Monthly Archives: May 2015

Mast Mexifornia @ CPK

Californian Pizza Kitchen offering a menu with a Mexican twist? Sounded exciting enough to lure me to their Infiniti Mall, Malad outlet.

Appetizers, Pizza, Pastas, Some specialties and of course desserts formed the menu. And yes, fresh fruit Margaritas and beverages. Which I decided to skip completely, for a change. Wanted to save my appetite and do justice to the food.

Not a very exhaustive menu, but all encompassing the flavours of Mexico. Cilantro, peppers, squash, tomato, avocado, vanilla, cocoa, corn, all beautifully amalgamated in the dishes cleverly by Chef Pranav. The ‘Mexifornia’ menu did sound interesting and appetizing. CPK had ensured that gourmets indulge in zesty Mexican Cuisine with a twist of signature Californian panache. And I was ready to embark on my culinary expedition.

Sonora Pizza

The Sonora Pizza, a thin crust pizza with a smoky, roasted tomato salsa, roasted corn and black bean salsa garnished with creamy avocado, a snappy jalapeno sauce and a drizzle of cilantro had me in a dilemma, but yet, I settled for the Chicken Asada Pizza- a titillating serving of a robust traditional pizza with a sharp New Mexico chilli sauce with cheddar and fontina- a delicious semi-soft cheese-and shimmering, roasted peppers.And I had no reason to regret my choice. It was a celebration of Mexican flavours. Generous pieces of roasted chicken laced my pizza and the dash of spice and herbs, mercilessly tingled my palate.

Pastas although seemed unusual by way of the ingredients and flavours, I decided to stay away from.

But the piece de resistance of the evening was unarguably, the Chimichanga. This lip-smacking specialty,  a stellar dish of crispy fried wrap filled with California rice, cotija cheese cheese, a bed of shredded lettuce, sour cream and a zesty tomato salsa, rendered me speechless after the first bite. There was a burst of flavours in my mouth. A myriad textures were at play. Easily the best chimichanga I have ever tasted. Absolute value for money.

California Style Chimichanga_1

Given these two filling dishes, there was no scope of anything else but the Trio of chocolate mousse, of course. Flavoured with three layers of Mexican white, milk and dark chocolate and with a hint of coffee ,served in its very own chocolate cup, this dessert was unique. It was sinful and decadent as expected but I found the proportion of white chocolate a tad more than the other two and felt it could have been reduced. The presentation of the mousse in a cup made of chocolate complete with a spoon et al, bowled me over completely. The chef was truly a master of his craft.

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There was Mexican Caramel Banana Flan served on a bed of vanilla sponge with great lashings of Banana Cream and Caramel sauce. But alas! we had no place in our stomach for that.

On till June 21 at all CPK outlets, across India, I still have a chance of relishing my Chimichanga once more. And yes, many more dishes on the menu worth trying.

Good, attentive service, pleasant ambience and outstanding food, made the evening even more special.

Rating: 4/5

Bold flavours+Fresh ingredients = Palate tickling Sichuan food at Glass House

The term Sichuan or Szechuan immediately conjures images of spicy and fiery food in my mind. After all, food from this province of China is characterized by distinct flavours, unique taste and yes, hot, dishes. It is in fact one of the most popular schools of Chinese cooking.

Glasshouse, the all-day dining restaurant at Hyatt Regency Mumbai is hosting a Szechuan Food Festival from May 18 – 30, 2015With visiting Chef Steven Zhang from Hyatt Regency Chongqing, promising a wide range of China’s most popular dishes, cooked with authentic flavours to delight all palates, I decided to give it a try.

Chef Steven Zhang

With summer at its peak in Mumbai, the prospect of cold salads like Long beans, spicy garlic sauce, Poached chicken, numbing sauce (Chicken, spring onion, cucumber, numbing pepper, chicken sauce, oyster oil, chicken, Wok-fried mushroom, sounded inviting. These were palate-teasers alright, as these ignited our appetites. Each salad was distinct and different from the other. The cooking style was rustic and home-style and that appealed to me immensely. Chef Steven, was a master of his craft for sure.

The three fish and mushroom soup was comforting. Mildly spiced, one could taste the different flavours with ease. Subtle and delicate, not overwhelming at all.

As we walked past the vast buffet spread to decide what we were going to savour, the appearance of each dish struck me as spicy with an abundance of chilies and peppers. But then, that is typical of Sichuan food I thought. Pepper powder boiled in oil, an extensive use of chilies is common in this cuisine. Hu jiao, or the sichuan pepper, a dried peppercorn, from the citrus family is abundantly used and that’s what renders the food fiery.

Braised fish (Fish, green and red pepper, oyster sauce, salt, ginger, spring onion, chicken powder, soy bean paste “Lijinji”) was a delight. Again, braising, being a popular cooking method in Sichuan food. It tickled our taste buds and the succulent, basa simply melt in our mouth. The spice element, lived up to its reputation, but was manageable and we enjoyed it actually.

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Who can resist Wok-fried potato chips? Not me for sure, so I gave in. Potato, dry red pepper, numbing pepper, ginger, garlic, salt, spring onion, sesame oil, in an irresistible combination. The Wok-fried shredded pork, sweet and sour chili sauce surprisingly was not overtly spicy, but a tad oily though. But then again, Sichuan food is generous in its use of oil. A fact chefs are candid about.

The presence of many flavorings and seasonings in Sichuan dishes, make them unique and Chef Steven had deftly made use of this creating, lip-smacking fare. The vegetarian dishes were equally appetizing. An absolute surprise in fact.

