Mexican Fiesta at Swissotel

For the first 5 months of this year, my sister, brother-in-law and their 3-year-old little monster were in California. My BiL was a visiting faculty at the University of Berkeley for a year and the others joined him for a long relaxed vacation in its last leg. Now when you are in the States a trip to Mexico is a MUST. With them also it was no exception. So they went to Mexico on my sister's birthday, the little one had a rollicking time and when they came back they brought for me a big, fat book about Mexican cuisine and recipes. I had been itching to try a few recipes from that book, but to my dismay, most of them require corn meal as an essential ingredient, which is almost impossible to obtain here.
And then I met Chef Lilia Castro who said that the closest substitute that you get for corn meal is chickpea flour. Chef Lilia had come down all the way from Mexico for the grand Mexican brunch that was organised by Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista, who graciously invited the Kolkata Food Bloggers to cover the event. "India is probably the best place to host a Mexican feast. We love our sauces as much as you love your curries. In fact I have started considering myself half-Indian," said Chef.
As is the case with all Swissotel events, the spread in front of us was delectable to say the least. An array of appetising salads followed by a protein fest for the mains and culminating in a droolworthy dessert bar, this food festival was a visual treat as well.
The salad bar was an extravaganza in itself, with everything looking like a notch above the other. There was a corn salad, a mixed bean salad, cauliflower mousse, tomato mozzarella and broccoli salad but what I loved most was their Phyllo Pastry Baskets filled with Mushrooms and Halloumi. 
Not surprisingly, I gravitated more towards the non-vegetarian salad section that was primarily dominated by seafood. In a city where salmons are probably the toughest fish to find, their excellent Smoked Salmon with Avocado Verrine blew my mind. I guess my search for the perfect salmon in Calcutta ends here. The Seafood salad with Orange and Fennel, Tenderloin Salad with Char-grilled Peppers, Cold Cuts platter, Salpicon (Chicken Salad) and Pork Sausage Salad were equally mesmerising. The squid, I felt, lacked a bit of seasoning, but that is a negligible offence in an otherwise gallant feat.
I had already stuffed myself with salads way too much to even feel like proceeding for the main course. But you know, when you're a food blogger and more importantly a foodie you don't commit such mistakes.

So I went with the flow and ladled my plate with some Papas al Cilantro (Baby potatoes with fresh coriander), Arzon a la Mexicana (a rice and vegetable dish), Tamales (cottage cheese wrapped in corn husk), Chipotle Chicken, Pescado a la Veracruzano (Fish with lemons), Prawns with Tamarind and Tequila, Carnitas (Deep-fried Pork) and Chilli Con Carne (Mexican Beef Stew).  There was a plethora of colourful dips of which my pick was the burnt garlic and chilli one.
Oh, a live Quesadilla counter instantly made you fresh quesadillas to order from a choice of three. My fellow blogger Archita and I shared a Chicken Quesadilla which I found absolutely perfect.
Now desserts are probably the toughest nuts to crack. In the sense the options are so many and equally delectable and the amount of calories each of them packs is scary. But I am not the one to be daunted, so I decided to take a bite from as many as I could. The cheesecake emerged victorious and following on the heels were the Chocolate Kahlua Mousse and Churros (that I dipped) in Chocolate Fondue. 
The other items on the offer were Mascarpone Caramel Tart, Bunelos, Mexican Cupcakes, Brownie with Arabia Chocolate Mousse, Croquembouche, Berry Parfaits, Caramel Pudding, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Chocolate Cornettos and Three-Layered Mousse. 
The highlight of the afternoon was yet to come and no, it had nothing to do with food. That particular Sunday marked the day for Swissoltel's Christmas Cake mixing. So after a happy and relaxed brunch, we headed out to the terrace where trays full of dry fruits and nuts were arranged with bottles of alcohol on their sides.
All of us were given gloves and makeshift chef's hats and like a big old family we started mixing the alcohol with the dry fruits. "These fruits will soak in whatever liquor we are pouring now. We have to keep adding more and more liquor to soak them properly up until Christmas day," said a chef from Cafe Swiss. "You won't believe how hard this hits you. You'll feel tipsy even if you have a single slice of it," joked Enakshi, their ever-vivacious assistant manager, Marketing and Communications.

That is Archita mixing away the goodies to glory!
So if you want a slice of that, make sure you visit Swissotel during Christmas time! But that's a long time away. You can always walk in for their South American dinners on Fridays from 7-11 pm at Cafe Swiss (priced at Rs 1,600 + taxes) which include items from the Mexican feast that we were offered on the brunch. You know you wouldn't want to miss that, right?
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