Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

adjective(informal): extraordinarily good; wonderful.

This is the only word to describe my truest feelings after devouring the burgers at the Gourmet Burgers & Hops fest at the Atrium Lounge, Taj Lands End Mumbai!

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The evening began with a warm welcome by Ms. Rajveer Kaur, Head of PR, characteristic of true-blue Taj hospitality. I had my cousin come along with me because he’s super chatty and enjoys good food just as much as I do, probably more. We also had the opportunity of having Chef Tandon describe to us what inspired the menu, the presentation, the ingredients, et al. It was in a tiny restaurant in Morocco where Chef saw burgers being presented, gourmet style. His main focus has been on procuring and using the freshest ingredients possible. Every part of the dish from the type of bun, to the slice of cheese, the vegetables, the sauces, the side dishes, have been tested in the kitchen before being put on the menu.

The menu, curated by Chef Gaurav Tandon allows you to choose from an assortment of burgers including The Farmer John – Vegetable Patty, Avocado, Tomato Salsa, Romaine Lettuce and Refried Beans, Aunt Millie – Vegetable Patty, Feta, Red Onions, Arugula and Kalamata Olives, The Gourmet Truffle Burger – Mushroom Patty, Sautéed Mushrooms, Truffle Pate and Oil, Dijon Mustard, Red Onions and Cheddar Cheese, and other vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Pair your burger of choice with earthy and dense brews such as Corona – Mexico, Tsingtao – China, Heineken – Netherlands, Bira White – Belgium, Hoegaarden – Belgium, Zen Weiss, Devil’s Dark amongst others. The burgers have been priced at Rs. 550 each.

For me (the vegetarian), Chef chose The Farmer John and The Roadhouse. The burgers were served with ‘Cutting Beer’. I absolutely fell in love with this idea of serving beer in cutting chai glasses. This way you’re not restricted to just one kind of beer and have several options to wash down your burger with. My personal favourite from the range was the Devil’s Dark, a local brew from Pune. Dark, smooth and earthy, this is nothing like anything I’ve had before.

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Cutting Beer

The Farmer John was the first burger I gorged on. Made up of a deeeeep fried vegetable patty, layered with melted cheddar cheese, topped with avocado, tomato salsa, Romaine lettuce and refried beans, this without exaggeration melted in my mouth. The crunchy patty was complemented beautifully by the melted cheese. Both of these were in turn cut by the sweetness of the exceptionally fresh tomato salsa. The chunks of avocado were a wonderful (and always welcome) surprise. Served with a side of paprika fries, ketchup and mustard. A sucker for tomato ketchup, this was certainly the first time I didn’t need to drown my burger in ketchup.

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The Farmer John

The second one was The RoadHouse – made with a patty of kidney beans and vegetable steaks, chipotle mayo, pickled jalapeños, chilly sauce, crushed pepper, yellow cheddar stuffed between an onion burger bun. This was like a little Mexican fiesta in my mouth! Oh and not to forget, this was served with a side of crispy, sweet onion rings.

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The RoadHouse

The fest has found so much popularity that the Lounge has no plans of discontinuing it anytime soon! I was certainly glad to hear that because I need to go back for the Truffle Burger. As a foodie I’m so grateful to Chef Tandon for having so meticulously prepared this menu where even the salad that is served with each burger has been carefully thought of. I give this experience 6 out of 5 stars because every single thing was just right about this marvellous evening. The wonderful company of Ms. Kaur and Chef Tandon, the drinks, the hospitality of the serving staff, and the fact that I got to see Rahul Dravid!

I urge you to book your table at the earliest. This is assuredly one food fest that you do not want to miss out on!

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Dear, d(readful)ear Love

~Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairytale~

I’m not sure why I’m writing this post. I’m no expert on love and relationships, much as I’d love to believe so. Maybe I’m writing this because it’s wedding season and every single person I know is ‘getting hitched’ or ‘biting the dust’. I dread opening Facebook because this (and some bashing of the new POTUS which actually makes for a pretty comical read) is all that is plastered over my newsfeed!

