Celebrating 35 years: The Royal Afghan, ITC Windsor

Before it was ITC Windsor, it was Windsor Manor, a hotel my parents and I visited for special occasions when I was a child. I remember at least one meal at The Royal Afghan. So, when this restaurant, which has never changed its menu, dishes, or recipes, turned 35, and decided to celebrate with a month long special, I had to join in!
The special signature chef’s choice menu, crafted by Chef Riyaz Ahmed and team gives diners a chance to try almost all the restaurant’s North West Frontier offerings – so be prepared to eat a lot, and really well! The menu at Royal Afghan isn’t vast, but curated, presenting the best dishes, with special spices and techniques handed down and honed over the last three and half decades and with the aim of maintaining the exacting standards and flavors. Now, here’s a pictorial journey of our beautiful lunch, for day or night, the poolside setting affords a lovely ambience.

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Tandoori Jhinga – Tiger Prawns farmed by ITC Foods itself, this was heavenly!

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Kadak Seekh Kebab – you won’t be able to stop eating this!

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The delectable Tandoori Chicken (made with yellow chilli powder)

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The rich and smoky Barrah Kebab

 

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A medley of the vegetarian starters: Subz Seekh Kebab, Tandoori Aloo, Tandoori Phool, Paneer Tikka, Tandoori Simla Mirch

 

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Indian Breads, including a Khasta Roti, a family favorite

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Dal Bukhara and Butter Chicken – traditional dishes that complete the meal

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The Sikandari Raan – the restaurant’s specialty and a favorite with diners

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Kulfi – oh so good! Light in flavor and consistency, this was

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Gulab Jamun – need I say more?

Details: The Royal Afghan, ITC Windsor; Anniversary signature menu INR 3300 plus taxes (non veg) & Rs. 2800 plus taxes (veg) per person; Available through Sunday, 30th November, 2017.

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Sea Rock: A Golden Oldie

I have developed quite the love for Mangalorean food over the last few years. This was a cuisine I had never tried until moving to Bangalore, and my first introduction was via the delectable neer dosa. A Mangalorean best friend, visits to Mangalore, and a growing appreciation of seafood means that today, this cuisine is one of my go-to choices when I want Indian food. I have eaten home style Mangalorean as well as at a range of restaurants across the city, and a good neer dosa and ghee roast make me a very contented gal.

My new favored spot in town is a golden oldie, if you will – Sea Rock, which bills itself as a family restaurant and bar. The restaurant has changed venue a few times in the thirty plus years of its existence, and has undergone transformations. But one thing it has always been known for, is its great seafood, especially Mangalore preps. And I have friends who have eaten here as kids and now are rediscovering its goodness as adults. The menu shows Chinese, North and South Indian dishes in addition to the Mangalorean delicacies, but those in the know come here especially for the seafood, and indeed, the regulars don’t even bother to glance at a menu, just reeling off their favorites. As will I, in the future!

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Clams Sukka

The choices are many, from shellfish to fish to chicken and mutton, as well as plenty for vegetarian diners. But, well, seafood is really what you should be ordering, unless you don’t eat it! The Mangalore Sukka Marwai (clams) is what I would recommend starting off with for the shellfish lovers. Sukka, which features grated coconut in addition to a blend of spices, is a very Mangy, very delicious preparation! Follow this up with the Squid (Bondas) Masala Fry, or if you’re not into squid, try another fish, but definitely do NOT miss out on the Masala Fry at Sea Rock. Silken, coconutty (thanks to being fried up in coconut oil), and just a little spicy – this will, if you’re anything like me, induce yummy sounds from within.

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Masala Fry Squid

Now, the larger the group you’re with, the more you can order, and since I’ve been with 6 or so people each time, we have been lavish. For the fish fans, Pomfret (Maanji) in Tandoori masala and Anjal (Seer Fish) Tawa Fry will leave you very happy. And for the hardcore fish fans, both the Rava Fry for Kane (Lady Fish) and Silver Fish are great. The Silver Fish, which can be crunched up whole, bones and all, goes really well with beer, and after the fiery masala dishes, it is both taste and texture wise, a change of scene. I can personally eat a half a dozen of these babies easily, and devour an entire slice of Anjal as well, and more of Pomfret than I usually eat, because well, those masalas! I’ll just let the pictures do the talking!

