Tag Archives: Wines

Greco : Simply Greek in Goa

A cheerful vibe envelopes you as you enter the Greek cuisine restaurant Greco replete with pristine white and bright blue decor – quintessentially Greek. Although located at Radisson Blu Resort, Cavelossim in South Goa, the separate entrance with the menu placed outside, gives you an option to enter this place, without having to go through the Hotel.

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The striking decor actually transports you to Greece and you could well be in a taverna with a relaxed setting. An arch way leads you to the outdoor seating which is of the inimitable courtyard style and offers a spectacular view. Of course, there is ample seating inside too. In fact the plush interiors, with a swish, well-stocked bar and the mood lighting creates an unparalleled atmosphere.

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A  simple but complete menu largely representative of Crete island in Greece,  is palced before you. However, there are other specialities from other parts of Greece too, giving a diner an insight into this cuisine. The menu has been cleverly crafted by Chef Stelios, a native of Greece. Sea food expectedly abounds in the offerings.

My Psarosopa is a medley of sea food flavours- subtle and comforting. The sea food stock has been cleverly used and is not overpowering. The Greek Mezze here is quite different from the various versions that are often passed off as the original mezze. The tzatziki is bang on in flavours and textures. The kalamata olive paste wows my palate as well, but it is the aubergine salad which unexpectedly stands out. With the warm pita bread dipped into these in turns, I relish every morsel I eat.

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The garides saganaki- a simple but flavourful prawns dish in tomatoes with a dash of ouzo (liqueur) perks up my taste buds. The prawns are fresh and of a superior quality. The tragani feta bursting with fresh flavours, encased in a crisp covering drizzled with honey, with a characteristic sweet and savoury flavour, was the piece de resistance for the evening. It clearly bore testimony to the chef’s mastery over his craft.

The gyros chicken is well-made too. Sea food and poultry apart, for hard-core carnivores, there is a fair amount to choose from. Vegetarians need not despair as there is ample variety too.

My dessert is special, yet, traditional. Galaktoboureko – a sweet and sour cream on a pastry crust immersed me in a food coma. A bite into the crispy phyllo and the creamy semoilna custard filled one’s mouth. Made to perfection, it was a dessert which left you satiated and yet, craving for more.

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I observed that nowhere in my entire meal, did the spices (although minimal) drown the flavours of the core ingredients and the chef had donejustice to all the ingredients by using simple cooking methods.

The use of extra virgin olive oil, ouzo and fresh authentic ingredients adds the right amount of punch and flavour to the dishes. The food is high on flavours and the quality of the ingredients, shines through. It is simple and uncomplicated fare.

If a cocktail is what you fancy, the bartender behind the glitzy bar will make you something to your taste. And of course the selection of wines will lure you as well.

The staff is well-informed about the menu and the service is quick and alert.

Greco truly surpassed my expectations and I felt that for the first time in India, I had a Greek meal which was an honest representation of this simple but flavoursome cuisine.

Rating: 4.5/5

My Saturday was ‘Reserved’

This winery has been eluding me for a while now. I have somehow never been able to make this trip, despite several invitations from the generous Abhay Kewadkar, of Four Seasons Wines.

Persuasion or luck, or a combination of both and I found myself heading to Baramati, to experience the launch of Four Seasons Vintner’s Reserve last Saturday.

The journey, was long and somewhat tiring, but it was all worth it. As the car rolled into the winery, I was spellbound at the spectacle before my eyes – A palatial French styled chateau.

The atmosphere  was redolent with an air of informality, as the long table by the poolside was set for the launch of the highly anticipated 2011 signature wine, the Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels.

The Four Seasons Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels is a magnificent limited edition wine that is an iconic expression of style, having been conceptualized in their vineyards, and made to mature in seasoned oak barrels.

The Vintner’s Reserve red wine is an intricate assemblage of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz varieties grown in the Sahyadri valley, meticulously nurtured and aged over two years in barrels, followed by further aging in bottles for two years.

