Last Saturday, my friend Coco and I saw the foodporn movie The Hundred-Foot Journey courtesy of Zomato.com. If you like foodporn (also known as gastroporn) and feel-good comedy dramas, then I highly recommend The Hundred-Foot Journey. Also good for date night or a catchup up with foodie friends, just make sure you don’t watch this on an empty stomach and plan a dinner somewhere wonderful afterwards (Indian, French or both).
The Hundred-Foot Journey is directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) and producers include Oprah and Steven Spielberg.
Based on novel with the same name written by Richard C. Morais, the movie stars Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon. This movie boasts French cuisine and Indian cuisine in equal measure. Predictable? Yes. Enjoyable? Double yes.
The NPR’s film critic Kenneth Turan says it best:
“The film is a sweet and unapologetic fairy tale for adults. Its story of cuisines and cultures and conflict has been polished to the highest possible sheen…mouth-watering dishes, that seeing this film on an empty stomach is not recommended. Tragedy causes the Kadam family to relocate from India to France. They end up in a tiny town where Madame Mallory, proud proprietor of a restaurant with a Michelin star, cracks the whip at her staff.”
Key movie dishes:
- Sea urchins
- Coriander and chili omelette
- Wild cèpes (mushrooms)
- Pigeon with truffles
- Tandoori chicken and Indian curries
- Boeuf bourguignon
- French mother sauces: Sauce Tomat, Bechamel, Veloute, Espagnole and Hollandaise
- Home baked bread
- Fresh tomatoes
As you know, I love to pair movies with food and the perfect pairing for The Hundred-Foot Journey had to be contemporary Indian restaurant: Cassia.
Husband and wife chef/restauranteurs, Sid and Chand Sahrawat are culinary royalty here in Auckland. Their Ponsonby restaurant Sidart is famous for innovative degustation. Recent accolades include Cuisine Restaurant of the Year 2014, Cuisine Best Metropolitan Restaurant 2014, Metro Best Fine Dining restaurant and Metro Best Chef 2014. Sid also won a Lewisham Award for outstanding chef this year.
A few months ago, the Sahrawats opened restaurant Cassia in the gentrified Fort Lane in Auckland CBD. Amazing dishes are conjured up when Indian flavours are combined with the best local ingredients and bit of classical cooking finesse.
“It’s about taking the best of New Zealand produce and giving it an Indian slant” Sid says. “People think they know what Indian cuisine is because they’ve had a chicken tikka masala – but that’s not the Indian cooking I grew up with.”
If you are after a butter chicken, you wont find it here. In fact, Cassia only has a single chicken dish and it is far removed from a curry.
Our dinner for two:
Gin and tonic apéritifs:
- West Winds Cutlass, East Imperial Tonic, Capsicum & Coriander $12.5
- Tanqueray Ten, East Imperial Burma Tonic, Grapefruit $14
- Seared scallops, foie gras, curry emulsion, apple, mooli $18
- Fried eggplant, mushrooms, onion seeds, cows curd, fresh chilli, mint $15
- Pickled fish w garam masala, chickpeas, tamarind, fried bread, mint dressing $19
- Delhi duck, kumara, lychee, fried basil $29
- Garlic naan $5
- Basmati rice $5
- Passionfruit rice cream, pineapple, mango sorbet, coriander, pistachio, coconut $15
- Chocolate kulfi, date, banana mousse, cumin caramel, hazelnut $15
Tea and coffee:
- Flat white
The restaurant review
After the movie, Coco and I arrived at Cassia at 6.30pm on Saturday night (without a reservation) and were seated immediately. We left 2 hours later and not once did we feel hurried. We chatted away as diners around us ate and left, new diners were seated who also ate, and also left. We felt there was a long wait between courses (possibly due to Saturday dinner rush) but we never felt abandoned. The food was flavourful, some ingredients were unexpected and we had more than enough to eat.
The decor is interesting. The underground bunker had the potential to feel very cold and industrial but with white farmhouse dining chairs, throw pillows and warm lighting, they’ve done a great job in transforming the space. I just wish we got a better view of the colourful photographic mural that adorns one wall. We fell in love with the unique crockery our dishes were served in. It’s the little things.
The service is great, though it would have been nice to have to deal with less staff. Our questions were answered thoroughly and recommendations given when requested. Our waiter even let us know the foie gras scallop dish came with 3 scallops so we had the option of adding an extra scallop so we could have 2 each (which we did) rather than split a scallop or fight for it.
Please note, it was suggested we order six dishes to share between two, but we ordered four dishes so that we could leave room for dessert and we were positively STUFFED. I would recommend two dishes per person if you’re planning on dessert.
Special mention to their Gin and Tonic menu with 6 different gins and flavours and their aromatic cocktails.
Cassia is more expensive than your neighbourhood curry house and you’re paying for an experience of thoughtful, edible art with robust flavours. Expect to spend $60-$80 per person.
Design geek tidbit: Britomart-based design company Brandwagon is responsible for Cassia’s branding.
Supper: Delicious Dresses
I couldn’t let this post go without a mention to the wardrobe in the movie. I loved Marguerite’s lovely dresses in the movie The Hundred-Foot Journey. Due to the quaintness of the village and the vintage look clothing the characters wore was quite hard to pinpoint what year the film was set.
I’m a sucker for dresses, especially ones with pockets.