Wednesday, March 22, 2017

All about my recent mediterranean dine-at-home dinner by Authenticook!




Being a Home Chef it’s always a great feeling to try out different dine-at-home options in the city. As we all know, food connects people and dine-at-home creates a comfort zone between the host and the limited number of guests. Recently I had an awesome Spanish-Mediterranean dinner at Kavita Bawa’s tranquil house in North Bengaluru. I was invited to try this Mediterranean meal organized by Authenticook.


There are many startups which find talented Homechefs in the city and recent one I came across is Authenticook which is very much new in Namma ooru. Authenticook is a well-established startup which provides an authentic culinary experience in multiple cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, New Delhi, Goa, Boston, Kochi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur.






My plate :)

The graceful host, Kavita has lived most of her life in Mauritius and she is an expert when it comes to global cuisine.  We started our dinner with Tapas, which was perfectly cooked tasty meatballs, Mediterranean mezze with Hummus, Pita bread, Baba Ganoush, Lavash and assorted bread; Piment dip with garlic and lemon, Guacamole, and Pickled roasted peppers with cheese. With such a wonderful start to a meal, I was looking forward to a great dinner. Next, on the menu, we had a lemon-basil sorbet which was extremely delightful. The flavors were so well balanced.




For the main course, we had ‘fresh salad with microgreens, figs, arugula, and pine nuts tossed in a light and delicious balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing’, ‘Spanish Paella with seafood (prawns, clams, and squid), Chorizo, and chicken’, Rice with green olives, and some pita bread with dips. The Spanish Paella was amaaaaazing with a burst of flavors. I enjoyed a glass of wonderful Bellingham Berry Bush Rosé wine with my dinner.


Is any meal complete without desserts? No… Never! For desserts, we had Affogato. Affogato means ‘drowned’ and true its name, a scoop of vanilla ice cream dunked in espresso coffee shot was a perfect combo. The generous amount of Godiva chocolate toppings made the dessert just extraordinary.


With interesting conversations and tasty food the dinner was perfect. It was pleasure meeting my foodie buddy, Jaideep at Kavita's home. Thanks to Tanmoy, Swati and Authenticook for organizing such a great meetup.  This coming weekend Authenticook will be hosting a Mediterranean meal by Kavita and also a Bengali meal by ‘The Calcutta Diaries’.

Do check out their website for more information - https://www.authenticook.com/

Monday, March 6, 2017

A taste of Vanille Salée at Mezzaluna, Movenpick Hotel & Spa, Bengaluru




Have you heard of this proverb - ‘When in Rome, be a Roman’? But what if you are not in Rome and still get the feel of Italy in our namma ooru? That would be simply a magnificent experience. I had such an experience recently at the ongoing ‘Vanille Salée’ at Mezzaluna, Movenpick Hotel & Spa, Bengaluru. Movenpick Hotels across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia is showcasing a Vanilla special menu and before you would imagine the heavenly desserts made of Vanilla, let me tell you that using this exotic ingredient Vanilla, six savoury dishes will be served on ‘a la carte’ and will be available up to 21st March 2017.



This was my first visit to Mezzaluna and the very first look of this place just blew my mind. I felt like I was lost in a Venetian Palace with live keyboard music in the background. Mezzaluna has such a great ambiance that you will fall in love with this place. A traditional style open kitchen with firewood oven is another eye-catching sight. At the kitchen counter, you will also notice a variety of fresh micro greens they’ve planted.



Before the wonderfully decorated table just welcomed us, Chef Rayomund Pardiwalla and Chef Gaurav Bathla gave us a glimpse of Vanille Salée. When we were eagerly waiting to taste the Vanille Salée menu, we were happy to hear that this menu is specially crafted with non-vegetarian dishes, mainly with white meat and fish. In between the conversation, the wait staff served us a citrusy welcome drink made of Orange and Vanilla along with a bread platter.


The Vanille Salée menu is comprised of three savoury Vanilla starters and three savoury Vanilla main courses. The first one for the evening was a ‘White onions Velouté soup’ with caramelized onions and a hint of Vanilla. They’ve used fresh Vanilla pods in every dish. The soup was delicious and the micro greens (fresh thyme) added a crunchy note to the soup.


Next on the menu was totally unexpected and interesting – Sashimi of Tuna and Salmon. The first time I tried Sashimi was from ‘My Place, Movenpick Hotel & Spa’. The quality of meat/fish they use here is outstanding that I can blindly taste these. The Sashimis had a balance of flavors and a mild flavor from Vanilla made it special.


Next on the menu was Goat Cheese and Fig salad with arugula, baby radish, whole hazelnuts and edible flowers. The salad was visually appealing as well as tasty. The strong flavors from Vanilla and Goat cheese enhanced the flavors of other ingredients.


For the main course, we had ‘Red snapper fish fillet and endive’. The Pike fish on the menu was replaced with the Red snapper. The smokey flavors along with the taste of Vanilla in fish made this perfectly cooked dish just heavenly. The Rosé wine I had, 'Mateus Rose Portugal Wine' had hints of Strawberry flavor which went well with the main courses.

