Chef’s Log 49: Creptacular

Red velvet crepes with mascarpone

Red velvet crepes with mascarpone

I admit, when I first arrived on this planet I was skeptical. How could a place which does not even consider culinary science a compulsory topic of study have anything decent to offer in terms of food? Little humans are encouraged to pursue topics as trivial as anatomy and social science. And a word of advice, if you are one of those trying to understand the inner workings of the human mind (‘psychology’ I believe is the term), I suggest you cast aside any optimistic ideas you might have. The human mind is nothing more than a rather simplistic, often faulty, mechanism, believe me. But we’ll save my shattering all your delusions of grandeur for another day. The point I want to make, is that I am officially impressed. Humans have a far better understanding of food than I could have imagined. And one restaurant that has reinforced this opinion is ‘Wholly Crepes,’ located in Model Colony,Pune. I’m not quite certain what to make of the name, but I rather like it- it has an air of wit and whimsy about it. And that about describes the place as well. I believe the perfect word to sum up its charming décor, warm ambience and general atmosphere would be ‘cute’. What of the food, you ask? Well, as the name would suggest, this place specializes in crepes. And when I say ‘specializes’ I mean that they really know what they’re doing. I sampled the ‘Trinite’ crepe. It contained spinach, mushrooms, cheese and grilled herbed chicken. The crepe itself was soft,

Poached pear and goat cheese salad

Poached pear and goat cheese salad

light and beautifully seasoned, while the filling was fresh and packed full of flavor. Overall, it was absolutely delicious. I also tried the poached pear and goat cheese salad and in short, I was blown away. It contained walnuts and had a red wine and cinnamon glaze. The striking contrast between the sweetness of the pears, the saltiness of the cheese and the crunchy nuts made for an exceptionally interesting dining experience. The dish was accented by some highly complex, sophisticated flavours. For dessert, I had the red velvet crepe with mascarpone and chocolate sauce, which was interesting as well. More than anything else, I was impressed with the innovation and the utterly brilliant ingredient combinations. In fact, I think I just might have a new favourite type of food-crepes.

https://www.zomato.com/pune/wholly-cr%C3%AApes-model-colony

Trinite Crepe

Trinite Crepe

 

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Chef’s Log 48: Christmas (at) Nostalgia

I must admit, I enjoy this strange festival that the humans celebrate every year. I am yet to fully comprehend the exact purpose it serves, although it does appear to pose as an excuse for humans to gorge on goodies excessively- something that I obviously approve of. The various decorations and ornaments are quite delightful. And when a restaurant is able to truly embrace the festive spirit, it surely deserves to be commended. One such restaurant is Nostalgia. This quaint little restaurant is located in a fairly remote corner of the globe- Raia, Goa. It is known for its spectacular Goan food, but its charming, homely ambience deserves merit as well. Set in a traditional Goan house, the restaurant is filled with various knick-knacks, which lend it a quaint, whimsical air. The food of course, is more than satisfactory, but given its fascinating decor and its splendid Christmas theme, I felt it best to capture the essence of Nostalgia through photographs.


http://www.goacom.org/restaurants/fernando/

Chef’s Log 47: It’s All Greek to Me

Like others of my race, I too firmly believe that the occasional indulgence is not just a luxury, but a necessity. And what better indulgence is there really, than food? I am slowly discovering that money, like so many other things on this rather depressing planet, is transient- one minute it’s here, the next it’s gone. Food on the other hand, when truly exceptional at least, leaves a lasting impression on your mind, thereby, existing forever. But enough subsistentialism (for the ignorant, in simple terms: the intergalactic philosophy and study of food). My point is it is definitely worth spending on good food. And one occasion when you can do this is the Sunday Brunch at Euriska. With everything from the decor and the ambience to the locks in the restroom designed to fit the theme, Euriska prides itself on distinctly representing that part of the planet known as the Mediterranean (in particular, Greece). From my experience with the cuisine at Euriska, I can completely understand how the Greeks once ruled over most of the world. What first strikes you about this brunch is the sheer variety. There is a wide selection of breads, cheeses, grills, cold meats and desserts, so you can satisfy nearly every whim and fancy. The pasta is made from scratch, with your choice of ingredients. I had the pasta with red pesto tomato sauce. It was lovely and light, with bright, fresh flavours. Among the grills, my favourite was undoubtedly the tenderloin beef- juicy and melt-in-your-mouth soft, it was lightly charred and crisped to perfection. The potato was also tangy and delicious, with a salty sour cream or cheese centre. Of the main course, I sampled the Beef Stifado, which was quite satisfactory. My favourite section, I believe (unsurprisingly), was the desserts. They were simply exceptional. The crème caramel was rich and creamy, the crème brulee was smooth and not excessively sweet, with just the right hit of coffee, and the baklava was a delicate concoction of sticky sweetness. I quite enjoyed the lemon tart as well, which definitely lived up to its name. All in all, it was a meal fit for any very hungry individual with the capacity to appreciate excellent food. If you are one of those individuals, I strongly recommend that you visit Euriska next Sunday.