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Anjal Masala Fry

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Pomfret Tandoori Masala

If you’ve left space for main course, then Mangalorean staples like Kori Rotti, Chicken or Fish Pullimunchi, Mangalore Fish Curry, Gassi, Sukka, Ghee Roast et all await. Kori Rotti, which is country chicken curry with a crisp papad-like roti accompanying it, is usually a must-order, as there will always be that one soul at the table who has heart emojis when they hear the name! For me however, there is only one thing that will make the meal complete, as I said right at the beginning – Ghee Roast! Sea Rock does a killer Prawn Ghee Roast, a portion of which I am one day going to order and refuse to share! That, along with a plate or two of neer dosa, and happiness has been achieved.

Sea Rock tends to get quite packed on weekdays for lunch especially, as a lot of people from the high courts and other offices nearby come to eat there. But the service will be impeccable, however busy they are, and the beer chilled. And of course, a more family crowd will be seen on weekends. A lovely meal in old school surroundings and service are what await, and a very full belly!

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Kane Rava Fry

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Silver Fish Fry

Details: Sea Rock, Seshadripuram (Above Shivananda Stores); Open for Lunch and Dinner; INR 1000 plus taxes for a meal for two.

Shizusan Shophouse and Bar – eat, drink and be merry!

Whitefield is far, really far, from Jayanagar. But in keeping with my personal mantra of  ‘will travel for good food’ there are times when Whitefield becomes appealing. Shizusan Shophouse and Bar, located in Phoenix Market City is one of those instances. A Pan Asian eatery with a vibrant, colorful decor (in keeping with the Shophouse in its name), indoor and outdoor seating, and a vast menu of dishes from all across Asia, as well as interesting cocktails, this is a must-visit. The dishes are all beautiful to look at, many paying homage to classic Asian fare, with a twist to make it Shizusan’s own.
One Sunday a couple months ago, the food family planned a combined afternoon of merrymaking and eating, and it turned into a delightful and boisterous time of much food and drink and fun. Here’s a pictorial journey of our meal, which was indeed vast, and more than even our group of 6 could consume! And to think we probably ended up tasting less than half the menu!

Some of what we drank
The drinks menu, like all the other sections, holds a lot of offerings, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, including a selection of Asian beers and Japanese whisky. Asian favorites like Iced Teh Tahrik, Iced Vietnamese Coffee, and Iced Milo Milkshake make an appearance, as well as hot and cold Asian teas. The cocktails are eclectic and will require revisiting!
Left: GinSing in the tall glass; Sriracha Blush with black salt rim.
Right: Cocky Rooster, was my drink of the day. A twist on a classic Bloody Mary, with serious spice and potency!

Starting Right
We began with sensational Edamame (with two different toppings of Himalayan Pink Salt and Shichimi or Garlic and Sriracha) and Dimsum including Prawn and Chives, Moneybags, Edamame Petit Pois, Poached Chicken Dumplings, and Crystal Vegetables.

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Sushi-Time!
We happened to visit, coincidentally, on World Sushi Day. And what a pretty array of sushi (L: Rainbow Maki; R: Nigiri) it was! However, we found the taste didn’t quite match up, but sushi not being the easiest find in Bangalore, these will do the job.

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Some Standouts

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Above: Black Pepper Lobster with roasted garlic, spring onions, mushrooms, peppercorns.
Below: Mussels in a lemongrass and coconut cream – heaven! And zesty Salt and Pepper Calamari with a fab aji amarillo chilli dip.

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The Mains
Although getting rather stuffed at this point we couldn’t but order a few different dishes off the mains. In addition to what was pictured above, we also tried some Satays and a crisp and light Asian Watermelon Salad with diced melon, radish, Feta cheese, and almond and mint in a soy-chilli-garlic dressing.
The minced Chicken Kaprow (left) took me back to eating in Bangkok, and you definitely shouldn’t miss out on the Kung Pao Calamari if you like squid. The Green Beans and Mushrooms were really good too, and while it mayn’t seem like it from this post, there are tons of vegetarian options, as well as noodles and rice items to choose from.

