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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Taste of Calabria Italian Food Festival

I always enjoy Italian food, and over the years, my interactions with a number of Italian chefs and winemakers has been a treat. I love the passion they bring to their craft, their (unfailing) reference to their Mama and Grandmama in whose kitchens they first began their culinary journeys, and their charm. And of course, the wonderful (and rich) food they always feed us! And this interaction with Chef Luigi Ferraro, on loan from Shangri-La Delhi, was no exception. He has created a special menu which is available until March 24th, for the From Capri to Calabria southern Italian Food Festival at Caprese, Shangri-La Bangalore’s Italian fine-dine.

We made our way over the weekend, and got to meet and chat with Chef Luigi, and try some of the dishes off the special festival menu. From Calabria himself, the menu is his interpretation and a modern take on southern Italian fare. Employing touches of molecular gastronomy, sous vide cooking, and deconstructed dishes, Chef Luigi presented us with a delicious multi-course meal, each course plated like a work of art.

Apart from a la carte (which will run you around INR 2000 a head), there is also a pre-fix menu, available paired with wine at INR 4500 all inclusive, or just the food at INR 3500 all inclusive. Considering you get three wines as part of the wine paired option, it is a great option for those who enjoy wine with their Italian repast. We sipped on a mellow and medium bodied 2013 vintage Soave Allgrini Corte with our meal. And now, here come the visuals!

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The Amuse Bouche that started us off: Potato croquette on a bed of Pecorino cheese that was somewhere between humus and foam in texture with microgreens and olive oil.

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Antipasti 1: Tomato tartare, buffalo Mozzarella, basil. Dehydrated capers and artichoke cream were the surprise elements, and that bell pepper sauce at the bottom went so well with the Mozzarella.

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Antipasti 2: Free-range chicken with bell peppers and Pecorino Romano cheese ice cream. Thinly sliced chicken and cubed beets, bell pepper sauce, and indeed, a cheese ice cream. Rich and decadent!

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Primi Piatti 1: Ravioli stuffed with parmigiano reggiano 24 months, sauce with morel mushrooms, green peas, asparagus and modena balsamic (in the form of pearls). Do I really need to say more? Just read that list of ingredients!

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Primi Piatti 2: Fagottini with burrata and lobster, green peas and amalfi lemon. Oh lobster heaven was achieved, though I overall found the dish rather salty.

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Secondi Piatti 1: Chicken breast and thigh, spinach, wild mushrooms, pumpkin with rosemary sauce and saracena moscato. Perfectly cooked chicken; diced pumpkin added great flavor and some texture to the dish.

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Secondi Piatti 2: Sea bass with saffron potatoes, amalfi lemon and black olives. Fantastically cooked sea bass with crispened skin, and look at that gorgeous two-toned potato crisp!

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Secondi Piatti 3: Involtino of vegetables with Fontina cheese. The obligatory eggplant vegetarian course.

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Dolci 1: A gorgeous citrus tart, deconstructed with the lemon curd and meringue pieces, and fresh strawberries for an extra pop of tartness!

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Dolci 2: Tiramisu parfait – another deconstructed dessert, which the coffee lovers at the table enjoyed. I contented myself with picking out the chocolate pieces and dust and stayed away from the coffee cream in the center.


The new dishes at Smoke House Deli

When an invitation landed in my inbox a couple of weeks ago, to a special Chef’s Table at Smoke House Deli where they would be showcasing dishes off their new menu, I paused a moment. The memory of the last such new menu party at SHD was still fresh in my mind – where had the two years since that event, flown by?! Prepared for an afternoon of food and drink, I thus presented myself at the SHD on Lavelle Road, and awaited Chef Saurabh Arora’s line-up from the 35 new dishes on the menu. Seated in the courtyard section outdoors, we were a big group, which turned out to be rather useful when it came to sharing all that food!

