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    Don’t treat cognac too seriously, says The Vault’s Keshav Prakash, even as he pairs the niche and impressive Delamain with a three-course meal

    ERNEST HEMINGWAY may have had a few pointers for tipplers on appreciating cognac. A letter in a book from cocktail historian, Philip Geene, has a friend of the legendary writer sharing instructions to what later became a popular method with Hemingway and friends. “Take a large mouthful [of cognac], but don’t swallow it now,” goes the letter. “Swish it around in your mouth half a minute or so. Hold it. Now exhale through your nose– completely deflate your lungs. That’s right. Then swallow the cognac to get it out of the way. Open your mouth. Quickly! Inhale as deeply as you can.” Brave words, these. Perhaps you should save the adventure for another day, for the cognac dinner Keshav Prakash is hosting at Prego tomorrow has a fine old house on display, Delamain, plus signature dishes from Chef Luca.At home in Chennai
    Prakash is no stranger to our city, for the former ad filmmaker has introduced us to several bespoke drinking experiences last year, courtesy his company The Vault. This time, the Mumbai resident is steering us away from his favourite artisanal whiskies, to cognac. For a city that loves its brandy (Chennai has the highest number of drinkers, reportedly), cognac may be a natural progression to the next level. At the three-course meal, Delamain Pale & Dry, Delamain Tres Venerable and Delamain Vesper will be paired with Chilean sea bass, smoked lamb shank and chocolate, respectively. Vegetarians can ponder over sweet potato orbs and truffle-scented gnocchi instead. The selections weren’t easy, Prakash allows, for food and cognac is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this aromatic emperor of distilled spirits. Salmon didn’t work, for instance, and the chocolate was initially mulish.
    From the expertKeshav  Prakash 1
    “It is a very challenging spirit, far more complex than the single malt,” he admits. Thus, it is to indicate the quality of the cognac at the dinner,that the invitation has in fine print:  these cognacs are aged 25, 35 and 55 years. Prakash promises to highlight the importance of the Limousine casks the cognac is aged in, and says wine connoisseurs will readily take to this brandy. But, at the end of the day, he urges that we take it easy and just enjoy the experience.
    On Saturday, at 8 pm. Rs 3,500. Details: 66002827

    Rosella Stephen

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