Fun under the Sula Sun

9 Feb SulaFest 2016 goers

low res Balkan Beat Box at SulaFest 2016As much as I love music, I hate concerts. It’s just such a messy affair with sweaty people jumping and dancing in open pavilions. I would rather walk, go running, or sit in the back seat of a car listening to my favourite bands than see them in concert. And that’s the reason I passed on the opportunity to be a part of Sula Fest for the last couple of years.

However I made an exception this year and thank god I did! Cause it wasn’t just a heady mix of music…but also wine, gourmet food, fashion and more…

low res Grape Stomping at SulaFest 2016After a four hour bus ride from Mumbai and a quick shower we headed straight to the fest and to the job – wine tasting. Yes I know the age-old rule about drinking (one that everyone knows and most people have broken) always fill up on food before filling up on alcohol. But food surfaced just before the second round of tastings. I particularly enjoyed the Brut Tropicale in an attractive digital psychedelic bottle covered in riotous paisleys. Made with premium black grapes including PinotNoir the sparkling wine is fresh, fruity and very palatable. The Riesling, limited edition Rasa Shiraz and Rasa Cabernet were all washed down with the very delish goat cheese made by chef Morgan Rainforth of the popular SOLEIL by La Plage.

low res Kailasa at SulaFest 2016

Kailash Kher performing with his band at Sula Fest 2016

There were loads of special tours and tastings for all the wine enthusiasts. Hardys, Asahi Super Dry Beer, Cointreau, Grant’s Whiskey, Jägermeister, Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 Tennessee Whiskey and Stolichnaya Vodka ensure no one went thirsty!

What piqued my interest the most was the wine and ice-cream pairing. Adaptability is a positive quality, so I said – let’s break some rules. According to dessert and wine pairing guidelines, the wine should be sweeter than the dessert, or else the wine may come across as flat. The other element to consider is acidity. Most wines are inherently acidic. London Dairy paired five of their ice-creams with some sula best sellers. While I am not sure if the pairing worked for ME but the mango sorbet from London Dairy is just divine.

low res Kim Sharma at SulaFest 2016Fun activities like foot massages, tarot reading, grape stomping, etc added to the fest-feel. There was glamour too – Narendra Kumar, Mona Juneja, Yash Birla, Ishita Arun, Arjun Khanna, Kim Sharma, Malini Aggarwal, Malavika Sangghvi, Devieka Bhojwani, Aparna Badlani, Sameer Daddy Malhotra…

The music line-up included The Cat Empire from Australia who made their India debut with songs from their soon to be released album ‘Rising with the Sun’! Sunday saw Kailash Kher perform two songs from his soon to be released album – Kailasa Ishq Anokha. The Atmasphere stage in the midst of the vineyard had DJs spinning some incredible underground music.

SulaFest 2016 DayFast fashion brand VERO MODA launched its spring summer collection 2016 at the fest. Anushka Manchanda gave the audience an fashionable performance as a showstopper.

Any wine festivals you have attended? What was your experience?

I can hardly wait for the next edition…

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR 

 

 

 

Wine review – Casablanca

2 Feb Casablanca

I believe there’s always an occasion fit for wine.

It’s a Wednesday and that pizza takeaway tastes so much better with a Zinfandel. Or a friend drops in unexpectedly and you crack open a crisp Cava. The leftovers of a horrible workday can be salvaged with tapas and a glass of wine. Or it’s your anniversary and it’s time to break out that champagne you have been saving for a candlelit dinner. You see a simple glass of bubbly transforms any evening into an impromptu celebration.

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Anushka Manchanda – singing up a storm

28 Jan low res Anushka Manchanda3

low res Anushka Manchanda3Singer, model, daredevil, actor…Anushka Manchanda’s life has taken many turns. But it is music that binds it all for this rock chic.

She became a sensation even before she turned 18. Discovered on one of the first reality shows in India Anushka Manchanda went on to be a part of India’s first girl band VIVA. And though the band split, Anushka moved on to be a VJ, model and even lend her bold and sassy voice to the Hindi film industry. Currently she is making waves for her uninhibited performance in the film Angry Indian Goddesses.

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The Staycation rage

16 Jan

Traveling to a beautiful resort in a picturesque location isn’t the only way to vacation. This holiday season, plan a ‘staycation’ and unwind within (or just outside) your own four walls. Let me tell you how…

 

Low res The Taj Mahal Hotel dome

Dome of Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai 

Instead of gobbling up the cheap airfares and hotel rooms and spending time, energy and money on a vacation to a faraway place, try staying home, or close to home, and give yourself a much needed staycation.

A staycation is a holiday or vacation time when you stay and relax at home and explore nearby areas of entertainment and recreation. Though the concept achieved popularity in the US during the Great Recession and in the UK due to the weak Pound which made overseas holidays more expensive, it finds resonance even today with those short on time and reeling under ever increasing cost of living. Unwinding minus the stress is the central theory behind a staycation.

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Unwraping Christmas feasts in Mumbai

21 Dec ????????????????????????????????????

Christmas menu at JW Marriott Juhu

It’s Christmas time. Will it be mistletoe, wine and the same meal you have every year? Before you drive home for Christmas try one of my favourite restaurants for their special Christmas spread.