Our afternoon began with a specially-made-for-us, off menu cocktail of Martini Rosso, orange juice and bitters, which had a sweet and smooth finish and potency too. The first appetizer was Crunchy Mozzarella Fritters, cheese on the inside surrounded by a noodle-like crunchy exterior – tasted cheesy (in a good way) and was not overpowering in flavor, making it a go-to with any drink. I also enjoyed the Prawn Fritters + Spiced Mayo, which managed to keep their crispiness and crunchiness in terms of both the batter cover and the prawns within. Not so much to my taste was the Panko Crusted Kashmiri Chilli + Cottage Cheese, Corn Flat Bread – too mushy in texture. The standout of the appetizer course was definitely the Smoked Black Pepper Chicken, skewers of juicy and well-marinated chicken with a kick from the pepper.

The SHD Tomato + Bocconcini Salad, Queen Olives, Pesto Vinaigrette is a great addition to the new menu, especially for olive lovers. The Spanish Queen Olives are almost the size of a fruit with less pungency than the usual green olives. There was Boccocini – egg-sized Mozzarella – as well as crisp greens and I will definitely be ordering this on my next visit. I contented myself with just a couple of spoons of the Roasted Sweet Corn Soup + Sour Cream; Truffle Oil because I wanted to keep space for the pasta and mains that were coming up, especially since there were two Risottos to sample. I love me some Risotto, and neither the Pepper Crusted Chicken + Rosemary nor the Slow Roasted Cauliflower + Mascarpone disappointed. However, it was the Potato Gnocchi + 3 Cheese Sauce, Roasted Vegetables that delivered the knockout punch of the course. Three cheeses, Parmesan, English Cheddar, and Emmental were pressed into service, and cheese crisps on top completed the serving. Am quite happy to be vegetarian when presented with such a dish!

Of the five mains served, I literally took a single bite of each, and then dug into the Half Roast Rosemary Chicken, Wild Mushroom AOP as that was my favorite. With some lettuce on the side and delicious mushrooms and a poached egg that added depth to the already lovely flavors of the dish, I would happily have licked the wooden bowl in came in, clean. Slow Braised Belgian Pork Spare Ribs + Apple Slaw and Pan Grilled Fresh Bhetki + Jalapeno Corn Sauce were the other two non-veg offerings – and the Bhetki sure had fans at the table, but it’s just too strong a fish for my palate. The two veg offerings didn’t make much of an impression: Three way Polenta cake + Bean & Chickpeas Stew, and Roasted Vegetables + Red Cheddar Melt. Utilizing different alcohols infused in-house (with Dill, Kaffir Lime, Star Anise – respectively), the three cocktails from the new menu we enjoyed went well with our food. Sadly, I don’t have the names on hand, but the Kaffir Lime infused one was the definite winner of the three!

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SHD is known for its mouth-watering desserts, and this time was no exception. We loved three of the four we ate, and the other (Lemon Tart + Orange Mascarpone Cream) just needed some tweaking so that the lemon and citrus flavors came out, as we told Chef. Milk Cake + Toasted Hazelnuts looked gorgeous and tasted so too – in fact it was a toss-up between this and the White Chocolate + Lemon Molten Cake, the latter had spot on lemony goodness that literally oozed out of the cake once it was cut. The Prune Crumble Tart + Dark Chocolate Mousse was rich and I stopped after a couple of bites, mostly because the Lemon Molten Cake was beckoning! I’ll be heading back to SHD soon to enjoy my favorites from the new menu…maybe the salad and then dessert to maintain some “balance”!

Details: Smoke House Deli, Lavelle Road & Indiranagar; INR 2000 plus taxes for two with drinks.

Sunday Brunch at The Hilton Bangalore

By now it is an established fact that I love Sunday brunching. Everything about it, from the late start, to the cocktails and of course, the food, which includes various cuisines and invariably an array of decadent desserts. Well then, that being my criteria for a good Sunday brunch offering and happy Sunday, the newly launched Sunday brunch at The Hilton Bangalore, Embassy GolfLinks, has checks in all the boxes, and then two additionally checked boxes too: live music and song with a mellow and quite melodious band, and pool-time for those thus inclined. Oh, and for parents – there’s a separate indoor entertainment area for the kids, and food for them too. So, you can enjoy your boozy brunch secure in the knowledge that they’re well taken care of.