Your kindergarten / school classmate, old college mate, old friend turned foe, coworker, your friend’s brother that you had a crush on, your ex.. everybody’s either getting engaged, married or popping out babies. Where are they finding all these apparent soulmates? Is everybody getting married for love? Or was it arranged? Do they love their arranged marriage partner or are they being forced into it? Are they even really ready? Are you ever really ready? Are they as happy as they claim to be on social media? Do we really get our fairytale and live happily ever after?

Who the hell knows. Ask a new couple and they’ll give you a dreamy answer. Ask a married couple and they’ll tell you never to get married. And then maybe there are some in between..

~Eventually soul mates meet for they have the same hiding place~ Robert Brault

Where does one find this soulmate? Are these our options – Tinder and similar, Shaadi.com, Your aunt’s daughter’s nephew’s aunty’s brother’s child’s doctor (don’t bother making sense of this), Your gossip indulgent neighbour, A relative or a friend, Or is it your destiny/ luck that sends this person waltzing into your life?

*Apparent soulmate waltzes in*

All right, so this person has been locked in. What comes next? Assumably you date them for a while. Then I ask you what a while is. A few weeks/ months/ years. Oh but you can’t date them for too many years because “log kya kahenge”? How do you decide that this is ‘the one’? Do you write down all their qualities and weigh the pros and cons or do you go with that ‘gut feeling’? Will your friends like them? Will your parents approve? Log kya kahenge? Will panditji say “haan”? Will your kundalis match? Does anyone even care that maybe you don’t rely on / believe in this piece of paper? Or if you do believe in this and it says galat jodi, will you let go of your love?

Your movies, books, even Disney will have you believe that you get married for love. After all, life with your best friend, your companion, your soulmate sounds like a joy ride doesn’t it? Zone out of that happy place and the people around you will give you a reality check. Opinions are available a dime a dozen but there isn’t a soul that can guarantee that you will be happy for the rest of your life, probably even your own. But everyone knows best except you *insert major eye rolling*.

Enough about people though. Let’s talk about this soulmate. What is a soulmate anyway? According to a little research:

i. The Buddhists say if you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, thats not the one. When you meet your soulmate, you’ll feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation.

ii. What’s a soulmate? It’s like a best friend or more. It’s the one person in the world who knows you better than anyone else. That someone who makes you a better person, no, actually they don’t make you a better person. You do that by yourself because they inspire you. A soulmate is someone you carry with you forever. It’s one person who knew you, accepted you and believed in you before anyone else did or when no one else would. And no matter what happens, you’ll always love them and nothing could ever change that.

Really? Does this really exist? Or in the age of Tinder has this concept been flushed down the drain, because I sure as hell can’t remember the last time somebody told me they had found their soulmate (at the risk of sounding like a pessimist). I’ve read numerous articles on self love and the fact that you only get the kind of love you think you deserve. But what if you do think you deserve the best but don’t exactly get it? Do you let that love go or do you hold on to it because you’re 27 and ab toh umar ho gayi hai and you don’t know if you’ll find love again? Do you convince yourself that nobody really ever gets what they truly want and that you have to compromise on a few things.. does this mean you’re settling? Or do you decide to wait? Does this mean that the people that find it difficult to love themselves don’t deserve the best? Is this when your ‘soulmate’ walks into your life and teaches you to love yourself? Self love articles will have you believe otherwise when they say that one can only love you if you love yourself. But what if you don’t know how to? Does this mean that you’ll lead a loveless life? Is it so wrong if someone waltzes in and teaches you to value yourself? Does that make you meek and dependent? Or sometimes it’s okay if you need a little help..

If only I had even one answer to my rant. This love-shove business is so baffling, I need a cup of hot tea. I still don’t know why I’m writing this but I do know for a fact that I delayed writing about this topic for a while because isse padhkar log kya kahnge? Will aunties call up my Mum and ask her if everything is ok with me? Haha this is going to be fun.

Coming up soon – Arranged Marriage or Auditions for Biwi’s Got Talent!

