Spa’z #staycation & how!

I remember reading the diary of Axl Rose (from Guns’n’Roses fame), wherein one of his mates said- ‘one can never comprehend the time in his world. Your on the Axl’s time zone’. I get the same feeling every time I finish an out of town #foodtrail. This last one in Mumbai though thoroughly satisfying, had me beat. What better way to kick back- than to, get into ‘Spa’z #staycation‘ at the Alila Diwa Hotel Goa

Many who converdsed with me during my long soaks in the bathtub (look at that beauty in the image above) envied the ‘double whammy’ of heading back to Goa and that too in the lap of such luxury.

What can I say? It’s a writers life-indeed. 

So, heading back to my ‘Spa’z #staycation‘- being the klutz, that I am, I happily checked into the hotel without any identification. Top it off, that too, dead in the middle of the night. They were kind enough-NOT to keep me waiting for long and after a few online checks identified mr. NObody. Some serious CIA stuff over the counter took place that night. What was it you asked? If I told you I’d have to kill you. To avoid the harassment don’t do a NObody, and check in with proper identification,please. 

Though a suffering insomniac- I was deadbeat. The bed enticed me, to snuggle in, while the AC cranked up the chill. Being a technosavant, the room had me written all over it. Yes, I’m that guy, who enters a room and needs to check out all the electricals. Fancy lightings and switches. What connection does what. Cause and effect really. 

There was also an ‘I spy with my little eye’ contest with so many minute details taken care of by the management. Like-the personal hand written note,by the General Manager- Mr. Siddharth Savkur (Yes-I stress on this a moment longer, given that while hotels do personalize real well these days, going the extra mile- i have mostly bared witness to printed stationary with the name and signature signed off by hand. The art of ink to paper is purist and much appreciated, from this old soul). 

Lest we forget the psychoanalysis of my near and dear ones gracing a printed card accompanying, would have made any psychoanalyst proud. The art of class indeed.  (let’s not forget Facebook for the pictorial courtesy

 It’s personal  
I am up early next morning in full witness of the view below. It’s one of those moments, where one gets lost in time and in the process almost missed breakfast just staring into the sapphire blue pool ahead with lush palms for company. I could have sworn, I heard peacocks well in the distance. 
 Room with a view  
After a rather scrumptious meal- (you have seen my breakfast posts, hence I shall NOT traumatized you, especially with all on offer and just let your imagination run wild on this count), I relaxed by the swimming pool and waiting for my appointed massage. I was slotted in for the Theraputic Massage for an entire hour and a half.  Tissue deep and aromatically infused are two words to describe this treatment. At the iron fisted hands of Ravi, who is a certified Masseuse from Kerela, I was kneaded into (quite literally) a snore. Rather embarrassing to say the least, but he didn’t mind the hypnotic tune I belted out, during the procedure. He found it rather relaxing (or maybe he was being polite, one would never know) An outdoor shower, amidst a lush garden had me soak in the sun (literally) with cool water streaming down my back- temporarily fooling my senses to a tropical paradise far far away. 

Top it off in the lap of luxury with a fine meal with the team- Siddharth and Rashmi who generously took time off their busy schedule to fuss over me. Delving into the spotlight of food you must try their fresh Kokum bar at the breakfast counter and their wide variety of eggs to order. The cheese and mushroom with sage was meticulously fluffed . Not to mention their king prawns which were every so fresh at the lunch table. Fresh catch of the day at the hands of Chef Alex Ensor. 

It’s a quick #staycation, as i have been away from home far too long and miss the babies- Mojo,my Labrador and Cupcake June, my Persian cat. 

The 5am, pee-o-clock alarm from the mutt beckons. 

Spa’zin out till next time. 

Spa treatment  
Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography Shot on an IPhone6 

An Ode to forgotten Hospitality 

I love house parties. The madness that prevails before the guests arrive to ensure one puts their best foot forward- silverware polished, best China laid out, wine cellar stacked and the glassware spotless. It’s a lovely feeling to have close ones over on a pre planned date to ensure all is in order just like clockwork. 

