28 April, 2014

Yours truly featured in the New Indian Express

My food blogging exploits got me featured in the New Indian Express. I'm super thrilled. My thanks to everyone who has been following my blog and my extreme gratitude to friends who've helped and have tolerated me sticking a camera in their food just before they eat.

Here's the entire feature - http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/264184/The-New-Indian-Express-Bangalore/28-April-2014#page/21/2

(Excuse the formatting, lost out on the images)

Gig Review: An Ode to the Blues - Blackstratblues and Guitar Shorty, Counter Culture (Pt. 5 of 5)

The closing act of ‘An Ode to the Blues’ at Counter Culture was Blackstratblues featuring Guitar Shorty (or was it the other way around????). Warren Mendosa played what I thought was an insane set because of the pressure of having to play alongside an experienced blues man in Guitar Shorty. Blackstratblues ran through some of their popular numbers including the crowd favourite Ode to a Sunny Day before Guitar Shorty joined them on stage.

Jai Row Kavi on drums was his usual power house self, but even he was unable to keep up with Warren Mendosa, who got carried away and started rushing through his leads. and needed to be reigned in. 

Guitar Shorty made quite an entry, and joined the band on stage for the rest of the gig. I’ll be honest in saying that this was the first time I have heard him play and I was supremely impressed at how a man at the age of 74 was playing such fantastic leads. Thanks to some wireless tech, Shorty walked off the stage to mingle with the audience and continued to play guitar as he walked around the venue. That drove the crowd completely bonkers. Shorty and Blackstratblues brought the roof down with their renditions of Hey Joe and Born Under a Bad Sign. It was the most insane end to an evening of superb blues.

Mendosa from Blackstratblues
Jai Row from Blackstratblues
Guitar Shorty
And the crowd goes wild..
Blackstratblues with Guitar Shorty

Gig Review: An Ode to the Blues - Soulmate, Counter Culture (Pt. 4 of 5)

The third band on ‘An Ode to the Blues’ was Shillong’s very own Soulmate. I fell in love with this band from the very first time I saw them way back in 2008. Tipriti’s (aka Tips) voice for the evening was simply awesome as the band powered through some older material and gave the audience a taste of new material present in their soon-to-be released album. Rudy Wallang was at his classic best playing through the leads with ease. Despite a forced interval thanks to a power outage, Soulmate gave another stellar performance.

Tips from Soulmate
Rudy Wallang from Soulmate
TIps taking a break during the power outage
Tips from Soulmate

Gig Review: An Ode to the Blues - Ministry of Blues, Counter Culture (Pt. 3 of 5)

The second band up on stage was the explosive 'ZZ Top-meets-Steve Vai' blues band from Bengaluru – The Ministry of Blues, or M.O.B as the crowd liked to chant. They began their explosive set with an original composition called ‘9 to 5 blues’ dedicated to everyone who had a day job and was sick of it. The rest of the set was just madness as Philipe and Rauf traded solos off one another with their respective instruments with absolute ease. Vinoo was responsible for keeping everyone in line with his mini-history lessons in between the songs which was actually quite entertaining.

Ministry of Blues
Ministry of Blues
Ministry of Blues
Ministry of Blues
Ministry of Blues

Gig Review: An Ode to the Blues - Chronic Blues Circus, Counter Culture (Pt. 2 of 5)

The first band on the main stage was Bengaluru’s Chronic Blues Circus. I've always seen them play a very safe set with the intent of letting the audience groove to the rhythm. Today was no different. There was a healthy mix of original compositions such as Coming home blues, with some more popular covers to keep the audiences grooving. The leads were nice, tight and slow and the band was appropriate to set the ball rolling on the main stage for ' An Ode to the Blues’. Peter, the front man, joked that the only guitar player older than him present that evening was Guitar Shorty (who would turn 75 this year).

Chronic Blues Circus
Chronic Blues Circus
Chronic Blues Circus

Gig Review: An Ode to the Blues - Counter Culture (Pt. 1 of 5)

‘An Ode to the Blues’ was the held at Counter Culture to honour the birth anniversary of legendary blues man Robert Johnson. As a build up to the  finale, artists from all over Bangalore had been busking in various venues across the city including Hysteria and Goobe’s Book store all week before. Khalid from Parvaaz even had to face some police intervention....must have been one heck of a storm he was raising. It was really nice to see someone finally thinking about doing a nice build up and setting the mood to such a festival. All that busking had my expectations set really high.