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Spread across not one, but two of their restaurants, Salt Grill (the poolside venue) and the indoor Ministry of Food, this is one massive spread, and we probably only touched on around half the dishes during our visit. The bar was set up outside, and the bartenders were willing to make pretty much anything one ordered, as well as customize to suit individual tastes. We started with Cosmo and Mojito for round one, then it was party time and lots of made-to-ordering happened. The service was a little slow, though the bartenders were super nice, but there were so many people and the drink orders were pouring in (yes pun intended). A shout-out to whoever on the team came up with the idea of the Jello shots – these were passed around throughout the afternoon, and were fun and quite differently served in the rind of a watermelon – and they were quite strong too!

img_20170122_144559img_20170122_144531A range of Indian starters was brought to the table from inside, and there was plenty of both veg and non-veg options. The counter with cheese, bread and crackers, dry fruit and nuts had a lovely range of cheeses that we went back to a second time. Cold cuts and salads were aplenty, and the Chaat Counter was doing brisk business. I  liked the Watermelon Gazpacho served in test tubes and there was also a counter (indoors) of Middle Eastern dips including hummus, labneh and more. These items were all kept cool on ice, which meant that they remained fresh and creamy through the afternoon. The grill section had meats with gravies and veggies, including some great roast chicken and grilled pork, but more than the meats, the star was the Quiches, which were fantastic.

There was a live pasta counter as well as a Khow Suey one – both good. There were many options for Indian and Asian mains, but we were way too full to indulge (and keeping some space for the tempting desserts), so we restricted ourselves to the flavorful Biryani, though the different Parathas being made looked rather tempting! The desserts were numerous (take a look at the slideshow below to see the range!), and apart from the range of pastries, mousses, and more, there was also a Jalebi and Rabdi counter, and a Nitrogen ice-cream one! We were there at the launch of the brunch, and it was clear to us all that Hilton EGL has a winner on its hands. So here’s to many more brunches, and remember to pack your swimsuit!

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Details: Sunday Brunch; Hilton Embassy GolfLinks
Pricing: Alcoholic Brunch INR 1999 plus taxes; Non-alcoholic Brunch INR 1499 plus taxes; Kids Brunch (5-12) INR 749 plus taxes

Staycationing at Howard Johnson

I love hotel rooms! The bouncy bed, the fluffy pillows, the feeling of being on holiday (even when I go away on work), and the change of scene, and some much needed pampering  – these are all the reasons I love settling into a hotel room, even if it’s just for one night. Well, living as we do, with Bangalore’s ever-burgeoning traffic, sometimes a staycation means going to a part of the city you generally don’t get to, and enjoying the hospitality and new surroundings of a nice hotel. This is exactly how I spent my last weekend, staycationing at the Howard Johnson, a four star establishment in Hebbal. Located on a busy street, right next door to a mall, from the outside the glass facade does not give you an inkling even, into the lovely interiors and decor that the hotel boasts of. A lot of thought and attention to detail has gone into the creation of the interiors, and I found something to admire and click a pic of, at nearly every spot.

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We checked in on Saturday noon, and were shown to our rooms, which were of the Executive Club category (INR 7500 plus taxes per night), one level below the seven suites the hotel has. A large, well appointed, pool-facing room was mine, with the usual accoutrements of desk and chair, armchair (with footstool, a nice touch!), a big bed that was the perfect amount of soft, and had pillows too, that were just right (nothing worse than the rock hard or sinkingly soft variety!). The bathroom made me super happy – from the rainshower to the magnifying mirror that made makeup application oh-so-easy, to the good amount of space on the sink counter to spread my stuff out, and of course the toiletries provided, from shampoo and conditioner (something that many a hotel omits), and shaving/vanity/dental kits. Pristine, fluffy white towels and a robe completed the picture.

