Azure blue is one of my favorite colors and reminds me of the cheery bright blue skies. Blue represents tranquility and personally for me it is a color that represents infinity. Azulia by GRT Grand an authentic Mediterranean restaurant is derived from the word Azure and this color is visible right from their logo and uniforms to their souvenirs. I liked this consistency in their branding efforts. Their menu looks like a coffee table book and it spans ten countries that border the Mediterranean Sea like Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Morocco, Spain ,Italy, Egypt, Israel, Malta and South of France. Reading the menu is like taking a dip into the Cerulean blue seas of the Mediterranean, a journey by itself. The menu is more of a guide it has 122 pages and is really humongous and has 150 dishes. Incidentally Azulia is the winner of the Miele Guide Award for being the finest restaurants in Asia (2010-11). So lets check out the food encounters that I had on that day.
Some decor sights from Azulia
The Med region explained at Azulia
Turkish Magic. The futuristic paper cube filled with rose water which expands in size when it comes in contact with water and turns into a hand towel.This was the perfect perk me up for my frayed nerves. Did you know that the cutlery comes coated with Titanium and is imported from the Med region. I have never heard of Titanium cutlery before!!
For starters we were served the Hot and Cold Mezze platters.
The Cold Mezze consisted of Hummus, Tzatziki,Dolmades, Mutabal and Moussaka Marrakech . I liked the Mutabal(smoke roasted egg plant, blended with garlic, tahina, lemon juice & olive oil) and the Moussaka Marrakech ( Fried aubergine, diligently cooked with chick peas, red pepper, garlic, mint & tomato). The Mutabal was redolent with a distinct smoky flavour. The Dolma dish was vine wrapped with onion, rice, raisin,pine nuts and parsley stuffing. The grape leaf had a slightly bitter taste.The Kuboos tasted great with these authentic dips.
Next the hot Mezze platter arrived on our table.
Bourak Bel Jibneh(Cigarillos)
(Spinach mixed with pomegranate,sumac and onion)
(Spinach mixed with pomegranate,sumac and onion)
I have tasted the ubiquitous Falafel many times so the novelty factor for me were the Cigarillos. This was so yummy and light filled with three types of cheese Halloumi,Feta,and Gruyere Cheese infused with onion and dry herbs. This tasted incredibly good. The other starter that I liked was the Kebbe Laktine. This was fried broken wheat mixed with yellow pumpkin and stuffed with wall nuts, coriander and a touch of spices. The sweet and spice were perfectly balanced in this dish.There was also my favourite pizza laid out on the table called the Manakish. This was a thin crust pizza flavoured with Zaatar ( a spice mix of oregano and thyme,sesame seeds sumac,olive oil). The pizza was tangy coming from the sumac. This flavour had to grow on me.
To refresh our palates we were served the passion fruit sorbet. Really loved this sorbet minus the seeds that came with it.
Finally we moved on to the main course. I picked the Risotto Tortufo fungi. This was a mixture of Arborio rice, Porcini mushrooms, truffle oil and Parmesan sauce. The texture of Risotto is supposed to be wavy and slightly al dente. Chef Ethem had this bang on. He even urged me to eat while it was hot. This was really a decadent main course for me. They also have a good selection of wines. We were served Four Seasons Merlot from Baramati which was medium bodied and with soft Tanins.
Chocolate Volcano cake, Orange Cheese cake, Baklava
Moving on to desserts I liked Baklava the best, it was moist and sweet with flavours of rose water coming through. We could even taste ghee in between the phyllo sheets!!
Chef Ethem Aydemir hails from Turkey, he started cooking when he was fourteen and has worked in the big league hotel brands. Take a look at the impressive line up.
- Sheraton Hotel Batumi / Georgia
- Radisson SAS Hotel/Tashkent/Uzbekistan/
- Unilever Food Salutions /Istanbul/Turkey
- Crowne Plaza Hotel/Jeddah/K.S.A
- Conrad International Istanbul/Turkey
- Hilton Parksa Istanbul /Turkey
- Pera Palas Hotel/Istanbul/Turkey
We got an apron and (Nazar Boncugu) a Turkish Evil Eye Amulet as a souvenir. That was such a nice gesture thank you to the staff for being so thoughtful. Check out the pretty lady with a authentic Moroccan dress.
On the whole it was a lovely experience and I liked the ambience. I was really impressed with the service levels and the staff really knew the food that was being served. So if your in a Lapiz Lazuli kinda of a mood do check out Azulia.
Lapiz Lazuli mood at Azulia
Once again many thanks to Azulia, Chef Ethem ,Marc Derock the PR person and Chennai Food Guide for this lovely opportunity. CFG is a young and dynamic group where one gets to learn so much about food in a fun environment.