Soy sauce, cooking vinegar, chiili sauce, are some of the oft-used ingredients which give a boost to the dishes in this cuisine. I was enjoying my meal with these unusual dishes and simple steamed rice. It actually accentuated the flavours of those dishes.

The menu, I observed, has been carefully crafted to cater to everyone’s palates. Make sure you are experimental and ready to indulge in Chef Steven’s signature dishes. Open for lunch and dinner, this Sichuan food promotion is on till the end of the month.

With bold flavours and exotic fresh ingredients, my palate was definitely rejuvenated at Glass House.

Rating : 3.5/5

Anjani’s Apron: a patisserie with a difference

I am all for entrepreneurs. And women entrepreneurs? Even better. Was thus very impressed when I learnt that behind the lip-smacking and unique array of desserts at Apron Patisserie, is a talented lady called Anjani Kasliwal.
Anjani has nurtured a passion for baking for as long as she can remember. Taking her hobby to the next level, she founded and started Apron Patisserie on August 4th 2013. Her forte is Eggless and Gelatine free baking. Whew! I thought that was commendable.
What appeals the most to me is the fact that all her desserts are customized and bespoke as per her customer’s needs. She goes all out to please her customers. Anjani has also pursued a cake decoration course  from Le cordon Bleu,London.
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Unusual flavours is what excites her. Fresh ingredients including fresh fruits are her favourite and using those, she creates magical cakes and desserts.
I loved her  cup cakes. Dainty and decadent. Poetry on plate. Literally. Rose and pistachio, Boston cream pie, chocolate with mint, black tea and honey, were some of the exciting flavours I tried. Absolutely unusual and of a very superior quality. But Rs 600 for 12 mini cup cakes I thought was a bit steep.
Her tea cakes are equally exciting. Carrot and cinnamon was particularly delicious. Light and fluffy. Baked to perfection. Very moist, just the way I love my cakes. Am keen to try the lemon and basil next time. Kids will love the cookies and cream cake.
The chocolate mousse did not match my expectations. Loved the container in which it was served though. Although the texture was smooth and perfect, I found it cloyingly sweet, which marred the experience for me. The quality of chocolate used was undoubtedly outstanding.
What do I say about the Dessert in a jar? Mouth-watering and a total eye-candy. Well-presented, these are not only sinful but value for money too. Vanilla with custard and fresh strawberries is to die for. I am frankly done with Red Velvet, but that is there too.
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She has brownies too- fudge, ferrero rocher, mint and fudge and many more. Of course Anjani does a variety of cakes on order too for birthdays, anniversaries and even corporates. Her presentation is classy, as are her choice of ingredients.
Based out of Breach candy in South Mumbai, Anjani takes orders from across Mumbai. So the next time you are craving exotic desserts and cakes, reach out for Anjani’s Apron Patisserie.
Rating : 3.5/5

Divine minus the wines too! Cafe D’Wine

The name of the cafe obviously suggested it had a lot to do with wines, so I did not step in with too many expectations from the food. But alas! I was wrong and how. The menu itself was an exercise in choices. Soups, salads, pizza, pastas, steaks and more. Whew! Of course the wine list was never ending too, but I was not in the mood for a wine so stuck to a simple, but refreshing basil and lemongrass cooler. In appearance like an aam panna, it had a light flavour which rejuvenated me immediately.

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New world cuisine is what this cozy cafe in Bandra offers. The décor is very European, simplisitic, yet stylish.The walls are laced with attractive Mediterranean tiles, inverted wine glasses hanging from the ceiling, slated wood furniture and a detailed Italian mural.  Bohemian chic! I got a good vibe as we settled down on our table.

The Butter chicken savoury custard floored me as it came with mini paratha pieces. A truly innovative presentation and twist, but the authenticity of the butter chicken was intact. Very robust, very Punjabi. Loved it.

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Just as I was waxing eloquent about this one, the Mediterranean sauteed fish blew my mind and yes, taste buds too. Pieces of rawas fish combined with 3 peppers and the lip-smacking teriyaki sauce was delightful. Spicy, it teased my palate beyond comparison. I was already mentally satiated.

The chicken stroganoff further nailed it. Served with home made purple fettucine pasta instead of the usual herb rice, this one was a clear winner. The presentation was so appealing. The taste of course further took the experience to another level. The creamy sauce of the stroganoff was generously filled with cheese, mushrooms and interestingly, spinach too. What a twist this was! I just could not let go off this medley of flavours and textures from my mouth or memory. It surpassed my expectations.

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There are great options for vegetarians too. Pumpkin ravioli, cheesy gnocchi et al. The menu is refreshingly different. Kudos to the chef. Everything on the menu sounds enticing. Signature items lof this cafe are “Smoked Chicken Salad”, “Red Bean Hummus”, “Butter Chicken Savory Custard” and “Ceylon Tuna Parcels with marinated Okra” . A must try in the menu is Norwegian Grilled Pink Salmon Steak, which is a new addition, I was told.

Sanjay Mirani, Managing Director at Café D’Wine previously associated with brands like Athena, Da Vinci and Ivy, has done a great job yet again. Affordably priced, this cafe serves great food and wines which do not burn a hole in your wallet.

Sadly, the desserts which they outsource, had not arrived n time, so was unable to sample that. But no loss really, considering I had enjoyed my meal thoroughly. This one was a divine experience, minus the wines too!

Food rating: 4/5