 

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A highlight of our 27-hour stay was a visit to the onsite spa, one of the Sohum Spa chain. Small, but perfectly maintained, and with massage and facial services, this is one pampering you really should go for! I am not a massage person, so I opted for an Express Facial, though two of my fellow guests got massages and the combination of bliss and lethargy on their faces and in their demeanor, said it all! My facial too was just fantastic – the young woman had serious magic in her fingertips. The soothing music and peace and quiet in the small space all added to my feelings of contentment. Equipped with a shower stall right there as well, even non-hotel guests can avail of the spa facilities in comfort. Located on the same floor as the pool, there is also a well equipped gym next door.

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At present, the hotel has one multi-cuisine restaurant, called Nest. It serves Indian, Asian (mainly Chinese with a Thai curry or some sushi at times), Italian and Western fare. Chef Dev Bose, who has been a part of the team since the hotel opened nearly three years ago, says that Italian and Mediterranean cuisine is his forte (I chose to cook what I love to eat, he told us), but of course justice is done to all the cuisines served. Nest offers not only a daily lunch and dinner buffet, but also an a la carte menu, and Chef Bose and his team are always willing to customize and create something to a guest’s particular fancy, given a little advance notice. Considering this is a business hotel with lots of long-stay clientele, this is a lovely gesture indeed, for those who might not want to be faced with a buffet at every meal, are fussy eaters, or who develop a hankering for a simple meal from home. There is also a bar space, which too had  an eye-catching decor and seemed to be well stocked. LIITs are apparently a specialty, but we stuck to the safer and much less potent Mojitos for our Sunday brunch.

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Saturday night was the launch of Nest’s new menu – an annual affair, where Chef Bose and his team add some new items to their menu based on guest feedback as well as Chef’s inspiration. This year, he chose to use figs as his muse, and many of the new dishes had that element present, from a fig salad, to a fig cheesecake. That night, what stood out for us was the main course: chicken roulade, salmon infused with chilli/paprika, and a delicious mushroom risotto. After a mini dinner of the new items on the newly launched menu, there was also a buffet spread, where we loved the live counter of appams, which were a great accompaniment to the freshly made kheema, boti and bheja fry. I am not a big spare parts fan, but the treatment here was super.

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In fact, having partaken of both the Saturday lunch buffet, as well as the Sunday brunch buffet, I came away with the feeling that the Indian food was what shone. Whether it was a paneer gravy, or the Kuthu Paratha or Kheema Pav (these last two were the live counters at Sunday brunch, along with an appam station and pasta station), it was all done well and tasted good. The Chinese and pasta/roast chicken/au gratin dishes were decent, but not outstanding. The buffet, whether for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch, is set up with a counter for desserts, one for breads, salads/cold cuts/appetizers, and hot dishes comprising Indian, Asian and Continental fare. Sunday brunch has hot appetizers brought to the table, along with some live stations, but otherwise it is a similar spread to the weekdays.

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When you visit, definitely make it a point to stop by the third floor, where there is a Knowledge Center/library area which has a treasure trove of knickknacks and items like a beautiful, unique, hand-carved chess set and an old-style station clock. Oh, and don’t miss the gramophone! Nest too, has some really cool design elements (note the mounted plates at the restaurant’s entrance, which feature numerous trees – places where birds “nest”), faux marble finish columns that also become lights in the evening, and a private dining space with a beautiful chandelier. In the lobby area there are light fixtures that draw the eye, and the honeycomb patterned partitions are worthy of a second look too. As a business hotel, HoJo finds itself quite full on weekdays, with Saturdays seeing a bit of a lull. The pool is of a decent size, the rooms as I have already waxed eloquent on, are very comfortable, and the staff are attentive and smiling. Complimentary WiFi and free pickup/drop to and from the airport are part of the tariff.

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Details: Howard Johnson Bengaluru Hebbal; INR 1500 plus taxes for a meal for two; INR 999 plus taxes/INR 1500 plus taxes (with alcohol), per person for Sunday Brunch.

