About Me

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Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie.. Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... I Am crazy about music,books,friends and my doggie... :)

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Monday, July 25, 2016

New Chef with a revamped menu at Focaccia, Hyatt Regency

It seems to be the season for New chefs taking over restaurants across the city. Yes, Focaccia at Hyatt Regency has a new chef in the house! Say hello to Chef Mauro Ferrari. You heard it right, his name indeed is Ferrari... 

If you spent a few minutes talking to him you would be left in awe of the experience he brings with him. Born in Saronno, Italy, he started to work with hotels in Switzerland, France, Italy and gathered around 15 years of experience in the same. He then started to work with restaurant chains where he worked at Pomiroeu Ristorante Soranno – 1 star Michelin restaurant. After working in restaurants for 10 years, he went on to open two of his own restaurants, one near Milano and the other in Tuscany region. After working in Morocco for a year he moved on to Grand Hyatt Muscat which was his last assignment previous to Hyatt Regency Chennai, where his restaurant, Tuscany, was awarded the best Italian restaurant in the city. Chef Mauro’s family consists of two eighteen year old boys who are currently studying in a hotel school and are gearing up to step in to their fathers shoes. This is his first time in India and the only thing he kept telling us was Chennai was very humid and sweaty... Even though the other cities/countries he had been in were hot, they weren't humid... 

Here are a few snapshots from the evening, the Chef in action... 

What stood out about the evening? about the new menu? Well, the flavours are authentic [ just as they were earlier] but the dishes were simple yet packed with flavours. I loved the dishes that the Chef whipped up, infant I did notice quite a few of my non veg friends dip into my plate more than once.. ;o) 

Here is what we had during the course of the evening,

Simple quinoa salad - oh I loved this one, was refreshing with simple flavours and the rich tomato flavour that came through brilliantly. Topped with some micro herbs, it was the perfect start to the evening. 

Cipolla al Forno, Burrata Campana, Crema di Pepperoni Gialli- Oh my, I have never eaten onion slices served up like this. It had a medley of flavours I would have never put together. The cheese, the puree, the pesto.. divine!! 

Gnocchi di Palate ragu di Verdure e crema di Zucchine al basilico- Gnocchi that melted in your mouth served on a bed of zucchini puree..Nothing fancy, but it was quite a delicious dish. Have been curious about gnocchi [courtesy Masterchef] and this was definitely inspiring me to give it a shot. 

Ravioli Agli Asparagi, Crema di Zucca- Yet another dish that was divine.. Am not just saying it.. Two perfectly round ravioli stuffed with asparagus sitting pretty on pumpkin puree with a sprinkle of cheese on top was like what you see on TV shows.. Guess we have all been spoilt by em and well the Chef was spoiling us with these fabulous dishes here at Focaccia.. Oh and I can't tell you how am falling in love with pumpkin all over again [it is one of my all-time fav veg]

Funghi Misti Trifolati, Polenta Morbida Al Formaggio- Soft creamy polenta cooked with nothing but a dollop of butter and some salt had the heavenly spoonful of mushrooms sitting on top adding to the flavour and textures. 

Now if that doesn't have you drooling, there is one more veg main dish that we got to taste. It was the Crespella di Ricotta, Spinaci, Foglia di barbabietola e coste con Fonduta di Parmiggiano - The ricotta and spinach stuffed crepes wit a light sauce of creamy buttery goodness of the parmesan fondue was the perfect way to end the meal.  

Ever since we saw the menu, we were looking forward to the Desserts, yes, even though am not a big dessert fan, the two listed had me curious.. We had two desserts, served on one platter. 

There was the bowl of freshly cut Melon with organic rose water [from Rajasthan].. The second dessert was Hot chocolate cake in a cup with a dollop of organic apricot jam at the bottom and a spoonful of apple and cinnamon jam served on the side. One point worthy of mention is that the Chocolate used in the cake came from exotic destinations and so did the rose water and the jams, all courtesy  Nitin L Chordia, founder of Cocoatrait .. He said he had worked with the Chef in conceptualisation of the desserts...  

