Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Thailand Revisited . . . . . . .

Helloooo :)
              Today, I'll be telling about the Thai Food Festival at the JW Marriott, Mumbai, which helped me revisit my trip to Thailand years ago :) . Nostalgic, I'd say.
              Marriott has flown down Thai Specialty Chef Suriya all the way from Thailand for their Thai Street Food Festival.

Stock Photo of Chef Suriya From the Marriott's Facebook Page

             Almost all the stalls of food were live, save the dessert and the main course stalls... We started off with the entrees ... I had some crispy spring rolls filled with julienned veggies. The rolls were crisp, but not dripping with oil..(the way you usually find them). There were also banana fritters (these reminded me of the Christmas goodies some of my Malyalee - Christian friends used to get at school), and some deliciously seasoned garlicky potato wedges! :D there were two types of breads which had a strong undertone of lemon grass.. there were two dipping sauces; one was the plum sauce and a sweet chilli dip.. Oh I was in love with the sweet chilli sauce, I could eat it in spoonfuls!

From the left to right - Garlic potato wedges, the  banana fritters and the crispy spring rolls.

The sauces and the bread baskets

My Plate

       Coming to the main course, There was a humongous variety. There was a live barbecue station and a roast pork belly station for the non vegetarians. There was also a live Phad Thai counter !! I had some Som Tam and two other varieties of salad - Som Tam is a raw papaya salad, along with a gorgeous glass noodle salad and a raw mango with toasted cashew salad!! These were so lovely and refreshing that I could have them as a meal in themselves :) There were two other live stations for the main course - The Green & Red curry station and the Tom Yam (soup) station. Because I wanted to save space for desserts, I had to skip on the Phad thai and Tom Yam. I sampled a bit of the green curry though, which was a warm and wholesome. 

The Glass Noodle Salad and the Raw Mango Salad

My Lovely Pina Colada :D 

The Phad Thai Station^

My Bowl of Green Curry

        The staple main course had three veggie options - Water Chestnut and Mushroom in black pepper sauce; Mixed veggies in Soy sauce and Tom Yam fried rice...  the water chestnut and mushrooms in soy sauce appealed to my taste buds, it had very smoky flavors and a nice texture! 

             And now coming to my favorite part, the desserts! There was an array of delicacies right from regional fruits to their traditional desserts! I'll put up the picture and then proceed to describe it for you :)

    Doesn't it look glorious, and trust me, it tasted even better! Starting from the top, clockwise, the pale orange square was a pumpkin pudding, then a slice or tropical mandarin, a chocolate tart, old - school gooey chocolate cake, then the white coconut custard with a coconut jelly encased in coconut leaves, a rambutan (Thai Litchi), and the pink- white dragonfruit. In the center, on the left is a lentil cake and on the right is a cheese cake.
    I fell in LOVE with three of these, firstly and the most obviously, the gooey chocolate cake. Nothing with chocolate can be bad :) . Then the Coconut custard. That was a complete surprise; under the layer of coconut cream, was a smooth yet firm coconut jelly that had little chunks of coconut in it. It tasted like a steamed product. Honestly, it was made to absolute perfection! And lastly, the dragon fruit. I was long intrigued by this interesting looking fruit. It tastes light, slightly sour, but slightly so. It acted like the perfect palate cleanser in - between the variety I was tasting :)

     I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to Chef Suriya. He was extremely humble and friendly. He was nice enough to share with me the recipe of that sweet chilli sauce that I was in love with! He shared with us the concept of desserts in Thai cuisine. When quizzed on what kind of Indian food he liked, he was quick to tell me that he loves the Biryani and South Indian Fare.
     All in all, it was nothing sort of a stay - cation for me. I'd like to thank Stacy, Shimonti and Anchal for making this event so memorable :) I would strongly recommend anyone who loves Asian fare to go and have a good time! Their buffet is priced very reasonably and of course, the service Marriott offers is impeccable! The festival is on at till the 1st of December, consider it an early treat for the upcoming new year and have a blast! :)
From the Marriott Mumbai's Facebook Page. 

Upcoming - My recipe of orange and chocolate muffins! Stay tuned :)
Until next time then,

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Malaysian Magic!

