Tag Archives: global

Pleasing my Palate in Pune

My foodie trails take me to several places and recently I found myself at Double Tree by Hilton, Pune, a hotel located in Pimpri-Chinchwad away from the hustle-bustle and yet, with all basic necessities a stone’s throw away.

The gourmand in me beamed with pleasure as a large, warm, chocolate chip cookie was handed over to me at the time of check-in. That is a Hilton tradition. The warm cookie was comforting after my journey and simply melt-in-my-mouth.

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3 Spices, the vibrant all-day dining place at the lobby level impressed me. It exudes an air of bonhomie and comfort. The cheerful and warm staff settled us in and we looked around the buffet spread for lunch. There was no run-of-the-mill stuff here. Food from around the world – Indian, Pan Asian, Global- something for every palate.  And attractively displayed. The bar at the entrance is well-stocked and the bartenders adeptly mix cocktails of your choice.

There was a live chaat counter too. Just perfect for this weather to perk up my taste buds.

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The roasted chicken with rosemary jus, the mangshor jhol or quintessential Bengali mutton curry with birasta pulao, struck me as outstanding. The bhakris, chicken in khada masala and stuffed okra that chef specially made for us to give us a taste of the local flavours took my taste buds by storm. The flavours were distinct and no where did spices overpower the ingredients.

The Pan Asian fare was equally well-made sans any additives and preservatives.

The a la carte menu here is exhaustive and boasts of everything from curry laksa and classic caesar salad to penne pasta genovese and chicken tikka pizza. The 6 seeti ka mutton and Kerala Pomfrt curry from the regional specialities are a must-try.

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The desserts were equally unusual. The beetroot halwa, Um ali- the Egyptian bread pudding, caught my fancy and both of them surpassed my expectations. The creamy texture of both desserts wowed my palate.

The varied fare at this buffet with unusual delicacies, certainly sets it apart from many others.

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Although for dinner, 3 Spices had an Awadhi food promotion, which looked immensely tempting, I decided to skip it as Miyuki, the small and cosy Japanese restaurant behind 3 Spices, beckoned me. Chef Nirmal’s work at the Teppanyaki griddle, mesmerised me as he treated us to an exotic meal complete with salads, sushi, sashimi, fried rice with chicken teriyaki and of course dessert. The flavours were simple and subtle, in keeping with Japanese cuisine and the ingredients fresh. The Sashimi particularly stood out for me in the entire meal.

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The service staff at all the F& B outlets is impeccable. Well-trained, courteous and most importantly well-informed.

My breakfast next morning was an enjoyable experience again. The live counters with eggs and waffles were fun to watch as chefs adroitly dished out waffles and eggs for diners a la minute. The ‘Kadak chai’ tapri or stall served piping hot masala tea, in keeping with the culture of Pune.

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Cereals, Pan Asian dishes, fruits, South Indian fare, bakery items. There truly was a lot to choose from. The array of fresh juices- mixed, watermelon, orange, carrot and ginger in glass bottles impressed me beyond words.

Chef Joy who is at the helm and his team of talented chefs ensure that the F&B offerings are unique and monotony never sets in for a long staying guest. They constantly endeavour to create new dining experiences for guests.  The attentive and affable waiting staff executes this to perfection and together, they contribute to a memorable dining experience for the guest.

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Tarta, the tiny and attractive bakery and patisserie in the lobby is hard-to-miss. Fresh breads, pastries and cakes galore, are on display and irresistible.

I have stayed at many hotels in India and abroad, but the F&B offerings here at Double Tree by Hilton Pune, Chinchwad are something I will long cherish and remember.

 

 

 

 

 

Around the World in 52 weeks

A new cuisine every Friday for 52 weeks? Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? World Streat Food Delicatessen and Taproom at Dalamal Towers, Nariman Point Mumbai is the place which accomplishes this magical feat.

 

At affordable prices in a contemporary restaurant with a warm vibe one can relish a new cuisine each week at a week-long festival or order from the exhaustive a la carte menu. Equally varied is the bar menu with exciting cocktails.

I was fortunate to experience the South East Asian food festival as that is one of my favourite cuisines. The menu was exciting and there was a fair amount of variety including several vegetarian options.

A comforting bowl of Laksa was what I began my meal with. Well-made, the ingredients were fresh and of a great quality and the spices, authentic. The creamy  coconut milk based soup was filling and I thoroughly relished it given the rainy season in Mumbai. There were other options too from Indonesia, Malaysia, East Timor, Philippines and so on.

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The Singapore curry puff seemed inviting, but I decided to skip it in favour of the Murtabak. This crispy stuffed pancake with chicken, eggs, potato and spices, was strongly reminiscent of the Moghlai Paratha in Kolkata. Delicious with a generous amount of filling, this was a palate pleaser. The Thai dumplings, usually my favourite, paled in comparison today.