What happens when one saunters over to a friends uninvited on a working day in bustling Mumbai is when the real McCoy presents itself- a simple yet elegant home cooked meal with a few last minute additions. 

It’s funny how friends meet, especially with the friend in question- Madhu. I resonate guarded attributes amongst my friend circle and in this case I shall just leave it at the name due to privacy clause I hold ever so dear. Madhu and I happened to meet all by chance at a furniture shop in Goa and hit it off instantly. Ever since then there has been no turning back and I can carelessly invite myself over to her place- unannounced only to incur the wrath of her in iron curls post a long jog on the beach. The simplicity and uninhibited warm and welcome feeling reciprocated is something not even family members can live upto in this day and age and I speak from experience. 

There was nothing earth shattering or ground breaking to report except chatter and then some more for a lazy afternoon ahead. A lady who knows her art, is refined and poised with grace yet throws the most elegant and subliminal parties filled with aplomb and panache. It’s a heady concoction to be in the presence off and we rage in theory from drapes to silverware with a hint of stocks and shares with artwork openings thrown in good measure. It’s stimulating and drives my grey cells into a frenzy. We were in hope of her son joining us for a meal but he had a rather ‘working’ late night and decided to sleep in. Catch you on the next one buddy. 

So, after all the fancy dining options in the past few days, this was a meal worth ‘gate crashing’ for. Home made and filled with love and presented ever so effortlessly. The flavor of Indian spices in the all vegetarian meal, tickled my tastebuds beyond measure. From Arbi Fry, Okra (bhendi) masala, Panchmel daal and some dum Aloo, i was in seventh heaven. Let’s not forget the Dahi Bhala with Paratha. 

But this is not about the meal at hand. It’s about the hospitality which is seldom practiced in these times. An uninvited guest these days, irks the criticisms of all and sundry between family members and becomes pillow talk long after the guest is gone. Sure it’s all about priorities and so called fast friendships these days and ‘time is of the essence’. Heck, I confess to having done it a long time ago and I am not proud to say so. 

It’s the simple things that go a long way to forge bonds of steel that can never be broken. An expression of surprise for sure, with a hint of twinkle in the eye to cook up ‘left overs’ and ordering some ice cream to the elaborate daily meal consumed by members of the family is what was presented to me and this by far outdoes some of the parties I have been invited too over the years. It’s that spontaneity, which is cherished. The meal was fabulous and here’s a BIG thank you my dearest Madhu. 

The Mini Grand Indian Thali  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Shot on Iphone6 

You want a Maserati?…you better work,work!!

Yes I work. I blog. I ride. I travel. Not to be confused with one another. And, on days like these, I’m in the hustle and bustle of Mumbai city for yet another client meeting. It’s funny, how at societal do’s, folk greet and raise the age old question, ‘You blog for a living? While a part of me would like to say, ‘Yes! If only it were that easy’- I would. However, the love for showcasing travel continues and will always continue to do so. 

So yes, I find myself at the broad end of the spectrum in the midst of Ghatkopar for a client meeting. I was put up at The ROA– a three star business property close to the Metro line (which I took and loved every minute of it) on the way here. I am told it means ‘The King’ in Greek. So here is hoping for the Royal treatment at play. 

I love Mumbai. I start my journey in an airport chauffeur driven Range Rover Sport and in the blink of an eye commute with the common man mode of transport, all on the very same day. It’s enriching and grounding. A city that has something for everyone. 

The Executive Room    Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

A business hotel has a different mindset and yearning for a customer who wants the basics with a touch of panache. After all the target audience is demanding in a different sort of way. The room is spacious, the staff friendly and over accommodating, the room service tight and my personal pet peeve- the bathroom is a dream. What’s more I am guided to a series of instructions on my way to the room as well as given the most important amenity for my stay here- an unlimited supply of fiber optic high speed,Wi-fi. 

