Tuesday, November 14, 2017

MASQUE TRAVELS TO THE CAPITAL THIS DECEMBER

Rhododendron & Begonia Sorbet
I bump into him at Tian a few years ago, where Chef Vikramjit Roy introduces me to him saying, ‘This guy is a genius’ and we all sit down at the alfresco area post dinner (I was staying at the Maurya so was in no hurry to rush back). He talks about the chefs he looks up to; about his growing up at a farm in Jammu where his weekends would go in spending his time in the fields. He was born in Kashmir and originally wanted to become a Commercial Pilot. He was young, and gained experience in several places including a stint at Alinea, French laundry and Le Bernardin followed by a tour of some of Europe’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Sadhu thinks his hitting the stride may be rooted in the fact that ‘It wasn’t until my tenure under Rene Redzepi at Noma that I learnt how to cook from the region and harnessing the soil’.
A lot of Prateek’s memories are sensory. He would visit his Aunts farm every Sunday. Naturally curious and always driven, he could be found in the Farm kitchen by his 10th birthday and over the coming years spent most of his free time there, learning the basics with his Mom and Aunt.
Prateek’s step into Masque came, he says, as a result of disillusionment with cooking after he returned to his homeland as he found it hard to source ingredients in India that were as good as those in New York, and he also felt that the dishes he was putting together were simply copies of those from the restaurants he worked at his stint as the Sous Chef of Le Cirque in Bangalore.
Smoked Potatoes, Butternut Squash
A tour of India taught him about its possibilities. Sadhu learnt India being a diverse country has different terrain and topography. Soon it became an ambition, this expedition for new ingredients and flavours. When a local forager in Ladakh made him experience Sea buckthorn, Sadhu saw the runway before him. ‘For me India defines local produce, be in chocolate from Pondicherry or sea buckthorn from Ladakh. It can be any ingredient grown in that particular season. Seasonality is what we are serious about here at Masque’.
Buckwheat, Salted Caramel 
I have dined at Masque thrice and each time has been a great experience. I still remember the tomato course on their first tasting menu wherein they focus on delivering the taste of a naturally grown tomato, (which comes from their flagship farm from pune) onto the plate with few complimenting flavours.
Prateek is restless, a good sign, he does various collaboration meals at Masque in Mumbai and also travels across the world where he showcases his food. The last one in Mumbai was with Garima Arora of Gaa (I have written about it in a previous post). And this time round, Masque travels to the capital….yes in Saadi Dilli; showcasing his skill for reaching just yonder the possible: here’s this Indian guy showing us things we may have never seen before – things from India.

FAST FACTS
WHERE? Masque will host a pop up at The Lodhi in Delhi on 1 Dec, 2 Dec, where the people of Delhi can sample what really is the buzz about Masque. Where seasonal produce and regional harvests will decide the menu and not cuisines and their sub-genres. Where fine-dining is not a lifestyle, but a way of life.
Heirloom Tomato
WHEN? 
1st December - Dinner, INR 8500+taxes
2nd Lunch & Dinner, INR 8500+taxes. 







Tuesday, October 10, 2017

KODE- MUMBAI'S FIRST FREESTYLE BAR AND KITCHEN

Forgotten Petal sour...must try cocktail from the many creative ones on the list
One of the most breathy and a brand new concept projects from the Massive team, this Kamla Mills freestyle bar has a freestyle take on their menu. It’s cozy and casual where you can find great cocktails and elevated fare that will generally put standard issue pub grub to shame. The menu is filled with lots of not quite so standard fare. The wall behind the long Island bar features an alluring spectacle of spirits and a wide-ranging selection of wines.
From the pondering section of the menu, the Herb crusted Scotch Eggs, with a crispy crunchy coating, a runny egg yolk and punchy flavours of Harissa, set the tone for the rest of the meal; food that is comfortable, imaginative and hearty! For starters we sample the Home Made Churros. Infused with delicate togarashi flavour, they jaunt the flawless tension between soft and springy. My favourite part of this dish is the house-made goat cheese mousse served aside these savoury churros; a hint of honey adds imperialistic flamboyance to the typically pedestrian sauce.
I instantly determine that this is where Kode earns its magnificent freestyle label. I also had the smoked chorizo Pide and Kode makes, without question, the best Pide I have ever had in the city, which is saying a lot since Pides are one of my favourite things. I personally really enjoy the fresh touch of parsley and coriander sprinkled on top.
If lobster, oscietra caviar, black truffles tickle your fancy, then the wood fired oven pizza featuring this should satisfy your cravings, the hand rolled pizza has a great flavour and the black truffles has a pleasantly subtle gamey taste to it.
Recommendations go all out for the 18 Hours Cooked Lamb Shanks, fork tender and scrumptious with add-on polenta, jus, and blue cheese truffles which give the dish panache. The Tres Leches lives up to its name. Served with a milk crisp, it has definite notes of sweet condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. The portion was ample and it cascaded into a melting river of yumminess, adding a lovely creamy consistency when I put it in my mouth.
I love the laid back vibe of the place and the familiarity of it all and I certainly recommend checking it out. Service is just as pleasant as the tasteful interior. Friendly without being obtrusive, our server did not hesitate to suggest his favourite dishes off the menu. If you haven’t experienced freestyle resto bar before then Kode will certainly surprise you…pleasantly. Both the bar menu and the food menu promise that all manner of appetites will be satisfied. One word of warning though, it’s quite popular, so get there early, it fills up fast.
This Bloody Mary  is to die for
FAST FACTS
WHERE? Ground Floor - 11, Oasis City, Kamala Mills - Entrance No 2, Lower Parel, Mumbai.
FOR RESERVATIONS: 077188 82924

Sunday, September 24, 2017

THE GAA MASQUE COLLABORATION MEAL IN MUMBAI

Prateek Sadhu & Garima Arora
Prateek Sadhu’s Masque is no stranger to collaboration meals. His collaboration with Mathew Orlando, head chef of Amass was a big hit and this one with Gaa was sold out within a month.On the Occasion of its first anniversary Masque celebrated over a collaboration meal with Chef Garima Arora of Gaa, Bangkok!
The menu begins with the first course in the Masque kitchen...Garima Arora explains how to eat this tender and delicious corn with the gorgeous corn custardy dip
Chef Prateek Sadhu takes the very best from the fertile land of India. Simplicity made elegant; the quintessence of Masque cuisine!! on the occasion of Masque's first birthday chef collaborated with Garima Arora of Gaa Bangkok and both focused their talents on producing light and delicious dishes, using Avant -garde techniques to revisit Indian Ingredients heritage! The menu is sixteen courses, profoundly showcasing Indian ingredients.
Barramundi/Milk Skin
Garima’s winner of a dish is the beautiful Barramundi wrapped in a taco like casing which she calls Milk skin. The exclusively stylish plating is drool worthy and one would want to dig into it right away, and so I did! The milk skin is actually ‘Malai’, inside which sits this flavorful fish ….sinful indeed! Her minced chicken, quite like the Thai Larb is a stunner and marries well with the Black sticky rice.
Chicken Liver/Toast.....couldn't be better than this!
Right off the bat, Prateek Sadhu takes the trail less trekked with something familiar, yet done in a totally outlandish way.
Ice lolly of Seabuckthorn is served with a black pepper mousse, and presented simply and beautifully that you can mistake this pre dessert for a Salmon and cream cheese bagel. Goodness, we have this berry in Ladakh and I have never experienced it like this before. I wish I had a few more bites. It’s refreshing, subtly sweet and umami!Indeed yes, I have had standout meals with a robust native focus, but Masque is the first to offer such a panoramic swing of the country. Each dish in the menu ended up as short term lesson for geography , history and a compliment to our home-grown culture.
Divine Duck Doughnuts

THUMBS UP

 1.When talking about native and exclusive  produce, India is absolutely abundant. For  a hunter like Sadhu, our country is  an absolute cornucopia.
  2. The menu cultivates a passion for taste
 3. Respectful of the seasons from genuine tastes the plates are classical and original
 My able company at the Gaa Masque collaboration meal! DiviaThani Editor In Chief of Conde Nast Traveller Magazine, Purva Mehra co founder & Editor The Daily Pao & Greg Foster Editor Architectural Digest

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

THE RETURN OF THE RAJ @ SAFFRON, THE TRIDENT GURGAON


Nargisi Kofta aka lamb mince Scotch egg, originated from Nagra flower pattern of yellow, white and brown…yet barely the elevations of fine dining in these days of gastronomic tall change of direction, where truffles are handed out with all the indifference of chips, and desserts named Death by Chocolate as more of an unwavering determination than an alarming threat. 
Yet, in Days of The Raj, when Raj cuisine was the most favoured, history has it that once of the best things to savour was the Nargisi Kofta!!
It’s not surprising that this special cuisine still excites and especially if it happens to celebrate authentic flavours, just like at the Trident where Executive Chef Sandeep Kalra and his team explore age old recipes and use as inspiration the legacy of the khansamas!!
On other days too Saffron is really the place to be if you like the whole fine dine Indian feel restaurant replete with Indian music. It helps that many swear this place makes the best Aloo meat Tari Waala juice and Awadhi Murgh Biryani in the city. Anyways coming back to The Return of the Raj menu, it is rational in size, featuring all the favourites: Country Captain chicken curry, Jhalfarajie, Camp Soup, Chingri Samosa etc. There’s the ever-popular Dak Bungalow Roast, which already has intransigent fans notwithstanding being centuries old, thanks to its yoghurt chicken oven cooked with spices.  If you are in the more permissive mood try the Railway mutton curry that arrives with Lachha parantha, which are synchronized crisp, crumbly and decadent. However, what really is the star of the show is the East India Fish curry, which is a Bay of Bengal Bekti in traditional Bengali style. I try the aromatic curry, paired with steamed rice.

History can be quite fascinating. Especially when it is a part of a food festival in a place like Saffron!!
FAST FACTS
~ A Play of Spices : The flavours of India under the British Raj at Saffron, Trident Gurgaon  between 21st August and 8thSeptember, 2017
Timings: Open For Lunch & Dinner
For Reservations call: 0124 2450505
CHEF SPEAK
Chef Sandeep Kalra, Executive Chef, Trident, Gurgaon says, “It is a great privilege to present the richness of authentic Indian recipes from a bygone era, recreating the cuisine with consistent and delicious food. Our culinary endeavours reflect The Oberoi Group’s belief that it’s important to revive the Traditional Indian recipes in these modern times and our dedication to uncompromising quality”.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

THE CONCIERGE THAT STOLE MY HEART

There must be something about Marriott and absolutely brilliant Concierge services. My first encounter was at the Renaissance Powai in Mumbai with Anthony Arockinadan, the Navigation Desk Manager a few years ago who’s also won an Award for his excellent service and we even covered him on our YouTube Channel ‘EatStayChill’ ( you can later go on to the link and watch the video).
And recently during my stay at the Marriott Marquis in Bangkok I had another chance example of an unforgettable customer service win.
Please be warned…. this service story will tug at your heartstrings.
So my daughter Akanksha and I wanted to go to a store which sold chef coats and aprons, the address of which we had found online and later in the evening to dine at Suhring. We went to the concierge desk and this girl called ‘Super’ with the most gorgeous smile in the world took out google maps for us, best way to reach etc to save maximum time and finally called for a taxi to take us to our first stop, as she was explaining the way to our cab driver, she heard thunderstorms and immediately got us two umbrellas, just in case it began to pour.
We bid her a bye and happily drove past; a few seconds later, it started raining cats and dogs and we decided to change our plan, got off the cab and went in for a foot massage instead. When the rain stopped, we got back to the hotel and bump into ‘Super’ and she was like ‘How are you guys? Hope all well? I called at the store to check if you both had reached and I was really worried for you when they told me you haven’t’ (We were not carrying phones that worked or she would have called us). We told her the scenario and went back to the room to dress and change for our dinner at Suhring.
The moment Super saw we were at the lobby and ready to go, she suggested ‘Being traffic time, the best suggestion is by the Sky train’ and she had a step by step map ready in English and Thai (in her beautiful handwriting) just in case we lost our way. And as we left, she said, ‘You are checking out late afternoon, give the store another try in the morning’.

We reached Suhring so easily thanks to Super, and guess what when we reached our Hotel room that night, there was a map to the store from Super and a message reading ‘Give it another try’ with a smiley. And of course we decided to give the store another try the next morning.
Post breakfast with the map in our hand as we moved towards the lobby, Super with her infectious smile greeted us and boarded us in a cab. We reached rather quickly as there was hardly any traffic at that time. Moments later as we were selecting, we heard the store manager receive a call from Super to know we had reached all fine.
And as we left the hotel that afternoon and bid Super and her colleague Oak a goodbye, it was like leaving behind a part of the family.Truly People want to deal with other people and we seek human to human engagement. Our engagement with Super was such a personalized experience. Super could have easily given us directions or just a city map and circled places on it like most hotel concierge do, but she went the extra mile. It’s rare to come across people who do their work out of passion. With Super it was a relationship that extended beyond expectations and one that has led to such a memorable experience. ..Super you are Super! Kudos!!
CHECK IT OUT
WHERE: Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, 199 Sukhumvit Soi 22, Klong Ton, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
TEL: +66 (0) 2 059 5999

Monday, May 29, 2017

THE GOJI KITCHEN & BAR AT THE LARGEST HOTEL IN BANGKOK GOES WORLDWIDE ON CUISINE AND GRANDIOSE ON ITS SELECTION – THIS IS NO ORDINARY BUFFET!