Le Cirque Signature Experience

October was a tumultuous month for me (resulting in zero blog posts, I should admit), with the bright spots being far and few between. And the dinner I was part of at Le Cirque Signature, Leela Palace Bangalore, was definitely one of those high notes of the month. The original Le Cirque has been around since 1974 – I grew up reading novels where meals and rendezvous would be set up at the iconic NYC establishment, known for its exquisite take on French and Italian cuisine. Over the years, Le Cirque in NYC has changed locations, and set up additional restaurants as well. For the past couple of years, select Leela Palace Hotels in India too, have become home to the Le Cirque brand. Part of a series of dinners hosted to showcase Le Cirque specialties and signature dishes, the dinner I attended last month at The Leela Palace Bangalore, was elegant and delightful, supported by good wine.

The amuse bouche that started us off was of mozzarella cheese atop a halved artichoke, served with artichoke puree and black truffle oil. This really set the tone of things to come – elegance, simplicity, and fantastic, flavorful food all the way! The salad course was one of the restaurant’s signatures, the eponymous Le Cirque Salad, a mix of arugula, lollo rosso, segmented orange, berries, mint, beets, figs, celery, carrot, toasted sunflower seeds, lemon and oregano dressing – citrusy and light, with a lot of crunch and freshness. Corn Soup was next, with a choice of shrimp or Brie fritters – I ended up with the latter, and while the soup itself was lovely (a bit sweet and with some interesting texture thanks to the bits of tomato and the thick but smooth liquid), I think the shrimp did a lot more in terms of flavor than the fried cheese.

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The Le Cirque Salad

I was most excited about the next dish on our menu – Risotto! This is one of my all-time favorite foods to eat – it is comfort food and fine dining rolled into one. And when its a black truffle risotto, well then that makes it all the more mouthwatering! Vialone nano rice, black truffle pesto and shavings, topped with burrata cheese – the reverence that such a dish calls for was established by the silence as I smelled and then tasted and then wiped clean the plate in front of me.

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Black Truffle Risotto

Pasta Primavera is not just a Le Cirque signature dish, it was created by Chef Sirio Macccioni and presented at Le Cirque in the mid 70s and became one of the restaurant’s most famous and talked about offerings, remaining even to date, a much in demand item even though it’s not on the menu anymore. It’s one of those seemingly simple pasta preps, with butter and cream, fresh veggies, and spaghetti. It is in fact, the kind of pasta dish that authentic Italian is famous for, where a smattering of ingredients come together to transport the diner to a different plane!

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The Pasta Primavera

A palate cleansing sorbet of Limoncello with candied lemon came as a break before the main courses arrived, and for any lemon and tart flavor lover, this was a moment of happiness – strong lemon flavor that made one’s mouth pucker. I had chosen the Chicken Diable for my main course, among the options of that, the vegetarian Trio of Parmigiana, and the pescatarian Paupiette. The Paupiette was a pastry of Halibut, potato crust, stewed leek, and Rocca di Frassinello red wine sauce and won much favor at the table. For me however, the chicken was the perfect choice. Again, that perfect mix of haute cuisine and comfort food, it was pan seared chicken breast, Dijon mustard sauce, morel mushrooms, potatoes, shallots, and chicken jus. And oh, what a jus – that gravy on top was just incredible and really upped the delicious quotient of that chicken!

 

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Chicken Diable

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Paupiette

However, believe it or not, the piece de resistance was still to come, in the form of the dessert served – Crème Brûlée. I have eaten a couple great, some good Crème Brûlées, and many a mediocre one in my life, but this one was second to none. Served in an individual dish, it was a good portion and we all expected to be unable to finish it seeing as we were already sated from all that had come before. But when one is presented with greatness, one must give it the respect it commands, and in this case, that meant cracking into that beautifully caramelized top layer and scooping up every bite of the creamy center (which had black dots denoting its real vanilla bean heritage) and scraping the bottom of the dish. And then what did I spy? A recipe for this Queen of Crème Brûlées! A nice touch, though I daresay there are enough like me who would be too intimidated to try recreating it!