I check in. I power nap in time for lunch and mr. NObody, ever so curious, glances through the menu. The restaurant is bustling due to a wedding party to cater too. I use this opportunity to order in. The room service is prompt and the food scrumptious. A vegetarian and non vegetarian starter is suggested. The Day & Knight Kofta (the image at the beginning of the article) is well presented and quite artsy in approach. And the servings are plenty. Easily serves two. It is a must try. 

I am requested to try the Murgh Malai seekh- I am apprehensive at first considering this dish has fallen flat on many counts from established cuisine oriented standalones to star properties- my experiences of course. I am urged to the extent of having it made complimentary if not to my satisfaction. I love it when Chefs are so confident, especially when they know their craft.
One morsel and I am in seventh heaven. Succulent, fresh and how!! It was a perfect blend of texture and spice with the viscosity of a creamy malai. 
I later find out the owners are known for their love of food- the Ghuraa’s and carefully monitor their menu on a daily basis. Kudos!! 

 Murgh Malai Seekh Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

I top off my well balanced meal (vegetarian & non vegetarian) with a Warm Chocolate Brownie-in its rudimentary form. It’s a hot selling favourite and I am lucky to have the last one for the moment before the next batch is baked. Flavaa- is their inhouse restaurant and gets a lot of walk-ins for their coffee and brownies from the local folk around. It’s very art decor and subtle. And now I know why. Thank you Chef for the well recommended meals. 

All in all a restful and productive stay. Off to my meeting in a bit. 

As Britney put it – ‘You want a Maserati…you better work work.‘ 


All images are shot on an Iphone6. 

And then there was ‘Light’

This is going to be a pictorial representation for the primary purpose of ‘art’. After all, art, is interpretive and can never be solely explained. Whilst the dishes do the talking, I shall parallel echo my sentiments of a night at Ziya at the Oberoi Mumbai. Persian for ‘splendour & light’ and the labor of love from thrice Michelin star Chef Vineet Bhatia this restaurant is tastefully clad in its statement for understated regality. 

This being my second meal at the hands of a Michelin chef and being quite the avid follower of a few starred restaurants, I arrive early. After all, it only takes a few months to procure a reservation at these establishments when abroad and,I ,suffer from being German about time. The restaurant is being set for the big culinary ‘Jugalbandi’ night ahead. Prep and checks are being made between the Chef & Manpreet Kaur Dhody- the commandeer restaurant-in-charge for the evening. Everything has to be perfect. I’be been told it’s a one sitting affair (just the way chef wanted it).  

Rested in plush opulence with Chef Vineet’s book in hand, the dominant color of the evening is clearly ‘Gold’. I felt under dressed however my Iphone6 was at ease in the surroundings,playing its part all decked up in its gold case. Attention to detail is at its minutest best. From the 24 karat gold plated cutlery, (a limited placed order from the crockery house in Italy – Industria Vetraria Valdarnese Italyin of only 200 sets) to the ceilings adorned with 24 karat leaf gold paper there is a pattern at play. 

Attention to details has mr. NObody be a ‘somebody’ that evening. 

I am engrossed in the book, till the time I am ushered to meet the man himself, Chef Vineet- a gentle and unassuming culinary extraordinaire. His kind eyes and gentle smile put me at ease instantaneously thus avoiding any faux pas, I was about to commit. A brief discussion has him explain his humble beginnings and awe inspiring story of how he started out peeling 200 potatoes in this very kitchen many moons ago, only to head the same restaurant today. Humility and simplicity at its best. 

I was explained that tonight’s Jugalbandi was at the hands of Chef Adriano Baldassarre, Chef Rubén Santos and himself with a confluence of Indian, Japanese and Italian flavors over a 5 course menu. 

 24 karat gold plated cutlery (200 piece limited set) 

I am escorted to my table and requested at my own pace to inform my attendant as and when ready to begin. I try to hold back my glee and over enthusiasm and gently whisper ‘please begin‘ in the most monotone baroque voice possible. Pulled that off rather well, might I add.

Each plating had a story to tell. It was well explained and to the point. The San Danielle ham and Parmesan maki with a roll of saffron khichdi and sweet shitake was something I would relate to an extra marital affair (not that I would know off first hand, hearsay at best). Two pieces of sinful delight each captivating my senses over the other. The Good wife vs the provocative mistress and before ones knows it, the affair consumes you onto the next course.  

