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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... :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mumbai street food festival, The Dining Room, Park Hyatt, Chennai

I remember walking into the space while construction was going on… And today, I was back here once again. The place was beautiful, oozing with class and style. High ceiling, large open windows, simple décor was what made it stand apart from the other hotels. I was at Park Hyatt.

From the lobby, you get the view of the small water body with lotus ponds and the beautiful Ganesha lounging under the umbrella. He just instantly catches your eye. On the other side of the wall in the lobby were a few art pieces, including an art installation of what looked like a woman lying down, suspended in air while her hair flowed till the ground[ almost like what we see in magic/illusion acts]. I was headed to The Dining Room, their 24hour coffee shop of sorts.  It is divided into two rooms, the front and the back. The front was open, brighter ‘cos of all the natural light and this was where I spotted the Katti roll counter, dessert counters and salad counter as well.

As you walk into the other room, on the right wall, there was another art piece that was just so intricate and beautiful. There were sofas and chairs, laid out as if in a living room and on the other side of the room was where the food was. I spotted a few carts and trays with food, and i also spied a Ice crusher.

They had a Mumbai Chaat festival going on, and Chef Hafizuddin Khan had been flown down from Grand Hyatt Mumbai. They were also hosting a Mediterranean festival for which their Chef Mohammed Allofrom Grand Hyatt Doha had been brought down from Grand Hyatt Doha. This is a hotel that hosts festivals slightly different from what we see elsewhere. They also have a concept where one chef from an Indian Hyatt and another from their international wing is brought down, adding personal touches. 

After a quick round of Hi Hello, I was served a glass of fresh Watermelon juice that followed by a plate of Dahi papdi chaat. It was served in true blue style plate and not fancy ceramic ware. It adds to the experience, indeed. The chaat was pretty good, and i also got to taste their Pav Bhaji [quite different from what you get here in Chennai].

Along the walls near the Chaat counter were an array of photos, most of them were in two tone colour, which brought back memories of a contest the hotel ran on their Facebook page during the early stages of launch. It was nice that the submissions got a wall to be showcased at.

Near the chat counter, were the main gravy dishes – Vegetarian and non vegetarian and a nonveg Biryani as well. I tried the Bhaingan sabzi and Tinde curry, both of which were yummy. Am not a big fan of Bhaingan, but this was stuffed with spices and daal, and was quite good. I had them with plain naan. I also sampled the veg khati roll; it had paneer, colour peppers and zucchini [simple and good, no masala overdose].

While chit chatting with the Marketing exec Parijat, I discovered that Park Hyatt’s signature style was personalised service and so they had restaurants and banquet halls that were smaller than other hotels. Even though this restricted business, it meant each customer was given full attention.   

The place had this laid back feel and time just flew as did the food and conversations. It was time to check out the desserts, and I made a beeline for the berry Shrikand, grabbed a Sticky date pudding and a pistachio profiterole [this I have seen only on Masterchef Aus], and they had an assortment of dry fruits, including cranberries and hazelnuts. 

It was one lovely lunch…I felt bad for missing the Mediterranean workshop at Flying Elephant. Am infact quite curious to explore more of Park Hyatt.. 

39, Velachery Main Rd, Guindy,
Tamil Nadu 600032
Ph- 044 7177 1234

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  :-)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Super Large Sunday Brunch, Hyatt Regency, Chennai

It is the weekend and the last thing you want to do is be up early and make an elaborate breakfast for the family. The sense of freedom that comes with having a relaxed morning is a treat that many yearn for and some cherish.  Heading out for a brunch is the best thing you can do on the Sunday. Just have a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, maybe a fruit, get dressed and make your way to Hyatt Regency towards Spice Haat around 12.30 would be perfect.

Today nearly all restaurants are offering the weekend brunch, but in most places it is a limited menu and within a set time span. Here however, the brunch is super large and there is no closing time, so you can relax and have a lazy brunch with your family/friends. 