The place is renowned for its Italian fare and this Chef only goes to prove they continue to maintain the same standards and do not compromise on quality of food or ingredients ever.. The Chef has spent the last two mounts scouting for the best there is .. local and otherwise~ 

Hyatt Regency 
365, Anna Salai, Teynampet ·
Ph: 044 6100 1234

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit :-)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Refreshing new menu at Prego, Taj Coromandel with Chef Alessandro Bechini

Do you have a special occasion to celebrate, or want to just have a delicious meal, then Prego in Taj Coromandel is the place to head to. My first visit here was few years ago with friends and since then I have seen the place  go though a subtle yet visible transformation, with changes in Chefs, and food as well. All said and done, dining here is quite an experience.. I was back here to experience the new new menu crafted by Italian cuisine specialist, Alessandro Bechini, a San Lorenzo trained Italian chef.. 

During our chat with the Chef, he told us he believes in keeping it simple and elegant when it comes to plating, he also added that “the appearance of the food may be the first impression that the guest will have, but the taste and texture will leave a lasting impression. He was taking us back to the joy of flavours, giving us a rustic yet flavour packed meal... 

While we settled in and were having a chat with the Chef, an exclusive menu was handed out and it had us wondering if this was the special menu for the evening, how much more extensive was the main menu. Trust me when I say , that one is real extensive indeed..  :-) 

So, without much ado here is what we had over the few hours we spent at the restaurant... Oh and make sure to remember we had heaps of laughter, conversation, chit chats and ooh aah about the food as well.. 

The amuse bouche &  Insalata di Indivia, Pere al Vino Rosso e Gorgonzola
A slice of carrot wrapped around Feta cheese..Oh my, was this heavenly or what. And check out the fork, it was so cool
Salad- Endive and lollo rosso salad with red wine poached pears, walnuts, lemon gorgonzola dressing- Yummilicious, I was in love with the poached pears, it had the sweetness of the wine and the crunch of the other ingredients added to the dish.

Minestrone Casalingo
Classic home style vegetable soup with pesto Genovese- I don't think i have ever had such a sinful warm bowl of soup. There was something comforting about the flavours, and  I could taste the beans, the broth and spices as well. 

Fusilli al Profumo dell’Orto
Twisted short pasta in julienne vegetables, scented with mint, thyme and basil- A simple pasta dish it was seasoned perfect

Risotto Porcini e Tartufo
Creamed Carnaroli rice with wild mushrooms and truffle infused extra virgin olive oil- Every time I pop a spoonful of something with Truffle oil I am transported to la la land. The risotto had a good bite, the mushrooms were delicious[I love that fungi] and it was a dish I would have been happy digging into any day.I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is heading to Prego.

Crespelle Senza Uovo con Broccoli Croccanti
Eggless crepes, filled with zucchini, eggplant, ricotta and parmesan, broiled with Provolone cheese, on tomato sauce - Quite different from anything I have had, it was like a cannelloni,except it hadn't been baked with a ton of cheese on top. Loved the creamy cheese, the crispy broccoli served on the side and the mild tomato sauce it sat on. 

 Moving on to desserts, we got to taste two of the four on the menu. Both were sinful....

Tiramisù Senza uovo (Eggless Tiramisu)-  It was amazing to hear the Chef say he has made the Tiramisu eggless and sans Kailua mainly because there are quite a few vegetarian patrons who visit the place and it is a dessert loved by kids as well. 

Delizia al Cioccolato (Steamed chocolate pudding, chocolate berry ganache).. The sorbet in the chocolate dessert was to die for, especially for someone like me who loves anything with berries in them. It was the perfect companion to the hot chocolate fondant.  

It was one of those evenings where the conversation flowed long after the meal was done with. Such is the place and all of it adds to the experience. A meal for two would cost anywhere between Rs3000 -4500 [not incl alcohol] and this is a restaurant where if you were to give the Chef a budget he can whip up a 4-5course meal for you. So next time you are looking for a place to celebrate a special moment/occasion, you know where to head to..