  Hello !!
              Following my last blog post, (read it here, if you haven't read it already), my Saturday couldn't have ended in a better way! The Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel was hosting the Malaysian Food Festival. They had flown in the experts, Chef Ridzuan and Chef Rhap all the way from Malaysia. The spread was delectable, with enough options for vegetarians like me :) and for the Non Vegetarians, it was nothing short of paradise.
              I started off with the salads. I had Gado with peanut sauce- which is something like 'make your own salad', with different cuts of vegetables like french beans, carrots, sprouts, cabbage etc. and a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. The raw veggies had the perfect crunch and the peanut sauce gave the salad a lot of flavor. Then I had some Kerabu Kacang Panjang, which was a bean and sprout salad and also some Kerabu Tahu  (tahu = tofu) which is a stir fried tofu and vegetable salad . One important thing I observed was, that there is a humongous difference in the tofu we get here in the Indian market as compared to the tofu they had imported for the festival. Their authentic tofu was and crumbly and just moist enough, which left a clean after taste.... Their other non vegetarian salads, which had shrimp/ chicken/ squid etc.. they were Kerabu Kambling Suhoon, Kentang Ayam Sambal, and Kerabu Sotong Limau Bali. (I know the names sound very complicated, I'll just try and use explanatory terms from now :) )
             I had the ever so famous Tom yam soup (pictured below)- Fresh vegetables in a tangy, broth base with a strong current of lemongrass passing through it. The non veg option was the Bebola Daging which had a green base with prawns. The Tom yam was perfect, just how I remember it from my trip to Malaysia years ago.


          Moving on to the main course, (I dont have pictures of the main course because my phone decided to hibernate in between :( sorry!) I had some spicy Sambal rice, which was delicious. It was like a literal party in my mouth. Accompanying this were two curries, Sayur Lodeh - which was mixed vegetables in a smooth coconut curry and Keladi Masak Asam which was yam in sour Malaysian curry. 
        There was a live station for the meat and sea food lovers where they were serving fresh Rojak Asma, Mee Rebus and Ayam Jintan Manis with some Daging Lada Hitam. I din't actually got to the station to describe it to you. If from the next time, you want me to cover the non  vegetarian parts for you, then please leave a comment below! 
         Both the speciality Chefs, Chef Rhap and Chef Ridzuan were a delight to talk to. Chef Sunil Kumar Nandal, who was accompanying them was ever so kind, patiently explaining to me every detail. One interesting thing was that the Chefs had obviously created an authentic Malaysian Menu, but they also added a few twists to it. For example, They donot get yam in Malaysia, but they had made a malaysian curry by substituting some root vegetable with yam. Similarly, when they weren't able to procure palm sugar for the desserts, they improvised with some jaggery instead. 
        I spoke to the Chefs at length. I learnt that Malaysian cuisine very was very different from what I had mentally perceived it to be. It was no more close to Thai food, as to Indian. Coconut and rice are their main to - go ingredients for almost all parts of the meal, be it  the entrees or desserts. The lemon grass and shrimp combo is similar to that of Thai food. I was thoroughly surprised to see the sheer variety of vegetarian options, because my trip to Malaysia was a terror when it came to finding vegetarian food. Turns out, I just needed to know what to ask for :P tch, tch, novice traveler mistakes, But the Malaysian Food Festival opened up an new dimension of South East Asian Food for me. 

     Now coming to my favorite part, obviously the desserts. What good is a blog called sugar rushes, if it cant give you a sugar fix in every post?!. The Dessert Table was a sight to behold. Along with traditional Malaysian desserts, the usual treats like mini cupcakes, tarts and mousses were also there. The five traditional desserts were Lengkong Gula Melaka which is somewhat similar to the Goan specialty of dodol. It is a coconut jelly and pannacotta set with agar agar and tasted absolutely divine. Kuih Pulut Berinti which are balls of rice topped with sweetened grated coconut. Kuih Pulut Serunding is a sticky rice roll which is sweet. Now coming to Bubur Pulut Hitam that I tried on Chef Sunil's advice, which turned out to be the one that I loved the most. This was black rice cooked in sweetened coconut milk and served warm. It was exquisite. The flavors were clean, but layered and the rice was creamy and sweetened just enough so that it wasn't cloying to the palate. The last Malaysian delicacy was the Kuih Ketayap which was browned coconut in a green pancake covering. I was left astounded with the simplicity of their desserts, because even though they weren't very complex, their texture, taste ranged deep. Having  bubur pulut hitam is as soul satisfying as having a bowl full of kheer or basundi. Food truly doesnt have any language or religion. 