What is more, if you are heading out with your little ones, there is an exclusive section for the tiny tots- complete with TV, Games, a counter with mini bite sized eats, including a mini pizza and some cool sweet treats as well. They have someone in charge who will keep an eye on the kids while you have a fun brunch in the main restaurant. 

The first thing I saw as I stepped into Spice Haat was the eclectic art pieces, it was all along the theme of spices, but there were a few of people, mixing the modern with conventional and more.. There were quite a few huge tiffin carriers around, a few art pieces of people sitting atop trunk boxes, one man holding a mouse in the shape off the world connected to a keyboard, another holding a full bunch of bananas and many more.
The place is quite huge, and there is plenty of seating, and there is a small outdoor area as well, where smoking is allowed and would be good to be there when the weather is pleasant. The only thing about the place was it was quite warm, while we walked around, we did see a few air coolers but overall the air conditioning wasn’t all that powerful. 

The buffet is divided based on the cuisine and it is scattered all through the place, the last being desserts. Right in the center is the bar where you can get everything from fruit mocktails to beer to other alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. And then there is a giant pillar that has quite a few artsy utensils- coconut scrapper, ammi kal [where traditionally spice paste was ground], rolling pin and few others as well.

The brunch opened with Lime-mint mojita to start the meal, this was a well made drink. However, the smoothies were quite disappointing. They were diluted and not really smoothies.  The veg starters were alright- veg hara bara kebab and paneer

As for the buffet, I loved the dishes in the Moroccan section the best of them all. The Pastilla was amazing, with a thick base and packed with veggies, it was yumm. The pleasant surprise was when a lady walked around the hall with a tray of Chaat items. The bhel puri was quite good and some of the salads were good [ filled with flavour] – beetroot feta salad was my favorite. And then there were the live counters- aappam + stew, kuthu parotta, Chinese dimsum/momos & noodles and then there was the sushi counter as well. Apart from these, there was the Italian pasta counter and a dedicated counter for heart healthy dishes. I am a fan of sushi and enjoyed the veg sushi with wasabi+soya sauce.

From the elaborate dessert section, I picked out a pie with strawberries and figs, but it was more of a shortbread cookie with fruits on top. I did like the meringue drops and the Coffee with Kahlua that I ordered. Friend who wanted to try the same, but colder version got an interesting drink- espresso, lime juice, sugar syrup and vodka- it was good.. really good and we were happy buzzing by the time we left the place.

The menu keeps changing, so guests are always in for something new every time they visit. The place opens at 12.30 and you can lounge about for as long as you desire!

If you choose brunch with alcohol, it is priced around Rs2568 [incl tax] and it is about Rs2245 [non alcohol brunch]

Hyatt Regency
350, Anna Salai, Axis Bank, Teynampet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600017 

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, August 24, 2014

Chronicles of Whitefield at Vivanta by Taj, Chennai

Listening to the tales about the lone Anglo Indian family in Whitefield, the tattered but precious 108-year-old manuscript filled with recipes that were handed over to Chef Arzooman Irani, I felt transported to the era. It was a memorable journey indeed.  
"The deciphering of the handwritten recipes in the notebook was the only challenge we faced while bringing back to life the dishes mentioned in it. It was the family recipe book handwritten by Harry Blake, one of the original settlers of Whitefield near Bangalore. The notebook was handed over to us by his granddaughter,," Arzooman Irani, executive chef at Vivanta by Taj-Whitefield Bangalore shared as I sipped on my ginger wine- it was commonly had back then as fresh ginger was so abundantly grown in the farms as well as in kitchen gardens, the ladies of Whitefield used to make it in barrels and bottle it, which was served before the meal [it is a non alcoholic drink with slivers of ginger that catch you by surprise]
 I was at Vivanta by Taj- Connemera where the Chronicles of Whitefield food festival was on [22nd to 31st Aug]. And along with this, they had also launched their whole new range of cocktails- "Vivanta Colonial Hangover".

