29 May, 2016

Leffe Blonde

Sunday evening’s IPL final had me opening this bottle of Leffe Blonde, a Belgian-Style Blonde Ale     ( also categorized as ‘Abbey Beer’ , as I read later on) from InBev Belgium. This smooth and medium bodied beer offered a lovely golden colour with a relatively light malty aroma. The head was a little over two fingers when I poured it into the glass. In terms of taste, I found this on the sweeter-fruity side with a mild bitter after taste, almost like a bitter orange, followed by spicy notes, probably cloves, as it went down. With an ABV of 6.6%, this was fairly easy to gulp down. While I didn’t have any food to pair this with, I’d probably pair it with some nice red meat, like lamb, from the barbeque. I’d definitely recommend you pick this up from your local store and give it a try. If I had to rate it, I’d give it a 7/10. Cheers!

The Choux Box

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the opening of The Choux Box, a new venture by Natasha Patrao. Before you start looking for it on the map, I must point out that this isn’t your traditional bakery, but is more of a space that Natasha aims to use to teach kids and adults the joys of cooking and baking. Inspired by High Teas and bite-sized food from her internship with Conrad Singapore, Natasha looks to bring the experience to folks who don’t have to go all the way to a posh restaurant to experience the same. There is a menu of hor d'oeuvres, sandwiches and desserts that one can order from and pick up. Natasha also does personalized birthday cakes and wedding cakes on pre order basis. And if the blueberry cheesecake I had was anything to go by, the cakes should be simply sinful.

On the opening evening, Natasha had laid out a very impressive spread of sweet and savoury bites of food. The dessert section consisted of Walnut Brownies with Hazelnut ganache, Blueberry Cheesecake, Creme Caramel, Rose Macaroons and Lemon Macaroons, Duet Panna cotta, Dark chocolate mini cupcakes and Lemon cupcakes with Italian buttercream. I don’t know if it’s because of the summer, but my favourites in the dessert section were the Lemon Macaroons and the Lemon cupcakes with Italian buttercream. Topping them both was the blueberry cheesecake. I’m not the biggest fan of all things blueberry, but the texture and subtle flavours of everything in this cake made it the highlight of the evening. Unfortunately, since I arrived a late, I got a single piece that Natasha and Ruth (www.bangaloresrestaurants.com) saved for me.

I was little more impressed with the savoury section which had Cucumber Mayonnaise Sandwiches, Chicken Chipotle Sandwiches, Tuna with Cranberry and Fresh Herbs Sandwiches, Creamy Red Wine Mushroom canapes with fresh Parsley, Citrus Prawn Canapes and Tomato Basil Bruschetta. My pick for the evening was the Tuna with Cranberry and Fresh Herbs Sandwiches and the Citrus Prawn Canapes, whose lovely blend of prawn with bits of pomegranate made me sigh as I popped in a fair number of them. (Note to self – Order twenty Prawn Canapes and eat them all by yourself).  

Located in Koramangala, the Choux Box is definitely one the more interesting additions to the growing bakery scene of Bangalore. Do check out the menu (attached below) and don’t forget to order blueberry cheesecake, along with the Citrus Prawn Canapes.

18 May, 2016

Picture Credits, Deccan Chronicle - Aayushi Karnik Trio

A picture I had taken at the recent Aayushi Karnik Trio gig was featured in their interview with Deccan Chronicle.

Guest Column, LBB- 5 things to do in New Orleans for music lovers

In this article I write about the music of New Orleans, which is accompanied by dancing, at almost every corner. Here are a few things to do in New Orleans that’ll have you going back for more.

Click here to read the entire article online.

Here's a transcript of the article

The Big Easy’ aka New Orleans, popularly known for being the birthplace of jazz, is a haven for music and dance lovers. Most of the best music can be found in The French Quarter of the city. With live music and dancing at almost every corner, there’s just so much to do. Here are a few things to do in New Orleans that’ll have you going back for more.

Move over Bourbon Street….To Frenchman Street

As time progressed, the vibe of New Orleans that emanated from the great music on Bourbon Street got lost. While the fame remains, the best music doesn’t. Most of the good music has moved to Frenchman Street. While some clubs charge a small entry fee, most of them enforce a one drink minimum rule. My picks from spending every evening on Frenchman Street would be Bamboula’s, The Spotted Cat Music Club and d.b.a. You’ll also find your fair share of brass bands and folk musicians playing on the street with no one competing for space. That being said, catch the bands playing at Musical Legends Park on Bourbon Street.

Watch The Street Performers At Jackson Square

Right in the heart of the historic French Quarter is Jackson Square which during the day is teeming with street musicians, palm readers and artists. With numerous styles from folk music, contemporary jazz, brass and rap, you’ll find more than enough top-quality music around the park at Jackson Square where you can easily spend all day. If you like what you see and hear, don’t forget to tip the performers.

Any Time Is Good For Dancing

New Orleans brings out the dancer in you, even if you have two left feet. You’ll find couples breaking into serious dance routines at the drop of a hat. Whether it’s a club playing swing music in the afternoon or a music festival, or even a simple brass band playing on the streets at midnight, you can be assured there will be dancing. This isn’t limited to a few clubs, but anywhere in the city where there is music. Feel free to join in. You should definitely check out Maison, Mimi’s in the Marigny and the Blue Nile for an awesome dance experience.

