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My dream cake made possible by The Midnight Kakery

3 Jul

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It all began in September, last year. I was looking for a baker to bake a fabulous cake for my son’s upcoming birthday. Having seen her cakes and the fact that she had been recommended by Sajjani Nair, I got in touch with Shruti Kapre of Midnight Kakery, to bake a racing car cake. I got to know that she was not available as she was going to Le Cordon Bleu for further training in baking and patisserie. Right then I got her to promise to bake me a cake in June, she agreed.

Come June 2017, I spoke to her again. I needed a deliriously boozy but delicious cake. The flavours I had in mind were mojito, orange blossom, and coffee. Eventually, coffee is what we decided upon which was to be made boozy with kahlua (coffee liqueur). I told her to give me a simple cake with some gorgeous flowers. Understated elegance, was the exact brief. And then I went off to Goa to celebrate my birthday, where I chanced upon a florist with glorious orchids. Bingo! I messaged her, I want white orchids on my mocha coloured cake. This cake was to be a surprise for my husband on our anniversary.

When the day arrived, Shruti sent the cake so that it would reach me by lunch time. The ordering, delivery was hassle-free. When we opened the box, we found this beautiful spray of white orchid adorning a mocha coloured cake. The finishing of the cake, the cake base (wooden, custom made), the message and the orchids was beyond perfect. Amid all the oohs and aahs over the cake, we cut the cake and the silken silken buttercream with the right amount of sweetness, alcohol and coffee led us to further coffee heaven in the form of the cake. I would have very happily eaten the cake without any frosting, but the better than the best buttercream and the kahlua, only made the experience that much sweeter.

Shruti calls this cake ‘Meter long Coffee’ (Namma Bengaluru reference) – A coffee flavoured sponge soaked in kahlua syrup, filled and frosted with French coffee buttercream – made tipsy with two shots of kahlua. I call it, ‘Orchids of my Dreams’.

Note: I paid Rs. 2000 + delivery charge for this cake.

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Eight reasons to never visit Deccan Epicure, #4 will make you laugh till you die

31 Jan

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1. You will understand the real meaning of real food
Remember those foodies like Anthony Bourdain, Matt Preston, Nigella Lawson and all those people on masterchef Australia?
Know these words- pannacotta, onion blossoms, tempura, ribs, fondant, steak, tagine, soufflé, semi-freddo? If you had to google even a single one of the terms, this post is not for you, do not read ahead. Still reading? Alright then. Once you know these words and want to eat them (the real stuff) and you find it in one place in pune, will you ever be able to resist going back there?

2. You will be so spoilt by the customizations that they offer that you will expect all other restaurants to do so.
Cheese sandwich? Ok. Which cheese? Which bread? (huh? No one ever asked me that!) Butter, no butter, grilled not grilled, seasoned? And still when your child does not like the real cheddar sandwich, they give him processed cheese sandwich to make him happy and fed. You so don’t want to experience that!

3. The vegetarian menu will actually have choice.
You know what I mean? Real options for vegetarians. It is a thing, and it is possible. And no, it is not just paneer and aaloo. And when you get the dish you can actually see what all different vegetables have gone in. Now if that is not setting you up for failed expectations, then I don’t know what is!

4. The baker in you will get renewed hope and hence despair.
All the bakers in the house say aye! Now say even more loudly that you dread eating desserts at restaurants because you almost always know that you will be disappointed! If you eat the chocolate fondant, textbook classic pannacotta, salted caramel chocolate mousse, semi-freddo (yes, the one that Jamie loves. Don’t ask me who Jamie is, the food world will disown you) ; you will start hoping and hence trying desserts again. And you will curse yourself again. Don’t do it to yourself. We do not need such negativity in our deprived baked goodies eating out life.