Restaurant Review: Smoke House Deli, BKC

Address: Next to Masala Library, FIFC Building,Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai
(Don’t let Google Maps fool you, just get to First Rand Bank on the main road and take a left and then left again! Damn you Maps)

Phone: 022 2653 0762

Price: Rs. 4,000 for 2 people inclusive of alcohol 

Axis Bank brings to Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai and and Kolkata the Gourmet Fest from the 11th-20th November 2016. A 10- day long culinary celebration, the event lets you enjoy some great cuisines with a fixed 3 course menu at Rs. 799* per person. All you need to do is pre-book your table with an Axis Bank Card. A minimal booking amount of  49* shall be charged at the time of confirmation and all details of your booking shall be sent to you. The fixed amount of  750* per person will be charged by the restaurant on your Axis Bank Credit/ Debit Card.

Take a look here at the participating restaurants in your city – http://gourmetfest.diningdelights.in

From the Mumbai list I chose Smoke House Deli, BKC. When we don’t know what to do on Sunday evenings and are down right lazy to even boil a packet of Maggi, zipping down to Smoke House Bandra is always our first choice.

Since I had a plus one invitation, I decided to invite a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I’ve been a little low lately so I was looking forward to an evening of good conversation, sangria and great food. It’s safe to say my evening was a delight 🙂

It’s always nice when your experience at a restaurant begins with a warm greeting. If you’re a food blogger it’s even better when the wait staff is aware of your arrival (one of those rare instances!). I immediately chose a table with good lighting, because, photography. Dinner began with a basket of warm breads with the Deli’s herbed butters. I wish they weren’t so damn good because I went to the restaurant hungry and stuffed myself silly.

Then came the made to perfection sangrias. I must make a note here that there are VERY FEW bars / restaurants in the city that make a mean sangria and Smoke House Deli gets it correct EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. If only I could get my hands on their recipe! Conversations and wine now begin to flow.

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For starters, we ordered the sweet potato paprika fries and paprika puffs with wasabi salsa. The fries were lip smacking but the puffs failed to impress. The wasabi salsa thankfully wasn’t too strong but the tomatoes were cut too big, making them messy to eat. They also did not taste too fresh.

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Mains included penne in pink sauce with market vegetables and the wild mushroom risotto. The penne was a plate full of creamy goodness, cooked al dente with the juiciest vegetables. It was that so terribly good that I had leftovers for breakfast! My Mum judged me all the way through.

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Unfortunately, the risotto which normally is fantabulous was a tad bit tangy, the mushrooms were too chewy and tasted like an overdose of vinegar.

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Just when i thought my stomach was about to pop, my friend decided to order the raspberry Oreo cheesecake for dessert! This failed to impress me on all accounts. The cake was too dense, tasted like canned raspberries, the Oreo base was too difficult to cut through and certainly was no treat for sore eyes.  Or in my case some what blurry eyes (thank you Sangria!).

Maybe this just wasn’t one of their days because this was literally the first time I did not lick my plate clean after a meal at Smoke House Deli. However, this is most certainly not going to stop me from going back and ordering the same food. My only suggestion would be that it’s time the restaurant added a few more interesting vegetarian / vegan starters to the menu. It’s been the same for a long long long time now.

Overall, I’d give the restaurant a 4/5 rating, considering the drinks were great, the ambience is always wonderful and service is an absolute delight 🙂

Avec amour de France

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for all of Paris is a moveable feast” – Ernest Hemingway 

Atout France (French tourism) along with Bonne Maman and the FBAI recently opened its doors via Pooja Dhingra’s Studio 15, to the art of French patisserie.

My earliest memory of Bonne Maman is as a child, sinfully lathering the fresh fruit preserve on buttery croissants whilst on vacation. I’m terribly glad that it has made its way to the Indian market and is available easily at Nature’s Basket and other supermarkets. Seeing as they are gluten & GMO free, I urge you to pick up your stock at the earliest. The preserve can be used to make a gorgeous breakfast, tea time cookies, tea time cakes, dessert, whatever suits your palate.

Chef Pooja and Chef Pablo decided to treat us to Thumbprint jam cookies and Matcha Apricot Financiers. Thumbprint jam cookies are literally, exactly what the name suggests whilst financiers are light, moist, almost two bite pastries that are great to go with tea. Oh and also, super easy to make. Unfortunately they were both made with eggs, so I cannot share the recipes but I’d definitely like to try making their eggless versions.