Black rice cooked in sweetened coconut milk

All time faves madelines

Contemporary desserts

My not - so modest plate of desserts

     I left Renaissance with a happy tummy and a happier mind because of all that I had learnt today. It was an experience I am going to carry with myself. One very very special mention to Atika. Very rarely have I seen such dedicated people who are not only brilliant at their job, but so pleasant to talk to and interact with. I truly appreciate her hard work and genuineness. It makes your day when you meet people like her. Keep up the good work. It was truly a pleasure meeting you. 
     Another special mention to the Specialty Chefs, Chef Rhap and Chef Ridzuan. The Sr. Sous Chef of the Lakeside Chalet -  Chef Danish MerchantChef Sunil Kumar Nandal and of course Marketing Executive - Carol Braganza. Its because of wonderful people like you that us food bloggers find the passion to keep writing about food. You give us food - experiences we feel like sharing with the world. Thank you for a wonderful evening. 

  Now coming up next is going to be another one in the review series. Stay tuned, stay happy. Please leave a comment below if you would like to request a anything or want to make a suggestion, or just simply drop a hello, I'm always up for a chat! :)

Until next time,

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Philips Brew Camp

        This month has probably been my most exciting and busy month in this entire year. This post is to tell you all about the Philips Brew Camp that was held last Saturday afternoon. Being a coffee lover, I was more than excited for this event!
        The event was hosted by the very talented Kalyan Karmakar. He's our country's one of the finest food bloggers. You must check his blog out here. Along with being brilliant at his blog, I found him to be very easy going, friendly and approachable; And all this made it such a fun and memorable event.
         We started off by taking a coffee quiz. I learnt that there is much more to coffee than just my daily cup of filter coffee. And the wonder of wonders, I was in the top 5 winners of the list. Though I didn't win in the second 'make your own coffee art' round :( . Nevertheless, it was a memorable experience.

   After the quiz, Kalyan told us about the different types of coffee.... differentiated according to their continents, and the differences in their flavors and aroma....  Being a novice coffee lover, I finally learnt to differentiate my Cappuccino from my Moccachino ! :D 

   We had another interactive session where in we discovered our "Coffee Personalities". Funnily, I was the only one who thought about how much energy my coffee gives me to push through, whenever I drank my coffee. Its like a source of relief, like a hearty soup on a flu day. This put me alone in the "sober and sorted" category :D . The others either connected their coffee to their company i.e. friends, family etc and the others connected it to the coffee's aroma, creme etc.
    We had another contest now... (yes, this was the most fun Saturday I have had in ages!!) . I was paired with another person ( Yuti -from MumbaiFoodLovers). We were all served a dish of accompaniments that go with different types of coffee, Then we were served with one kind of coffee and we had to guess which food made the perfect pair!! 

  The delicious baked tidbits were provided by Aditi Juneja from SociallyFoodie. Yuti and I were served the Cappuccino, which was delicious! accompanied with the following (captioned)
From left to right- the apple danish, the salty sesame cookie, the banana walnut cake. Pizza crackers with a dip (dips in the next picture)  at the bottom and the tangy orange muffin in the center.

      Yuti and I decided that the apple danish was the best suited to go with our kind of coffee (though I LOVED the orange muffin. I plan to order a bunch soon!) . And we were right! Both of us won a table side book on the history of coffee!! :) What a treat!! 

  Jayati Singh, who was there representing Philips India, told us about the new range of Coffee machines they are releasing in the Indian market, especially for home - use. I was immensely impressed with the kind of technology Philips was bringing in, to make our lives easier and our coffees much better. You can check out their new products and their never been seen before technology like an inbuilt ceramic grinder, their sophisticated filter system over here.  