D-day at Counter Culture had two stages set up for the bands to play. The main stage boasted of (in my humble opinion) India’s best blues musicians. The menu included Chronic Blues Circus, Ministry of Blues, Soulmate, Blackstratblues and special guest – Guitar Shorty all the way from the US. The smaller stage setup in the backyard of Counter Culture had artists such as Velvet Mojo, Ananth Menon, Sylvester Trio and more keeping the crowd entertained with their acoustic sets.

The gig started with the small stage at around 6 PM , setting the mood for a night of crazy blues playing.


Sylvester Trio

Sylvester Trio

22 April, 2014

Food Mood: Chilis, Phoenix Market City Bengaluru

I’m normally a very forgiving person in my reviews, but the latest visit to Chilis at the Phoenix Market City mall in Bengaluru left me quite miffed. The quality of service was extremely disappointing. Since the indoor seating at the restaurant was full, we were given a table outside. While I can’t hold that against them, I was annoyed that it took nearly 15 minutes for them to get us the menu and water....and another 15 minutes to give us attention so that we could place our order. While the place was full, there did seem to be a decent ratio of waiters to tables. 

We did inform the waiter that we would like a table inside once one was available. However, people seemed to be leaving the restaurant and newer customers seemed to be getting tables ahead of us. I ultimately ran out of patience and had to intervene to get a table in the inside. More annoyance.

Since we had already placed the order, the starters arrived almost instantly to our table. We ordered a Triple Decker which comes with a helping of Fried Chicken, Chicken Wings and Southwest veg Rolls. The Fried Chicken was done very well and left us craving more. The Southwest veg Rolls were alright. What did stand out was the assortment of dips they gave us. We savored almost every dish during the entire lunch with those dips. 

Southwest veg Rolls

Watermelon Mojito
After having to grab the attention of a waiter and have him take another 15 minutes before he paid us any, we ordered a plate of nachos. The nachos were quite soft and the cheese seemed stale. No amount of sour cream or dip made me enjoy the nachos. My guess is that the same might have been prepared much earlier, but forgotten on the kitchen counter for quite some time, resulting in the cheese drying up and the chips losing their crispiness.

Veg Nachos

While my friends ordered the Fried Chicken Tacos, I ordered the Old Timer Burger. The burger was the saving grace of the meal. The fries accompanying it were perfect and the meat patty was cooked to perfection. The cheese had the right consistency making the burger absolutely delicious.

Crispy Chicken Tacos
The Old Timer
We hadn't the heart to order desserts considering the quality of service we were given. Overall, it was a terrible experience in terms of slow service and cold food. I hope this is a one-off affair because I've really enjoyed my meals at Chilis ....until now.

18 April, 2014

Food Mood: Punjabi by Nature

I made my first visit to Punjabi by Nature last weekend and was quite impressed with the food. The restaurant is very well spread out and has seating arrangements both inside and outside. Despite being located near the fairly busy Diary Circle road, very little noise travels into the restaurant.

 The troupe and I arrived there a little after 1:30 in the afternoon and considering Bangalore was having a good weather day, we decided to sit outside. A major annoyance as we took our seats was the fact that the outside area was infested with flies. Those pesky little creatures have the ability to destroy even the best dining experience.

 In under a few minutes, we had to request to be moved indoors as we couldn’t take it anymore. While there were no flies inside, we were witness to leaky air conditioning at a lot of points, forcing the staff to keep empty ice buckets to collect them. The beautiful interiors were reduced to shame thanks to poor architecture.
Luckily, those were the only two sore spots of the afternoon and we quickly forgot about it once our food arrived. The waiters were extremely courteous; they knew the menu card and made some very good suggestions on what we could eat. Punjabi by Nature also has its own microbrewery. We stuck to beer all afternoon as the taste was quite good. The mead and the ale especially stood out.

We started with the Kastoori kabab and the Dahi ke kabab. The Kastoori kabab was a nice spicy chicken kabab that complimented the beer real well. It came with a small helping of a tangy carrot salad which really accentuated the taste. Coming covered in a layer of egg whites, the kabab was grilled almost perfectly and left a nice spicy taste in your mouth. 