 

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Nasi Goreng, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Phad Phak, there was a lot to choose from.  I opted for the Phuket’s Chilli Basil rice upon the recommendation of the Manager and when it arrived, I was grateful to him for his recommendation.

Served with the fiery Tabonjan sauce, in the center, it perked up my taste buds instantly and set my palate tingling.

For dessert I skipped the typical Tub Tim Grob and settled for the Indonesian custard Kopyar instead. Pieces of tender coconut in a creamy coconut based custard were delightful. The tramisu from the a la carte menu sounded delectable too.

Italian Tiramisu (1)

The al la carte menu is equally a gourmand’s delight – Mee Goreng, Iran Mughlai Biryani, and Brazil Habanero Chilli Prawns Soups like Canada Cheese Burger Soup, Thailand Tom Kha. There is something for every palate.

Mexican Veg toastadas

Tempting desserts like the Japan Matcha Cake to Thailand’s Tub Tim Grob, Sweden Kladdkka, Austrian Sachertorte are bound to make you indulge in these sinful choices.

Taproom, of this exquisite restaurant is  a hotspot for youngsters, as Crafted Beers and Bottled Wines are being served from  across the world.

The varied range of teas and coffees struck me as impressive. Italy Espresso, Turkey Turkish Coffee, India Desi Coffee, New Zealand Flat White to England Earl Grey, Thailand Thai Iced Tea, Morocco Maghrebi Mint Tea. Whew! Those were some offerings.

The impeccable service, warm vibe, good food which is easy-on-the wallet along with the stellar concept of sampling a new world cuisine each week throughout the year, is bound to make gourmet’s like me come back often to sample a new cuisine.

 

Vibrant cafe, eclectic bar : Canto

The ambience of Canto all day cafe and bar, in Girgaum, South Mumbai, which transforms into a high energy pulsating place in the evening transports you to a cheery cafe in Europe. The natural light filtering in through the French windows and the roominess all around adds to the charm. The welcoming vibe is comforting and beckons you immediately.

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Seated on a corner table I skim through the menu which offers a vast variety of global food with chef’s own twist. Soups, salads, small plates, mains, desserts are what you can expect to find here. Mushroom on toast, chilli polenta, are bound to tease the Vegetarian palate. Carnivores have a lot to choose from. Chimichurri chicken tikka, lamb meatball, eggs kejriwal and more. Those seeking something light yet filling can settle for the pizza, sandwiches and burgers.

Watermelon salad at Canto

The sambar risotto sounds exciting and entices me immediately. A spoonful of it and am convinced of chef’s creative streak. The spicy flavours mesh well with the creamy risotto. Banana wrapped fish too is worth a try. Served with fried rice, it is value for money and the delicate flavours are handled with flourish.

The bar menu here is equally eclectic and well crafted offering something for everyone, no matter what your tipple. The bar is well-stocked and eye-catching too in terms of decor – aesthetic and classy.

Molten chocolate, crepe suzette, tiramisu are among the dessert offerings. Simple but well made.

The ingredients used are of great quality, the cooking styles have been kept simple and the food is flavoursome. The presentation, is appealing and the staff is warm and amiable.

This is the kind of place one can sit quietly for hours, reading a book and tucking into the food all by oneself or relaxing with friends in the evening with good food, music and fun cocktails.  Truly, Canto is your neighbourhood cafe and bar alright. Only wish I was residing in South Mumbai for once!

Rating : 3.5/5

Getting Cheesy

‘Say Cheese’. A common expression used by photographers when they want their subject/s to smile during a photo session. I am an exception. Cheese, makes me smile anyway, as I love it. Naturally then, the very thought of an entire promotion dedicated to cheese, at 1441 Pizzeria, Mumbai at Fort and Lokhandwala, Andheri West, titled’ Say Cheese Festival’ made me smile ear to ear. I was visibly excited.

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An entire new menu curated around cheese.  What more could a cheese lover like me ask for? Camembert and blue cheese pizza, buratta pizza, fromage blanc pizza, feta cheese pizza, smoky cheese pizza, were some of the exciting offerings on this menu.

I tried a piece each of some of the varieties at the Lokhandwala outlet and was blown away by the quality of the cheese. They had obviously used the best and that made all the difference to the taste of the pizza. The fresh ingredients and flavours were bursting and seeking attention. The techniques, precision and variety at 144 Pizzeria has always impressed me.

 

The Camembert and blue cheese pizza was delightful. The flavours in sharp contrast, yet complementary. The smoky pizza was, as expected, a treat for the palate with the smoky flavours, enveloping my taste buds. The crunch came in the form of veggies, olives, in many of the pizza.