“The Four Seasons Vintner’s Reserve is a wine that is very dear to my heart, a wine crafted with care and artistry, and combining the highest quality with an aura of exclusivity. This limited release red wine is a one-of-a-kind, beautifully layered, complex wine, brimming with rich notes of autumn black fruits as top notes, and underlying notes of spice. It is an outstanding wine that will impress you with its rich color and deep aromas,” said Abhay Kewadkar, Chief Winemaker and Director.

It was not as if we were only going to witness the launch of the wine. A carefully curated menu by Chef Sachin Joshi of Vivanta by Taj, Pune had been put together. Each course, had dishes with grapes integrated in them, in some form.

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The Greek salad with local grapes and chia, was what we started our meal with. The light sunny yellow, Four Seasons Sauvignon Blanc was paired with it. This zesty and refreshing wine complimented the citrusy flavours of the salad.

My Fish Veronique was a delight for the palate. The experience was further enhanced as we sipped the Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011 with it. Selective ageing has given deep intensity, depth, clarity, and variety of flavor to this wine.

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With the Baked grape and Philadelphia Cheesecake came the  Four Seasons Sparkling Rose Brut. There could not have been a better pairing.  With layered aromas and floral notes on the nose and palate, this was truly a match made in heaven.

Amidst a lot of glasses of wines, conversations and food, the hours just flew and it was time to rush back to Mumbai as the clock struck 3 !

Warm hospitality, extended by Abhay himself and his team, made the few hours spent there, worth it and I was glad to have made the journey to Baramati. But of course I need to go back again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goa Unlimited

Goa is second home, quite literally, yet, for some strange reason, I have never been there to witness the Carnival. I was determined to set this right in 2016 and thus planned a trip to witness Goa in all its glory during the Carnival and The Grape Escapade, organised by the GTDC and Department of Tourism Goa in the first week of February.

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My excitement knew no bounds, as seated in the VIP gallery, I waited with baited breath for King Momo and his entourage to enter Panjim in the GTDC float.  And then he did. Magnificent, colourful and majestic. Yes, the opening float was all this and more. The crowds cheered lustily as he addressed them. Poulami Ghosh, the star of Nachom-ia-Kumpasar, sang in her melodious voice, recreating the magic of Lorna, the heartthrob of Goans.

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A steady stream of colourful and innovative floats from different villages of Goa, with music, dance and performances enthralled us all. What a spectacle it was and the atmosphere was electric, as the crowds danced in their seats and waved to the performers.

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Local farmers with vegetables, fisherfolk, preserving the environment, football, weddings, washermen aka dhobis, were some of the unusual themes of the floats.It reflected the team spirit of the Goans as it did their creativity. Most of the floats were a great piece of art and craftsmanship.

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Three hours flew by amidst merriment and gaiety. The Carnival struck me as exceedingly well-organised given the scale of the event. It surpassed my expectations.

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Traffic was well managed, spectators were well-behaved and of course the quality of the floats was outstanding.

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What is nice is that those who miss the Carnival in Panjim on the first day, can catch it in other cities like Mapusa, Madgaon and Vasco on subsequent days with local floats and entertainment.

This was just the beginning of fun and enjoyment for me, as I headed to the annual Grape Escapade, a food and lifestyle festival at the DB Bandodkar grounds in Campal, Panjim.

This fete of flavours aptly encapsulates the exuberance of Goan lifestyle by highlighting Goa’s multi-cultural influences and artistic passions, thus branding Goa as a “Lifestyle Destination”. After all Goa is truly that, isn’t it?

The weather was perfect and the mood eclectic. Live performances were happening on the large stage to enthrall guests and the stalls had on offer wines from Goa and across India, as well as local Goan food by restaurants, hotels and home makers alike.

