Monday, 28 July 2014

Goa 2014

You are always motivated to come to Goa and if your stay in a 5 star property is paid for by the hotel then all further actions are ridiculously obvious - apply for leaves, book your tickets and show up on the reception desk with a gentle smile veiling the joyful scream in your mind.
Yes, our stay in Goa in 2014 was compliments of Taj for winning the Monsoon Getaway contest 2013. We were offered a fantastic sea facing room in the splendid Fort Aguada resort.

Goa as expected was cloudy but with surprisingly less rain, at least for the 4 days we were there. I have always held the position that Goa is a year round holiday destination. The number of tourists testified that there are many out there who think the same as we do. May be you would have to change the theme of your visit from sunbathing to that of sightseeing, relaxing in a resort/shack with a drink in hand and a curse for the obnoxious day job that is waiting for your after your vacations ;). Clubs are still open and the party loving homo sapiens would find the cravings satiated even during this time of the year.
Our trip started with a lazy sea gazing from our room for the whole evening. I must admit that the view from the room was better than expected and added so much more to our trip.
Determined to get out of the bed the next morning we took a local taxi to Old Goa. To Read more about this side of Goa click here.

A trip to Old goa, Miramar beach, snacking at Café Coffee Day  opposite Miramar beach and (sumptuous) Lunch in Panjim left us missing our cozy room. 

To Read more about our staycation at Vivanta here.

Next morning started with a relaxing swim. Our friend, who was in Goa with another set of friends, joined us. He did make himself quite welcome in the rented 4X4 Thar that  was now at our disposal for restaurant hopping in search for delicious breakfast. Did someone tell you that you feel like a hungry mindless zombie with a monster appetite after a good swim.
After our sampling, two places worth the visit are Brittos and Infantaria.Infantaria is a buzzing place, the restaurant is near Calangute beach and is buzzing with energy. It was full when we went there for breakfast, managed to find a decent table after a while. The ambiance is quite nice. We had a sandwich and pancakes here. They bake their breads too. The menu is quite extensive, a lot of options to choose from. The food is good.
The place  is busy so it may take a bit longer for the food to arrive.
Infantaria-well,this place has a well...

Baga beach
Brittos is on Baga beach and is famous  for its seafood. Since we had  gone in the morning, only breakfast was available. We ordered an omelette with toast, chicken sandwich, a breakfast meal and few juices. The food was good, and the hungry us, finished the food  in no time.
Its not by the beach,it is virtually on the beach

The view from the restaurant is awesome. You can sit near the beach side tables and just enjoy the breeze, food and the view. The place take only cash so don’t depend on plastic money if you are going to this place. Pricing is on a higher side.Our  breakfast cost us about 1000INR.

Tip for the monsoon: Hire a self-driven vehicle in Goa. The drives are especially beautiful during this time of the year. Do travel the across the stretch of north and south Goa for the sheer driving pleasure. And dare to get wet in the rain as you drive, swim or enjoy a beer. We did that and still stands out as one of the most fun memory of Goa.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Tunisian fest-Kefi(Taj club house)

Kefi at Taj club house has got one of the best ambiance in Chennai.  This  Mediterranean restaurant has kept walls all white and windows blue. Quite a charming combination. It also happens to be a rooftop restaurant, apparently a lot is going for this place.
We were invited to sample some of their dishes for the Tunisian fest, a first for me.
Tunisian cuisine is a blend of Mediterranean and desert-dwellers' culinary traditions. Its distinctive spicy fieriness comes from neighbouring Mediterranean countries and the many civilisations which have ruled the land now known as Tunisia: Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Turkish, French, and the native Berber people (reference Wikipedia). Like all countries in the Mediterranean basin, Tunisia offers a "sun cuisine," based mainly on olive oil, spices, tomatoes, seafood and meat (primarily lamb).

We were first served Amouse bouch-feta cheese wrapped in a paper thin beetroot slice. It looked like a piece of art and tasted amazing. The pita breads with yogurt sauce followed suit.The sauce was out of the world.

We were then served the starters the veg one being solanum brik (Baked Pastry filled with and Mediterranean spiced creamed potato) it was so soft, the covering was a like a sheet of silk, the filling was potato with spices.

The non veg starter was a sea food starter called Fatmas finger,it was a pastry filled with sea food,mushroom and garlic.Crispy on the outside with a seafood filling made an interesting starter.

The soup was a chick pea soup called Lablabi soup, I quite like the name :) it was basically a soup with a blend of chick pea with a tinge of garlic and a piece of chicken,quite interesting again.The soup was creamy infused with texture and subtle flavor of chick pea. 

The main course has Marqa for the vegetarians and Phoenician spicy grilled chicken for non vegetarians. Marqa is basically a  tomato stew with broccoli, zucchini, artichoke and bell peppers. The grilled chicken was a leg piece stuffed with couscous, very tender and delicious.