Vinyl Souvenirs From The City

The Louisiana Music Factory on Frenchman Street is a must-go for any music lover. Keeping the tradition of the old-school music stores alive, the folks at the place can help you discover some of the fabulous music that defined the history and present of New Orleans. Don’t forget to check out the $3 vinyl boxes which have an overwhelming collection of jazz, rock, blues and many more genres.

Food And Drink At The Late Night Eateries

New Orleans allows you to drink on the streets, as long as you use a plastic cup. So while checking out all the music, do have some of the fabulous local beers and cocktails give you company. Beer enthusiasts will have a plethora of choices when it comes to craft beer, so feel free to experiment. My pick is the Amber and Purple Haze, both from Abita breweries. Don’t miss out on picking up Hurricanes from the local stores, a strong cold cocktail guaranteed to light up your day. When it comes to food, don’t miss out on the food trucks that offer you way more options than your brain can process. My ritual to end every evening was to grab a bag of beignets from Cafe Du Monde that’s open 24 hours.

12 May, 2016

The Aayushi Karnik Trio at Blue Frog, B'lore

The Aayushi Karnik Trio was in town this weekend and I finally managed to catch the gig after missing the last few owing to work-related travel. Playing at the Blue Frog, (not one of my favourite venues in town), the band started just a little before 9 pm. Kicking off with a Beatles cover of Across the Universe, the band powered through a relatively mellow yet tight set. Aayushi Karnik is one of those musicians whose sheer talent and ease of playing her music more than makes up for her comparatively shy and quiet demeanor on stage. And that results in a no-nonsense, no-banter straight up clean blues gig. If you can't figure out what I'm saying, check her playing Voodoo Child. Legsang Sherpa on bass was meticulous, and I rather enjoyed his work on an impromptu jazz piece the band played. I wasn't particularly thrilled with his vocal contribution though.  Sudhakar Prabhu on drums was in charge of keeping things tight and define the boundaries with which Aayushi is allowed to do her thing. I was hoping for a drums solo bit.

All the seats in the house were full and everyone enthusiastically cheered the band on. It was refreshing to see a simple stripped down blues gig after quite some time. That being said, I think the band needs to look at a slightly bigger sound, maybe the introduce a horns or harmonica section that augments the current sound.

PS - We had Luke Kenny in the house who was probably the most vocal in cheering the band on and screaming out for an encore. 

An evening of Italian cooking with Master Chef Giuseppe Lioce at the Sheraton Culinary Academy

Aiming to bring chefs and food enthusiasts closer to one another, the Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel organized the Sheraton Culinary Academy. The purpose is to create an environment where chefs can talk about their philosophy around food, how they make dishes and showcase some of their work to food enthusiasts, almost like a master class from a popular TV show.   This evening saw us working with Chef Giuseppe Lioce, who recently moved to the city from the Westin and would be driving the kitchen at Bene. Like any Italian cook, Chef Giuseppe is very passionate about the food he makes and the flavours from back home in Southern Italy which he’s looking to showcase over the next one year. 

The evening began with us being shown how to prepare the Panzerotti Pugliesi, and traditional Aulia calzone. While the end product looked fairly simple with a filling of tomato and buffalo mozzarella, the effort and precision that went into making the dish was something else. Right from kneading the dough to getting the filling spot on, the dish is deceptively simple to someone like me who doesn’t cook a whole lot. Traditionally, the dough alone has to sit for about two hours before it hits the texture needed to make this a superb dish (which immediately puts it off my radar of cooking; my window of patience is about 25 minutes). Shallow fried and served with a helping of balsamic caviar, the Panzerotti Pugliesi is a tasty little bite.

The next dish for the evening was the Cavatelli al pesto. While the sauce was a simple, yet very flavourful pesto sauce, this dish introduced me to the cavatelli pasta. Being someone who sticks to buying pasta off the shelf (PS – Even Marco Pierre White does it, so don’t roll your eyes), making pasta from scratch was a bit of a challenge. Taking a step back in time, Chef Giuseppe decided to do away with electric equipment and brought out the mortar and pestle. One of things I do admire is Chef Giuseppe’s appreciation for the older traditional ways of making food, like how our grandmothers would make, over contemporary methods that don’t always give you the best flavours. Relatively quick and easy to make, the pasta was served up with fresh ricotta and some ground garlic powder. I wasn’t a big fan of the garlic which overpowered the flavour of the freshly-made pesto sauce, an opinion others present did not share with me. 

The final course for the evening was the Biscotti di Mandorle, more easily known as the Italian almond biscuit. Fairly simple to bake, these buttery drops of heaven were presented with ricotta ice cream in a neat little dessert that vanished the moment it was placed in front of us.

If the evening was anything to go by, we can definitely expect some fabulous cooking from Chef Giuseppe with strong traditional Italian flavours coming through every dish. The rest of the evening was spent by the poolside discussing food and India over some canapes and cocktails. Do get in touch with me if you’re looking for recipes from this post.

08 May, 2016

Windoze at Bflat

In the post below are some of the pictures I took of Windoze, who played at Bflat in Bengaluru. The band were joined on stage by special guests, Ananth Menon and Vasudev Prabhu from By2Blues, and Sylvester's fellow 'The Stage' contestant, Rupin Pahwa.