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5. You will suddenly be envious of your ghaas-phoos eating mate.
They make things like the mushroom cappuccino soup; deceptively call it the soup of the day, and then you end up dreaming of that veggie soup day-night and all hours beyond it. If I was asked my last soup wish, that soup would be it. No kidding. There’s that negativity I have been talking about all along, I am thinking of my last soup wish. What am I, all of 24? (plus 6,7,8)
Not to mention that every time I read the menu, my eyes keep darting towards the veg.lasagna that my father had ordered and I had stolen bits (bit too many) of; and I have to convince myself that no one will judge you as a lesser carnivore if you have a veg lasagna, mushroom soup and onion blossoms, and really really enjoy it.

6. You will be shocked to see the server know the menu.
I had once opted for the ‘make your own sandwich’ thing they have. I ll have Panini, roast chicken, peppers, mustard sauce, caramelized onions blah- blah I told the guy. He asked me, should I get you the signature chicken sandwich we used to make? (I had no idea of it, but I am too proud to admit it to him, so I agreed) Turns out, he gets me my gold standard of a chicken sandwich. One so tasty and so huge that I wish I was a professional bouncer to justify my appetite. Imagine a restaurant server being able to read your foodie mind? Sacrilege!

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7. You are doomed if you are a food blogger.
No food blogger will tell you this, but we have an uncanny food memory. We do remember things like the taste of the mayo in the coleslaw, the degree of smokiness to the BBQ sauce, the lightness of the puff pastry, the wobble in a pannacotta/caramel custard etc. And, we have our own POCs (points of comparison) for that. Now imagine having a whole lot of your POCs coming from one place? What the eff would you write in your copy? Not as good as DE, DE makes it better, not up to the mark (the mark being DE). Just how ridiculous would that sound? So, don’t make the mistake that I did.

8. You will wish you were a cow.
I have wished I was a cow whenever I was eating at DE. I wish I could gobble down all the food that they offer and then keep bringing it back up for digestion purposes later, for a day or week. Would you ever want to eat at a place that makes you wish you were a cow cause everything on the menu sounds so tasty and may be you are so stuffed you could burst but, you would die of mortification if someone told you their cappuccino was very good and you had not tried it?

Does that make any sense at all? It does not. I rest my case. I am never going to eat at the Deccan Epicure again. Oh dear! They had to go and win the times food award? Really!! And then post sticky toffee puddings on their instagram? I hate them.

 

 

 

Note: All pictures courtesy The Deccan Epicure.

 

It’s Complicated | Boteco Deli and Grill

26 Dec

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My first ‘oh my god, I want to eat that’ moment while watching a movie was the scene where Meryl Streep makes a croque monsieur for Steve Martin in ‘It’s Complicated’. Ever since, I have been looking for a real croque monsieur that will make me go all warm and fuzzy at first bite and then on to more cosy cocoons in my heart. It finally happened, after about 6 years of having watched the movie for the first time. At Boteco Deli and Grill, Vimannagar, Pune.

The oxford dictionary very diffidently defines the ‘croque monsieur’ as A fried or grilled cheese and ham sandwich. The truth could not be farther than that. Boteco Deli and grill makes a croque monsieur with the perfect american sandwich bread – soft but strong enough to be able to withstand the delicious cheese oozing out from the perfect thinly sliced ham. The ham is reportedly imported and has just the right amount of smokiness complimenting the cheese. But what seals the deal is the mornay sauce and additional cheese (gruyere, hopefully) that they smear on the inside and on top of the sandwich, which when exposed to a hot grill comes cheesy bubbly slightly caramelized – Nirvana! They also have a croque madame version with a fried egg on top of the croque monsieur. The egg could have been more runny but the sandwich underneath overshadowed with its perfection.

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So good was the croque monsieur that we travelled 15 kms on a holiday to have just that TWO DAYS in a row! And I am very happy to report that the croque monsieur was exactly the same on both the days. Now that is no mean feat to achieve at a time where only a handful of restaurants in Pune would score a 10/10 on consistency. The second time we went there we also had the chicken pie. This deceptively listed item on the menu is a huge portion which can easily make for lunch a` deux, and is another item which I would very happily travel the aforementioned distance for. The chicken pie has the most buttery melt in the mouth short crust pastry which literally melts in the mouth without crumbling on the fork when you try to eat. Now that is a huge achievement as in our weather, achieving an exemplary short crust is very difficult. The chicken filling inside was delicious and cooked just right but what lifted the pie to new heights was the use of a layer of creme fraiche on top of the chicken filling. Very clever and scrumptious indeed.