It’s always a virtuous sign when you just can’t decide what to order. It’s a shared problem here, where breakfast is a cut above.
Marriott Marquis …the first in Asia Pacific and the largest in Bangkok. This fresh milestone in the heart of the Thai Capital takes its inspiration from the Thai Queen’s passion that ‘the cultural heritage of Thailand resides within its people’ and this hotel mergers fabulous Thai hospitality with the ‘Travel Brilliantly’ values of the Marriott brand. It is a portrayal of urbane luxury, a favoured among those seeking vital easing collective with an elegant ambience. It brags wide-ranging facilities, including over 1,300 rooms and suites, over 5,000m² of function space across 37 venues, two swimming pools, the Quan Spa which is a calm oasis and a collection of restaurants and bars…one of which is home to the focus of my visit that morning…aka Breakfast at the Goji Kitchen & Bar! A hotel buffet does not have to mean queuing up for lukewarm titbits, uncertain hotpots and gelatinous eggs. There is a glorious thing happening out here and the daughter and I are excited to dive in.
AMBIENCE
Attentive staff takes your order for tea or coffee as soon as you take your seat. Overlooking Bangkok’s Benjasiri Park, Bright and welcoming, Goji can seat 240 diners. Views of verdant greens echo in the cuisine itself, which is environmentally-friendly organic and sourced locally. There are also private dining rooms in case you are a larger group or celebrating!
WHAT’S ON OFFER?
Think a bounty of authentic, modern Asian cuisine, a glut of top quality ocean fresh seafood, an old-style roast carvery, sashimi and sushi station, Indian selection, Hainese chicken rice corner with its own expert chef, South American Parrilla Grill, handmade Chinese steamed buns, Dimsums galore, make your own salad bar, a huge Bagel selection (I encrusted mine with dill cream cheese and superbly grated cooked beetroot sharp with a wee bit of horseradish, the perfect bite, creamy and fresh all at once), fruits, juices, finest cheeses, cold cuts, breads, yogurts , eggs to order, pancakes, waffles …replete with live dramatic cooking stations, and an eye-popping milk bar to make any milk lover pinch themselves in disbelief. Oh, and did I mention they have got a fresh Sugar cane press? Anticipate sushi and sashimi, steamed dumplings and buns, noodle and rice dishes cooked to order, and the freshest seafood.
Come hungry. So kudos to lead chefs, Itthi Nitayaporn of Thailand, Jasvir Sanghera of Thailand and Watanabe Masayuki of Japan, who obviously know a thing or three about excellent, slightly off-piste textures and flavours and maintaining the perfect taste. Textures rule in dishes such the scramble egg, opt for one that gets chunky with salmon and covered in bonito flakes that wave in the heat. 
And then at the end see if you still have some room for dessert, and ask for the bill, and leave beaming promising to return very, very soon.

CHECK IT OUT
WHERE: Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, 199 Sukhumvit Soi 22, Klong Ton, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
TEL: +66 (0) 2 059 5999
VERDICT: I only tried the breakfast buffet out here, but from stylish breakfasts to high-flying lunches, exciting evening buffets to memorable family brunches, Goji Kitchen & Bar has something to suit all tastes and every occasion.

INTERNATIONAL GOURMET BUFFET PRICE
Breakfast buffet: THB 850++
Lunch buffet: THB 790++
Dinner buffet (Sunday – Thursday): THB 1,200++
Dinner buffet (Friday – Saturday): THB 1,800++
Sunday Brunch buffet (Sunday): THB 1,800++
BEVERAGE PACKAGE
Free flow fruit juices and soft drinks: THB 99++
Free flow fruit juices, soft drinks and beers: THB 499++
Free flow fruit juices, soft drinks and alcoholic beverage exclude champagne: THB 950++