San Danielle ham & Parmesan maki

It is the season for porcini mushrooms in Italy all this month. And yes, I know a few Italians who are anal in their consumption of the freshest produce and dining with them have learnt to expect the same. It’s simple,wholesome living yet plentiful as to how structured they are in their eating habits. 

The Miso porcini soup hit the spot. The pairing of the crunchy shrimp fritters over sun dried tomato chutney, struck a perfectly poised balance between the two. My use of the gold cutlery for the first time did have an awkward geek moment wherein I wrestled with the thought of taking a selfie, luckily the deer in headlight stare from my observant server had me compose myself at the awkward immediate last second. Missed my selfie-Darnnit!!!

Miso Porcini soup 
 

The next course was a delicate Chilli & Burnt garlic Chilean Seabass. Accompanied with a dust of carbon mash (yes you heard right carbon!!), zucchini scapesce and black bean sauce this was a treat to the senses being paired with the 2002 Chateau Margaux. You do not want to know the price of a bottle- (hint; it runs into the six figure range INR). 

What is amazing and refreshing is the art on display at the table in perfectly sized portions. Not too little not too much. Each dish presents itself with a story that arrests me. To others, on several occasions I might have looked like a gawking Buffon, as I marvel and reveal in these painstakingly handcrafted pieces- a part of me not wishing to consume it and bid it farewell but another craving to devour it the minute it arrives. Due respect must be adhered too merely as protocol. We shall let Mr Hyde slumber for now. 

Chilli & Burnt garlic Chilean seabass 

After a refreshing ginger sorbet to cleanse the palate with some fine Moet poured over it, I took a few minutes to digest and read the crafted menu more elaborately. And the last line arrested me. ‘Close your eyes and explore a myriad of sensory dimensions’. Indeed. 

However I had to move along to the next course. The Curry leaf and crusted lamb loin with spaghetti puttanesca, sesame wasabi pak choy steamed white asparagus. 

By the time, I was playing Sherlock trying to deduce associating the dishes to the personalities of the chefs inside. On a wild note, I’ve been chased down the streets of Rome for the misunderstanding of the word ‘putta‘ so I find it hilariously funny when spoken about spaghetti that way. 

Curry leaf and crusted lamb loin   

I have taken the liberty to articulate this last piece of culinary art as the Art Platter. Though the name is as simplistic as the concept behind it Chef Vineet calls it the Matcha- rasmalai cheesecake, Coconut panna cotta, Matcha chocolate truffle and black sesame Kulfi. I just stared and then some upon its presentation, and wondered how Chef managed to get a rasmalai in between a cheesecake!?! 

Simple, yet awe inspiring and brilliantly executed. Perfect and moist right down the centre. The chocolate truffle was a loaded cannon with the explosion hitting all the sensory spots. And the cute puzzle moulds of Panna cotta and kulfi were a playful delight. 

Art platter  

Indeed an enlightening affair. Thank you Chef’s and the entire team. 

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography Shot on IPhone 6 

Mr.Worldwide

If your wondering about the title- as much as I would like to be Mr. Worldwide aka Pitbull, I still am mr. NObody the last time I checked. Here’s a candid confession about the beauty and art of eating a buffet (learnt the hard way of course) You are spoilt for choice and neglect is never an option. But in these days,of counted calories and busting seam lines, one has to be extra careful and selective in this ‘art of choice’- yours truly for sure. In my constant struggle and strife of keeping the calorie count in check, with an excessive workout regiment, I was invited with a few Mumbai foodies to Hornby’s Pavilion at the ITC Grand Central -Lower Parel for their Kitchens of the World Series. This time around it was Street food focused with many exotic preparations in store. 

