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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Power Lunch

Gone are the days when power lunch was all about dining in a restaurant that had buffets tables set with variety of food of every imaginable cuisine. We used to have too much variety and were not able to decide what is good, little portion of each and your tummy is full with mixed flavors that had a war in the tummy starting from mouth. We hopped from our dining table to the food station for every course, meeting friends on the way, chatting with random people and sometimes eating while standing. Many times, we were not able to enjoy the best of dishes because by the time we reached that dessert station, we were too full already and so missed out the best options.

But things are changing for the better perhaps.

Two days ago, I was invited by Verve Magazine for a book reading of ‘The Reluctant detective’  by Kiran Manral at an Italian restaurant, Botticino, named after ‘Petra di Botticino’ the beautifully veined marble, that has been used extensively giving an artistically  shiny look to the hotel at Bandra-Kurla complex called Trident.

After the reading, and familiarizing with each other,  we headed towards the dining room, bright, well lighted with high ceiling that seemed as though it was hanging by the ceiling. The dining table had just fixed number of chairs for confirmed guests that were planned after the personalized invitations were sent and the number of guest confirmed.

There was a fixed menu with the assorted dishes specially prepared by Chef Vikas Vichare. We gave our order according to our preference and sat down to relish each dish as it arrived.

The freshly baked bread, straight from the kitchen is the good way to start any meal.

While we waited for our order to arrive, Chef Vikas Vichare came out to greet us bringing with him his specialty of diced mangoes topped with steamed asparagus.

The hard board menu card had the choice, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, On Saturdays I am strictly non-vegetarian, so wild Mushroom were out of my list...... I chose Pear and Pecorino salad with arugula and balsamic dressing from the list of Soup and Appetizer.

The sweet sour taste of fruits mingled with thinly sliced cheese and rocket leaves, topped with caramelized was a happy beginning...

For the Main it was snapper for me....Chilli and Fennel crusted snapper with olives, potatoes and orange juice.

No, this is not Snapper but I am peeping on the side...attracted by the plating..thinking if he learnt the plating from TV program called Master Chef Australia?

The Herb encrusted Snapper swimming in the plate full of orange sauce and the colorful crunchy array of finely chopped fried potatoes, olives and carrots was up for Mains. The sweet and sour taste with crunchy vegetables floating in the orange sauce and the perfectly cooked fish, it was the dish to die for.....

Different stories are shared at the lunch table which is impossible during buffet,  I like the table setting where each person is seated and the dish arrives at regular interval one dish at a time which is tasted and relished slowly, wine glasses are refilled and as the conversation progresses, strangers become friends.....

The hours tick tock faster and the dessert time arrives. I choose Tiramisu with berry sorbet...

We rounded up the meal with a cupful of tiramisu, which has always been my favorite and I was happy to see it served specially for us. I bit into the thin crispy chocolate wafer that melted instantly into my mouth.

Once again I am mesmerized with the plating of this dessert wherein a thin chocolate wafer dips into the cup and a spiral chocolates reaches the berry sorbet making the dish visually appealing...

Also shared this content with the members of GBE2 on prompt "Two days Ago"

Friday, June 15, 2012

Food For All

In my life, I have met many talented people, some of them are so blessed that they never have to worry about themselves at all because the resources that they have will keep them floating in happiness for the rest of their lives. But there are some who are not so fortunate. They are deprived of opportunities mainly because of their ignorance, because they do not know the know-how, the real techniques of making their life worthwhile, of finding a proper guide who can teach them how the natural resources can be used effectively.
Most of the people are very secretive about the methods they use for growing vegetables and for their recipes. True, your own recipe will be your pride and you want it to be your signature recipe. You want to be recognized by your creation of a new dish. But sharing is caring.

There is a story of Chandrani, who lives in the rural area of Sri Lanka. I came across this site which promises future of hunger free for poor. Oxfam is supporting women like Chandrani to start home gardening businesses. With the right seeds, tools and knowledge,Chandrani has created a successful vegetable garden, growing beans, capsicum, beetroot, spinach, radish and more. She’s producing enough food to feed her three children and is earning an income by selling the surplus.
We can help too, by teaching people how to become self sufficient. In the city like Mumbai where there is hardly any open space left, we don’t have the luxury of owning a kitchen garden. Maybe, we can share the tips on how to plant organic vegetables in our balcony?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Junior Chef Cookery Workshop

My friend, Aanchal, conducts one-day cooking workshopsregularly and most of them are exotic dishes. I am always amazed at the knowledge she has of the latest trends and knows exactly what the people might be interested. Sometimes its dips/pesto and sometimes mock-tails/cocktails, sometimes infused oils and sometimes herbal salad dressing. 

I asked her, “Where do you learn these?” 

She says that she socializes a lot, visits various restaurants and reads latest cooking literature to keep herself updated.

Well, it’s a hard work then.

This week she invited me to attend the children’s workshop that she would be conducting. The menu for the day was Double Chocs-Chip Cupcakes, Mexicans Mini Pizza, Red Cheesy Pasta and  Ferraro Roche shake 

Since I love the company of kids, I was most eager to attend.

I arrived at the venue when the session was on. All children were dressed in cute personalized aprons and a chef’s hat which were especially bought for them. That set the mood and children took cooking quite seriously, willing to learn some basics of cooking. 

All children were given the typed recipes which they could refer to. As the session progressed, some children made separate notes, adding details and their observations.  

There were about 15 children of ages from 4 year-old to 12 years old.

The session started with cupcakes.

The children learnt to identify each ingredient by taste, touch and smell. 

While they mixed the ingredients they licked their finger each time, each one willing to do their part of mixing and setting, getting hungrier each minute, so much so that they could not wait till it was baked and served. 

And yes! They were too hungry to wait for decorating the cup cakes with confetti and cream……

While they waited for the cup cakes to be baked, they were to learn to make Mexican Pizza.

In group of four, children were led to the kitchen to cook the tomato sauce using ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, salt, sugar, basil leaves, oregano, garlic and baked beans. The pizza bread was toasted in the oven and back came the group to the living room to make his/her own pizza according to his/her own taste, adding assorted veggies like red and yellow capsicum, chili flakes, cheese and olives.

While the pizza baked, it was time to make cheesy Pizza. Aanchal, my friend, demonstrated the boiling method of Pasta, informed them about  the right consistency and the duration of time needed to prepare the pasta, then to mix it in the tomato-onion sauce, add herbs and cheese and bake. 

It was interesting to see the children’s focused interest in this activity. Some of them related to me about their interest and their favorite cookery program on TV. All the kids were aware of the TV program ‘Junior Masterchef’ and had their own favorite cook

The impatience was growing and children were eager to taste, Ferrero Rocher milk shake would have to wait, all children were already seated, waiting to eat, and of course, best part of attending cooking demonstration is that there is always food to taste.

After having their fill, children were ready to make Ferroro Rocher milk shake.

In a batch of four they made their milk shake, mixing Ferroro Rocher chocolate with coffee powder, milk, vanilla ice cream, syrup and condense milk with topping of cream and choco-chips.

No children’s workshop is complete without a game and gifts. 

A customized housie ticket with each child’s name printed on the top of the ticket was distributed. But wait, this wasn’t an ordinary ticket; it had the ingredients that were used during the session, very innovative and carefully organized.

There was a gift for every line and two full houses. 

By the time the session ended, children were charged with energy, they shared notes and phone numbers, they even got one cup cake to take-away to share with their family.

A lot of effort was put behind the scene, because planning a children’s workshop is no child’s game……
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