29 July, 2014

Just pix: Waiting for the flight

On my way back from Hong Kong, our flight was delayed by almost 5 hours as we had to wait for Cyclone Rammasun to mellow down to allow flights to take off. Feeling quite bored, I decided to try doing a photo series on people waiting for their respective flights to take off. Here are some of the pics.

Out like a light

We all need juice

Boys will be boys

Delayed some more

Work never stops

Free internet

Book me

Let's build a fort

Cat sleeping

Coffee anyone?

Food Mood: Zaica, Indiranagar

This particular outing to Zaica was a rather memorable one, not so much for the food but other reasons which I shall talk about later on. The three of us came in rather early, just past seven in the evening, to the restaurant. For someone who is used to late dinners, seeing an empty restaurant at the time was rather unsettling.

We ordered two starters to kick off the meal. The first was the tandoori pomfret. The pomfret was cooked really well with the masala spread evenly. The meat inside was just the right texture, neither too hard, nor too squishy. It made me feel bad that I had to share the fish with others at the table. I’d definitely recommend the tandoori pomfret for anyone who goes here. It comes with a side order of onions dipped in curd, sprinkled with some sort of chaat masala. We shamelessly asked for a second helping of the onions to which the restaurant obliged.

Tandoori Pomfret
Onions in curd
The second starter for the evening was a plate of aachari aalo. It’s basically potatoes marinated with spices and roasted to taste more like a cutlet. While the flavours were good, the overall dish was just average. But beyond the various types of paneer, we didn’t see much of a choice in the starters for vegetarians. The khatha-meetha tamarind chutney that came along with this dish was really good. Once again, we shamelessly asked for another helping of the same. 

Aachari Aalo
The main course was fairly simple. We ordered a palak paneer which was nice and thick and gave off a good aroma. It was a safe yet good option. The non veg dish was a murgh dhaba special. It was a thick tomato-based gravy with chicken pieces, sprinkled with egg. I’m not too sure on the verdict on this dish. While it was a nice, extremely rich gravy with soft chicken pieces, it really never left me with anything to remember. This might have been  thanks to the tandoori pomfret we ate earlier which was really good. These dishes were accompanied by Indian breads.

Murgh Dhaba Special

Palak Paneer
Now to the memorable part of the evening. Ever since I have embarked on this quest to become a reputed food blogger, I carry my camera almost everywhere. Much to the displeasure of friends, I have to stop them from eating their meal the moment it comes to the table because I need to take pictures. This was no different at Zaica. I’m guessing one of the waiters over heard my friend’s use the word ‘blog’ and they did see me take a lot of pictures, and ask for a seat with good lighting. All of a sudden, the even otherwise courteous staff was over-courteous to us. The manager walked over at least twice to ask how the meal was. They even offered to replace any of the dishes for free in case I wasn’t happy with the taste. This created a rather awkward dinner experience; because in an otherwise empty restaurant, most of the staff’s energy was focussed on us. At the end, I was even introduced to the chef. I’m going to be optimistic and say that they’ve read my blog and recognize my work. Just imagine if I were one of the really more reputed food bloggers, they might have never let us leave.

Anyway, dinner was a pleasant experience with the tandoori pomfret being my pick for the evening. The only problem I did have with Zaica was the music which was a little loud and overbearing (read brash instrumentals of the latest tunes from Bollywood). Otherwise, it was a fun dining experience. The entire meal worked out to under Rs. 1500. Zaica is located on the 100ft. road in Indiranagar near the Domlur flyover.

27 July, 2014

Food Pix: Mosque Road, Bengaluru

I know some of you were expecting the pictures from the recent Hong Kong trip to be up, but I felt this one is more relevant given that Eid is just around the corner.

Pictures below have been taken at the Mosque Road that is especially famous during Ramzan. Various types of meats are available, each cooked differently. My favourite was the 'Pathar gosht' which is a meat cooked on a hot slab of granite. It has a nice earthy taste to it. Anyway, here are the pictures...enjoy. You have two more days to hit the Mosque Road in Frazer town before Eid.

Sheekh Kabab

Mosque Road

Chicken Satay, with firni in the background

Kheema Roll

Kheema Paratha

Hariyali Chicken

Fried Crab

Sevaiyaan and beef

Mutton Biriyani

Kheema Pav

Pepper Chicken

Chicken Drumsticks

Pathar Gosht

Strawberry Milkshake

Add caption

21 July, 2014

Gig Review: Listening party of Live Banned’s debut album, at Counter Culture

When I first heard Live Banned a few years ago, I figured here was a band looking to have some fun and set themselves apart from the more serious bunch of bands playing metal, blues and progressive rock. Their antics were hilarious, their mash-ups of iconic rock and metal riffs with mainstream bollywood music even more so. Quite honestly, I never figured them to be a band that would actually put together an album.