The dessert was Makroudh baklava, a Tunisian twist to baklava,pastry filled with nuts and dates with rose syrup.
The Tunisian food fest is on till 27th of july, a meal for one would cost 1200INR plus taxes.
Taj Club House Hotel, 
Club House Road, 
Express Estate


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Awadhi food festival-Paprika Marriott

Awadhi cuisine is from Lucknow and I have been deprived of this food since long. When i heard of an Awadhi food fest I was quite excited. Awadhi food is mainly dum style of cooking or cooking over slow fire. The food will mainly consists of kebabs, kormas, biryani, roomali roti etc. The ingredients used are rich like mutton,paneer and are full of spices like cardamom, saffron etc. Marriott has got Chef Younis from Mumbai who specialises in awadhi cuisine and has an awadhi food fest on till 21st of july.

The picture below is a dessert and is at the start coz of a big reason.It is called mirchi ka halwa.As wacky as the name sounds it was mind blowing.The thikapan of hari mirchi with the richness of khoya and nuts was spectacular. I was in love with the dessert. The dessert is chefs speciality as well.
The evening started with a lot of info about the kebabs. Chef narrated the stories about the kebabs and how they got their names. Then we were served some of the best kebabs. The galouti kebabs was good and we were looking forward to it.
Next up was Malai prawn,for me to like sea food it has to be excellent else its not for me. This was amazing,i could not have enough of it.
The prawn was perfectly cooked and the spices used were just perfect, it was so delightful.
The veg galouti kebab was quite a hit,it was kind of a sandwich which had paneer stuffed between khoya.
The mutton chops were tender and rich with flavour.
They have masala paneer and malai paneer in the veg starters.The masala paneer is rich with flavours on the other hand malai panner is rich with ingredients malai and paneer.
The starters change daily,the mutton ribs are on the live counter,but the other keep alternating.
The main course had Mutton nihari,korma,biryani,paneer hariyali..

The nihari gosht was so tender that it ripped apart on mere touching. It was cooked to perfection and tasted delectable. It was very impressive. I have to try biryani if its there, its a compulsion and most of the times I am left disappointed with the biryani served in buffets. But this was one was just outstanding; I was blown away by it. It looked so simple but was more flavourful than I could have never imagined. It was so satisfying to have a good biryani after so long in a buffet.
For the vegetarians there is a pulao which looked quite rich.
The place was packed on a weekday.The buffet is scrumptious and is worth each penny.One of the best buffet I have had so far in Chennai.The awadhi festival is on till 21st of july and is priced at 1250 INR.
Courtyard Marriott is on Anna salai.
Don't forget to try the MIRCHI ka halwa. 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Starbucks launch-Chennai

Starbucks opened its door to Chennai on 9th of July. The launch was celebrated with much fanfare on 8th July with invitation-only event. The private event saw the elite crowd of Chennai flocking to the world famous chain of café. The customers were greeted by management and a fantastically energetic and enthusiastic staff.
The first look of the place justifies the stature of the brand as the standard is at par with the other starbucks abroad. The ambiance is rustic like other starbucks in India. They have both outdoor and indoor seating.  Given the temperature of Chennai they could have taken a bigger place inside than outside.
The café was inaugurated at 5PM  by the first coffee master of India Vibhor,and then there was free flow of beverages and desserts.

We were a group of bloggers and sampled the entire menu. The first round of drinks had to be the Java chip Frappuccino with some sandwiches. The double meat was juicy and filling;  they have pita with hummus which was quite interesting for a café and tasted good.

Chicken salad was sumptuous. The other drinks we had were the cold coffee, green tea latte etc. The desserts offered were blubbery cheesecake, lemon cheesecake,banana loaf cake, red velvet etc.. Lemon cheesecake took the cake  away..

Starbucks has introduced a special coffee filter for filter coffee lovers of Chennai. An interesting and thoughtful customization of menu. The coffee master gave us a demo.

We all were given some Starbucks goodies as we left; it had the Starbucks mug, the Indian Starbucks  coffee etc..

I have been to this place twice after the launch and it was crowded. Once I went in the afternoon to collect my Starbucks card which I had won for their passion for coffee contest and had 200bucks which was quite a disappointment. .Anyways coming back to the point the place was packed on both the days, there is a market for Starbucks and from the looks of it, it is here to stay.. be it filter kapi or Starbucks coffee, people like coffee and there is a market for both..

Adding to the incentive of the taste, variety and crowd, this place offers you free Wi fi.

Starbucks,Phoenix Marketcity
142, Velachery Main Rd, Indira Gandhi Nagar
Velachery, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600042
Navigation link is here