https://www.zomato.com/pune/euriska-koregaon-park

Chef’s Log 46: Word Play

Laziness is not a trait that is restricted to humans. Hence this blog post will merely consist of a compilation of my various lists of ‘what if it was about food,’ because if you ask me, everything on this planet should be about food (or beverages).

If there were more clever bands like the ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers,’ the ‘Black-Eyed Peas’ and ‘Smashing Pumpkins’ which incorporated food in their names, they would probably be called
Feastie Boys
Michael Learns to Cook
The Grateful Bread
Fryin’ Maiden
Buns ‘n’ Roses
Death Cab For Cookie
Cradle of Fish
Rage Against The Coffee Machine

And some of their songs would have the following titles:
Master of Crumpets
Cheese Don’t Go
November Grain
Some Toddy That I Used To Pour
Bohemian Raspberry
I Will Serve-Pie
Cake Me Out
Light My Flambe
Under the Fridge
I Wanna Roast Your Ham
Chips Don’t Lie

And if all videogames followed in the legendary footsteps of ‘Candy Crush Saga’ and “Super Meat Boy’ the most popular of them (assuming that the cake is NOT a lie) would be:
Gourd of War
Sorpotel Combat
Need for Feed
Grand Theft Risotto
Dungeon Pasta
Devil May Fry
Beers of War
Defense of the Raisins
Naans vs Zombies
Mortal Kumquat
Sole(fish) Calibur
World of Knorr-craft
Call of Frooti
Max Grain
Red Bread Redemption
Winecraft
Meat Fighter
Cream Fortress

Chef’s Log 45: Curry Leaves-An-Excellent-Taste-In-Your-Mouth

Beef Dry Fry, Chicken Pepper Fry and Appam(s)

Beef Dry Fry, Chicken Pepper Fry and Appam(s)

I admit, I consider the human race to be a rather weak species. If one were to ask my opinion, I would declare without any hesitation that the only reason they thrive now is because of the utter lack of intelligence possessed by Earth’s inferior species (However, I would warn them to keep an eye on the creatures known as dolphins; they could take over any time now). So naturally when I heard of the phenomenon broadly referred to as ‘addiction’ I assumed it was a distinguishing characteristic of a weak species. I was wrong, for I myself fell prey to this affliction. I found myself suffering from withdrawal symptoms which were sometimes so extreme that they resembled symptoms of insanity; all because I was unable to access that most addictive and fulfilling of all substances- the wondrous invention that humans call ‘internet.’ She is a cruel mistress, this internet. But enough about that. I stray from what this is really about. As always, food. I recently had the exciting opportunity to explore a whole new category of food: ‘Kerala’ food. I confess I do not know much about the area from which the food originates, but having tasted its food, I’d say I love it already. The restaurant I visited, aptly titled ‘Curry Leaves,’ specializes in this kind of food. Firstly, I admire their cheekiness. Although beef is not mentioned anywhere on the menu (I’m guessing to avoid offending especially narrow-minded patrons) there is a variety of beef dishes available if desired. I sampled the beef dry fry and the chicken pepper fry with what is apparently a typical (and delicious) accompaniment- the ‘appam.’ Light and fluffy with just the right hint of crispiness, the appam plays a role similar to that of the chappati. Unlike the chappati, however it is porous, which means it soaks in the curry/gravy and really absorbs the flavour. A delightful and inventive variation is the ‘egg appam,’ which is basically an appam with a fried egg attached on top. Mind boggling, I know. The beef and the chicken were both juicy and succulent, and layered with robust flavours that mixed together beautifully. It was overwhelmingly spicy for my palate, nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope to make multiple visits to this place in the future. Oh, and did I mention that the prices are refreshingly reasonable as well? Truly amazing how you can be in Pune and taste Kerala at the same time.
https://www.zomato.com/pune/curry-leaves-baner

Egg Appam (how do they do it?)