These Cocktails were a fine blend of European Spirits and Indian Spices, all of them blending in perfectly, complimenting each other! I got to try the Earl Of Raj (earl grey tea, Gin , cinnamon, cardamom, sugar syrup, lime juice and bay leaf)- it had subtle undertones of the tea and was beaming with the spices; then there  was the delicious Herbal Mary (Vodka with parsley, celery, ginger, tobacco sauce, Worchester sauce, tomato juice, Lime juice and salt/pepper)- am speechless, it was just amazing- spicy, tangy and not the tomato was underplayed. Oh not to forget, the Madragas Lemongrass (an unforgettable fusion of Vodka with lemon, lemongrass and pineapple and Sauvignon Blanc), and Good ol Colonel [Whiskey, sesame seeds, honey, fresh pineapple, lemon juice and pineapple juice as well]. The showstopper of them all, the Colonel Syllabub-it was the best of them all- sweet white wine, cream, sugar syrup, egg white,lime juice and cardamom. It was smooth, sweet and just blew me away!  These will go into their Cocktails menu and are available on a regular basis [they also serve non-alcoholic versions of a few of these]

As for the Chronicles of Whitefield menu, it narrated a story, all of which were from Harry’s notebook. Each of the dishes had unique flavours, were simple yet packed with flavour. They were all told the tale of the city’s past, and were made with local ingredients with foreign cooking techniques.

The meal opened with mulligatawny soup - a broth made with lentils and pepper. The surprise element from Blake was giving it a fruity twist by adding finely cut apples. It not only added to the texture, but added to the flavour as well.
For the main course, Irani offered rice varieties – coconut rice and tomato rice served alongside vegetable stew, a mushroom & potato gravy and mix veg gravy. For the non veggies, they got mutton ball curry, country captain chicken curry and Blake’s signature dish - Harry’s fish curry.
The vegetable stew was similar to the one from kerala but was milder and mellow. It was just divine with the coconut rice.   The tomato rice on the other hand was near bland, quite different from what we are used to. Irani told us that this was how the dishes were prepared and he had decided to follow the recipes to the dot.
And when it came to desserts, we were offered a platter- sooji pudding with hint of cardamom, the absolutely amazing coconut pudding and kulkuls[ these are like little biscuits rolled similar to gnocchi]. We loved the coconut pudding, the thin puff pastry base and lovely cake on top.
The Chronicles of Whitefield are available for Lunch and Dinner [a la carte] from 22nd to 31st Aug at Vivanta by Taj- Connemara.

A meal for two should work out to about Rs3000 [with alcohol]

For more details and reservations contact +91 44 66000000

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, August 19, 2014

Desserts at Salt, Chennai

A dear friend was in Chennai for a few days on work and we decided to meet one evening for an early dinner. The place was decided in a flash- Salt, Vijaya Forum Mall, Vadapalani. Both of us had been there earlier and loved the place and the food. She had reached ahead of me and done some shopping as well. We made our way to Salt, grabbed a corner booth and went about catching up on our lives. 

I ordered for a strawberry based drink while she went for a Coke and then came the food. Being a hard core seafood lover, she went for the Nethili fry and I chose the veg starter. And for the main course, we went North Indian and ordered some roti and side dish which were amazing. 

But the post is dedicated to desserts..We were both in the mood for something nice, my friend being a chocoholic opted for the Chocolate mousse while I asked for a portion of Gajar Ka Halwa ... And within minutes a staff came to our table holding two large plates. We were excited and wondered what they were as he lay them in front of us.

The chocolate mousse plate had three big scoops of mousse with white chocolate slivers in between them sitting pretty on a bed of custard, while mine had a nice cupful of Gajar ka halwa, a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a bed of crumbled cookie with dollops of chocolate sauce. It had a very elegant look and we both dug in shamelessly.

I loved the halwa, it was piping hot and not over the top sweet. Her mousse was just divine, melt in your mouth but we were able to do justice only to one scoop. I took the remaining two home and shared with friends next day. 

The entire meal worked out to about Rs1300/- which was total value for money... I think this is one of the few places where the food quality has been consistently good.. 

No. 213, 2nd Floor, Forum Vijaya Mall,
Vadapalani, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600026
Phone:044 4218 8600