 


Next, on the menu, we were expecting a Guinea fowl which was replaced with Turkey. Turkey fowl with Melba was an interesting dish but lacked the flavors of Vanilla. Turkey fowl was cooked to perfection and served with capers, micro greens, and Melba. The quantity of the sauce was inadequate and they served us extra sauce on request.


Last but not the least from the menu was a ‘Veal Tenderloin Jardiniére’. The medium well-cooked meat had oozing flavors (including Vanilla) and Jardiniére was just a perfect amalgamation of char-grilled veggies.


Overall I loved my experience at Vanille Salée. Though this menu is created globally by some other Chef from a different continent, here at Bengaluru Chef Rayomund Pardiwalla and Chef Gaurav Bathla has created a magical dining experience for us. Vanille Salee is on till 21st March across all Movenpick Hotels and if you love to try something different and new, then don’t miss this!

Address:
Mezzaluna
Level 2, Movenpick Hotel & Spa
#115, Gokula Extension
HMT Road, New BEL Road
Bangalore
For reservations, contact - 080 45128659

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Zafrani Biryani Festival at Paradise Restaurant, Bengaluru




My policy – When you are happy or sad (even if you’re PMSing) ‘eat your favorite biryani. A very well prepared flavorsome biryani needs no special occasion, just make sure that all your senses are ready to dig in. I can go non-stop when it comes to biryani but in short, I would say the best thing Mughals gave to us. There are close to 20 Indian Biriyanis which are very popular and Hyderabadi Biryani is one of most famous ones, accepted beyond the boundaries.


Paradise restaurant is a synonym for Hyderabadi Biryani. This 64-year-old legendary brand has come with an exclusive and interesting ‘Zafrani Biryani Festival’ which will be available throughout the month of March, across all its outlets in Bengaluru. There will be two biryani variants - Zafrani Chicken Biryani and Zafrani Mutton Biryani. It’s a great initiative by Paradise to create the rare and much-loved cuisine of the Nawabs in the form of Zafrani Biryani. The star of the biryani is the finest quality of saffrons used in it which gives the biryani a wonderful color as well as rich aroma.



I was invited for a media preview and was lucky to meet the person behind this wonderful creation – Corporate Chef Vijay Anand Bakshi who gave us a glimpse of this fest. He said, “All our methods to prepare and serve the Zafrani Biryani have been planned down to the minutest of details. From the kitchen to the table, we are confident of delivering the best that we can. We have identified and sourced each of the ingredients for them to blend so as to give the best flavor and aroma. Our secret ingredient, the saffron has been sourced specially for this festival and yet we have priced our variants at very affordable pricing to ensure that each Biryani lover is able to taste our special offering”.



I tried the Zafrani Mutton Biryani first along with some lip-smacking starters like Chicken tikka, Paneer tikka, and Reshmi Kebab. Zafrani Mutton Biryani was cooked to perfection and the meat will just melt in your mouth. As the main ingredient was Saffron it had a rich taste and other minimal ingredients like green chili-ginger-garlic paste gave a slight hint of spiciness. After tasting the Zafrani Mutton Biryani I was patiently waiting to try the Chicken variant. Zafrani Chicken Biryani also didn’t disappoint me; the end result was my plate shined like a mirror :P Among starters I liked the Reshmi Kebab most which was just luscious. Biriyanis were served with raitha, saalan, and onions.




At Paradise, they use a hand-picked variety of ingredients and every Biryani comes out of their kitchen goes through a lot of steps while cooking, including the ‘Dum’ process. Dum is the final stage of Biriyani where Biryani will be slow cooked with a sealed lid (with flour) to prevent the steam coming out. A bed of hot Charcoal will be laid on top of the lid. The whole process of making Biryani itself is an art.


With 18 outlets across South India, the first and famous outlet of Paradise is in Secunderabad which started in 1953. About Zafrani Biryani Festival, Mr. Gautam Gupta, CEO of Paradise restaurant said, ‘While much has changed in terms of people and physical infrastructure in the last 64 years, our core values have remained the same- the philosophy of Paradise to deliver quality and hygienic food at a cost that is affordable for the die-hard Biryani lover. To be able to prepare and serve the food of the royals to all our patrons at Paradise is something we are proud of and look forward to”.



For desserts, I had the ‘Double Ka Meetha’, which is a classic bread pudding with saffron and cardamom along with Qubani Ka Meetha; a Hyderabad special dessert made of stewed apricots. A scoop of Vanilla ice cream made the ‘Qubani Ka Meetha’ more divine.


I have made multiple visits to Indiranagar outlet prior to this fest and always been happy with their service. Zafrani Biryani prices are as follows - Zafrani Chicken Biryani (₹ 180) and Zafrani Mutton Biryani (₹ 190). The prices are mentioned exclusive of taxes and charges will vary for takeaway and home delivery. Zafrani Biryani Festival is on till March 31st, 2017.

