Jacob’s Creek Longest Reserve Table – where great wine meets good food

25 Mar Jacob's Creek The Reserve Table 3

It was a perfect evening with great wines, company and food. Jacob’s Creek (Australia’s leading wine company) introduced its unique concept – The Longest Reserve Table with a wine dinner at the ITC, Parel. The idea is to invite people with a shared love of great food and fine wines to experience wines from Jacob’s Creek Reserve along with a curated menu – in this case Awadhi food. I felt quite privileged to be a part of the 100 odd invitees to this event.

fountainThe iconic fountain at the hotel courtyard was made dreamy with dry ice and intelligent lighting. It was almost like a Bollywood dream sequence! But nice. The evening rolled off with a sparkling Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee. This was paired with hors d’oeuvres  – beetroot carpaccio and goat cheese with balsamic drizzle. I particularly liked the crispy baked sweet potato chips with cheddar and chili sprinklings.

Just when we were getting restless (not to mention bored of multiple glasses of the Pinot Noir) we were heralded to the terrace for the rest of the evening. And what a setting it was! Tables decked up with white roses, glistening cutlery and live violin. All this under a star lit sky. Perfect.

DSC_2389Conceptualised and put together by Executive Chef Bhaskar Sankhari the dinner commenced with dum cooked chicken mince kebabs served with Sheermal. The kebabs just melted in the mouth. The coriander pesto spiked fish fillets were moist and oozing with flavour. The wine with this course was Classic Shiraz Cabernet. I liked the wine but was a little put off with the temperature it was served at – room temperature in Mumbai! That’s blasphemy.

The next course took my breath away – Lamb Trotters. Simmered overnight with Hyderabadi spices and finished on dum it was a complete delight and went perfectly well with the crisp and elegant Chardonnay. Chilled shots of frozen pudina pani with a hint of chili acted as a palate cleanser.

Jacob's Creek 'The Reserve Table'The main course had to be the legendary ITC biryani – moist with saffron and Bohri spices. This was paired with Reserve Barossa Shiraz. The vegetarians got raw jack fruit Pilaf cooked on dum. For desserts it was saffron infused baked Rosogulla, served with edible flora and brandy snap. And the curtains came down with a sparkling Rosé.

The Longest Reserve Table will continue as Jacob’s Creek Reserve has partnered with leading 5-star hotels across metro cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Gurgaon; where the chefs will create three course meals to complement select wines from the Jacob’s Creek Reserve range.

So go ahead and book your own ‘Reserve Table’ at www.reservetableindia.com

Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

Chevon goat meat kebabs and sausages – Review

24 Mar Turkish kofte kebap
Moroccan smoked sausages

Moroccan smoked sausages

If you have been following my blog you would already know my obsession with all things meaty. I know meat isn’t the greatest thing for our health, but you know what? It tastes delicious and I am not perfect. No one is.

sauageSo when Chevon (one of the leading players in the frozen goat meat category) launched a range of ready to cook goat meat sausages, kababs and patties – I had to try them.

Turkish seekh kebap

Turkish seekh kebab

The Turkish Seekh Kababs (six pieces) were succulent with hints of onions, ginger, garlic and dry herbs. And though the pack says it takes just 3-4 minutes to cook, it did take longer (thaw it, don’t cook it frozen). The lightly spiced cigars of meat were fatty enough to stick together on the pan, and remain nice and juicy on high heat. I paired it with a crunchy salad and tangy yoghurt mint chutney.

By the way did you know that goat meat is a healthy alternative to beef and chicken? It is low in fat, cholesterol, calories and saturated fat. In fact, goat meat is over 50 percent lower in fat than beef and is about 40 percent lower in saturated fat than chicken – even chicken cooked with the skin off! So if you’re looking for a leaner alternative to traditional meats, goat meat could be the answer.

Cheeseburger patty

Cheeseburger patty

Coming back to Chevon, the Cheeseburger Patty is exceptionally and gratifyingly rich. The patty looked slim but plumped up on cooking. A dab each of ketchup and mustard, a slice of cheese, a layer of lettuce and two tomato slices was all it took to make the burger sing.

I love sausages. Not the pasty, pink plastic tubes masquerading as sausages. But the ones that are meaty, juicy and mildly flavoured. Chevon sausages have a decent aroma and the paprika and sage seasoning is well balanced. A bit high on sodium they lacked that lip-smacking, fatty luxuriousness that great sausages deliver. There are few things that go together better than beer and sausages. Or you could serve them alongside some warm crusty bread and a fresh salad. I had them with a fried egg and some chips while pretending to have a sumptuous British breakfast!

Turkish kofte kebap

Turkish kofte kebab

But the best was the Turkish Kofte Kabab. Satisfyingly coarse and meaty, the real draw is the raisins in the kofta that lend them a natural sweetness and a distinctively Middle Eastern flavour. Serve it up with a salad of tomatoes, basil and spinach and you’re guaranteed to make your mouth happy.

And for the meat versus veggies argument: don’t let anyone tell you what to eat. Go ahead and have that kabab. You can eat a salad tomorrow.

So what’s your favourite meat?

The Chevon Range is priced at Rs 295 and is available at retail chains like Nature’s Basket, Hyper City, Food Hall, Haiko, etc.

Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

Bringing Sexy Back – My interview with Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu

23 Mar Bipasha Basu (4)

Bipasha Basu (4)Bipsaha Basu has been charming moviegoers since her debut opposite Akshay Kumar in Ajnabee. Now she’s bringing her star power to fitness and fashion with exercise DVDs and a clothing line. But it’s the ‘sexiest women in Bollywood’ title that best suits this queen of seduction. I spoke to the Bengali beauty on the pleasures and pain of being a star.

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Fitness tips from Bollywood actor Shiv Pandit

19 Mar 1

When a nasty accident saw this former state level goal keeper bed ridden and piled up with extra weight, Yoga and Cross-fit bailed him out. An all natural diet and lifestyle aided the road to recovery.

1Actor Shiv Pandit believes in training year-round and not just for roles (as many actors in Bollywood do). A state level football player Shiv has been conscious of his health and fitness ever since his school days in Doon School. A major accident and a torn ligament around eight months ago saw the actor put on almost 14 kilos. Not being able to move his arm, shoulders and legs meant no gym training. “Three months of bed rest is enough to make you feel like a vegetable. Even a run on the treadmill was painful. That’s when I discovered Yoga.” Yoga helped the actor regain not just strength and flexibility but also self confidence.

For more on how the actor bounced back to health click here Shiv Pandit fitness (my story in The Man magazine).

Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

Going Green – Vegetarian options at restaurants that are pushing the culinary envelope

18 Mar Sev Puri on the go at Masala Library
Veggie and Cheese Quesadillas at Chili's Grill & Bar

Veggie and Cheese Quesadillas at Chili’s Grill & Bar

Vegetarian food was always popular in India. But it was never this exciting. The rising demand for meat-free dining options has led to a spate of new vegetarian restaurants that are pushing the culinary envelope with spectacular dishes. Even established restaurants are increasing the number of meat-free choices on their existing menus.

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ARK, Courtyard by Marriott – My review

16 Mar

ARK Seating Area

ARK at Courtyard by Marriott exudes colonial cool with its low slung sofas, brick walled bar, rustic wooden flooring and a collector’s edition wine rack. A dramatic wall consisting of 9 LCD television sets screens all the sporting action. The result is a seductive, attractive space, which is both sleek and playful. The lighting is low and a soundtrack of chilled beats plays unobtrusively in the background. This is the kind of place that’s made for sophisticates to gather for some intellectual chat, fueled by cocktails and perhaps a cigar.