Gaylord, Churchgate, Mumbai
This year, Gaylord’s Christmas menu holds the irresistible beer batter prawns. Perfectly fried to a golden yellow, the crispy casing holds the freshest jumbo prawns alongside buttered peas and carrots. Other dishes on the menu include Chicken Marina, Baked Aubergines, Dum Gosht Biryani, Shakarkandi Kebab, etc. I absolutely loved the Makhmali Kumbh (tandoori mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese). My favourite experience here is to enjoy a sizzler in the alfresco area. Not only does the theatre of it turn heads and stop conversation, but it’s an immediate winter warmer like no other type of dish.

Beer_Batter_Prawns

Beer Batter prawns at Gaylord

Where: Gaylords, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400020. 022 2282 1259

When: 24th December – 3rd January, 2016

Cost: Meal for two (without alcohol) – Approx Rs 1800 + plus taxes

Olive Bar & Kitchen, Bandra
Roast turkey will be the star attraction on Christmas Day Brunch at Olive. Jazz lovers should mark Wednesday, December 23 when Mallika Barot will be belting out Christmas themed renditions of classic jazz songs, as well as some original numbers. Traditional Christmas cocktails like Egg Nog will be served alongside the Throwback bar menu, at significantly reduced prices. The décor will be reminiscent of a snowy Christmas.

resized Olive Bar & Kitchen - Confit Asparagus with crispy Egg & Kaffir

Confit Asparagus with crispy Egg & kafir  at Olive 

Where: Olive Bar & Kitchen, Bandra, 14, Union Park, Khar (W).Mumbai – 400052. Tel: +91 22 4340 8229

Cost: Rs. 2750

JW Mariott Mumbai Sahar
JW’s all day dining restaurant –JW Cafe –  will be hosting a Christmas brunch on the 25th with roast turkey, leg of lamb and sweet potato galette. Romano’s, the hotel’s Italian restaurant will also be serving a brunch with dishes like Parma ham scallops and gnocchi fritto.

Where: JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Sahar, IA Project Road, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai Sahar, Andheri East. Mumbai,
Tel: 022 33956232
Cost: Rs 2500 – JW Café, Rs 3500 – Romano.

Olive Bistro - Mulled Wine

Food Trends 2016

18 Dec
crispy fluffy waffles

Pic courtesy: Indigo Deli

If 2015 was all about sriracha, quinoa, chipotle, gluten-free dishes and of course, kale, what does 2016 bring? I cut through the tsunami of food punditry to bring to you the big food prediction for 2016.

 

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7 Annoying things restaurants do

7 Dec
pic source stokpic

pic courtesy: stokpic

Eating out is an expensive business. So when you do, you really want a good experience. As a food writer who eats out frequently, I love it when a restaurant gets it right – creative chefs, fabulous food, attentive staff and so on. But it seems it’s increasingly easy to get it wrong. Here are the seven things I absolutely cannot stand while eating out. Continue reading

I met the Demon Chef at JW Marriott Michelin pop up

26 Nov

Why would a chef call himself ‘The Demon Chef,’ I wondered as I drove to JW Marriott Juhu for the second edition of the Michelin pop up with three star Michelin chef Alvin Leung. Was he ill-tempered? Maybe he looked…you know… or maybe he’s demonic in the kitchen…all these thoughts crossed my mind as I entered Spices our venue for the chef’s table.

As I took my seat I kept turning towards the open kitchen at the back to catch a glimpse of the Demon Chef but all I saw was a rock star looking guy with a funky hairdo. Could this be the chef? Well he definitely was! I decided to reserve my questions (and my judgement) for later and get down to doing what I do best – eat!

Chef Leung doesn’t look like the average Chinese chef and that’s probably because he isn’t. He’s doing to Asian food what Ferran Adrià is doing to Spanish and European food. Chef Leung has invented what he calls ‘Xtreme Chinese’ where he presents heirloom Chinese dishes with a modern twist. Newer ingredients, innovative cooking techniques, dramatic presentations and novel tastes – that’s Chef Leung’s forte.

The first course of dim sums was refreshing. I loved the shrimp dumpling with truffle on top. It was miraculously light with a translucent skin. The Sichuan lamb dumpling was filled with a soup that shot out when you pierced the casing. Chef Leung deconstructs traditional Chinese food and brings them back in a completely different form. So the dishes taste new but not without a strong sense of déjà vu. It shocks you in the beginning but delights you in the end.

pic5The best dish for me was the delicately poached lobster on a bed of spicy Sichuan hollandaise and chilli sauce. The dish stunning to look at, was a veritable explosion of flavours, colours and textures.  Interestingly this tattooed demon chef is one of the only two self-taught chefs in charge of a professional kitchen that has ever received Michelin stars, with the other being Heston Blumenthal. Impressive.

pic6The next course of organic chicken with Arborio rice, wood ear fungus and sand ginger cream was sublime and beautifully presented. Though the rice had a nice bite and the chicken a crispy skin, the ginger cream lacked a punch. I missed a strong element in the dish.  The concluding course of coconut ice-cream with glazed pineapple and tapioca pearls was delectable.

pic7For the Michellin popup at JW Marriott Juhu Chef Leung has consciously raised the heat bar. “I won’t call it spicy but I did turn on the heat a little for Indian palate. But hot doesn’t necessarily have to be more chillies,” he added. Carving a dish out of the Mumbai stable the Bombay Duck is something the chef is toying with.