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Kung Pao Calamari – a must order

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Sweet Ending
There was no way we would end the meal without trying a couple of the signature desserts, and since we were a large enough group, a couple bites each and we did justice to them. Vietnamese Banh Chuoi Nuong, a chocolate and banana cake, and the Tender Coconut Cheesecake were both hits, and there were so many more I would have liked to try! This was truly one of those memorable and comforting meals filled with goodness from across South East Asia…

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Details: Shizusan Shophouse and Bar, Phoenix Market City; Whitefield; INR 2500++ for a meal for two

Onam Sadya at ITC Gardenia

Onam, Kerala’s harvest festival is a ten day long celebration and also marks the start of the new year for Hindu Malayalis, and is usually celebrated by all the people from the state. The grand feast, that is prepared on the final day of Onam, called Thiruonam, is Onasadya. The Onasadya is an integral part of the celebrations, an elaborate meal served on a banana leaf, with certain specific dishes and sides, from salt to sweet, and numbering at least nine to even fifteen or more dishes. From banana chips and a banana (pazham), to puli inji (sweet and sour pickle side), pacchadi (a version of raita) and paripu (dal), with a host of delicious vegetarian dishes, some gravy, some dry, an Onam Sadya meal is a real treat.

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Over the last couple years I have been lucky enough to be part of a close friend’s annual Onam potluck celebrations. This year, I was also invited to an exclusive preview of ITC Hotel’s Onasadya, which is being served in Bangalore at ITC Gardenia’s Cubbon Pavilion restaurant. This special #GrandOnamCelebrations Onasadya will be available across India, at ITC properties, for lunch, on Monday September 4th, which is the day Onam falls on this year. The feast will be served as a Thali, priced at INR 1550 plus taxes. On Sunday the 3rd, some of these Sadya dishes will be a part of the ITC Pavilion restaurants’ daytime Sunday buffet spread.

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Expect the decorations and festivities to be on from Sunday, providing diners with a chance to try some traditional Kerala vegetarian fare, including Olan (ash gourd and red beans in coconut milk); Thoran (a dry prep with coconut, this version is with beetroot); Avial (thick gravy of Kerala veggies); and my personal favorite, Erissery (pumpkin and red beans in a coconut gravy). Kerala red rice, Kerala Sambar, and Moru curry, (a tempered yogurt based thin gravy that has mustard and curry leaf and is quite tangy), are other dishes you’ll be served as part of the feast. The meal will end with traditional desserts that are part of a Sadya – a variety of payasams. In this case, enjoy Elaneer Payasam (tender coconut dessert that is light and delicious), and Adai Pradaman (a thick prep of rice, jaggery and coconut milk.

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Enjoy Regional Specialties of Thai Cuisine at Siam Trading Company

My introduction to Thai food was as a teenager, and over the years, it has grown to become one of my most favored cuisines, helped in no small part by having a Thai roommate and best friend for four years of college, during which we ate at Thai restaurants and I also got to enjoy home cooking and goodies from Thailand, which she brought back every fall. During my time on the west coast, I had about half a dozen Thai restaurants within a few miles of my place, and would pick which of them to eat at, depending on whether I was in the mood for Larb, Pad Thai, a Thai curry, or a Thai basil stir fry. Fast forward a decade, and I found myself back in the homeland, and made my first of many trips to Bangkok to visit the friend and her family, and got introduced to even more of the cuisine!

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Bangalore has some restaurants that serve good Thai food, many of which have Thai dishes amongst a Pan-Asian selection. But a place dedicated to Thai food, with an owner-Chef at the helm who has traveled extensively across Thailand, and brought back memories, recipes, and techniques – well, that’s definitely a treat, as a recent meal at Siam Trading Company proved! Chef Thashvin Muckatira (Holy Cow Hospitality) has his finger in many pies, but Siam is, I would say, the cherry on top. A curated meal (by Ruth of Bangalore’s Restaurants) that led a select group of bloggers and foodies through specialties from Thailand, is one that we will continue to savor and talk about for some time. This was a meal for non-vegetarians, though the restaurant has enough to keep veg diners happy too.

We began the proceedings with Grey Goose cocktails, and I found the Grey Goose Le Fizz to be my favorite, and that was my accompaniment for the meal. A Som Tum salad live counter had us grabbing plates of the tangy green papaya salad with shrimp as we waited to sit down to lunch. The first course was Beef and Rambutan Soup, and Chilled Mushroom & Young Coconut Soup, both of which were flavorful and fragrant delights. Carambola & Prawn Salad, featuring starfruit and grilled prawn in a spicy and sour dressing was next, and I doubt you’ll see this on any other menu in town. Then came Basil Prawns served with peanut sauce and Pandan wrapped Chicken, with banana leaf substituting for the difficult to source Pandan. Didn’t in any way harm the flavor, and both dishes were polished off in no time.

