Flowers aren’t just for vases anymore. These pretty things are landing up on elaborately plated meals in fancy restaurants. I spoke to renowned chefs on ways to bring some of that same decorative flair to your next dinner party.
I love a good brunch. Who doesn’t? The playful dance between breakfast and lunch, sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week and allows you to lull around in bed for hours after waking and still get all your favourite breakfast foods. It’s also a great reward to a good workout. Nothing like working up a good sweat and then eating some good food.
But what makes brunch at one of your favourite restaurants even better is when it’s a co-creation between the chef and a well-known foodie and celebrity. The Desi Deli Sunday brunch is one such delight.
You may not be able to slip off your shoes and sink your feet into the sand beneath your table but you can do the next best thing – of enjoying an outstanding meal while being serenaded by the lovely sea breeze and the magnificent sunset at Juhu beach at Estella the newest restaurant in town.
Undoubtedly dining beneath the stars, with the sound of the tide nearby, heightens the sensuality of an already pleasurable meal. Estella is upscale but casual with superb service to boot. The modern Australian meal served here encourages you to linger on, while soaking up the ocean views and some great people watching on the beach.
I loved the bread basket with zaatar bread, sundried tomato focaccia and the chedder cheese straws served with smoked hazelnut butter and herb garlic butter. It’s easy to stuff up on them if you don’t know what’s coming next
The grilled scallops with miso honey cream and carrot foam is exquisite. The presentation too is breathtaking. The seafood al ajilio (with clams, shrimps and scallops) is another must try here. The sherry saffron garlic butter sauce is quite addictive.
The star of the show for me was the lamb served on a bed of spinach and flaky puff pastry. The banana and caramel parfait with tangy kiwi marmalade was delightfully reticent in sugariness.
If you drink go for the Yuzu Sour which is a bitter, sour and sweet drink of singleton of ord malt with Japanese yuzu.
In Estella I have found my wedding anniversary spot (which is approaching soon). It’s romantic and the music is kept low, so we can hear each other venting.
Estella, Nichani Kutir, Juhu Tara Road, Mumbai. Open only for dinner. Meal for two: Rs 5000
NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR
Should you need a nudge to get out of Mumbai and expand your sights, let me introduce you to a young resort just three hours away. It goes by the name Saj by the Lake and it’s warm and welcoming.Continue reading “Escape to Saj By The Lake”
I love the rain. It’s my favourite weather. The smell of wet soil just when it begins to rain is not only sweet, but brings new hope and makes you look forward to the rainbow and sunshine. So when life throws you a rainy day, play in the puddles! Or better still head to Aamby Valley a picturesque resort nestled amidst mountains and lakes, just 23 km from Lonavala.
A visit to this scenic and mammoth resort was long overdue and thanks to Food bloggers Association of India (FBAI), it finally happened last month. So here’s a first person account of the five things you ought to do at Aamby Valley.
Hot or cold, thin or fat, round or square, cheesy or saucy – there is nothing like a pizza meal. What’s not to like about a hot, freshly baked pizza, with its crispy edges and soft centre, moist with tomato sauce?
Just the smell and the heat radiating off a pizza makes me hungry. This simple dish of bread, tomatoes and cheese could probably be Italy’s best gift to the world.Continue reading “Vegetarian? Try Juno’s Pizza”
Though I am a whisky drinker, there are days when I long to have a great cocktail at home. But frankly, I don’t have the skills to whip one up myself.
Owners of Light House Café, Mumbai probably had people like me in mind when they introduced cocktail premixes (minus alcohol) that are super easy to put together. All you have to do is open it, pour the alcohol, shake it up in a cocktail shaker and add some rocks (if you wish).
Let’s face it: ready-to-drink mixes have a bad reputation for being fruit-flavored sugar bombs. While those versions are still be on the market, LHC Mix has a range of vodka, whisky, beer, tequila, gin, white rum and wine based inventive and classic cocktails that are as easy as uncork and pour. You can now enjoy everything from a Caipiroska to a Mojito without suffering the crowd or prices of a bar. The LHC Mix menu has 17 cocktail pre-mixes and one mocktail mix. Each mix of 150 ml serves 1.
