Thursday, 25 February 2016

'The Spice Island Flavours’ by Priya Bala at ITC Gardenia

ITC  Hotels under the aegis of ‘The Kitchens of India’ has been showcasing unique & undiscovered cuisines and cooking styles from across India. This time they present the food of Southern Tamil Nadu that has absorbed the influences of Sri Lankan culinary repertoires.

The award winning restaurant in ITC Gardenia’s culinary crown Cubbon Pavilion presents and brings to you “The Spice Island Flavours” under the aegis of Kitchens of India. You can discover a heritage which is divided by an ocean, but united by history. The cuisine is an irresistible blend of traditional recipe of Tamil Nadu melded with the spices of the emerald isle of Sri Lanka. It showcases Southern Tamil Nadu cuisine with Sinhalese influences.

Priya Bala is a Celebrated food writer, she specialises in food and travel, and is a passionate home cook. Her cooking skills have been inspired by her childhood in Sri Lanka, the cuisine of Madurai and the deep South of Tamil Nadu, plus her exposure to an array of international cuisines.

I savoured the fullest expression of their myriad spices and authentic ingredients over the preview of this festival. I had a special menu crafted for my dinner but during the festival you will taste more of sea food.

For starters, we had Ladies finger sambol which had crispy slivers of ladies finger, tossed with tomatoes and onion. Simple yet flavorful.

Next was Fish cutlets, fresh fish seasoned with ginger, green chillies and pepper, formed into croquettes and crumb-fried. The other ingredients over powered the taste of fish.

Devilled chicken was spicy and tasty which had cubes of chicken, chillies and onions tossed in piquant sauce. It was a hit on the table with people having this alongside their drinks.

Idiappam Kothu was next which had stringhopper shreds, tossed with masala, vegetables and chicken. This was my favorite from the menu, slightly spicy and burst of masala.

Chicken curry, Pineapple curry and Cashew curry was served along with Yellow rice.
Pineaplle curry was everyone's favorite as it had sweet-sour taste along with being spicy. Cashew curry wasn't gravy, it had tender cashew cooked with peace. Chicken curry was good and was semi-gravy.

For desserts, Curd & Treacle which is soothing to end a spicy meal. The entire meal wasn't really spicy but this dessert got back memories of having curd at home.

They have a lot more on offer apart from this sneak peak of the menu. This unique food promotion is on only at Cubbon Pavilion from 26th February to 6th March 2016. Relish it before it ends.

United Spirits unveils the Scotch Whisky Collection: An exceptional gift

Indians have traditionally exchanged gifts on every occasion - the custom is deep rooted in our culture. But consumers today want a touch of style, uniqueness, and personalization in their gift items, which reflects their status.

United Spirits Limited hosted an extraordinary evening with personalities Lisa Haydon, Chitrangda Singh, Shibani Dandekar and Nitesh Chhapru, Head of Marketing, Premium Core Portfolio, United Spirits Limited who unveiled the Scotch Whisky Collection: An Exceptional Gift for all occasions for men. The Scotch Whisky Collection entails a premium range of Scotch whiskies such as Black Dog, Vat 69 and Black & White as an ideal gift for whisky connoisseurs who will cherish the specially created collectible gift packs.

The Scotch Whisky Collection launch was dedicated to ‘solving the dilemma of gifting for men’ and was hosted by Anuradha Menon whose witty twist to ‘gifting’ kept the audience highly amused. Celebrities Lisa Haydon, Chitrangda Singh and Shibani Dandekar shared anecdotes of personal gifts they had received and shared. They were unanimous that the Scotch Whisky Collection now made it simpler for them to buy gifts for their male friends.

Speaking about her favourite gifting moments, Lisa Haydon mentioned, “I believe we have solved the dilemma of gifting for men.  Earlier it was a task to find the right gift for the right occasion but the Scotch Whisky Collection is the ideal gift for all occasions. All men appreciate their Scotch Whisky and am sure would cherish such a gift.”

Commenting on this, Chitrangda Singh, said “It’s a great feeling when someone appreciates your gift. The appreciative expression makes every moment count while getting the ideal gift. My father is a perfectionist and a man of great character and strength. He enjoys his Scotch whisky and hence the perfect gift for him would be a bottle of VAT69.

Adding to his, Shibani Dandekar, commented. “I love buying gifts for people who I am close to as I know their likes and dislikes.  When I am invited to a friend’s house I always gift a bottle of Black &White as it’s one of the best tasting Scotches whiskies today and always tastes better when shared! If I know someone who has won an award or received a promotion I tend to gift them a bottle of Black Dog to celebrate their achievements.”

Nitesh Chhapru, Head of Marketing: Premium Core Portfolio, USL said, “The gifting market in India has become a billion dollar industry and is still evolving.  People are now looking at more innovative and personalised options while purchasing their gifts. Keeping this in mind, we have launched The Scotch Whisky Collection: An Exceptional Gift with the finest of our Scotch whisky blends to celebrate all occasions. The SWC includes Black Dog, VAT69 and Black & White; exquisite blends with exceptional taste and flavour for every moment.”

United Spirits brings to you a range of premium Scotch Whiskies for gifting this festive season; a delight for all whisky connoisseurs who will cherish the specially created collectible gift packs. So go ahead and get #ScotchAsAGift.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Dinefest menu at Cafe Toscano, Bangalore

Cellar Door Hospitality brings DineFest to its customers. Dinefest is the first multi-city culinary event in India to be held once a quarter, typically in February, May, August and November. This is based on the lines of Restaurant Week India (RWI) but Dinefest brings finest informal dining restaurants at a lower price while RWI brings us fine dine places at a higher price point.

After debuting in Delhi and Mumbai in Oct 2015 and catering to over 2,100 diners, they are now in Bengaluru with their participating restaurants presenting different cuisines but a three course pre fixed menu, with enough options for veg and non-veg lovers. DineFest is the only culinary events platform to secure the entire meal price online, before the event.

February round of Dinefest is spread across 10 restaurants participating from Bangalore, held between 19th and 28th February 2016 for both lunch and dinner. The meal is priced at Rs 500 ++ per head in Bangalore and Rs.600++ in Delhi and Mumbai which is exclusive of all taxes, service charges and as well as beverages or dishes ordered outside of the special DineFest menu. The online reservations start from February 15th, 2016, exclusively through their website and you can also make cancellations up to 12 hours prior to each booking.

I reviewed Cafe Toscano and also thoroughly enjoyed the preview of Dinefest. I was accompanied with Mom and we began our meal with 2 different starters, Caesar salad which had crisp romaine lettuce tossed with garlic croutons, aged Parmesan and our special caesar dressing drizzled with herbed oil while Mom chose to enjoy Chicken nuggets which were crispy fried chicken breast served with mixed greens and potato fries. I couldn't resist both the starters and it was a tough choice to choose from the variety of delicious starters on offer.

2 mocktails out from the Dinefest menu was also sipped on throughout the meal, this when chosen would cost separately.

For main course, Mom enjoyed Fish alla Milanese which was a pan fried herb breaded basa served with mixed greens and grilled vegetables.

I chose to relish Pollo alla Diavola which was Pepper crusted chicken breast with trio pepper corn sauce served with potato mash and grilled vegetables.

The last course of meal was desserts. Warm chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce and Eggless Mango Pannacotta served with fresh fruits and mint was chosen.

It was tough choice to make with the best variety of Cafe Toscano on the Dinefest menu. but the three course meal will fill your tummy well. This is a steal in terms of price and one should just not miss it. So go ahead and book your table right now.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Plus Way with Dineout at The Pink Poppadom, Hyatt

Dineout is India’s Largest Table Reservation App and now Dineout is introducing its latest offering Dineout Plus - A Premium Dining Membership Program which will offer great benefits when one dine's at the top five star restaurants based out of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata.

With Dineout plus, you can book tables at over 150 five-star restaurants and avail a flat 25% discount on total bill. These restaurants have unlimited usage which means you can dine at the same place any number of times and still avail the same discount.

With Dineout plus, one can dine in style and to celebrate this, selected bloggers were invited to celebrate and launch Dineout plus at The Pink Poppadom, Hyatt Bangalore. Rajat Bhatia from Dineout introduced us to The Plus Experience. A special 4 course menu was curated by Chef Manish which includes the best of the restaurant. The menu was paired with Krsma wine and Vishal Nagpal took us through the different wines from Krsma.

As I don't drink wine, other's enjoyed Krsma wines with assorted canapes. Then dinner started with Soup - Dohra mulligatawny which is a classical Indian peppered lentil soup, served with their beetroot version. It was a thick soup and usually had in the south.

Then came delicious The Trio non-veg starter which had an array of smoked chicken, gilafi seekh and prawn cafrial which is charred in tandoor and served with pineapple shooter.

For main course, Drunkard chicken was served which was cooked in indian masala served with neer dosa and Kokum fish with ghee rice. Kokum fish was very tasty and complemented well with ghee rice

For dessert, Chuski was served along with Coconut creme brulee, chocolate samosa, mango jamun and candied rose petal and Paan shots to end the evening.

Chef Manish has made sure the portions of the meal was sufficient to fill one's tummy and my first visit to The Pink Poppdom was impressive. Looking forward to many more visits and also use my Dineout Plus card.