You have heard of going around the world in eight dollars, but have you heard of going around the world in seven days? Le Meridien hotels are offering this unique opportunity at their International Coffee Week, all while sipping that specially crafted coffee they are famous for.
Seven different coffee drinks from different corners of the world are being showcased at this event. Different regions like China, Northern Europe, the Americas and Africa are represented. Some of these are alcoholic and some are not. Some are fruit based while some have a nut or spice base. There is something to please almost every taste. And Le Meridien and their signature Illy coffee are at the heart of these coffee based drinks.
For those of you globetrotters, this Coffee Week will also be on at The American Express Centurion Lounge at SFO airport where Global Latte Artist Esther Maasdam and Global Master Barista Franz Zauner will grace the event.
Le Meridien is a well known Pune landmark. It opened at a time when there were very few five star hotels in Pune, and probably gave the old Blue Diamond a run for its money. Initially a Paris based chain, Le Meridien is now part of the global Starwood Hotels brand. Coffee and éclairs are both signatures of the LM brand, and it is only right that an international coffee week be complemented with their famous éclairs.
Monday, June 22nd saw a motley crew of bloggers and reviewers at the hotel for the launch of the Coffee Week and for World Éclair Day. A latte art session kicked off the evening. I tried my hand at creating the basic spider web type design. And then there was the leaf pattern which wasn’t so easy. The basic step to be able to create these designs is having good foamy milk at the top, the chef said. Esther has created fantastic latte art like the dragon from China, Eiffel Tower from Europe, garuda bird from India, lion from Africa and so on.
My favorite part of such food events is meeting different chefs or food experts from different parts of the world. I recently met Chef Ridwan Hakim at the Indonesian Food fest at the Westin. Yesterday, I got a chance to chat with Chef Roberto who was there to show us how to make éclairs. Chef Roberto hails from Milan (Milano) in Italy and he greeted me with a warm Ciao. Chef Roberto has been to almost every country in the world as part of his job, and he says he has his suitcase ready to get on the next flight.
Everyone was eager to taste the 7 signature drinks that are being showcased this week. Nothing from India this year, said Sachin Didolkar, Sales and Marketing Director at Le Meridien. But they did have the Darjeeling Express éclair specially created by pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini.
I tried many of the seven special coffee based drinks.
African Queen is a creamy banana based drink which just screams banana. Chunky Monkey lovers will love this.
Southern Fusion has crushed almonds and warm Nutella with some frangelico and of course espresso. The crushed almonds gave a nice crunch which was unexpected.
Vienna Symphony was quite potent with apple infused rum, amaretto, vanilla, crushed almonds and loads of cinnamon. I think this was the most complex drink flavor wise and a must for cinnamon lovers.
The Spice Trail was another unique drink. This one’s made with peanut butter and apricot marmalade (my favorite sandwich, btw) and ground cinnamon. The rim was coated with cinnamon giving a double whammy of flavor.
The Mexican Chilli was hands down my favorite. And not just because I love Mexican food! Tequila, cointreau and vanilla combined with coffee to create magic. Actually I wouldn’t have thought this needed vanilla but I think it added something in the background that brought the whole thing together. The fresh red chilies gave a subtle kick as I sipped the drink.
The Thai Breeze and Arabian sunset looked equally welcoming but I was caffeined out!
I also tried my hand at stuffing some éclairs with cream. I am not big on desserts that have a lot of cream and these are quite heavy. The chocolate éclair was my top pick out of the different flavors available.
All these fantastic drinks were mixed by a cheerful and energetic bartender who was obviously very skilled at wielding the cocktail shaker.
The hotel had also provided some other snacks which were mostly not vegetarian.
Good coffee, interesting company and a welcoming and warm environment – what more can one ask of a rainy evening? The ambience at the Le Meridien feels very opulent and I have always admired it.
Check out these coffee week celebrations at our local Le Meridien. And for my global readers, this event is on in all Le Meridien properties across the world from June 22-28. Come on now, it is 5 o’ clock somewhere :).