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But the piece de resistance that evening was the coffee pizza. I have never eaten anything  quite like that before. Dessert pizza, with chocolates, fruits et al, in abundance, made by the best Italian chefs, but this coffee pizza was unique. The honey, spices, herbs, jalapenos, were high on flavours and then, the drizzle of strong coffee powder teased your taste buds, just the right amount. The contrast was evident and spectacular. I lauded the mastery of the person who created this concept and of course those, who were skilfully, executing it.

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The in-house Italian sauces, used in each pizza were lip-smacking and different. The usage of vegetables and other ingredients was apt, in the right proportion. Even the cheese did not overpower any of the pizza flavours. The crust, as always, was just perfect for me.

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The enthusiastic staff, their positive energy and desire to see a guest satisfied, is praiseworthy. I love the fact that they are well-informed and able to explain the pizza offerings on the menu exceedingly well to a guest.

I left, satiated and smiling. I was, inadvertently, saying cheese, as that was what was on my mind and in my stomach:)

On till, May 31, this ‘Say Cheese’ festival is not to be missed if you are a cheese lover or a pizza lover or both.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

Around the World With Ten Pizzas

Endowed with an adventurous palate, I embarked upon a gastronomic journey last night at California Pizza Kitchen at Infiniti Mall Malad, Mumbai. After all it was an exciting Pizza Trail with pizzas from across the world!

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Sipping our Malta & Pom and Melon Duo, in virgin avatars, we were sufficiently rejuvenated and got a respite from the humidity outside. The menu looked interesting. A variety of Pizzas from all over the globe, highlighting the varied flavours of each country. Our drinks were well-made, with liberal amount of fresh fruit pieces, fresh juice et al, creatively served in jars. Value for money, all the way!

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To begin with, we settled for the Lebanese Grill chicken. The succulent pieces of chicken were flawless in texture and flavour and grilled to perfection. The marinade too was distinct, as were the herbs. Yet, it was a tad bland for my palate. The Charmula fried fish gave me no scope for disappointment. Crisply fried, the fillet was melt in the mouth and the accompanying lime cream sauce added the right amount of zest.

The Cheeseburger pizza was strongly recommended by the chef. We complied. And it was a great choice. Laden with the goodness of cheese, it was like having a burger in a Pizza form. Delectable. The chicken cubes, generously layered, added to the experience.

Cheese Burger Pizza

As a Vegetarian option, we opted for the Thai curry pizza. While the characteristic Thai flavours were pronounced, something seemed missing in this one and it failed to tease my taste buds. Perhaps it was a bit too dry? I loved the presentation though.

Of course there were a host of exciting options on the menu that Pizza lovers can choose from. Verdure from Italy or Peri Peri from South Africa, in vegetarian and non vegetarian versions.

The Banoffee Bombe was an absolute treat and exploded in my mouth, quite literally. A rather large serving and filled with chocolate and coffee mousse, banana and dulce de leche cream. The marriage of flavours couldn’t be more heavenly. The mousse was creamy, soft and just the way it should be. The banana flavours were not overpowering and enhanced the taste of this otherwise, sinful dessert.

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The prompt and courteous staff at CPK is always a delight to have around. This is my favourite outlet.

The ingredients used struck me as fresh, of the finest quality and the variety, mind-boggling. An enjoyable bit of globe-trotting, I indulged in.

Rating: 3.5/5

Worth Taking This World Tour

Who doesn’t like travelling and that too if it is a culinary tour? I embarked on world tour to discover the best burgers and beers at Woodside Andheri West, as part of their Around The World in 20 days Beer and Burgers Festival. Of course one has an option to go to their Colaba outlet too.

As I bit into I first burger, I could not help lament the fact that though this festival was in its 8th edition, I was stepping in to experience it for the first time. Better late than never I guess!

Pioneering the concept of pairing freshly flipped burgers and hand-crafted brews, Woodside this year,  has upped its offerings and has introduced burgers and beers from around the world, starting from July 14 to August 2, 2015.

The specially curated Burger Menu by Executive Chef. Subhash Shirke was impressive and well-rounded. He was catering to every palate. Burgers from India, France, Spain, Argentina, Italy, Japan, USA. Whew!  And in keeping with the latest craze for Craft Beers, they had handpicked artisanal craft beers from Gateway Brewing Company and Independence Brewing Company to enhance  the dining experience.

Not a beer fan exactly, I decided to steer clear from those. The best ones could not tempt me. Burgers were enough to satiate me. My Argentinian Chimichuri Chicken Burger arrived. Well-presented with french fries in a paper boat, an exciting dip, salad, et al. I settled for a sesame bun. The chicken patty was juicy and moist, unlike several burgers one is used to eating in Mumbai. And had exciting flavours to it too. Well spiced, it needed no dip actually. This robust burger was perfect just by itself.

