Monthly Archives: December 2014

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

‘Tis the season to indulge guilt-free and that is exactly what I did recently at the California Pizza Kitchen, sampling their mouth-watering desserts for the festive season.

Christmas Yule Log, Baked Alaska, Chocolate Eruption and Chocolate Raspberry Mystic were some of the treats on offer.

The Chocolate Raspberry Mystic intrigued me. Chocolate is always my weakness. But this one surprised me. A delicate chocolate mousse combined with winter raspberry marmalade, appeared on my table and it was served with vanilla ice cream. The raspberry and chocolate pairing I thought was perfect and unique. The raspberry marmalade accentuated the chocolate flavour and yet, was subtle. The mousse was creamy and soft-textured. I was in seventh heaven.

Baked Alaska is an old favourite and makes me nostalgic in fact. I love the drama associated with it. Love the way the flambe happens at the table. The strawberry and vanilla Ice-cream, layered between vanilla sponge and Italian meringue, flambéed with rum is the ultimate sin one can treat oneself to.

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I decided to skip the Chocolate Eruption with a heavy heart and instead settled for the Christmas Yule Log. After all it is the Christmas season and you cannot miss enjoying this one. It was reminiscent of the ones I used to relish in London. Well-made and with a generous helping of dried fruits and rum. Full marks to this one too.

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Although Blackberry Bliss sounded divine, I was satiated already. After all, there is nothing better than a mascarpone cheese and yoghurt combo. Add to that white chocolate,Satori Merlot paired with Blackberry compote and Vanilla Ice cream. There is no scope to go wrong am sure. A must try for me on my next visit this week or next.

What is nice is that none of the desserts are cloyingly sweet with overpowering flavours.

All the CPK outlets in Mumbai have these delectable six desserts till January 4 2015. So make sure you don’t miss this chance. The fresh ingredients, large portions and unique flavours are a winning trio. Chef Joshi is truly a culinary wizard.

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A Home-cooked European Meal at Abode

It was European food at its best. Chef Conrad D’Souza of Pali Village Café fame, in conjunction with Chef Xavier Fernandes and Chef Mrinmoy curated a meal at Abode, that was truly memorable.

We instantly felt at home in the cosy ambience, with warm, efficient service. The assorted canapes platter, were not only a visual treat, but a delight for the palate too. If this was the beginning of our four course menu – we sure had embarked upon an exciting culinary journey. The sparkling wine from Chandon perfectly offset the fare.

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The cauliflower and potato soup with truffle oil, came next. Served in a cutting chai glass, it was very innovative I thought. And aromatic too. The flavours were subtle yet, pronounced. These two veggies never tasted better than in this form.

The wild mushroom salad with porcini was the highlight that evening. The contrasting textures teased our palates, as did the melee of flavours. It had the right amount of bite and crunch. We simply devoured it.

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For mains, I settled for a roasted walnut gnocchi with red spinach. The gnocchi swathed in pureed red spinach was creamy and succulent. And the sauce delightful. The seared Sri Lankan Tuna steak too was well done and had a nice savoury flavor which was tantalizing. The kale chips and chestnut complimented and added to the crunch factor.  It definitely enhanced the experience of the dish. For hard core meat lovers, there is Pistachio Crusted Lamb Shanks too.

The vanilla panna cotta with peppered strawberries and the espresso mouse with chocolate meringue, were expectedly sinful. The panna cotta was one of the best I have ever sampled. Full marks to the creamy texture and sweetness quotient. The mousse too had the right texture, not excess gelatine, as is sometimes the case. The crunchy meringue was the perfect partner for the decadent espresso mousse.

With his extensive food experience and technical know-how, Chef Conrad comes to Abode to create his magic with a menu which will be exclusively showcased in the format of a pop-up, available to customers for a limited period of time. The earthy, home style flavours of this meal set it apart from many others.