Pear Martini

Pear Martini

Apart from ARK signatures, the bar also serves molecular cocktails and craft beer. Vodka with watermelon juice and molecularly generated watermelon pearls tickles the senses in the most agreeable way and Rum with lychee liqueur, pomegranate juice and smoked orange peel is refreshing.

Bruchettas - Tomato Bocconcinni at ARK, Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai

Bruchettas – Tomato Bocconcinni

Chef Rajan Vasandi gives mushrooms an ego boost by dressing it with Philadelphia cheese and perching it atop a base of french fries. The Tomato Bruschettas with cheese and balsamic reduction is heavenly. My dining companion and I warred with forks over every last fresh, crunchy morsel, before ordering a second round and demolishing that, too. If you love sausages go for the Beer Brat which is a juicy sausage hugged by a baguette and stuffed with pickled vegetables and cheese. The best part is that it comes with 650ml of Kingfisher beer! The portions are big, the meat is hearty and the sandwiches are full of bite – what more could you ask for? With no desserts on the menu the best way to end the night here is the last of whatever remains in your wine glass.

Bar at ARK

Bar at ARK

Pink Floss – gin based concoction poured over candy floss in a Martini glass read better than it tasted. Avoid.

COST: Rs 3000 for two

HOW TO GET THERE: CTS 215, Opp Sangam Big Cinemas, Andheri – Kurla Rd, Andheri East, Mumbai – 400059. Tel: +91-22-61369999

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR

Love Bengali food? hop to 25 Parganas, Sahara Star – My review

7 Mar

parganas1

You don’t have to be a home sick Bengali to enjoy 25 Parganas. This new restaurant at Sahara Star will whet your appetite; make you look up recipes and in extreme case head to the East to discover more. The ambiance pays an artistic tribute to Bengal – gramophones, Bengali books and melodious Rabindra Sangeet in the background.

Making the strongest impression is Kaekda chingri bhapa – a combination of crab meat and prawns steamed with hints of chilli, garlic and mustard.

Ilish Maacher Paturi - boneless Hilsa with mustard

Ilish Maacher Paturi – boneless Hilsa with mustard

If you love fish but find it difficult to handle the bones go for Ilish maacher paturi, a mustard spiked and deboned Hilsa which comes under a blanket of banana leaf. For the Maacher Jhol (fish curry) the restaurant lets you choose your fish – ilish, rui, pabda, chitol or bhetki. Trade off the rotis and rice for the soft and fluffy luchi, best eaten with spicy Kosha Mangsho, a slow cooked mutton curry. Chef Prasanjit Ghosh treats vegetables with the same care he expends to the fish.

Motorshuti chennar chop a cutlet with paneer and green peas just melts in the mouth.

Motorshuti Chennar Chop - patties with cheese and green peas

Motorshuti Chennar Chop – patties with cheese and green peas

 

photo 1

Beet Bora – deep fried Beetroot cutlet

 

Bhaja Bhetki - mustard marinated crispy Bhetki fillet

Bhaja Bhetki – mustard marinated crispy Bhetki fillet

The legendary cholar dal crackles with fresh coconut and whole spices. The sauces on the table are so tantalizing that you want to erase every trace before you let it go.  Indecisive sweet tooths should go for the Nolen Gur ice-cream.

Maccher jhol, Kosha Mangsho (slow cooked mutton), Chicken curry, Cholar Dal, Rice and luchis

Maccher jhol, Kosha Mangsho (slow cooked mutton), Chicken curry, Cholar Dal, Rice and luchis

However not all dishes are stellar. The Daab Chingri presented in a coconut shell is quite unremarkable with its flavours drowned in too much sweetness. Avoid.

Service rivals food in its sumptuousness. The moment you’re seated, someone snaps a crisp linen and drapes it across your lap. They are quiet when you want them to be, animated when you desire some attention.

COST: Rs 6000 for two with alcohol

HOW TO GET THERE: Sahara Star Hotel, Western Express Highway, Santacruz East. Vile Parle. Mumbai. Tel: 022-3980 7162.

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR

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