      The lovely event ended with a nice lunch. The pressie included a beautiful box of select coffee beans and hand made chocolates!!
Pressie and the Book I won!!! (The pamphlets are missing, i left them in the bag!) 
   Special mention to Shweta Mehrotra and Prerna Jain!  Thank you so much! :) 
   I've got loads of reviews and recipes coming up this moth, stay tuned and keep happy!!

Until Next time,


Friday, 1 November 2013

A wonderful Italian Cena and a foodie gathering :)

Ciao Amici,
                 according to Google, that translates to 'hello friends' in Italian  :) . This month has been  a flurry of activity, right from the tea trial to the Indian Food Blogger's Association awards [yeah, that post has been long sitting in the drafts folder! I promise it will be out soon!! :D ]
                Now I'm sure you are still wondering why I greeted you guys in Italian, that's because this post is about the Southern Italian Food Festival that is being held at the JW Marriott at Juhu, Mumbai. A lot of us food bloggers were invited to this wonderful event which was hosted by the hotel in their speciality Italian Restaurant-  Mezzo Mezzo.

              Having traveled from almost the other end of the city had tired me a little, so I was glad once I reached the restaurant. It has elegant interiors with nice diffused lighting that add to its ambiance. One section was separated for the evening. Marriott has recently flown in the Celebrity Chef- Chef Davide Cananzi who was heading this entire event. 
                This memorable evening started with getting to know all the other fellow foodies, some new, some old. It is certainly an evening well spent, when you get to know people who are so much like you and share the same passion. Anyway, back to the event, we began with the starters. Chef Davide was so wonderful and considerate to provide the grass - eating population (read - vegetarians) like me, with an equally yummy and broad variety of food as the rest. 
                  For starters, there was a variety of breads, different cheeses, preserved fruits, pizzas. There were various cold cuts of meat and wine. Me being a non drinker, the staff at Mezzo Mezzo was really sweet to provide me with a choice of non alcoholic beverages. The starters were oh-so-scrumptious, that all of us had to keep reminding ourselves that the main course was yet to come and to save some space in our tummies!! :D . I absolutely loved the salty ricotto cheese, and the olive danishes!! 

Photo credit- Samina :)

   As we were relishing the starters, Chef Davide was explaining to us the basics of Southern Italian Fare, how the spices in the food and the spiced food made all the difference. Coming to the main course, I'm going to be talking about what I had (so, non veggies please excuse me, I was too busy relishing my food to pay attention to the other stuff :D )
    This was the first time that I was trying any authentic Italian Food, and my, was I impressed! Below are all the dishes we were presented with, I have described them in the captions..
This was the most delicious mocktail ever!! Orange,
pineapple and mango Juice together!! Yummy!!

This was fusilli with ricotta cheese and baby tomatoes

On the right is the smoothest and creamiest mushroom risotto

Buttery smooth mashed potatoes as an accompaniment!

This is some super cheesy Rigatoni in tomato sauce :)

            Chef Davide spoke to us about Southern Italian Cuisine, and the connection he felt with it. He explained that this food is the "pan to plate kind" and any delay in eating the freshly prepared dishes, just denatures its flavor.The food that day, was being served directly from the pan it was made in. He regaled us with his learning experiences in the kitchen, as the day's menu contained few of the first recipes he had ever learned to cook, that too from his mother. So the evening did have an air of nostalgia about it. The interaction with Chef, just made the experience more wholesome.. He was extremely friendly and warm. In my opinion, he is nothing less than an asset for the JW Marriott :) 
Chef Davide

            After the exquisite main course, came the time for the finishing touch, i.e. the dessert. We ended that enjoyable evening with the classic Italian Cassatta and the sublime Jam tart. It was the perfect finale. 

 Overall, it was one of those perfect evenings, which you remember for years to come. I am soon planning a family evening at Mezzo Mezzo A shout out to my new friends (The vanilla bean co! Pooja! Chef Joel! and of course Sam!) You guys made the evening memorable! 
Also, Kudos to Pragati and Anchal for organizing this event, you guys did a great job!:) 

Until Next Time,
Cheers :)