Things were beginning to get more exciting, with Steamed Lotus Stem garnished with whole cloves of garlic and Chinese wine, as well as a fabulous Sour Beef which had been fermented in-house, making an appearance. Spicy, sour, and again with garlic cloves, this one was hard to stop eating! Homemade pork sausage was something I was looking forward to, having eaten this Northeastern Thai prep (known as Naem) for breakfast and in fried rice and even carting back a couple pounds of it on one of my trips…this version, while nice, especially given its rarity, did not have the tang and spice blast I was expecting. But the fact that Chef is curing and prepping it right in the kitchen is quite something!

Crispy Fish with Mango Salad was next, and the delicate raw mango and talapia flavors were balanced so well. The next dish had the distinction of shutting us all up, and also had us asking for seconds: Grilled Pork Neck with a spicy lime dressing. Already quite full, we still made space for the Dry Noodles with Pork and Prawns (I loved this dish and the pork fat infused flavors with the shiitake mushrooms and greens adding dimension) and the Chiang Mai Chicken Curry and Sticky Rice (also known as Burmese curry, this one was heavy on the spices and a perfect main course). The meal ended with two popular Thai desserts – Sticky Rice with Mango and Rubies (Tum Tim Krob in Thai) which is water chestnuts in sweetened coconut milk. Unfortunately, neither of the desserts lived up to past experience or the expectation based on the rest of the meal. But desserts aside, this was a spectacular meal of epic proportions and made me yearn for another trip to Thailand!

The Buns and Sours Pop-Up

The Apple catchphrase ‘there’s an app for that’ popped into my mind when I realized that these days, there’s a day for everything. You know, not just the biggies like father’s day or teacher’s day, now there’s a day for sports journalists, and hopping on the bandwagon, are days for food – and as a food writer, how can I not celebrate food days, I ask you?! Did you know, yesterday was Whiskey Sour Day, and tomorrow is Burger Day? Neither did I! But the folks over at The Hilton, EGL, decided to combine the two and create a special buns and sours menu for a three day pop-up at their Salt Grill restaurant.

Available the 25th to 27th of August, I checked out the preview a couple days ago, and came away very happy. For one, the price point is great – the burgers are INR 799 plus taxes, and the Whiskey Sours are INR 599 plus taxes. My suggestion is to go for the combo, which gives you one of each of your choice (there are 5 sours and 5 burgers on the menu) for INR 999 plus taxes. The Whiskey Sours range from The Classic, made with Jim Beam, egg white, sweet and sour, to country-inspired, like the spice-infused, Paul John Bold concoction, Made in India and the Irish Cider featuring Irish Whiskey, Peach Schnapps, Angostura Bitters, and sweet and sour (my fav. from this menu). My second fav. from the lot was the Tuscan Smash, which had JD, Sangiovese, sweet and sour and grape mist.

I was delighted to find two red meat (buffalo) burgers on offer – the Panko Crumbed Verde Burger with the patty, blue cheese, onion jam, streaky bacon, Verde sauce, served betwixt a ciabatta bun, alongside the Thai Cobb Burger, which had avocado, caramelized onion, peanut sauce in a multi-grain bun. For people like me who want their burger to not be chicken or lamb or fish, finding not one, but two of these beauties was a great thing, especially since they also turned out to be the best of the five on offer! For the vegetarians, there is a Tofu Teriyaki Burger, and they will do a veg patty on request as well. The chicken option was the Black Burger, served – you guessed it – in a black sesame bun, with Cajun spiced chicken, roasted peppers, Glenlevit and fig marmalade. This was my second fav. of the evening. My fellow blogger loved the Tempura Fillet Fish Burger. There were three kinds of fries that came as accompaniments, as well. Oh, and the mustard and ketchup were in those little glass jars/bottles, in individual servings.

We rounded out the meal with the soon to be launched new menu’s decadent desserts, which I will have to go back for separately, to be able to do proper justice to, as well as petit-fours. Kudos to Chef Deb, who’s new in town, for this lovely little pop-up. It’s only on until tomorrow night, so do head over and enjoy the food, drink, and ambience of The Salt Grill’s outdoor setting. And a quick note, some of the pics are of the tasting portion sized burgers, since we were eating ’em all.