Kastoori Kabab
The high point was the Dahi ke Kabab, which as the name explains is a vegetarian kabab made out of curd. The cool taste of curd occupies your taste buds just as you bite into the mildly spicy exterior. Apparently, available in the northern parts of India, this was my first exposure to the dish and I simply loved it - a must-have at Punjabi by Nature.

Dahi ke Kabab
Before we hit the main course, I felt adventurous and tried the Golgappa Shots. These golgappas are your traditional ones, but have vodka mixed in with the jal-jeera water. While I had only two of them, the combination of spice and liquor hit me almost instantaneously. This is one for the more adventurous folks who visit.

Golgappa Shots
Our main course was fairly simple which consisted of a Paalak Paneer, Daal Makhani and a plate of Chicken Sheekh Kababs. The true nature of Punjab is summed up in this meal. The entire meal was delicious and extremely heavy on the tummy. The daal was well cooked and the chef was not frugal with the makhan at all. While some found the Paalak Paneer to be spicy, I rather enjoyed the taste. The Sheekh Kababs were very tender and heavy at the same time. We had these along with some Indian bread which were quite large in size. Pretty soon, most of us were overcome by the richness of the meal and had to considerably slow down our pace. (That might have been just me) The servings of food here were quite good and even had enough left for me to parcel and take home.

Daal Makhani

Chicken Sheekh Kaba

The lunch ended with a simple yet heavy and delicious Hot Chocolate Fudge. Besides the traditional vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate sauce, the sundae also had chocolate brownie and roasted nuts to add flavour.  I’d definitely recommend this. I suggest sharing it with another person thanks to the size of the sundae. 

Hot Chocolate Fudge
Overall, besides the flies and the man-made interior waterfalls, the food and experience at Punjabi by Nature was excellent. The waiters were courteous and never made us hurry through. It’s a great place to catch up with friends over some beers and kababs. Located near the Bak Bak Bar, opposite the Forum Mall, Punjabi by Nature is a pricey establishment. A typical meal for two would come up to at least Rs.3000. The servings are good and the food is rich, so I suggest you had better skip the previous meal before heading to Punjabi by Nature. 

12 April, 2014

Food Mood: Boca Grande

I’m a regular patron at Boca Grande and thought it’s about time I do quick review of the place. Located opposite the Police Station in Koramangala, Boca Grande is a laid back eatery offering a continental spread. It’s mostly filled with people just looking to catch up on coffee, a few snacks and cigarettes and generally laze around. I've spent many an evening just playing scrabble and not being pestered to order more than my cup of Hot Chocolate and fries. 

This evening began with a Chicken Macaroni Blossom Salad in a 1000 Island Dressing. The salad contains macaroni with diced chicken, duet zucchini herbed tricolour capsicum & broccoli. I rather enjoy the dressing and have had only that with whichever salad I've chosen. The 1000 Island has more lettuce than I’m comfortable with. It’s high time I move on to a different dressing.

Chicken Macaroni Blossom Salad
We also had a side order of Chilli Cheese Toast. I do recommend this fattening delight should you visit.

Chilli Cheese Toast
The main course for me was the Lamb Geschnetzells which is basically slices of lamb grilled with mushroom & du jour vegetables on a bed of rosti potato. The lamb was well-done and went really well with the sauce. However, having frequented the joint very often, I find that their steaks tend to taste very similar in nature. I had the chicken Pepper steak the last time I was here and it tasted very similar to the lamb.

Lamb Geschnetzells
Dinner concluded with a slice of Chocolate Mousse which was really good - Nothing like a nice cold mousse on a hot Indian summer day. This was by no means the best mousse I’ve had, but it was yummy nonetheless and was the best part of my meal.

Chocolate Mousse
The service at Boca is on the slower side, so if you’re in a rush, I wouldn't recommend the place. It has a nice ambiance to watch a game of football, catch up with friends over snacks and tea. There is no alcohol served which is a good thing because it doesn't attract the typical noisy drinking crowd. Do try it out. I hear their Sunday brunch is quite exquisite; I've not tried it myself yet though.

A typical meal for two would cost you about Rs.1000 which is nominal considering the spiraling cost of eating out.

07 April, 2014

Food Mood: Breakfast in Goa

These pictures were taken when I was on vacation in Goa. I know it's a Monday morning, but more than the breakfast, the accompaniments are what I miss in this Indian summer.

American Breakfast
Chicken and cheese Club Sandwiches


Bhaaji Pav

PS: Yes, we did start drinking beer with breakfast.