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Boteco the flagship restaurant has brazilian cuisine and the deli in vimannagar has a relatively mix cuisine and am I glad for that! On our first visit we also tried the prawn pastel which was very similar to the prawn karanji that we make at home, only difference, the pastry was a large square here with prawn and onions filling inside. While the filling was great, the pastry needed a tad more shortening and hence was a little tough and chewy on frying. Another delectable ‘side’ item on their menu is the corn souffle. Mind you, it does not look like a souffle at all, but one spoonful and it had us hooked. Albeit being made of just eggs, corn and cheese, this souffle was not egg-y at all.

Apart from the great food and welcoming ambience, they also have good juices and iced tea. Their desserts were wanting and I would suggest that you opt out of desserts there and walk down to wild sugar or some such desserts bar, if at all you have any appetite left for more.

When we walked out of boteco grill yesterday, we were in such a food coma that we were not able to move a limb and had happy happy smiles on our faces. It has been only 24 hours and I cannot wait to go back.

 

 

 

Greedyman Pizzeria, Pune | Fantastic pizzas

29 Jun

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Greedyman Pizzeria gave me my first Bollywood/Hollywood moment. It was a rainy sunday morning, we were supposed to go to meet some friends but were very hungry on account of having been too lazy to fix a proper breakfast. Driving towards Kalyaninagar, we were looking for a small quick food place and greedyman pizzas came to my mind. My husband and son are ardent pizza fans and are willing to eat it – always. I, don’t like the pizzas that we get here, never crave for a pizza and will never eat even a single bite of the ‘maida mattresses’ that dominos, pizza huts and the likes, serve. So when I said, let’s have pizza, before I could change my mind, the real pizza-greedy man (my husband) parked the car and reached the pizzeria before I could say ‘or let’s go to…’.

I had been to greedyman before with chocolate loving cousins, who had the freak shake. I knew it was a small place with quirky decor who knew how to really present a picture-worthy chocolate shake. I had tasted it, and had not liked it in particular. So, going by that I was expecting an okayish pizza. From the convenient menu, we ordered three small pies (6 inch) – quattro formaggi, A planet (chicken) and pepperoni. Each small pizza was priced around 250-300. While we were waiting for the pizza, I spotted my bread baking bookshelf at this pizza place, and I was riveted (Peter Reinhart!!) and suddenly very hopeful of getting a good pizza crust. I had been told that ALL their pizzas were thin crust – more power to such souls!

For the first time in so many years in Pune, I saw a pepperoni pizza with the pepperoni curled up with tiny pools of fat at the centre. That is how a pepperoni pizza should be. The last I had one- this perfect, was at the swiss cheese garden restaurant in ABC farms, way back in 2008!

The quattro formaggi had mozarella, cheddar and some other cheese. But it also had, some fresh, home style ricotta. The fact that there had been no attempt to make the tomato sauce on the pizza, sweeter or ketchupy, made it more endearing to me.

Last was the A planet. This was recommended by the owner. This is what gave me the hollywood moment. First look, first bite – I had ‘sweet dreams are made of this, who am I to disagree’ playing in my head. I swear, this happened for real. This pizza was loaded with all the good things in the food world. Roast chicken, roasted whole clove of garlic, sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, mushrooms and as if all of this was not enough, the pizza crust had the most beautiful airy crumb. I wish I had the presence of mind to take a picture of the pizza crumb/crust, but I did not. I was lost in my own pizza world. A world which never existed for me before, haunts me now.. beckoning me to go have that pizza again and again and again.

Greedyman pizzeria, I have never craved pizza in my short life of three decades. I do now, and you are to blame!

P.S. The pizza crust was uniform for all the pizzas, I noticed it better with the A planet as that was the only pizza that I got to eat, when I very vehemently staked my sole claims to it.

