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.

The Big Fat Mango Harvest at Fatty

A whole month since I posted – oh dear! Time to make amends, and I can’t think of a better way to than writing about The Fatty Bao’s on-going Big Fat Mango Harvest festival, featuring both mango laced cocktails and delicious mango infused food, including, but of course, sushi! The festival menu from Chef Prashanth is on until the 28th of this month, and I am plotting to make it back there so I can have another go at my favorites from the menu. I like but don’t love mango by itself – you won’t find me eating mango after mango during the season. But I do love the flavor of mango and an Asian menu like this, which incorporates both green and ripe mango into dishes and drinks, is right up my street.

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The Sushi was, but of course, the first offering of the afternoon. Mango and Avocado Sushi was a delightful flavor combo and Fatty’s sushi is always perfectly rolled. What came next was a fantastic summery, ceviche-esque Green Mango and Prawn Salad, with green mango and a tender coconut gel acting as the base on which perfectly poached prawns, cilantro and a black sesame brittle were artfully arranged. This was so good that we asked for a second round at the table, knowing full well there was a lot more food to come.

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Pork lovers – the Stir-Fried Pork Tenderloin with mango, chillies, and peppers is a delicious mouthful, particularly with a mango-licious cocktail to wash it down. The Sriracha Glazed Chicken Wings are another great finger (and finger licking good) food that pairs well with a mango cocktail. Of the drinks, the one that I loved was the Smokey Joe, which pairs whiskey, Lapsang souchong tea, and smoked raw mango. The combination of the smoky flavors of the tea and whiskey worked oh so well. The Asian Beet, with gin, mango pulp, beetroot juice and lemongrass was the drink I started the afternoon with, and the other popular ones at our table were the vodka, raw mango, dill leaves, mango syrup and lime concoction named By the Bay, and the Hula Coolah, also vodka based.

IMG_20170513_145436The next dish was another stunner – a tray appeared bearing Thai Mango and Seafood Curry with Jasmine Rice – squid, fish, prawn in a silky coconut gravy and the accompaniments of peanuts, rice crackers, fried onions on the side in little bowls so you can doctor the dish to suit your taste. This is a must order, and pair it with the Smokey Joe for a real party of flavors on the palate! Fatty’s desserts are always art on a plate, and this time was no exception – the two mango desserts were outstanding. Order both the Mango Pannacotta and the Mango and Yuzu Meringue and share with your mates. The latter is served in a scooped out half of a mango’s skin, with a collection of mango bites (someone had fun with the melon baller/scooper in the kitchen!) and some tart raspberry jelly – you’re unlikely to stop until the mango skin is staring back up at you! The rectangle set Pannacotta, with basil seeds, mango, caramel is prettier to look at but my vote goes to the Meringue this time. Fatty’s festival is on for a full week more, so get thee to my favorite of all the mango festivals of the summer 2017 lineup!

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Fatty Bao’s year-ending Night Market Festival

It’s that most wonderful time of the year – when the best and worst of lists of the year that was make an appearance, when malls, hotels, and restaurants are getting into the festive spirit, and everyone’s wanting to end things on a high note. Well, 2016, many say, has been a “worse” rather than “good” year. But there are still things we can do to keep happy, and amongst my set of friends, food ranks high on our happy-making experiences. Fatty Bao’s year-ending Night Market food festival falls firmly in this category, and they have really outdone themselves in creating a delicious, colorful, and enchanting experience for diners. Sticking mostly to finger and bite sized foods, like you’d see in an Asian night market, and with the Root to Fruit cocktail menu at hand (something Fatty launched recently) as accompaniment, there’s really no going wrong here.

