Part 3 – Food and Drink
I usually travel solo on most of my trips and hence am in control of the quantities of food and drink that I am served.
But on this trip to Sterling Wayanad since I was a part of a larger group, I had to deal with menus that were curated in advance and in an attempt to showcase the traditional delicacies of the region, the head chef Satish and his team had pulled out all the stops.
What followed was a deluge of Malabar style dishes that had us in a food induced, permanently comatose state. It was just one meal after the other in quick succession and each one so carefully and accurately crafted, that it left me awestruck at the effort that had gone into making sure that every detail was just perfect.
Needless to say that despite all the moaning and groaning, I made sure to sample every single morsel and stuffed myself silly with all the goodies.
And no, the undulating terrain did not knock off a proportionate number of calories but yes I needed something to hush my conscience, so I convinced myself that it did 😀
Sterling Wayanad has a large restaurant that can seat 150 guests. In addition they also have a cafe and bakery and all their breads and pastries are produced in house.
The standard meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner are usually served buffet style and there are a vast number of dishes lining the counters at every meal, encompassing items from local, pan Indian and global cuisines.
What pleased me was that there was an unfailing presence of the traditional fare of the Malabar/Kerala region at every meal and every dish was authentically prepared using fresh and local ingredients.
Day 1 –
Having arrived at the resort (most conveniently 😀 ) at lunch time, at our first meal we experienced the regular buffet that is usually served to the guests.
Apart from some North Indian, Asian and Continental options, they had a few Kerala dishes too and being an enthusiast of regional fare, I must confess that I focused only on those.
They also had veg and non veg soup, a sufficiently large salad bar and a dessert counter with Indian sweets, local sweet dishes and the usual pastries, puddings etc.
In the evening after our return from the tribal village, we were taken by surprise by the elaborate High tea prepared for us, especially since we had barely digested our lunch.
This is usually prepared on special order for private parties. The highlight of the high teas here are that many a time, the chef creates dishes based around an ingredient that is in season, be it avocado, jack fruit, banana or even cocoa. In fact avocado is sold at ridiculously low prices in season here (we sadly could not buy any due to the heavy rains).
Coffee and Cocoa are grown in parts of Wayanad and we were very lucky that these were chosen as the theme for the evening, replete with the actual ripe cocoa pods that had been sourced especially for us and roasted beans of coffee scattered as ‘table garnish’. This certainly made me feel very special indeed.
This was the first time that I was tasting the sweet cocoa pulp straight from the pod. While the treats that were served were innovative and decadent, even more endearing was that the name of each item was painted on the oval cocoa pods that lay next to their respective dish.
Cold coffee and chocolate milkshake were the beverages and the line up of snacks had Tiramisu, Opera cake, Espresso brownies, Coffee eclairs, Chukku kaapi (dry ginger and coffee) cookies and chocolate coffee torte topped with fresh coconut. Everything was superlative but the torte topped them all and was everyone’s favorite and even the fear of filling up before dinner did not deter us from having seconds and thirds and so on 😀
Believe it or not but dinner followed very soon after and this was a specially curated meal based on the cuisine of Wayanad (Malabar cuisine).
The number of dishes made my head spin and I was truly touched by the effort that went into creating and plating the starters, mains and desserts.
We began with the veg and non veg starters with Kappa vada (tapioca fritters) with chutney, Vazhakumbu (banana stem) cutlet with chutney and Neracha pathari in veg and the non veg had Kozhi ularthiadu (chicken fry), Netholi fry (crisp fried anchovies) and Kili koodu (meaning bird nest, with a hard boiled egg ensconced in potato and vermicelli and deep fried).
The mains consisted of Chatti pathari (a lasagna like layered dish),
Kappa fish curry (mashed tapioca), Mulam kutti biryani (a biryani cooked in the hollow of a bamboo stem), Rice Pathari (a rice based flat bread), Ghee rice, Chembu with kandari chamandi, Kozhi curry and Vegetable mapas.