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Thumbprint jam cookies

For these, we used Bonne Maman’s strawberry preserve. The Matcha Green Tea financiers were piped with the apricot preserve.

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Matcha Apricot Financiers

By the way, for those of you wondering what the difference between jams and preserves is, it is that jam is a mix of crushed, preserved fruit and sugar, sometimes with pectin (a substance found in fruits such as apples and berries. When heated with sugar, it causes a thickening characteristic) depending on the pectin content of the fruit. Preserves means that the fruit is not altered and is cooked in the same way. The fruit is allowed to remain chunky unlike in jams where it is generally smooth.

Sheetal Munshaw, Director, Atout France wants to change the way Indian travellers are visiting France. She wishes for them to view France through all its wonderful gastronomical and wine delights that it has to offer, besides the usual local sight seeing. She is also keen on promoting all the vegetarian delights that France has to offer. This most definitely makes me want to revisit France and view it for all the wine, pastry, cheese, crepes, vineyards, even its cobbled streets and so much more that it has to offer.

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With Chef Pooja and Chef Pablo

It was an absolutely wonderful Friday evening (minus the traffic of course), meeting fellow bloggers, learning a thing or two about France, French baking, meeting Chef Pooja and Chef Pablo of course and reviving old memories with Bonne Maman 🙂

 

Sometimes Pizza just isn’t BAE

“I wish there was a tree like pizza. I would be there all day”..

“I don’t trust people who don’t like pizza. Off my planet you monster!”..

“Pizza is the only love triangle I want”..

“People disappoint. Pizza is eternal”..

Err.. sometimes, pizza does disappoint 😦

We were invited to 1441 Pizeria, and being an ardent lover of all things Italian, I didn’t need any persuasion whatsoever. Having been to their branch in Oshiwara, I was delighted at having a chance to review it since my experience has always been great. However, this evening didn’t go exactly as planned..

The restaurant claims their pizzas will transport you to Italy, since their menu is inspired from Naples. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. For our review we went to the 1441 Pizzeria branch in Fort, a cosy restaurant with lovely lighting and warm Italian tones. We were greeted by a group of extremely confused servers, none aware of our invitation to come review their restaurant.

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This restaurant’s speciality is that you can make your own pizza, so after donning my chef’s hat, I went ahead and made my very pizza. 1441 offers a choice of 2 sauces, the usual Italian sauce & Mama’s sauce (an Indian twist to the pizza sauce). The toppings we picked were mushrooms, zucchini, olives, onions, smoked mozarella cheese and spicy potatoes. Unfortunately, my pizza making skills weren’t as brushed up as the staff probably expected (What were they thinking?) since I was told I made it incorrectly and they had to make a fresh one for us.. Umm a little help or a tip during the process would’ve been nice?

The starter that was highly reccomended by 1441, was their roasted spiced potato wedges. They looked delicious but were extremely raw and had to be sent back. The new batch arrived slightly raw again and the only saving grace of this dish was the chilli mayo dip. Our pizza which was served after, wasn’t exactly anything to write home about either since it was burnt and not crispy in a way you’d like. We couldn’t taste the sauce and as much as we tried convicing ourselves that it tasted smoky because of the mozarella we picked, the black bottom said otherwise.

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Our second pizza was the Hummus pizza, a new addition to their menu, a Lebanese twist to the Italian favourite, this pizza was better than everything previously ordered, but instead of being crispy, the base was raw and the pizza was slightly doughy.

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As disappointed as we were with everything served to us, we went ahead with dessert, again their highly reccomended, nutella pizza. Think about it, nutella, pizza and marshmallows, it’s a match made in heaven right? WRONG. This too was raw and extremely disappointing.

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All in all, a place that has never disappointed me turned into a place I’d not like to recommend to anyone else, and sadly because as good as the concept of their food is, the taste fails to deliver.

I’m sorry 1441 pizzeria, the best thing about my meal was the bottomless beverage I was given (the coke).

Titiksha Gandhi for Chai Cake & Kitsch.