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The all vegetarian Temari Sushi platter, served in mini skillets was the first dish on the table – the sushi had been rolled into golf sized balls and and had different seasonal vegetables. With some soy and wasabi on the side, these made for a delectable mouthful. Tuna Oshizushi was pressed sushi with soy caviar, and the non-veg offering. The grills and skewers that followed covered quite a range, from the Fried Stinky Tofu with a nice chilly sauce and tapioca crisps, to the Mindanao Beef Skewers, a Filipino Muslim style dish. From Thailand (home to some of the best street food!) there was Mu Ping, pork tenderloin that had been marinated and grilled, and which was accompanied by raw papaya salad. The two dishes that were the stars for me though, were the Firecracker Chicken Wings and the Grilled Quail Eggs. Really, you may be thinking, those sound quite pedestrian for a night market menu! But not when Chef Prashanth has had a go at them! The quail eggs were beautifully grilled and that Sambal Oelek sauce just upped the taste factor. The ubiquitous chicken wings were stuffed, you see, with basil jasmine rice and basted with a lovely sauce that echoes the flavors of the region. How’s that for interesting and a one-pot meal?

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Firecracker Chicken Wings

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Grilled Quail Eggs with Sambal Oelek

The Kushikatsu Seafood Platter that we had had skewers of fish, shrimp, squid rings and oysters – all done to perfection, and I especially loved the oysters. For dessert, we got rather un-street looking and very gorgeous plates, one being the Tokyo Banana, a light sponge cake, banana custard and caramelized banana ice cream – a little ode to fried ice cream was in there. And even though that sounds like a lot of banana, it was actually light and crisp flavors and quite delicious! The other platter, Lokot Lokot, looked like a piece of art and tasted as good – crispy rice threads encased a Jaggery Custard and mini macaroons and a couple of different sauces also dotted the plate. Just the way to end the meal!

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The Root to Fruit cocktails, which essentially bring as much of the fruit and herbs to the proceedings as is possible, had a range of exotic looking and potent drinks. Over the course of the evening, everyone loved every cocktail they ordered – now how often does that happen? I started with a particularly potent concoction, the Sesame Street, which had  roasted-sesame infused whiskey, Earl Grey bitters, sesame syrup and a sesame and honey coated cracker topped the glass tumbler, making for a cool picture. Deciding to stick to whiskey, my second cocktail was the K-Pop, featuring Earl Grey bitters, wasabi syrup, and popcorn-infused whiskey, served with a small wooden platter of popcorn kernels, that covered the tumbler. I of course tried some of the others’ drinks, like the Mi-So-Happy which lived up to its name, a concoction of miso mustard, ginger and lime, with a vodka base, and the Forbidden Fruit, a dark pink looking mix of tequila, plum puree, grapefruit ginger syrup, lime and soda.

Make the time and head to this fest that showcases grills and delicacies from night markets across East Asia – all with some gentrification and that indomitable twist that marks everything Fatty does. So maybe your boss didn’t sanction your leave and your plans of traveling in Asia fell flat, or maybe demonetization did it instead – at least you can go enjoy the Night Market that’s on through the 1st of January, 2017, and experience the food. And then of course, start planning for the jaunt through East Asia again – I sure am!

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Mangalore on my Mind (And Plate!)

Mangalorean cuisine is something I got introduced to rather late in my life – only in the last four years of living in Bangalore and having some very good Mangalorean friends, and spending one Christmas in Mangalore at a friend’s parents’, has the cuisine and culture become a part of my life. And I do love it! Whether it’s the simple Neer Dosa or the delectable Chicken Ghee Roast or anything in Sukka prep, or the Sannas, which, while bearing a passing resemblance to the Idli, are much more to my liking than the latter, which I’ve never been a fan of – I heart the cuisine. Now, I am not a big fish eater, especially the more pungent varieties, but fried Kane (Lady Fish) is something I’ve taken a shine to, and learned to eat quite well too, cleaning it to its entire internal structure without any difficulty.

IMG_20160823_235536The current Mangalorean Food Festival at Shangri-La Hotel’s b Café, was another perfect opportunity to indulge in my love for the coastal cuisine, and it is a giant spread indeed that Chef Rounak Kinger and his team have put together. It’s quite the food trail, with four distinct sections of the expansive buffet being taken over by Mangaluru dishes (at dinner time; during lunch it will be a more circumspect spread), featuring appetizers, snacks, mains, desserts, and definitely not to be missed, specially concocted drinks!

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