Dessert was again a preplated affair and we begged to share from a single plate to avoid wastage. There was my favorite Unnakaya (deep fried fritter of mashed banana stuffed with coconut), Vattayappam (a rice based cake steamed in a small circular dish), Mula ari payasam (bamboo rice payasam), Kinathappam, Kozhikodan halwa (the famous Calicut halwa).
The food was outstanding and I do not think I need to describe our state at the end of this eating fest and all we could do was roll back to our rooms and hit the bed.
Day 2 –
Breakfasts are buffet style as mentioned earlier. Apart from Western options of breads, cereals, home baked viennoiserie and assorted pastries etc they also have North Indian items like puris, parathas etc.
The local options change on a daily basis with dosa and appam staying constant from the live counters.
We had the Puttu kadalai, appam with fresh (creamy, dreamy) coconut milk and steamed Nendra banana.
I also loved that they made clever use of seasonal fresh fruit and we tanked up to our heart’s content on avocado milkshakes (this fruit being a luxury for us in Bangalore). They also had juices like watermelon, pineapple and even beet.
Lunch on day 2 was an elaborate Sadya, which is an indulgence on a banana leaf that is made up of several traditional dishes and is served mainly at festivals and special occasions. Well our presence there was special enough I guess 😀
The constituents of a typical sadya are salt, Banana chips, SharkaraPeratti, Kerala Papad, Pazham (Yellow Banana), PuliInji, Pickle, Pachadi, Kichidi, Kalan, Olan, Avial, Eriserry, Koorka Mezhukkuperati, Madhura Curry, Kerala Parboiled Rice, Plain Rice, Parippu, Neyyi, Sambar, Rasam, PachaMoru, Ada Pradhaman.
Well I am sure your head is spinning by now, so don’t even try to pronounce the items 😀
The evening brought out high tea yet again but this time in Thattu Kada style which is the name given to street food in Kerala that is served from covered carts by hawkers and consists of various interesting types of snacks.
The chef and team had handcrafted a thattu kada installation which was nothing short of a work of love and labor. The elaborate menu included Ulli vada, Parippu vada, Pazham nirachattu, Pazham pori, Elanchi and Sugiyan.
Sigh don’t kill me but I have to tell you that dinner was scheduled an hour after this !!!
A special barbecue fest was organised on the terrace and in an untiring display of hospitality, the chef and team again outdid themselves and produced for us, a veritable feast.
The bonfire could not be lit due to the continual rains but they more than made up for it with the de’Light’fully done up table decor with earthen diyas casting their spell in a play of light and shadow.
The menu had paneer, potato and veg sheek from the veg BBQ pit and the non veg was made up of chicken and fish (Mahi Mahi).
The veg and non veg tandoors were not just kept separate but also away from each other, indicating a sensitivity that was commendable.
The live entertainment was provided by the demonstration of the Kothu parotta which is the Kerala layered parotta that is chopped into bits and pan fried with spices and seasonings and also veg or non veg additions. And yes the main ingredient is a lot of drama as the steel of the knives clang against the iron of the pan 😀 This is a full meal by itself.
Desserts consisted of a few pastries and Indian sweets. Warm gulab jamun called for cold ice cream and despite being about to burst like potential volcanoes, we did not refuse the mango, chocolate and vanilla variants 😀
Well after this all we could do was trundle back to our rooms and pack up before heading for bed because the next day was our last and we were to leave in the morning … yes yes after breakfast. I am sure you have got the drift by now 😀
Day 3 – was breakfast and checkout. The chef had prepared Kalappam and Chiratta puttu which is the same puttu steamed in a hemispherical coconut shell and inverted onto a plate where it sits like a delicious mound awaiting ‘devouverance’ (which is my word for deliverance through devouring 😀 )
After breakfast we had to check out and we did so regretfully, knowing that the pampering had come to an end and it would be back to reality very soon.
We returned home a few kgs happier (which sounds less disturbing than ‘heavier’ 😀 ) and with great plans of enhanced work outs.
For more pictures see My Facebook – Sterling Wayanad – Part 3 – Food and Drink. Also catch me on My Twitter and My Instagram
Aug 6th-8th, 2018
Please Note – I visited Sterling Wayanad on the invitation of Sterling Holidays, which sponsored my entire trip and I thank them for the same. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.