P.P.S.1. For those like me who are interested in knowing why pepperoni curls up, and why it should in the first place – take a look here.http://slice.seriouseats.com/…/the-pizza-lab-why-does-peppe…

P.P.S.2 Greedyman delivers pizza. You lucky lucky people in kalyaninagar!

Crazy Noodles, Amanora Mall | Good Food, Generous Portions

4 Apr

Crazy Noodles for us has been a highly dependable, easy meal restaurant which does not leave us guilty of having indulged beyond limits on the food as well as money front. Having tried the phoenix market city as well as amanora town centre outlets a number of times, I can safely say that any time I am looking for a guaranteed good meal without having to pore through a very long menu, I would go to Crazy Noodles.

The decor at this restaurant is fun and casual with pictures of people eating noodles, on the wall. At the centre of the restaurant is the kitchen, which is fun to watch on a monday morning leisurely lunch but can get quite noisy on a busy saturday evening. The servers are very attentive and always make it a point to ask about preferences for mushroom, coconut milk, brinjals etc. The menu is simple and has only about 4 to 5 choices in each category for veg as well as non veg. Crazy noodles serves the usual Chindian (Indian style Chinese) and some Asian fare. From my numerous visits over the past couple of years, my favorites are –

  • The chicken dimsums – Beautiful thin covering and delicious juicy well seasoned chicken filling.
  • Chicken/ Veg spring rolls – unlike the conventional thick maida roti cover rolls, the ones served here are crisp, non oily made using egg roll/spring roll wrappers – the kinds used for patti samosa.
  • Sweet corn chicken and manchow soup – well made, nothing extraordinary but hits the right comforting notes
  • Chicken Fried Rice – Delicious, fluffy (each grain separate) with ample vegetables, egg and chicken.
  • American Chopsuey – Stellar. No crazy red color added, well balanced sweet and sour taste, loaded with veggies and pineapple.
  • Thai green/red curry noodles – This is one of the reasons why I love crazy noodles. They don’t make you unnecessarily order two dishes when you could very well do with one. Their Thai green or red curry noodles are a combination of the curry and noodles. Check out the picture to note that this bowl of soupy noodles is loaded with vegetables and chicken. No skimping here.
  • Thukpa – Very few places in Pune have thukpa on their menu, crazy noodles is one of them. Their version is what you want when you are down with cold – the hot, comforting bowl of soupy noodles in a broth – guaranteed to open up all the blocked sinuses.
  • Mojito Incognito – A very cleverly designed mocktail using a kaffir lime infused lemon cordial which gives it an unusual zing. We always order this and do not miss the alcohol.

If you happen to go to crazy noodles, please remember that their portions are huge. One of their dishes is called the Sumo Ramen (which I am yet to try) which needs to be shared by four people if they also want to eat some other stuff. Our typical meal for two and a half includes one soup (shared between two), one portion of dimsums (6 nos.), one curry noodles or curry and fried rice. We have never been able to manage appetite for a dessert there, although I have heard that their honey noodles with icecream are very good. Our 4 year old boy always insists on having the mojito incognito, the dimsums and ‘plain white noodles’. They always give him a small bowl of plain noodles, which is more than enough for him, on the house. Attentive service, great portion size, good food (have never had any tummy upsets/acidity after eating here), reasonable pricing – what more can one ask for?

Kloee’s Bakes – Kainaz Nunes

15 Feb

 

Kainaaz posted about Kainaz and it was love at first sight with the quiche. I just had to (that happens VERY rarely) eat that quiche. As a nutritionist one would think I would be in better control of my gluttony but this was a huge slip up and thank goodness it was SO WELL DESERVED! Sorry for the caps but you see I am in quiche heaven and I am shouting it from the rooftops. As soon as I saw the post I got in touch with Kainaz and told her that I needed a chicken quiche (which became TWO quiches once my husband saw the pictures), two salted caramel apple banana tarts (just coz she said these tarts are much smaller than the quiche – they are so much bigger than measly tarts you get in patisseries here), a half a tray of chocochip cookie crumble brownies and a box of a red velvet cupcakes. I have no idea what I was thinking when I ordered ALL of that as really, we didn’t need that much food and after seeing the real portions we really didn’t need THAT much food!! Bear with me please, it’s a moment for caps.