Since I was looking for a low-key cocktail to sip at the end of a long day, I tried the spice infused Mulled wine with cranberries. The drink is topped off with dried cranberry bits for a little extra oomph. All I needed was a wine glass.
I also tried the Vodka based Green apple martini. While the mixes won’t win any prizes for best packaging (packed in a gold pouch), they were easy to rustle up (there is a detailed step-by-step note with every drink). The martini was nice and tangy with green apple, orange and lemon extracts. All I had to do was pour the mix in a cocktail shaker (even a high ball glass would do if you don’t have a shaker), fill it up with ice to the brim and give it a good shake. Remove the ice and pour it in a martini glass. Simple.
The mix stays for 3 days if refrigerated and for 3 hours if kept at room temperature once delivered.
I think the premixes make perfect sense when you’re looking for a cocktail with minimal effort to impress at a dinner party or just unwind after a long day. If you need a bartender or a bartending team, the guys at Light House Café will even send them along (for an extra cost of course)
What you need to know
Price: Rs 60-110 inclusive of delivery charges
Delivery area: Juhu to South Mumbai
Delivery time: 20 to 45 mins
Order Timings: 12 pm to 11 pm (All Days)
Call: 9967414148/ 9987610897
When Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa in Bahrain decided to bring its popular luxury Japanese restaurant Ruka to Mumbai, it not just imported the brand but also its Japanese Chef Masato Toida from Bahrain. Styled in black and brown Ruka is quite stark and impersonal. Thankfully the food is bright and flavourful.
Menchie’s America’s premium frozen yoghurt chain has now launched its first outlet in Khar, Mumbai, India. The menu at this self-serving yogurt franchise holds non-fat, low-carbohydrate, no-added-sugar, gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free options.
As much as I crave a good sambar rice, I hanker for Ilish Bhapa with equal fervor. My love for Bengali food often sees me land uninvited to Bengali homes. I unabashedly ask for leftovers of macher johol (yes they taste better the next day) and even tag along with Bengali friends to Durga Puja for the mahaprasad of khichuri and bhaja. So when I heard Sofitel Mumbai BKC had a East Bengal / Bangladesh food festival I did the obvious – drove there and ate till I was in food coma!
East Bengal/ Bangladeshi food is very similar to West Bengal barring the fact that Bangladeshi food has a slight Mughlai touch. Both cuisine favour fish and the use of mustard and poppy seeds are similar. The food festival at Novotel is put together by chef Sirajul from Novotel Kolkata.
We started with a non vegetarian snack – Chicken Kabiraj. It’s a cutlet made with minced chicken and spices dipped in egg and coated with breadcrumbs. Like other chop cutlets, this recipe too is the result of British influence on the Bengali cuisine. Needless to say it was crunchy on the outside and succulent inside. Though I missed Illish bhapa one of my favourite Bengali dishes, I was glad to see another favourite – Kosha Mangsho – a mutton dish. The perfectly cooked, juicy meat had a Mughlai touch with the use of whole spices and a thin layer of oil floating over it. Yummy. The Katla Macher Kalia (fish curry) was heady from the mustard seeds, nigella seeds, chillies and ginger paste.
The amount of respect Bengalis pay to vegetables is unprecedented. Simple ridgegaurd is elevated with the use of poppy seeds and mustard paste in Jinghe Posto. It goes beautifully with steamed rice. The simple yellow dal tempered with mustard seeds is akin to the Maharashtrian waran with strong hints of ghee.
Bongs love to have their fish in unthinkable ways. Apart from frying, steaming, baking and dunking it in gravies they also put it in pulao! The Ilish Polao a great combination of spicy Ilish with rice was full of depth. Though Bengali food is known for its liberal use of green chilies, and Bangladesh in particular is famed for having some of the hottest dishes in the world, the dishes at the food festival have been toned down to suit various palates. Among the desserts I loved the misti doi and gurer kheer.
Pondicherry Café the venue of the festival is dressed in Bangla fervor with a cycle tonga at the entrance, terracotta pots and jhal muri cycles.
Where: Pondichéry Café, Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Date: 18th to 27th March 2016
Time: Lunch – 12:30 pm onwards and Dinner – 7:00 pm onwards
Price: Rs 3,400 (all inclusive)
For reservations, call +91 (22) 6117 5115
NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR