It was truly a party of flavours in your mouth, as restaurateur Yellow Mehra served up a true embodiment of ‘delicious’ at the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Diner Amicale at Fiesta in Baga
Goa and good food is almost synonymous, but the word ‘gourmet’ has been used too carelessly. There are few establishments that notch up to standard and when Fiesta comes round to doing it, owner Yellow Mehra does it with panache. Every single time.
I received an invitation for a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs dinner, a world-wide international association of gastronomy with a branch in Goa. How could I resist? It was at Fiesta, hosted by a close friend, with promises of welcome relaxation and outstanding cuisine. Yellow, a girl after my own heart, has steered the helm of Fiesta towards recognition of near-global proportions. For 18 years now, she has managed and molded the restaurant into a must-visit in Goa.
Yellow is a woman of the world. Born in Munich to an Indian father and a German mother, she was immediately a collision of east and west. Her creative family surrounded her with splashes of colour, quirky décor and interesting food. Not one to be fussy with eating, the young girl opened her heart and mind to cuisine, and inadvertently to something that would turn into a passionate career.
With a common love for Goa, the family settled here and Yellow turned to her passion with a furious craving. She joined the Food Academy of noted German chef Alfons Schuhbeck and to date continues to attend his classes in Germany every year to keep abreast of the latest trends in food. She also ducked under the wing of Italian food expert Antonio Carluccio, and attended cooking courses in Singapore, Thailand, Greece and Hong Kong to get some real local flavour into her repertoire.
With Fiesta, which she began in 1996, it was instant love. From Goa. From tourists. From food connoisseurs and greenhorns alike. The restaurant soon found its way into recommended sections of food guides and travel publications from across the world. Yellow dished up Italian, Mediterranean, European, Japanese and Thai cuisine, all with the intertwined ingredients of dedication, love and passion.
In recent years, Fie
sta has won the Fine Dining Award in 2010 and the Times Food Award every year from 2011 to date, with Yellow herself bagging the Business Woman Award Goa in 2013. This beautiful woman deserves every bit of praise. Not only has she carved a career for herself, she has introduced her son Kaii Mehra to the joys of cooking and he is well on his way to making a name for himself despite his tender age.
The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, a society which traces its origins back to 1248 at the time of the French King Louis IX, nominated Yellow for her restaurant in 2012. Its Diner Amicale organised by the Bailliage de Goa (Goa Chapter) was not to be missed as 2014 is the Chaîne’s year dedicated to its India chapter.
There was no missing the welcoming warmth at Fiesta. The fruity aroma of Italian Brut Prosecco Tiamo DOC tingled the taste buds for the gastronomic hours to come. There was also an inviting Strawberry Daiquiri, but I seem to gravitate towards wine these days. As the hors d’oeuvres were passed around, I couldn’t help but take in a discreet lungful of the tantalising whiffs that permeated the air.
I took in the global flavours offered by the Pear and Home-made Goat Cheese drizzled with Honey-Citrus and Saffron Risotto. It was delicious, as were the Tuna cured in Coarse Sea Salt and Black Pepper and marinated in Dill, and the chicken done South-East Asian style with sesame and soy sauce dressing.
One look at the menu and interests were soaring. There was a fair mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare, serving the global congregation of patrons attended the dinner. The first to come around was a Tartar of Kalamata Olives, Garden Tomatoes accompanied by Ruccola and Parmigian Crisp and a Zucchini Squash Tagliatelli served with Crab Meat and Parsley drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This was paired with a nice Italian wine: Mannara Grillo – Pinot Grigio.
A hint of South Africa followed in a Neil Joubert Chardonnay. To go with this, Yello served Steamed Tiger Prawns with Chef’s Special Sherry Zabaglione and Ravioli stuffed with Italian Herbs on a light Gorgonzola Sauce. This was followed by a White Wine and Cucumber Granita.
But there was more. The third main (fourth course) included a Coarse Kerala Black Pepper crusted Fillet of Beef accompanied by a selection of sauces: Cream of English Mustard, Thai, Sesame and Soy Sauce and a Traditional Demi Glace. The vegetarian option was a Crispy Mille-feuille with a creamy Zucchini Squash and Button Mushroom Ragout. Yellow matched a 120 Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile with this course.
For dessert, she ensured some all-time favourites with Fiesta’s Special Sweet Surprise featuring fresh exotic fruits, chocolate, caramel, coffee and warm vanilla waffles.
As we stood around chatting over Italian coffees and a selection of organic infusions and fresh herbal teas, I realised how Yellow had quietly but surely made her mark. There is a sincerity that she exudes, a warmth she brings across and a sense of friendship that makes Fiesta more like home than anything else. And if you got delicious exotic food at home, there wouldn’t be much more to ask for, would there?!