Gourmet Secrets: If Park Street is every Calcuttan’s rite of passage, Flurys is the stopover that’s not to be missed
The team at Flurys has taken care not to change the memory bank of recipes and yet upgrade things, and the eggs Benedict are a must-tryUpdated: Feb 16, 2019 23:34 IST
Flurys is a magic word to anyone who has lived in Kolkata. Much of the memory has to do with the place itself which sits majestically at the beginning of Park Street, which in its hey-day was compared to Park Avenue in New York and Trafalgar Square in London. A lot of it has to do with the food. It may not have been ‘fine dining’ but people still drool over their beans on toast enhanced with chopped onions and green chilli and their delicate asparagus rolls.
The cake that walked
Well known author Bachi Karkaria has written a sizeable book on Flurys of Kolkata. “It’s a short street with a long lineage... Park Street was born of the Raj, and still bears the genes of colonialism’s shrewd father and sybaritic mother. Park Street is every Calcuttan’s rite of passage. Each acned adolescent must go through the throbbing, smoke-filled rituals of its many mystic dance floors to emerge a man. Or a woman... The functional white box with the blue logo has changed to the tearoom’s newly sensual pink with chocolate lettering but it remains the staple accessory of the traveller returning from Calcutta to satisfy the imploring of colleagues to bring them back a taste of their youth.”
Coming from anywhere else, it’s hard to see what all the fuss is about but if that dish forms part of precious years growing up, it’s completely understandable. “Joseph and his wife Freida Flury from Zurich set up their modest but convivial tea room and confectionery shop on No. 18 Park Street in 1926. The brand he created is still celebrated in a city where, happily the past has not become a four letter word. Flury’s was part of the bon vivant ambience twice over: its tea room offered breakfast, morning coffee, afternoon tea and quick cuppa on the way back from work, while its takeaway counter extended the experience to the home.”
Down memory lane
Today the owner Priya Paul, chef Vikas, the new design consultants and the team at Flurys have worked hard to elevate the food and beverage, taking care not to change the memory bank of recipes and yet upgrade things. The new smart ‘old world’ look and feel of today’s Flurys is encased in a luxurious looking raspberry pink and dark brown packaging. The menu has expanded to include international dishes over lunch and dinner but their club sandwiches - Flurys’ original open Swiss sandwiches and their breakfast reign supreme. They have a premium range of chocolates known as Mr & Mrs Flury which even has an Apricot and Candied Olive and Gondhoraj lime and Taal Misri filling. Their dark marzipan filled chocolates are unparalleled.
Five generations of fine confection has now stretched to an amazing array of chocolates and certainly the best breakfast in the city. Expecting something retro but not necessarily of international quality, I ordered the Eggs Benedict. The English muffins were real English muffins baked on the premises, which is evident from the freshness. The bacon has the right amount of crispness, the soft poached egg is actually soft and the Hollandaise sauce, a devilish concoction of egg yolk and butter is sheer perfection. This is a must do. Hats off to chef Vikas Kumar who keeps up the heritage as well as innovation in their 25 outlets in Kolkata alone.
Here’s the recipe if you real want a taste of nostalgic old Kolkata
Eggs Benedict – 1 portion
There are five components to this delectable breakfast dish – The English muffin, the sautéed spinach, the bacon, the poached egg and the hollandaise sauce.
1 nos. (Can be store bought, if not available, the bottom half of a small sized burger can be used) – Toast and butter liberally.
4 slices of good quality streaky bacon – grill till all fat is rendered and bacon becomes crisp
For Sautéed Spinach
50 g fresh spinach
10 ml olive oil
A pinch each of salt, pepper and nutmeg
10g sharp cheddar cheese
Sauté the onion and the garlic, add the chopped spinach, cook till all the water evaporates, season and add the grated cheese.
2 fresh eggs at room temperature
Bring the water to a gentle simmer; add the vinegar and the salt. Carefully break the eggs in the water, gently cook for two to two-and-a-half minutes, the yolk should be runny and the egg white barely set. Take the eggs out and keep warm.
50g butter – clarify and keep warm
2 egg yolks
A pinch each salt, pepper, mustard
2ml lemon Juice
Put the egg yolks in a clean steel bowl on top of simmering water, thus creating a double boiler. Whisk till light, add the lemon juice, salt, pepper and mustard. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter while continuously whisking. If the mixture curdles, a spoon of hot water can be added to bring it together. Remove from heat once thick and emulsified, keep warm.
Lay the buttered English muffin on the bottom of the serving plate, put the sautéed spinach, put the bacon on top of the spinach, now put the poached egg carefully, cover completely with warm hollandaise sauce, sprinkle with some chopped chives or arugula .
Culinary expert and explorer Karen Anand has been writing extensively on the subject of food and wine for 30 years. Apart from having her own brand of gourmet food products, she has anchored top rated TV shows, run a successful chain of food stores, founded the hugely successful Farmers Markets, and worked as restaurant consultant for international projects, among other things. Her latest passion is food tours, a totally curated experience which Karen herself accompanies, the first of which was to Italy.
This is a fortnightly column. The next column will appear on March 3.
From HT Brunch, February 17, 2019
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