Yet, here I was at the listening party of their soon-to-be-launched debut album ‘If you park here, your tyre will be air out’. Phew, that’s quite a long name. We have been getting exposed to some of the original tracks of theirs over time (songs like Auto-tune and the recent Death Dance). But in the underlying fun and quirky antics of the band, comes what I felt was a pretty serious album which was addressing some very contemporary urban problems through songs such as ‘Art is dead, artist is dead’ and ‘Fast fast’.

The tunes are fairly original and the lyrics do have meaning. And the band actually plays instruments. (Unlike some people who press buttons on a computer to generate repetitive noise and call themselves musicians). It’s an ambitious album. While the band has a loyal fan base who would buy the album, it will be interesting to see how the larger masses accept this brand of music. The launch is happening on the 1st of August at Vapour in Indiranagar. All the best to the band. Put it.

On another note, what’s up with the crowd at Bangalore gigs? As far as a performing artist is concerned, the crowds seem to be getting progressively dull. Most people come in and choose to just sit and sip their beer. This is irrespective of the type of music being played. The exception being for overpriced EDM shows. If this goes on, pretty soon, bands will no longer bother playing at Bangalore. And we’ll have to endure mockery like the folks in Delhi faced when Metallica chose not to play there.

11 July, 2014

Food Mood: Berry'd Alive

I know a lot of people get extremely personal about their love for dessert and the places they go to for it, so I’m not going to judge. Berry’d Alive is one of my favourite destinations when it comes to desserts. We discovered this place a few years ago and visit it fairly often now. Why? Because we enjoy the extensive menu, the desserts that don’t have high amounts of sweet and the fact that we almost always get a table to sit. Choosing off the menu is always a daunting task for us.

The typical strategy when going to Berry’d Alive is that we order separate desserts and share. I however am a stubborn pig and always order the same dish all the time - the Hazelnut Crème Pot. I simply love this dessert. I really enjoy how the hazelnut cream mixes with the nutty baked pot and the chocolate. It’s almost as though I am addicted to this dessert. This is a Berry’d Alive signature treat. And I recommend this to anyone who goes there.

Hazelnut Creme Pot

Hazelnut Creme Pot
We also tried the Raspberry and Coconut Panna Cotta. This was a nice layered dish with the raspberry on top having a very strong dominating taste when compared to the rest of the dessert. If you’re not a fan of the taste of raspberry, I recommend you stay away from this one. 

Raspberry and Coconut Panna Cotta
Next up is the Dark Chocolate Delice. This dish is another one of those that blows your mind if you’re a chocolate lover. The dish is essentially thick dark chocolate pudding set over a crackling chocolate. Served cold, this is one awesome chocolate concoction.

Dark chocolate Delice
We also ordered a Brownie & a Bombe. This one is a mix if creamy vanilla ice cream with caramel and a well made chocolate brownie. If I had to choose the weakest player among what we ordered, this would be it. Its taste is yummy, but nothing that stands out and makes you want to order a second. This may also be true because I have a heavy bias towards the Hazelnut Crème Pot.

Brownie & a Bombe
Located, at the 12th Main Road in Indiranagar, Berry’d alive is definitely one the ‘must visit’ places on your list if you’re a dessert lover. Each dessert is priced between Rs. 120 to Rs.150. You know what I recommend when you go there. 

03 July, 2014

Food Mood: The Hole in the Wall

 I’ve been meaning to do a review of The Hole in the Wall for quite some time now. This is one of my favourite breakfasts spots in town, and has been right from the time they were a tiny outfit that barely managed to fit four tables. I went on a weekday and luckily was spared of the long wait to get a seat at the restaurant. People waiting in lines to get in are always a good sign for a restaurant.

Once we got a table and went through the extensive menu, my friend ordered The All English Breakfast. This comes with sausages, bacon, two fried eggs, baked beans sautéed mushrooms, mash potato and grilled tomatoes. The meal was a work of art that almost made me want to order one for myself. The bacon was done perfectly with the right amount of crisp and the right amount of fat. The sausages were nice and salty and went well with the meal. The one thing I like about this place is that a lot of care is taken while cooking the eggs to ensure the right amount of gooiness to ensure it doesn’t make the meal a messy affair.