A splendid feast awaits: The Bohri Shahi Dawat at ITC Gardenia

Biryani and kebabs make for a splendid meal – of this there is no doubt. Each city/town has its own version of these dishes, and within the Muslim community, there are variations based on sect and state. Growing up, it was the Hyderabadi style of cooking that I was most familiar with. And I also got to try the goodies in the lunchboxes of two Bohra classmates, whose lunches, truth be told, were the most interesting amongst the group. From Khichida (which I called a white haleem in my head) to kebabs and always some sweet as well, and later attending a couple of events at their homes and experiencing the community style of eating for the first time – these then are my memories of Bohra food. Thus, when an invite popped into my mailbox, proclaiming an upcoming Bohri Shahi Dawat food festival at ITC Gardenia’s Cubbon Pavilion, I knew there was only one answer – yes! That the festival coincides with the closing week of Ramazan and the Eid celebration was an added bonus. And you too can enjoy the feast, which is available for dinner until the 2nd of July as part of their Kitchens of India – Unique Tastes initiative.

The Bohri Shahi Dawat at Cubbon Pavilion, ITC Gardenia

Young Chef Zohair, a Bohra from Mumbai (the community is predominantly from Gujarat, and with roots in Yemen and a touch of Mughal influence), curated and created every dish and detail for the festival, wanting to share his heritage and culture with diners, down to the Thaal – the giant plate that serves as the focal point of the meal, with the family sitting around it and then all partaking of the various courses off it. He had even sourced from his home town, the Chemlachi Lota – silver jug – that holds water that is used to wash hands before the meal. Tradition dictates that the youngest member of the family offers salt to every diner, since the meal is supposed to begin with a pinch of salt. Then it is time to dig into the successive courses, which will alternate between sweet (Mithaas) and savory (Khaaras). And Chef assured us that this is how they eat at home, every single day, with a multiple course sweet and savory menu! Since community style eating would present a logistical challenge, for the purposes of the festival, we were served individual “mini” thaals. Mini cause they were regular plates, not because there was any less to eat, I should add!

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We were offered two drinks, one sweet, one savory here too – a sweet tender coconut one (Coconut Malai with Elaichi) and Gol Paani with Sabja seeds, which featured lemon, tulsi and basil seeds and hit the spot with a nice tangy flavor. It is traditional to begin with dates in some form – Kharek was what we go that day – Dates soaked in rose syrup and stuffed with Khoya, pistachios and almonds. And then the real feasting started! And as there was a vegetarian at the table, we learned that there is an extensive range of vegetarian delicacies prepared in Bohra cooking, and a quick taste assured us that this was indeed the case! Our non-veg starters included divine Kheema Samosas – crisp, thin, fried casing encasing hand-pounded mutton mince, Kheema Pattice – mince stuffed potatoes, Chicken Cream Tikka – chicken nuggets with cream that make for the perfect comfort food on a cold evening. For the vegetarians the Nariyal Kebab (potato encasing coconut), and Dal Na Samosa, a lentil samosa would leave them happy. Before the mains, the Mango Malai was common to both thalis, and kept up the one sweet-one savory tradition.

And now it was time for the main course. For vegetarians, there was Patrel Soya nu Tarkari made with Cocoyam leaves; the non-veg version, Patrel Gosht combined mutton and the leaves. There was a Bohri Dal that used 5 lentils to great effect, and a rich Ghaker Roti which was layers of flaky pastry and ghee and didn’t need any accompaniment, though it was perfect to dip into the Kaari Chicken – a cashew gravy and gorgeous spice combination made this the dish of the night! No meal of this sort would be complete without biryani – and the Bohra Gosht Biryani (with mutton and potatoes and deep fried onions) served with a delectable Bhuna Baingan Raita, was stellar. This was one of those times when I rued not having more space – the Kaari Chicken and biryani should be savored in large quantities! Now of course the meal had to end on a sweet note, and obviously, given the season, Sheer Khurma was a must – and with the charonji and other nuts, it transported me back to Eids of childhood! For those who would enjoy ending the meal with paan, the Bohri Paan Goli is a sort of deconstructed paan ball rolled with dessicated coconut. All in all decadence and a rare glimpse into a food culture that is not easy to find locally…

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Stomping & Sipping Sunday Scenes

A self-confessed Sunday bruncher, I am. Food, drink, merriment, leisurely pace – all the good things in life. And when one has worked hard through the week, there is a justifiable feeling of needing to take it easy and indulge a little, come Sunday. And what can make a Sunday brunch even nicer? How about flowing bubbly (pink and white) and a li’l grape stomping, as well as a live band playing Latin tunes and knocking it out of the park? This then, was the scene this past Sunday at Sheraton Grand Bangalore, with a spread that encompassed both, Bene and Persian Terrace, the hotel’s signature Italian and Persian restaurants. The weather too, is just right for al fresco dining and getting into a tub of grapes to squish them into submission – err, liquid, I mean.

IMG_20170611_140315IMG_20170611_135043The afternoon’s wine partner was Grover Zampa Vineyards, and featured both their sparkling wines, Zampa Soiree Brut Rosé and Zampa Soiree Brut. Light, crisp, dry and everything I desire for an afternoon of feasting and relaxation. The unanimous verdict from the group was that we preferred the Italian offerings to the Persian ones – a range of spicy kebabs and grills from the latter were nice, but it was, perhaps not surprisingly, the pasta, pizza, antipasti, breads and desserts from Bene that won our favor. A surprise visit from popular RJ, Nathan, who cracked jokes and made balloon animals and crowns and swords and shields and what not for kids and grownups alike, started the afternoon off nicely, with laughs and silliness.

IMG_20170611_140352IMG_20170611_140418Cold salads, seafood, cured meats, a delectable selection of fresh baked breads, and a pasta station where you had a choice of sauces, toppings, and pastas, tossed fresh and hot, were the order of the day. I tried a ravioli in white sauce that had a gorgonzola cheese filling and was delicious! A rustic specialty pasta called Cavatelli was also being prepared that day. Having gorged on the breads (especially that fantastic Focaccia!) and antipasti, I did little more than nibble on mains, and then headed for the table groaning under the weight of desserts. Gateaux, puddings, cream puffs, tarts, mousses, and more greeted me. There was also a Double Espresso ice cream that had a strong hit of coffee and was quite popular. For me, though, the dessert of the day was the cream puffs – airy and light, with a lightly flavored (caramel, hazelnut?) center as well as a generous whipped cream topping. I ate decidedly more of these than I should have, but then hey, what else is Sunday brunch for, if not a good reason to indulge!

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While this event was a one-off (and a good value at INR 2000 all-inclusive), Bene does have a Sunday brunch usually, named Grandmother’s Table, by Chef Giuseppe Lioce, Italian Head Chef for the hotel. All in all a lovely afternoon of stomping, chomping, and imbibing, and we ended by heading over to the props table and taking a bunch of photos with hats, masks, and more.

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Going Classic with coffee ‘o’ clock: A Tasting Session with Classic Coffee

Craft and artisanal coffees are all the rage these days, and a little exploration of the coffee expressions and variants available in India today show an expansion of the country’s coffee culture. South India, long the bastion of “filter kappi” and strong, dark brews, is now home to a wide range, and a growing appreciation of the various expressions of coffee. I am not a coffee drinker, but I am a curious foodie on the trail to new and interesting things related to food and drink, so an invite to a tasting of Classic Coffee’s new Premium Coffee Range that offer brews for different times of the day,  had me in attendance.

The cool coffee’o’clock invitation that was hand delivered suggested I would be in for a treat – and I figured with four craft coffees, created to suit different moods and palates depending on the time of day (morning, afternoon, evening, night), I would likely come across one I’d enjoy too! And indeed, that turned out to be the case – though much to my surprise the coffee that found favor with this non-coffee drinker was the morning brew, Blaze!

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The coffees come from estates owned by Classic in two of Karnataka’s well known coffee plantation areas – Sakleshpur and Chickmagalur, and comprise of both Arabica and Robusta beans. Mr. Purnesh, MD, Classic Coffee, the man who started the brand, took us through a talk on the brand’s premise, history, and offerings, and then we were all presented with a tray of the four coffees from the Premium Range along with tasting notes and little bites that paired with them, including a piece of cheese, dark chocolate, fruit, and cake.

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And because I am no coffee expert, let me leave you with the words from the brand (scroll to the end), so you can decide which coffee will suit your tastes – or you could give them all a try! Available both online and at our favorite grocery stores like Godrej Natures Basket, Westside Gourmet, Namdhari, and Nilgiris, the colorful packaging is sure to catch one’s eye! And it also makes each variant easily recognizable by the colors of the labels and packaging.