Egg Appam (how do they do it?)

Chef’s Log 44: Po-Tato(‘s) Bhajji

The legendary Tato's thali

The legendary Tato’s thali

Some restaurants are more than just restaurants. They withstand the trials of time. They witness history as it is being made. They are survivors. They are landmarks. And most importantly, they have been serving the same dishes for so long that they have managed to achieve utter perfection.  Practice makes a meal perfect- this is the first thing that Gastronomicans are taught in Culinary Creativity (which was my favourite subject in school. Well, maybe after Gluttony 101). And it appears that ‘Tato’- a rather unassuming yet wildly popular café in Panjim is an example of this. Certainly, the quality of its food can be gauged from the fact that it has been appreciated across generations. As you can imagine, I was quite curious. So I attempted the ‘thali’- a rather fascinating concept which is apparently distinctly Indian. This ‘thali’ contains a variety of dishes-usually three I think- in small quantities, and is served with both the Indian food staples- roti and rice. This means that the diner has the ability to mix and match the various dishes and accompaniments- a brilliant example of culinary creativity I would say. What makes Tato’s thali different from the typical Indian thali? Well, firstly, you can choose to have ‘puris’ instead of rotis. Puris are crispy, light, and fried. And as we all know, fried is a synonym for delicious.  Secondly, one of the dishes in the thali is Tato’s signature potato ‘bhajji’- a sinfully oily mixture of soft, gooey potatoes and fiery chillis, absolutely packed with stunning, full-bodied flavours.  It was so good that for a moment I actually considered turning vegetarian (but then I remembered what meat tastes like). And lastly, what sets this thali apart is that it comes with two different kinds of daal- one savoury and one slightly sweet. The second bhajji in the thali (the potato bhajji being the first) was made of ‘gavar’ which is a kind of vegetable I’m told. The only thing I know for certain about this ‘gavar’ is that it tasted delicious. The thali also contained a delightful banana custard dessert, a side of yogurt, and kokum (for after the meal). I must say, Cafe Tato really knows how to spoil their customer- this was a thali fit for a king.  For anyone interested in food so good that it’s managed to stick around for…well I didn’t bother to actually do the research, but… a significant amount of human years, this is the place.
http://www.burrp.com/goa/cafe-tato-panjim-listing/69191                 

Chef’s Log 43: Pro-Fusion of Flavours

Chicken stuffed with Goan Chorizo

Chicken stuffed with Goan Chorizo

Fusion cuisine is always risky. One tiny hint of the wrong flavour and the whole dish is a disaster. On the other hand, if you get it right, it can be simply magical. The chefs at The Black Sheep Bistro in Panjim are certifiable magicians. I tried the Chicken stuffed with Goan Chorizo. Unlike the previous samples of Goan sausage that I have tasted, the stuffing here was not overwhelmingly spicy, but retained its delightful zesty essence. The juicy, succulent chicken and the grainy minced sausage made for an interesting combination of textures while the savoury and spicy flavours balanced each other out beautifully. The accompanying sweet potato mash complemented the whole thing perfectly and was delicious in itself. I also sampled the veg risotto, which was equally scrumptious. The tangy taste of the mushrooms interacted with the delicately flavoured herbs and the starchy rice to create something which was both complex and delicious. My favourite dish of the night however, was dessert. The deconstructed mango cheesecake was absolutely marvellous. The base was syrupy and slightly crunchy, while the mousse was airy and light yet rich and creamy at the same time. The mint flavour provided a delightful freshness, while a subtle hint of lemon added just the right zing. A truly classy dessert, if I ever encountered one. It was, all in all, a satisfying meal to say the very least. If you’re looking for something to eat that is not just tasty, but a work of art (experimental art), this is definitely the place to go.
http://www.blacksheepbistro.in/

Veg Risotto

Veg Risotto

Deconstructed mango Cheesecake

Deconstructed mango Cheesecake