Address: 37, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600034
Phone:044 6600 2827

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit :-)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Besan Ka Chilla [Cheela]

During my recent trip to Mumbai, friend made Chilla/Cheela one day for breakfast/dinner and it was yumm. I have made it earlier but with just onions or tomatoes, but this friend added plenty of spinach to it. Ever since I got back to Chennai, I had been wanting to make them at home, but just dint get around to it, till last evening.  When I told gramma I was going to make Chilla, she gaped. I then told her this was a sort of Dosa made with Gram flour.. A friend said it is also called Vegetarian Omelette [well I couldn't get myself to call it that cos I love eggs and the word makes me miss eggs].. 
Since I already had a packet of Besan [Gram flour] and some veggies, I was all set. Here is how I whipped it up.. 
Ingredients [makes 4-6 chillas]
  • 1 cup gram flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of spinach- roughly chopped up 
  • ½ tsp jeera
  • ¼ tsp Red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp Dhania powder
  • ¼ tsp Jeera powder
  • a pinch of Chaat masala
  • 3 tbsp curd
  • water according to batter consistency
  • salt as per taste
  • oil as required to cook the Chilla
Options: You can add ajwain, kasuri methi and just about anything else you like.. it doesnt matter as long as you love the flavours :)
Making the Chilla: 
  1. In a bowl add all the dry ingredients, mixing them well.
  2. Now add the curd and then add water according to the consistency [ the batter should like like a dosa batter, pourable but not too watery]
  3. Let it sit for about 10-15mins so all the ingredients meet, mix and get to know each other better..
  4. Heat a flat [dosa] pan on a low flame. add oil and pour two ladles of batter. Let it cook on both sides, it takes wee bit longer than a regular dosa. 
  5. Drizzle some oil around the batter once you have spread it out.
  6. Once it gets golden or brownish, it is cooked and ready to be eaten. have it hot with curd or pickle or just as it is.. :)
I made two versions last evening. One with onions and other without[for gramma].. Ate it plain and loved it..I kept thinking about the random conversations with the friend while making the dosas....Infact I messaged her right after making them, sent a pic as well.. It is amazing how food is more than just ingredients and process, it has memories, experiences attached to it. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Eight Treasures at 5 Sen5es, Westin Velachery [till 30th June]

5 Senses at Westin, Velachery is back with another food festival flagged off by their Executive Chef Yatendra Rawat... This time they are promoting the dishes from 8 prominent regions across China -- Sichuan, Guangdong (Canton), Zhejiang, Hunan, Jiangsu, Fujian, Shandong and Anhui.  What is interesting to note is that apart from Sichuan and Hunan [where food is quite spicy of weather], the others are all located along the east border.  As with everywhere else, the cuisine and flavours varies with the demography, weather and other factors of a particular region.
Here is what you can expect at this 8 Treasures Food Festival that is on till the 30th June... While most of the mains were non veg, the Chef did whip up something veg for me, there were three sides in all - of which I loved two. 

The Menu

The fried dough crisps and kimchi to kick off the evening..

Chinese sticky fried rice- was absolutely delicious.. 

The thin wrap that was served with duck, but I had it with potato and some sauce..

 Red cooked chicken, Dezhou Stewed Chicken and one more dish that had lamb cooked with baby corn and snow peas..

Sichuan Shredded Potatos - simple humble dish

Stir Fried cabbage in garlic sauce was just WOW [image courtesy: www.creatikaa.com]

Eggplant tossed in hot garlic sauce- actually had me reaching for second and third servings, it was really beautiful.

 and then came the yummilicious dessert- Pumpkin pudding [ which is not part of this menu but their main menu and is a must have when at this restaurant]

Overall it is a festival meant for those who love playing with flavours and open to experimenting.. So if you are headed to that side of town, make sure to explore this festival. 

A meal for 2 would cost around Rs 4000/- approx [without alcohol]

Only for dinner, between 7 & 11 pm.

Westin Chennai Velachery154, Velachery Main Road, VelacheryChennai 600042.

Do call 044 66333777 for reservations.