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The Peruvian Rock shrimp burger, was my next choice. A generous helping of shrimps for sure, as the shrimps kept falling out of my burger bun. The shrimps were fresh and of a superior quality.  Absolutely melt-in-the-mouth. The flavours were a bit reminiscent of a Thai dish, but I was not complaining. Subtle no doubt, but delectable to the core. The dip along with was citrusy and extremely appetizing.

Sumptuous and filling, one could not think of tasting any other burger from the exhaustive menu. These were truly world class burgers.

The Napoli’  – Italian chicken burger (Italy), Brit sun day roast! (Britain), B’ in a ‘B’ – healthy eating in a bowl (US),  Duck Confit Burger  (France), Spanish RoastPork Belly Burger (Spain), were the other options and definitely sounded inviting. Meat lovers are going to relish these.

Apart from the non-veg selections, there were several unusual Veg ones. The Thai spiced lentil burger and Japanese Teriyaki Tofu Burger caught my attention. Would love to go back for those.

Each burger was aptly paired with a beer. Given the quality and freshness of the ingredients, portion sizes, the burgers were well-priced I thought.

The attentive staff and their prompt service, bowled me over. Not obtrusive, just the way I love it. It is always a pleasure to interact with polite and well-informed F&B staff and Cyril, was all that and more.

I returned home, with my taste-buds tingling in excitement, my tummy happy with the delicious burgers I had sampled. Good to have been to Woodside I thought!

Rating: 4/5

Country Curries at Shamiana

Taste buds are tantalized often and palates are pleased at many meals, but it is not everyday that you sample food that touches your soul. Curries of the World at Shamiana, Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai, was one such memorable experience.

While I have had the privilege of travelling a fair bit and experiencing several global cuisines, I have never tasted such an amazing array of delectable curries from across the world as created by Chef Amit Chowdhury and his team.

Shamiana had curated a special menu bringing together the innovative curries made using a complex combination of spices and herbs across the globe – Cape Town, Spain, Africa, Portuguese, Brazil The menu looked so inviting and the stories, behind each curry, interesting, that I read with rapt attention.

Our Pollo al curry, aka Spanish baked Chicken curry, Catalonia bread and Valencia style Mushroom and Beans arrived. I was floored with the presentation. Suddenly felt like royalty. The curry was light, with subtle flavours and extremely comforting. It soothed our palates. The beans and mushrooms accompaniment, added the right amount of crunch to the dish and perked our taste buds. Visually of course, it was poetry on plate, oops platter actually!

Guyanese Crab Curry-Guyana_The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai

We had just about soaked these flavours that our next, Guyanese crab curry was served. What can I say about this magnum opus of a dish? The Arabian Sea Crab curry, with Wild Rice and Hot peppers Relish was a treat for the eyes and undoubtedly for the palate. While our coastal crab curries in India are so heavily spiced (but delicious) this one was so fragrant and light. Delicately flavoured. The wild rice, was the highlight and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It had a bite to it which other varieties of rice don’t quite offer.

The Bunny Chow, our first vegetarian curry, was artistry by the chef. Durban Pumpkin, Baby Potatoes, Cottage cheese and Lima bean Curry served in Crusty bread, which had been scooped beautifully to become a serving dish. I was spellbound. I loved the way the vegetables were combined in a sweet-spicy thick curry and the crunchy bread paired well with it. Reminded me of a Goan curry and pao meal.

Japanese Mushroom & Tofu Curry

Our last curry for dinner was the Japanese Mushroom and Tofu Curry – Japanese curry with shitake, cremini and haricot served with short grain rice, crispy onion and pickled vegetables. The flavours in the curry were a bit too sharp and overpowering for my palate. The rice provided some relief, but I would not rate this as one of the best on offer. My vote definitely went to the Guyanese crab curry.

Sea food lovers may love the Trini Shrimp Curry – Caribbean shrimp and green pepper curry with apple Kuchela and Jamaican rice, served with fried plantains and salsa. For vegetarians,  there was the Ottogi Curry – aubergines water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, glass noodles, garlic sesame kimchi with simmered lotus in soy sauce.

I missed having the Khoresht e Gheimeh –  Persian lamb and split peas curry, tachin, mint yoghurt, sabzi khordan served with French fries. Chef informed me that this curry makes use of liberal amounts of saffron to give a unique and flavourful taste. Sounded exciting, but I was satiated beyond words and there was no scope to taste even a spoonful. But I had enjoyed every morsel of what I tasted, so had no regrets.

Palate pleasing flavours, outstanding presentation, impeccable service and an extremely creativie menu. With these thoughts, I left Shamiana.