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Brix delights food-lovers... .

Come, pamper yourself at Grand Hyatt's Brix restaurant. It offers White Asparagus like nobody else, says SUMITRA SENAPATY...

THE SCENE is Central Europe: The sun is slowly rising, the fields bare. Men and women appear on the scene in the first light of the dawn, carrying baskets in one hand, cutters in the other. They begin the tiring job of bending over double and carefully cutting out seemingly invisible stalks from the soil and then smoothening the earth back again with their metal baskets' base. This is the beginning of the White Asparagus Festival at Grand Hyatt's Brix restaurant in New Delhi. Introduced by Stephane Foucher, the hotel's Executive Chef, this popular festival is currently on for the second time in two seasons. It is a white delicacy easier to prepare than harvest.

White asparagus is `gourmet' food -- thicker, tender and tastier than green asparagus. We tend to think of asparagus as an accompaniment, used in salads, soups, or quiches. But in the white asparagus areas of Europe, for seven short weeks, it is a main meal in itself and is served warm, with potatoes, slices of ham or pieces of salmon, and hard- boiled eggs with lots of melted butter. Chef Stephane has just imported a hundred kilograms of the `white gold'. So if you want to enjoy modern European fine dining, check out Brix. You can savour a bounty of the fresh seasonal produce from Europe, including the rare white asparagus and wild mushrooms, all cooked to perfection in the classical style.

Brix's food is exquisitely cooked and well presented. You feel royal, as each of your need is looked after. We try the White Asparagus Veloute with Sour Cream as our starter -- Rs. 250. The soup's delicate aroma is its most impressive feature, enhanced and complemented with Alsace wine's taste. The Grilled White Asparagus and Parma Ham with Blue Cheese Dressing -- Rs. 360 -- is another addition to taste. The soft white asparagus tastes wonderful with the crispy grill covering adding to its appeal. The highlight of our meal is definitely the main course -- Slow Poached White Asparagus with Baby Parsley Potatoes and Hollandaise Sauce -- Rs. 520. While Modern European cuisine is known for its richness, you won't have any problems polishing off a three-course meal set, as the food portions are just right. Wild Mushroom, Seafood Stew and Chicken Fricassee are the side dishes to complement but would recommend that you settle for the Black Forest Ham.

While taking in the `white gold', we discover some interesting facts about asparagus. It belongs to the Lily family of some 150 species, including plants such as onion, garlic, leeks, hyacinths and gladioli. Lacking the sunlight and chlorophyll, the asparagus spears develop a mild earthy flavour, so it is best to cook them with a gentle method like poaching or mildly grilled. Asparagus is a nutrient dense food. Moreover, it contains no fat and cholesterol and is low on sodium. Great for today's health-conscious consumers.

We top our meal off with the Amaretto Crhme Brulee. This delicate flavoured dessert proves an excellent finale to a white asparagus meal. We love the outer layer baked perfectly that does not overpower with its sweetness. The moist custard consistency is smooth and served warm.

We recommend you request a helping of warm chocolate for a heavenly taste.

If you are looking for a little pampering, this is the place to go.

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