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Heaven!

A meal at Le Cirque goes into the category of experiential dining, rather than satisfying one’s hunger. It is, as is to be expected, also an expensive place to dine – but that really should not stop you! When you have something to celebrate, be it a promotion, special birthday or anniversary, this is where you should plan on satiating your senses…

Details: Le Cirque, The Leela Palace Bangalore; INR 7000 plus taxes for two people

Chef Gary Mehigan’s 7 Culinary Wonders

What does one do when one gets an invite to partake of a 7 course dinner conceptualized, curated, and cooked by Gary Mehigan, MasterChef Australia judge and restaurateur? Well, one says yes with alacrity! Grab the friend for whom meeting Gary is akin to meeting Amitabh Bachchan for a Bollywood fan (his own words!), get ready and head over to The Ritz Carlton Bangalore in anticipation of a great meal and an exciting Thursday evening.

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The one off event was the launch in India of the CEO Series 2016, presented by American Express in association with BMW and Etihad Airways. Held across three cities – Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi, we in Bangalore were the first on the list. In attendance were well-known CEOs including Nandan Nilekani and Chetan Maini, a few of us from the food blogging community, and other influencers. The premise of the event was to bring together folks from technology, media, business, and finance, and have them interact over a sit down dinner presided over by a favorite celebrity chef, Gary Mehigan.

_vds6008Chef Gary created the Seven Wonders of the World Menu inspired by his travels and focused on seven different countries, and even though we traversed India, Peru, Italy and more, the meal came together like a pitch perfect song – there was not one discordant note to be found. I am honestly not one to be bowled over by someone’s celebrity status, but I sure was bowled over by this man and this meal! It was a spectacular dinner, one none of us in attendance will likely forget in a hurry, with every course making an impression.

dish-inspired-by-peruWe started in Peru, with Scorched Salmon, caramelized miso mayonnaise, ceviche pickles, edamame. The salmon was out of this world, and so was the miso mayo. Peruvian cuisine has influences of Japanese alongside its South American roots, which made the ceviche and salmon dish a beautiful representation of the food culture. Staying that side of the world, the soup course was a gorgeous Brazilian Moqueca, a fish soup that literally brought the aroma and taste of the ocean to the table.

For our third dish of the evening, Chef took us to Jordan – and I think a lot of folks who were there that night would agree, this dish was the Dish of the Day, though that itself is like picking a first among equals! Compressed Watermelon, that was served as a block, had been infused with spices, citrus and a touch of rose, and served with Jordanian almonds and labneh. The latter two ingredients added some interesting crunchiness and softness to the textures, and the flavor of rose and watermelon worked oh-s0-well!

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Now there just had to be an India inspiration on the menu, and this was the Butter roasted cauliflower, a deceptively simple sounding and looking dish that had a depth of flavor. The addition of green fennel seeds and golden raisins gave this a slightly sweet taste, the lovely crunch of the thinly sliced cauliflower on a bed of mash cauliflower worked brilliantly. I also liked the way Chef set up the courses – two seafood, two veg, followed by two non-veg. The Glenlevit Founder’s Reserve was served with this dish, and smooth and just that little bit fiery it was.

Chicken from China was the next to appear, and he elevated a simple White cooked chicken into a gourmet dish. Served with garnishes of spring onion, celery, ginger jelly, and black sesame, and seasoned with soy sauce, ginger and garlic, this was comfort food at the highest level. Our second meat course was Slow cooked lamb, served in a tagine. Shoulder of lamb, toasted grains, daal and pine nuts and kohlrabi made this dish exotic and familiar all in the same mouthful. The lamb had been slow cooked for 14 hours and was suitably tender and delicious. Chef mentioned that biryani was an inspiration for the dish, and it certainly was a one pot wonder! Glenlevit 15 was the scotch to accompany this course.