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Blaze which is a blend best suited for the morning. This has been blended to create a heavy-bodied brew, intense and malty with a rich mouth feel. Blaze has been crafted to help create the morning kick with a nutty fragrance and pleasantly bitter aftertaste.
Matinee is the afternoon blend in the range. Its tasting notes indicate a mix of spice and sweet citrus acidity with hints of mild berry. This has smooth mouth feel and a light body and has been designed as a perk-me-up brew.
Sundowner is the evening offering of the range; and has been crafted as a blend to be enjoyed with company. It has clean notes with hints of sweet milk chocolate, rich mouth feel, which creates the ideal, mild better, aftertaste to act as precursor to dinner.
Afterhours is a night blend which has been carefully curated to soothe and help one wind down. It is a mellow and flavourful cup which has hints of spice and pleasant citrus to create a smooth body. As with the other three blends are 100% Arabica, Afterhours is blended using Arabica Plantation AA beans.

New Blends by Classic Coffees (2)

Brunch at the New Radisson Blu Atria

We all love Sunday brunch, don’t we? Sunday being, for many, the only day of rest in the week, the idea of waking late, then heading out to a long, leisurely, luscious brunch, has quite an appeal. I’ve always been a Sunday bruncher – it was something my mother instituted at home when I was growing up, and living in the U.S, Sunday brunch for Mother’s Day and the like was a given. Over the last couple of years, almost all the hotels in the city have started serving up Sunday brunches – some extravagant, some elegant, all enjoyable. One of the latest additions to the scene is at the Radisson Blue Atria Bengaluru. The old Atria Hotel has had a facelift and a brand makeover, and now under the Radisson Blu label, has launched a lovely Sunday brunch, which can be enjoyed poolside or indoors in the restaurant’s air conditioned comfort (which is what we opted for on a sweltering May afternoon). Oh, and a dip in the pool is part of the package, so make sure to carry your swimwear!

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The live grills counter and a bar counter were set up outside – it’s an IMFL beverage package at INR 1950 plus taxes, which means you can drink and eat to your heart’s content – now that’s a nice way to spend Sunday afternoon! There was a nice spread, with Indian, Asian, Continental, and Mediterranean offerings across the salads, appetizers, and mains. What we were impressed with was the range of salads, the live grill counter, and the meats. The Papdi Chaat and Pani Puri (I liked the way it was served to the table) went down well – we all being chaat people. There was also Pav counter with both veg and non-veg, and dim sum and tacos, as also a pasta station and kebab corner.

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I always pile my plate with the fancy salads at buffets, and this time was no exception. The Prawn salad with tomato salsa, Pesto rubbed fish  with orange segments, Seared tenderloin salad with wild mushroom, roasted shallots and Dijon mustard, and the Tuscan pork and bean salad were all nice flavor combinations and made a good chilled start to the meal on the hot day. There were the Middle Eastern dips of Baba Ghanoush and Hummus and Tabbouleh salad too – but we couldn’t find pita bread to go with it, and made do with the fresh breads from the bread counter which was quite nice. There were also Oysters served on the half shell, which were dressed with onions, lemon juice, and cilantro, and we went for a couple of rounds of these – fresh, beautiful, and definitely a treat!

From the live grills, we loved the prawns which were large and fresh and simply prepared with a spice rub, letting the shellfish speak for itself. The Olive and Pepper Lamb Chops were also a big hit – perfectly cooked and again, with balanced spicing that did not overwhelm the meat. There was also a Mustard Marinated Fish, and Pesto Chicken. The Barbecue Pork Belly from the carving station was another item we went back for seconds off – the jus, the pork belly with the soft fat and the crackling skin – so good! There was also a selection of fairly typical mains – paneer, fish and chicken curries, biryani, dal makhani and more for those wanting Indian food, and Thai green curry chicken, an Oriental fish prep, veggies, fried rice, and noodles for those wanting Asian.

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Such was the heat of the day that we stuck to beers and fresh juices, but were told they have some nice cocktails – next time! Dessert was not as vast as one sees in buffets, but everything was nicely put together, with around 8 pastries/puddings/mousses, and half a dozen Indian sweets including Kulfi, Sandesh, Ladoo, and Moong dal halwa. There was also ice cream and fresh fruits. I chose to end with the live banana fosters counter – there were various toppings and sauces to choose from and it was a good ending to the meal. Pancakes and waffles were also being made to order. I noticed a kids section with items more in tune to little appetites, like burgers, fries and smileys. All in all, a very pleasant experience at a good price point, and everyone’s sure to find stuff to their liking.