The local wines were of great quality and spelt innovation. It is indeed a great platform for budding wine makers and entrepreneurs to showcase their wines. People were eagerly sipping the wines and discussing them amongst friends and family.

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Goan delicacies like cafreal, chorizo pao, xacuti, Sanas, pork vindaloo et al were being lapped up by the crowds as the evening progressed.

The spacious grounds allowed place for everyone to roam around freely, sit and watch performances or even attend the wine appreciation session. There was truly something for everyone.

The highlight of the 4 day event was the fashion show and the selection of The Grape Escapade Queen 2016 on the last day. The huge installation at the entrance by Grover Zampa was equally astounding.

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Goa is truly festive during this week of February and offers a charm that is unparalleled. I was extremely glad to have planned this trip and was grateful to GTDC for offering me such a culturally rich experience and glimpse of Goa. Viva Goa!

 

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

The Perfect Match: Longest Reserve Table Wine Dinner

It was a dinner with a difference. Jacob’s Creek, extended The Reserve Table experience with the ‘Longest Reserve Table’ in Mumbai at The Terrace Garden at ITC Grand Central. It was elegance personified. The ITC Grand Central Team did a fabulous job of the decor, service and of course food. The service too was impeccable, as expected with clockwork precision.

The ‘Longest Reserve Table’ in Mumbai witnessed more than 100 gourmands who had reserved a seat at the table to be a part of this unique experience.  I was privileged to be one of them. Adrian Pinto of Jacob’s Creek, played the perfect host, introducing the wines and ensuring all his guests were enjoying themselves. 

Jacob’s Creek Reserve wines were perfectly paired with a well -curated menu by ITC Grand Central’s Executive Chef Bhaskar Sankhari. The versatility of the wines was evident. My vote went to the Chardonnay. Have a special soft corner for that one. The Sparkling Rose too was refreshing. 

The ITC chefs were challenged to push boundaries and create flavours to complement select wines from the Jacob’s Creek Reserve range sourced from some of Australia’s most premium wine regions- the Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills. And I can safely say the Chefs came out tops.

Kuldeep Bhartee, General Manager, ITC Grand Central Mumbai said, “This is indeed a unique way to showcase the exquisite menu crafted by our Executive Chef paired with fine wines.” I couldn’t agree more with him.

The experience commenced with ITC’s signature hors d’oeuvres with Jacob’s Creek’s signature sparkling wine, the Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee.

Indeed the food served, complemented the wines. The dum cooked chicken mince kebabs with sheermal or the vegetarian gucci badam ke shikampur were an apt match for the Jacob’s Creek Classic Shiraz Cabernet. The robust spicy red fruit and cherry bouquet with the soft tanins and fruit flavours on the palate was an unparalleled treat.

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I loved the pudina paani and citrus granita in between as a palate cleanser. My favourite wine the Chardonnay arrived with the Gosht ke nihari and taftaan. A sublime treat for the palate.

The experience reached its Nadir with the Gosht Bohri Biryani and Kathal Ki Biryani impeccably paired with Jacobs Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz.

The dessert- saffron and almoroso flavoured baked rosogulla was a creamy treat. The delicate pink Sparkling Rose did justice to it.

ITC Hotels’ Indian spread is undisputedly the best in the country.  I can never tire of it and love the way Chef Sankhari and his team keep reinventing the menus.

An enjoyable evening of tantalising food flavours and the best of wines. Have not enjoyed a wine dinner so much in a long time. There couldn’t have been a better way to usher in Gudi Padwa!

An Epicurean Evening

Wine dinners are suddenly fashionable and one gets invited to a plethora of them. But one at Olio, the Italian restaurant at Novotel Juhu is special. Reason : one gets to sample food prepared and created by the culinary wizard Executive Chef Ranveer Brar. Add to that wines from Chateau de Parenchere. Need I say more?