The All English Breakfast

I ordered the Hole Nine Yards Hash. This dish was a combination of diced hash browns, ham, chicken, salami and sausage tossed with sautéed onions, capsicum and mushrooms. This was topped with two fried eggs. The onions and capsicum are the dominating flavours in this dish. It has a little bit of everything for meat lovers like me. I liked the English Breakfast better to be honest.We topped off the meal with some nice Hot Chocolate. 

The Hole Nine Yards Hash
Hot Chocolate
The food at The Hole in the Wall is superb. They specialize in breakfast and people looking to have an early light meal. If you are planning to go there on a weekend, please do go early as you may have to wait for a fair bit otherwise. The menu is extensive, the staff is courteous and despite the number of people waiting outside, you’re never made to rush through a meal. The restaurant is located opposite Ooty Chocolates in Koramangala. A meal for two would normally work out to around Rs.500. Do NOT miss eating here at any cost.

02 July, 2014

Review: Aloft Hotels - The Grand Opening

Having been at the soft launch of the Aloft Hotel, I was looking forward to when their doors would be completely open as I was fairly impressed the first time around. And to meet those expectations, the Aloft Hotel had quite the memorable launch. I walked in a little late thanks to the Bengaluru traffic. The hotel was decked up in bright neon that I could see right from the road. At the entrance, they had placed some fabulous Mini-Coopers (I was secretly wishing that they were part of a lucky draw that I would win).

The reception area was a plethora of colours and was packed with people. Everyone’s gaze was directed in one direction to the mezzanine floor. On the floor, were ‘Different Strokes’ - a trio of water percussionists who had a pretty tight act. The primal tunes set by the drums were just the start required to an extensive evening of events that would ensure you wouldn't forget the Aloft Hotel any time soon.This was soon followed by a very funky laser show which showcased what the hotel was aspiring to be - a ‘business meets fun’ place where today’s business folks (and non-business folks like yours truly) can unwind at the end of a busy day of meetings and strategy sessions.

Different Strokes
Once the laser show was done, keeping in mind their association with MTV for the ‘Aloft Live’ series, Bengaluru band ‘One Nite Stand’ took to the stage. The band started off with the Kiss hit – I was made for loving you. One thing that seems to have improved from the last time is the acoustics of the place. There wasn't any reverb off the walls or the glass. One could hear the notes being played fairly well. I hope this continues, and the hotel is able to drive a lot of local talent and leverage MTV to make it a performing artist hub in that area. I still maintain that they need to have a slightly elevated stage for the band to play rather than just carpets.

One Nite Stand
Halfway through One Nite Stand’s set, there came the free-style dance performers who really wowed everyone. For someone with two-left feet (yours truly), their routine was simply mind-blowing. One of the most memorable acts of the evening was the contact juggler Ami Shroff who did some absolutely mind-blowing juggling with crystal spheres. I've always seen this sort of thing on the television. It was sheer joy to watch up close. Check her out here on FaceBook.

I moved on to the pool area of the hotel where they had some more exciting acts lined up for the evening. Playing at the far corner was the DJ with live percussion artist who were setting a perfect mood for a pool side party. Surprisingly, there were only a few people actually dancing and grooving to the beat. I guess Bengaluru’s ‘No dance’ policy has been ingrained into people’s minds. Ami did another super juggling act with glasses lit on fire. They also got some gymnasts in huge bubbles that walked on water.

Now to the part I normally specialize in – the food and beverages. Owing to the large crowd I really wasn't able to try out the range of cocktails that were being served. I did have a very odd-tasting cocktail of mango juice and whiskey. (If you did a double-take.... I don’t blame you). I soon decided not to be ambitious that evening and stuck to some fine white wine and a classic mojito. I didn’t get a chance to savour and taste all the cocktails. I hope the hotel will organize a separate session to allow me to judge and pass a fair verdict on what the bar offers.

The buffet was very impressive with over twenty varieties of dishes (that I counted) and ranged from the classic Ghosht Biriyani to an awesome Lamb Sheppard’s Pie. The food offered at a buffet is very different from the standard fare available to regular customers. But if what I ate that evening was anything to go by, the chefs are doing a good job. I look forward to trying out their fare at a more relaxed occasion.

The launch of the Aloft Hotel was definitely one of the more memorable things I have seen in a while. I eagerly look forward to seeing how they can promote musical acts. I also look forward to trying out the food and beverages at a later date. Kudos the folks at Aloft and best wishes. Keep up the awesomeness.