus on vegetables is stronger in India because the number of vegetarians is more in India than in Sweden,” the chef said.
The dessert is an “orange and chocolate bavaroise with a twist” to make the traditional Bavarian cream-based dish more contemporary, he said.
One of the changes that Nobel menu has seen down the decades is the addition of wild game, shell fishes, caviar, wild vegetables and berries found in Scandinavian forests, the chef said.
“In the early decades of the 20th Century, the menu was formal and more French. During the world wars, it became frugal, offering even bananas for dessert. But since the 1970s, the menu has become more complex and exotic,” the chef said.
The wild game served on the Nobel menu has included reindeer — a common edible meat — elk, venison and pheasant.
A round table lunch Oct 20 at the Swedish embassy will serve “smoked reindeer mousse — made from full-grown reindeer meat — on rye bread with dried lingon berries”.
“The Vikings cured their reindeer meat in a very strong vinegar (known as ettika), sugar and salt,” the chef said.
The cured reindeer meat is finely chopped, mixed with sour cream and flavoured with salt, pepper and horseradish — and placed on rye bread.
The Nobel dinner is expensive, Phoenix said.
“Each laureate is served food in Rs.90,000 worth of porcelain cutlery gilded in gold,” he said.
The Nobel committee has 1,400 dinner sets.