And I wasn’t wrong at all. The evening was beautiful and the ambience at Olio even better- music, great company et al. Chateau de Parenchere blanc was the first wine we sipped. A refreshing fruity white. Just my type. With it was paired a goat cheese tikki with tamarind and dressed with a chickpea salad. The tamarind was too overpowering for me and somehow did not compliment the goat cheese tikki which was in any case too cheesy(no pun intended!) and heavy. A tad disappointing. But clearly, the best was yet to come.

Mushroom three ways could very well be the highlight of the evening. And it sure was. Mushroom tea, mushroom steak and mushroom risotto were a visual delight as were they on the palate. The textures and flavours blend perfectly well. The lure of a steak is always irresistible and this one, albeit made of mushrooms, was equally robust, smothered in a delectable sauce and did not let me down. The mushroom tea particularly caught my fancy as it was an interesting addition, I thought.  An outstanding creation by Chef Brar. The full-bodied, Bordeaux superior with its spiciness,  was a perfect match for this and they stood together cheek by jowl, complimenting each other and creating a riot of flavours in one’s mouth. The balance between the fruitiness and tannin in this wine, appealed to me.

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The panna cotta with rose petal nougatine and fig chutney wowed my palate like never before. Artistically presented the delicate flavours teased my taste buds and the melt in the mouth panna cotta was sheer delight. The consistency though, I thought could have been a little more creamier and firm. A bit too runny. I loved the dash of fig chutney which added the right amount of gusto to the dish as did the tangy cherry sorbet. The Parenchere Rose served along was well structured and full bodied. A lot  more intense than usual ones and offered a unique experience with its strawberry and raspberry aromas.

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Being vegetarian for once was not a bad decision after all. considering Chef Ranveer’s versatility as a chef is evident in his vegetarian Italian fare too.

 

 

The World on Your P(a)late @Pondichery Cafe!

My visit to Sofitel BKC was long overdue and there could be no better occasion to head there, than for the sumptuous Sunday brunch at Pondichery Café, the all day dining outlet at the Hotel. With over 120 gourmet delicacies, I had to brace myself to experiment and indulge. One look at the vast array of display counters and the buffet spread ranging from Continental, Asian, Indian and Mediterranean, I knew, it was going to be a memorable gastronomic journey.

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Mezze, Sushi, Teppanyaki, Terrines, Salads, Tandoor and a Consome counter. Whew! I did not know where to start from. Food apart, the pleasant demeanour of the affable chefs, smiling service staff, was a pleasure to see.

We decided to start with the detox juices and fruit shooters. Yummy. And yes we had embarked upon a healthy culinary journey. (Or so we thought!) The salads were equally inviting. Chaat, Grills, succulent Chicken Doner Kebabs, Dumba Biryani, Banana Dosa, Pan seared Foie gras parfait  as well as made-to-order pizza and calzones, beckoned us. There was something for every palate.

We savoured the delicacies at a leisurely pace. The teppanyaki sea food and chicken were particularly outstanding. I loved the way the asparagus and poached egg were presented. The salmon was grilled to perfection and paired well with the chicken. The stir fry veggies with noodles too were a palate pleaser.

The variety of the fare was unparalleled. I was really impressed with the global food section with some typical French delicacies. In keeping with their Indo-French fusion, the Indian dishes too were extraordinary, especially the Dumba biryani, which was innovatively served.

Although after the mouth-watering brunch, there is no scope to eat desserts, but not indulging in those, is a greater sin at Pondichery Café. The spread is one of its’ kind and the Pastry chef, gently coaxes you into trying everything.  Gâteaux de meringue de chocolate, Coriander de meringue bavarois, Linzer cake with homemade strawberry jam, Baileys cheese cake, Saffron crème brule, were some of the treats on offer.

It was one of the most amazing culinary experiences this year. Or shall I say the best so far? Relaxing amidst the dramatic Indo-European interiors, with great food, prompt service, courteous staff and a cheerful ambience, it was indeed a memorable Sunday. Now need to try the other Restaurants at Sofitel BKC too !