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Conco d’Oro, the Italian dessert, was what we finished with. Given the reference to gold in the name, Chef had used edible gold leaf atop each of the meringues, turning them “golden”. I love all things citrus-y, and especially after a big meal, this dessert of lemon curd and olive oil semi freddo with an orange syrup and both candied and fresh citrus, was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal, and the glass of Jacob’s Creek Sparkling brought it all together beautifully.

Unlike when I met and watched Gary in action during his last visit to Bangalore a few months ago, he was visibly more relaxed, enjoying himself and having fun. We were seated close to the kitchen entrance and he would keep popping his head out to check on the proceedings, as well as interacting with the diners. He offered to pose for photographs, and went a step further, taking people’s phones and orchestrating selfies! I came away from the event marveling at the food, the Chef, and what a fun evening it was…

Another Sunday, Another Beautiful Brunch – BG’s at Courtyard Bengaluru

I am an unabashed Sunday brunch fan. The idea of waking late, and then spending a few hours indulging in food and drink in the company of friends – it is the day of rest, and I can’t think of a better way to start it off! Since I also belong to the “will travel for good food” mindset, a trip to Marathahalli to check out the recently launched brunch at BG’s (Bar and Grills, natch!), a restaurant that does double duty for both the Marriott Courtyard and Fairfield by Marriott hotels, which share the space, was not daunting. And the somewhat less crowded roads of a Sunday noon helped too.

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On arriving at BG’s, the sight that first greets your eye as you get off the elevator is the dessert spread – it takes up the entire wall, multiple tables laden with all sorts of sweet goodies – and you already know that your “dessert stomach” will need to be in top form! Plus, it’s always good to get a glimpse of dessert first, right?

They have some fantastic cocktails on offer, and each week, a rotating special cocktail bar is set up – the week we went it was Mojitos, and there were a variety of fruits and syrups to choose from – I unabashedly dug into the pitcher that came to our table, and my glass too, to get at the alcohol soaked peaches therein (you can get the mojitos customized with the fruit of your choosing – kiwi, peach and so on). We were told the earlier weeks had seen Martinis and Margaritas as well.

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Sunday Brunching in Style: Movenpick Hotel & Spa

Sunday brunch brings back memories of awakening late, fighting the pater for the Sunday newspaper and drinking tea out on the balcony at home. Sitting in my PJs until way past decent, and finally only being goaded into showering and dressing with the promise of mum’s brunch. Some weeks it would be Indian – parathas and egg bhurji or the Hyderabadi egg dish Khageena, while other times it would be sausages, eggs, bacon, baked beans and toast. Whatever the main course, a fab dessert was always there to end on. Oh man, those were the days! The grown up me has to either prepare the brunch herself, or else head out to one of the many restaurants in town that offer a special brunch on the day of rest. When an invite to such an afternoon comes along, gathering with the fellow food writer pals and our other halves makes it all the sweeter. Such was the occasion a couple weeks ago, when four couples and two munchkins arrived at The Movenpick Hotel & Spa for their 250 dish and cocktails/beer/wine/champagne Sunday brunch.

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Sushi to start us off

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Mezzaluna’s new Italian flavors

Mezzaluna, the Italian fine dine restaurant at the Mövenpick Hotel & Spa is definitely one of my favorite Italian eateries in town. However, the fact that the hotel is far, far from home, means my visits are few and far between. In fact, when I was there a few weeks ago, some quick calculations and thinking back made me realize it had been, horror, a year and a half since my last visit! Under the genial and capable hands of Chef Armando di Filipppo, who has been with the establishment for about three years now, and has relocated to India en famille, Mezzaluna is always  a delight. I prefer afternoon dining over dinner here, for the simple reason that the sunlight from the windows and the charm of the life size prints of Italy (almost floor to ceiling in height) comes through better in the day, and also because there’s somewhat less traffic at 1pm than at 6pm!

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I liked the interiors of checkered floor and life size Italian ‘scapes so much, I even posed for a pic!

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