Address (Indiranagar Outlet):
Paradise
#484, Signature Square
CMH Road, Indiranagar
For reservations, contact - 080 68681234


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A must visit British Pub in town - The Whitefield Arms, VR Bengaluru


Whether it’s for shopping, eating out or watching new releases, VR Bengaluru at Whitefield is always been a favorite place to hang out with friends and family. Whitefield in Bengaluru has a great history linked to the British rule in India. The name ‘Whitefield’ differs from other places. In 1882, Maharaja of Mysore, Chamaraja Wodeyar granted 3900 acres of land for Anglo-Indian community and thus Whitefield was born. Though British left our country decades ago, their traces still remains through beautiful monuments, colonial architectures and more than anything else the western culture we adapted from them. It’s always an amazing feeling to visit properties with a rich heritage and has a history to tell. Recently I visited one such place – The Whitefield Arms at VR Bengaluru with my better half and friends.



TWA is part of the famous luxury hotel – The Waverly Hotel & Residences. We went there for a Sunday lunch and as our booking was done in advance it was not difficult to get a table on a lazy weekend. We were greeted by a sweet receptionist at the entrance. Once you step into this beautiful pub, the first thing you will notice will be the vintage maps and 64 framed names. The 64 names represent the house names which British built in Whitefield. It’s also said that Winston Churchill has visited this place many times. Okay… enough of history class. Let’s have some serious conversation.






This treasured property, TWA has a spectacular indoor and outdoor seating area with colonial style wooden furniture which gives a modern and relaxed ambiance. A long and beautiful bar counter with a wonderful wine rack next to it will surely catch your attention. Their bartenders have taken this job so seriously that you will realize it when you see the art of making cocktails.




We started off with some cocktails soon after we settled in the outdoor seating area. We ordered whiskey cocktails, ‘Mountbatten’ and ‘Old fashioned’, rum-based drink ‘Mai Tai’ and my drink, a vodka-based cocktail, ‘Cosmopolitan’. I liked Mountbatten most which’s one of their Signature drinks and had fresh flavors from Scotch whiskey, Pamplemousse, lime, strawberry, and bitters.



From the Medley & Stew menu, we had Mulligatawny Soup, an Anglo-Indian version of Madras pepper (Millagai) – water (thanni). They serve a small bowl of rice and lemon wedge along with this interesting soup. Next was a ‘Farm fresh salad’ and as the name says it had all fresh ingredients topped with feta cheese and the add-on poached pears cooked in Merlot wine made this salad an extraordinary one.




From the ‘Quickies’ menu, we had TWA Chips with Cheese & gravy, Veg platter, and a Non-veg platter. The classic combo of crispy fries with the topping of Dal makhani cheese made TWA chips a kickass dish. The veg platter had Suzzie’s Bangles (crispy crumb fried onion rings), TWA Chili Cheese toast, spicy Cottage Cheese Butty (sliders), and Goat Cheese & caramelized onion tartlets with a creamy balsamic dressing. If Veg platter was sure enough to blow your mind, then non-veg platter was absolutely heavenly with the assorted grilled items like Clay oven grilled grouper, grilled prawns, Cavalry’s special, Barrak’s special and Infantry’s special. We savored these by enjoying the view from live grilling counter. These platters were Chef’s special for us to get a glimpse of food they serve at TWA. For the die-hard meat lovers, there was interesting ‘Twice-cooked Pork Belly’ and the ‘Grilled Honey-Chili Beef’. I love perfectly cooked beef appetizers and just fell in love with this regal dish from TWA.







Next was the main course, ‘Grilled spice-crusted Chicken’ served with mint & onion sauce and flavored rice from ‘The King’s Meal’ menu. For my vegetarian friend, they served lavish Spinach, Cheese and Potato dumplings in spinach puree and tomato gravy served with rice. Though we were so full, we couldn’t skip the delectable main course they served us.


How can I miss my favorite Bira from the menu? All these time Bira Blonde was my interest and never tried the Bira White. I guess I like the Bira Blonde than White :P 


For desserts, we had Sticky Toffee Pudding with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream, classic Carrot Cake and the Chef’s special Basbousa (Semolina Cake). This ‘fit for the Gods’ desserts were pure bliss. I haven’t tried such wonderfully prepared desserts in recent time. Still, if I need to pick one I will go with the luscious Sticky Toffee Pudding which gave me an ‘ummmm’ feeling just like Nigella Lawson :P


Happy me after lunch :)

The service was quick, friendly and helpful. Thanks to the entire team at TWA for making our day so special. I am definitely gonna try this place again soon. They also serve breakfast and who wouldn’t prefer an English style brekkie? TWA will have their Microbrewery open very shortly. A meal for two would be ₹ 1500 (approximately). To know more, check out - The Waverly

Address:
The Whitefield Arms
VR Bengaluru
Whitefield
For reservations, contact - 080 45128631

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