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Chocolate Irish Dinner Banquet at On The Rocks, Chennai

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” 

Even though am not a big fan of Chocolates, the promise of an elaborate meal laced with chocolates, Jameson Irish Whiskey and Food was enough to have me salivating!!-All three were coming together at dinner at On TheRocks, Crowne plaza.. You read it right.. These words were all it took for me to reply with my confirmation. 

The restaurant is hosting a lavish 6 course meal, the highlight being each dish is infused with the unique Earth Loaf chocolates  and a splash of the Jameson Whiskey as well. All this has been curated by Chef Prakash along with David Belo [the founder of 'Earth Loaf' chocolates]. The unique thing about these chocolates is that they are dark bitter chocolates made with palm sugar, which was perfect cos I hate the regular sweet chocolates. 

The evening began with an Appertivo  [something to kick off the evening with, a small teaser of sorts] called 'Jamie in Brooklyn' (spicy homemade Vermouth with a hint of bitter orange, orange flower water, Ladhaki Apricot Kernel syrup and Jameson Whisky- phew hope i got all the ingredients right, i sure asked about it enough times). It was a drink that would wake you up from the deepest of slumbers and have you raring to go.  

Not to forget their signature Focaccia bread drenched in freshly squeezed garlic oil, brought back memories of my earlier visit to the restaurant and how we asked for a repeat of this.  The menu for the evening is quite extensive, and I was quite surprised to see there were more Veg appetisers than non veg, and so we asked for a portion of each. 

The second drink to arrive on our table was the 'The Mango and Capsicum Toddy- warm and strong, it was served a small cup that had a slice of lime with a clove in it. It sure had my taste buds doing the tango. Following on its heel was the Roasted Squash and infused with Chilli Chocolate soup that was simply divine, it was served in a small cup and was packed with flavours. Pumpkin is a vegetable that hasn't yet received its due, it is so versatile and beautiful~

Among the starters, I fell in love with the Soft Polenta with wild mushrooms and Creamy Chocolate Sauce  and the Grilled Asparagus, Peas, Blue Cheese with White Chocolate Hollandaise. There were two others which were good but not wow!

As the conversations flowed, we noticed the food kept coming.It was either the Bitter Chocolate and Mint Sorbet -a palate cleanser of sorts or the Sage and Berry Fizz [Jameson whiskey with flavours of Sage , berry marmalade, mint, lemon juice and nutmeg with a hint of black pepper. Just when we thought the bar had been set quite high with the food we had so far, the mains came along. I was served the show stopper veg dish- Single Origin Dark Chocolate Ravioli with Mint and Green Pea Puree with Sage Beurre Noisette .. Oh my, every mouthful was heavenly. So much so that we asked for a repeat serving of this dish for the others to enjoy~ There was a mixed bag of reaction from the guys on the Non veg mains- Salmon, Lamb and chicken based. 

As my eyes wandered around, I noticed the bar tender was doing some sort of smoking downstairs  He was smoking the glasses with a blow torch and wood chips. Soon after, we were served the 'Smoke & Mirrors' which had a medley of flavours-  Charred Pineapple, apricot kernel syrup, lemon juice, raisins, paprika and Jameson Irish Whisky.. garnished with smoked Lapsang Soughing..  

Before we could get on to the desserts, I spotted a table in the far corner where a drink was being made, there was fire and I could smell cinnamon.. I made a beeline to observe how the  'Jameson Blue Blazer'  was being made. It was a cocktail invented back in the 1860's and consisted of Flamed Irish Whisky taken to a whole new level with spices, lemon and orange zests, cassia, pepper, nutmeg and apple slices. It was served with a piece of Earth Loaf Artisan 'Himalayan Fruit and Nut Chocolate'. I was told to take a sip of the drink and a bite of the chocolate to enjoy the experience

Are we done yet? No way.... Jameson and Chocolate Granita, a pre dessert came along bringing with it the desserts-  Swiss Chocolate and Jameson Brule.. This was followed by 'Petit Fours' and 'Irish Coffee'... and with that the evening was a wrap~

Priced at INR 2999/- per person, the festivities are on till the 26th June
Only for dinner: 7.00 pm onwards

Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, 
TTK Road, 
Austin Nagar, Alwarpet, 
Ph- 044 2499 4101