Leung’s dishes are not without the drama. So expect fumes, powders, foams, unrecognisable reductions and scientist like cooking methods. But despite all that Leung’s food is what food should be – tasty!

IMG_1350At the end of the meal the demon presented himself and I couldn’t help but notice the calm on the chef’s face. After all, the first night (which is generally the most difficult) was done with and he was now facing a bunch of happy diners.

So why does he call himself the demon chef? “Well not all demons are bad. Moreover nice is boring,” says Hong Kong’s most innovative chef. I agree.

Michelin pop up at JW Marriott

Date: 25th-28th Nov, 2015

Service: Lunch & Dinner

Price: 4500 per person+ taxes(without alcohol)

 

Work, Play, Chill at FLYP@MTV

25 Nov

low res FLYP @ MTV (2)Viacom18 Consumer Products, the consumer products arm of Viacom18, is all set to extend the iconic youth brand MTV, from broadcast and digital space to an on-ground experience by launching a chain of cafés titled FLYP@MTV. The hospitality partner for this unique association will be Funbars Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. Funbars will be the master licensee that conceptualizes, develops, executes and operates the chain.

The first FLYP@MTV will make its debut at Connaught Place in New Delhi in the month of December. The plan is to open 10 more cafes in the next five years beginning with Mumbai and Bangalore.

lo rews Flyp @ MTVAccording to Saugato Bhowmik, Senior Vice-President, Consumer Products, Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd., apart from specially curated entertainment and a menu by celebrity chef Ranveer Brar, FLYP@MTV will also function as an extended workspace during the day and transform into a place to chill in the evening and a play zone at night. “The café will be fun, irreverent and entertaining,” he adds.

low res Flyp 1

Here’s what you can expect at FLYP@MTV
Explore the world of MTV in the previous years through Oculus and Controllers. Customer can also select and play videos from the MTV Archive.

Book a Bakra: Consumers can book pranks which can be recorded through hidden cameras and mics. You can book your buddy for a hilarious Bakra – MTV Style.

Select and buy MTV merchandise right through the virtual shelf.

FLYP@MTV will be equipped with MTV style recording studio for the audience who are gifted with the capability of singing.  One can record the songs and upload it after reviewing audio and video file of the song. There will be headphones, touch-screens, microphones and cameras available for the same.

The café’s culinary style hinges upon progressive Indian food – local flavours presented in a global style created by celebrity chef Ranveer Brar.

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR 

 

 

Molecular Magic at PaPaYa

25 Nov

Pa Pa Ya, Palladium, Mumbai (01)If you blinked this year, you probably missed a restaurant opening. So many newcomers popped up. But Zorawar Kalra’s Pan Asian restaurant Pa Pa Ya is a celebration of the scene, not an also ran. The best place for soloists is a stool facing the bar; dates and groups should aim for the rear, where 3D molecules light up the scene.

WHAT’S HOT: Admirers of Zorawar will recognize his signature style: first-rate ingredients gently coaxed into memorable performances. This is food that makes you think: Can rice crackers make a delicious pizza base? Can salmon chunks and pickled veggies find happiness inside a rice bun? Yes and yes!

PA PA YA mezze platter, edamame hummus, wasabi chickpea falafel (low rez)

Mezze platter of edamame hummus, wasabi chickpea falafel

We begin the evening with an edible treat of basil compressed watermelon which gets a delicious assist from lemongrass and sweet chilli foam. It’s served on oyster shells plated on a stone bowl. Dramatic and delicious! The sushi matrix (17 pieces of sushi served on a cuboid matrix) will fly you to Japan and back.

Beer battered Avacado Tacos, corn and scallion kimchee_Pa Pa Ya

Beer battered Avacado Tacos, corn and scallion kimchee

The kitchen high-fives vegetarians, although sliders with grilled chickpea and edamame rolled out on a toy truck is likely to find the carnivore’s hand returning to the truck, too. Do try the Sushi Burger which is a rice bun with salmon and pickled veggies in cream cheese and aioli. Among the liquid pleasures include cocktails like Lighthouse, a vodka drink poured into a light bulb and Wise Whiskey which is whiskey with rosemary foam. Both are delectable.   Sushi Burger_Pa Pa YaThe curtains come down with a Liquid Hazelnut Fondant matcha cake which gets competition from the white peppercorn ice cream it’s paired with. Pa Pa Ya dares you to eat differently, and rewards you in the process.

WHAT’S NOT: The changing wall colours can be distracting as also the playlist of EDM and trance. The pork belly skewers glazed with sichmi mirin and soya is distractedly sweet.

HOW TO GET THERE: Palladium Mall, Third floor, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (West). Tel: 022-43475454.

Cost: Rs 3000 for two

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR

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