The week-long pop-up at Abode, an independent luxury boutique hotel in Colaba till December 17 is a not-to-be missed gastronomic experience.  Open only for dinner, it has a limited seating capacity, so food lovers need to be quick and book in advance. I am so fortunate to have partaken this meal. Can’t wait to sample Chef Conrad’s cooking yet again some place else.

Lunch Time ‘Ka Boom’ at Ballard Estate

If you are looking for a quick wholesome lunch with quality ingredients and affordable pricing, then Kaboom at Ballard Estate, the newest QSR, is the place to stop by. Recently started by Yohaan Dattoobhai, the place is a stationary food truck of sorts, offering you a new cuisine daily from Monday through Friday.

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We ventured there on a Friday, expecting to savour American food, but were in for a surprise as the hospitable Yohaan, had very kindly put together a special menu for us to taste a dish each from all the five days. Our Pakchoy & Ramen salad arrived first. The fresh and green pakchoy was as crunchy as it could get. The ramen added to the texture. It was with a light salad dressing and helped us whip up an appetite for the rest of our meal.

The falafel sandwich took me by surprise, I expected a deep fried, tasteless falafel with a runny, spicy sauce and some veggies, but I was pleasantly surprised. The falafel was well spiced, fried to perfection and the accompaniments in the freshly prepared pita bread, made for a filling and delicious sandwich which made us feel healthy. The chef had obviously got it right from word go.

We could not help notice the packaging. All the food was served in containers, but these were not made of the usual thermocol. Instead, a lot of thought had gone into these. They were made of a superior biodegradable, material. What’s more, the name Kaboom was subtly embossed in a classy manner unlike the usual loud branding one is used to and thus ink free too. Impressive.

Yohaan is certainly doing his bit for the environment. The produce is sourced locally from those who believe in sustainable farming practices.

Pasta Pomodero Basilico with chicken meatballs from the Italian menu, was a meal by itself. The sauce was tangy and freshly made from tomatoes. The hint of basil and garlic was subtle yet, evident in the robust flavours. The chicken meatballs were well- made too, from in-house high quality mince. Absolutely delectable. Full marks here.

The chicken satay was a wee bit disappointing, as was the peanut sauce which was too pasty and almost resembled and tasted like peanut butter. The Veg Kaboom classic sandwich more than made up for this. It was healthiness personified with the ragi bread, almost negligible cheese and crunchy veggies. Loved it, but would have personally preferred a bit more cheese.

The chicken wings were a bit too vinegary for my palate. I preferred the veggie version any day.

What appealed to me the most is the fact that Kaboom offers a daily rotating menu with ‘Soi Tuk Tuk,’ South East Asian food served on Monday; ‘Easy Cheesy,’ European style cheese toasts on Tuesday; ‘Pazzo Pomodoro,’ Italian on Wednesday; ‘Haba Habibi,’ Middle Eastern on Thursday; and finally, ‘Fly High Ms. American Pie,’ American on Friday.  This variety allows the same consumer to return to the same place every day, but for a completely different culinary experience. No question of boredom setting in as each week too the menu differs, even if the cuisine is the same.

Corn soup with basil drizzle, goat cheese and smoked chicken sandwich, raw papaya salad, chicken penang curry, gnocchi with mushroom sauce are some of the highlights. What came across was that although your meal arrives quickly, each item on the menu is prepared with great care. The food is wholesome; with authentic flavours and fresh ingredients and lots for the vegetarians too. Not only can you savour authentic dishes that they offer but you can ask for the “apna style” option and have the chef tweak it to your taste and preference. Very flexible approach, I thought.

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Furthermore, one has an option to eat at the outlet or grab and go. It is also affordably priced, with dishes costing Rs. 200 and a full meal combo available at Rs. 350 (inclusive of taxes).

We enjoyed our meal thoroughly and cannot wait for more Kabooms to happen all over Mumbai. But some element of desserts and beverages would be really welcome on the menu.