Thankfully we had some friends come over for dinner and no, the food will still be left over.

Over to the food – the chicken quiche. I bake. I have had my share of crappy shortcrust pastry (the bottom crust of the quiche, for the uninitiated) where I have not given the shortcrust the time, love and patience and also some really good ones. But quiche baking is something which requires a whole lot of patience which I am grossly deficient in. But Kainaz seems to have tons of it, coz the quiche was S.U.B.L.I.M.E. I say it slowly coz it is a slow process, you cannot just dump ingredients in a mixie and blitz away. It is a very good thing that her house is relatively far from my house or else she would have found me at her doorstep everyday and my nutrition clinic would have shut shop. 😯 You know the best part of this quiche was, it was not a cheese overload unlike many others – here the pastry shone and it was a well deserved day in the sun!

The salted caramel apple banana tart – again brilliantly executed sweet short crust and moreish caramel sauce. The best part, it was not tooth aching-ly cloyingly sweet. Like Goldilocks says, it was just right!

The red velvet cupcakes had the perfect Philadelphia cream cheese frosting and no skimping on frosting here. See the picture! My son, who is a very finicky eater of bakes, loved them and so did I. Although the cupcake was not bright red as the cocoa used was a tad bit more but who can complain about a tasty, soft, moist cake? I am already trying to think of when I can order a full cake from her. This bit here is significant as I ALWAYS bake at home, even my own birthday cake. See, now you know!

The brownies were made by the textbook and cut as per american standards. It was almost as big as a pack of amul butter. They would need a 30 second warming up in the microwave oven to become devilishly fudge-y at the centre. These I had ordered only because she recommended them. We are not chocolate lovers as a family, so we shared half a brownie amongst the three of us and the leftovers have been packed for a later day.

Kainaz, thank you ever so much for the treat! You are definitely going to hear from me more often. Please don’t get too busy ok?

Effingut Lunch Buffet at Effingut Brewerkz

21 Jan

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Did you know that effingut has an effingut lunch buffet happening on weekdays? And that this week you have their fab bbq chicken wings, crispy chilly potato and the ever famous khowsuey on the menu?
Well, if you did not know it yet, you know now!

Mayuresh and I managed to go on a quiet lunch date to effingut yesterday and was it fun! The music was peppy but not loud, the ambiance is what we have always loved, the beer (you still want me to write about it?), not to forget the BOGO on beer and drinks and the very good food.

Apart from the wings and chilli potato, they also had fish fingers and wontons which were good and fresh. The BBQ sauce on the wings and the tartar sauce needs a special mention – great stuff. The caesar salad was delish too, although a bit overdressed but that’s how everyone likes it around these parts, so I am sure everyone will love it. The dressing was perfect. Enough has been written about their khowsuey so I don’t have anything more to add, other than the fact that I had only khowsuey and a bit of the murg mussalam for mains. The murg mussalam was a surprise package which could put even Punjab grill/moti mahal and the likes of essentially punjabi restaurants to shame. I wish I had more appetite, I am sorry I could not do it justice.

Manu Gulati- you and your team, deserve special accolades for the sheer consistency that you guys achieve each time. Like a friend, Aditi, said the other day- you know how to turn our day around, in a happy way of course. All you people who think effingut is too lively for you, make the most of this weekday lunch offer. Great food, great drinks, great music and you can really talk to each other, take ample pictures and selfies and the best part – no one will rush you with your meal. Go have fun and thank Manu Gulati later! 😉

P.S. There also was some biryani available which I didn’t try as I was enamored by the khowsuey. We didn’t try any soup (we had beer!! ) or the other vegetarian starters as one can only hog so much.

P.P.S. This is not a paid post or a sponsored meal, we very happily paid only about Rs. 1500 for a meal for two with two large beers. This is a steal!!

Side note: We were initially looking for something around magarpatta so that it would be easier to get back to work, but we landed up at effingut. That’s how much we love the place!

Ok, OK.. NO MORE EFFINGUT POSTS.. for a while atleast! 😛

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