Having travelled extensively it was a delight to hop around a multitude of signature cuisines at the comfort of ones own chair, being not too far away on display at the buffet counter. Some of these dishes have had me travel far and wide to witness and sample. If I had to spotlight a quick culinary trail, let me start straight at home with the India section hitting all the right spots. From the Nalli Nihari to the Dum mutton Biryani the ITC Hotels can do no wrong, this being the fourth time in a span of a decade I have bared witness too. It’s spot on! Sweet sorrowful parting of tender meat chunks falling off the bone with a mere fork nudge in symphonic harmony. The Galauti kebabs and mushroom adaptation were sinfully exotic and perfect in texture. 

Nalli Nihari  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Heading to the chaat section which always has a soft spot in my heart were the Agra ka chaat and Aloo Tikki both which stole the show with much aplomb. Taking off to Singapore, was the Rojak salad which has delicate blend of mango, papaya & pineapple alongside the Bellpeper salad tossed with bean sprouts a favourite on the streets of Istanbul. The Ablama– a Lebanese dish comprised of a stuffed Zucchini filled with meat, rice and tomatoes cooked with tomato sauce was an instant favorite. 

Ablama  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

The menu is carefully crafted by Chef Dhawal Ajmera, who took the time from his packed schedule to sit down and go through his preparations with us. From pickles seasoned in his own kitchen, to research oriented menus and adaptations of world favourites to suit the Indian palate, one would be fooled by how much knowledge he has amassed at such a young age. A watchful eye on our plates and suggestions did make for an interesting, educative, experience indeed. 
Aloo tikki

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography    

From Pizzas with Mozarella cheese to the famous Korean Bulgogi with a twist, this place is a sensory delight for the world traveller who appreciates and experiments with multiple cuisines. It was more of an overload walking through the ‘isles of food coma’, a playful jest moment shared between us two surrounded by Pork spare ribs on one side and quesadillas on the other. Fresh hot baguettes and cheese to fritter prawns- Singapore style, it was a good place to be in. Unfortunately the aisle was rather narrow and I gawked like a stalker or so the prawns would have thought. The googly eyes were a dead giveaway. 
Picarones Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Moving over the the desserts on offer was a variety, from the Columbian Chocolate mousse to the deep fried Picarones (a Columbian version donut) which were smothered in honey syrup and dusted with cocoa, I couldn’t help but notice and wonder as to the ‘real’ reason behind Pablo Escobar’s weight gain. A few of these would be equivalent to an hour on the mill for me,at an incline that too, but I am sure Mr. Escobar would have savoured these from his motherland. 

 Pumpkin Pudding  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

The Crepe Suzettes with an orange and honey glaze were delightful- do ask for a fresh batch and they would happily oblige and not go mention the gooey Pumpkin pudding from the streets of Brazil which were amazing. Lest not forget, the Jalebi and rabdi from our homeland which had me asking for a second helping. (Click on it to see the video) Yes, I’m a calorie fraud and I didn’t care right about then. 

The beauty of reciting this eclectic menu, is there is no stoppage in sight anytime soon. I could ramble on and confuse some, get hate mail from others- yet just leave one and all gasping for more. My simple suggestion is, make a reservation and head on over at the earliest as this festival closes on the 22nd of November. 

Bon Culinare Voyage!!!!!

A Date with Opa’s Arak 

I’ve dated a German before. Well, a few actually! Such warm and reserved folk and so dedicated to a cause. So when I heard, I was heading to OPA Bar & Cafe it perplexed me a little(OPA in German means Grandfather). I enter with a few friends only to have the fragrance of exotic mixes of sheesha fill the open air lounge. It’s heady and intoxicating almost instantly- with hints of green apple, paan, mint and orange filling the air. So much for my expensive perfume which was engulfed in entirety. 

I place myself at a table post the meet and greet and transcend almost instantaneously to the by lanes of Marrakech- a gentle morning session with the bustling streets with a cuppa chai and a sheesha for company a long long time ago. The chai in this case was the Arak Haddad Elite. Fast forward, to the first time I consumed this unassuming rather potent drink at a close friends place in Mumbai. It was an import procured by her on a recent trip to Istanbul. It was cause for a celebration with her husband and we decided to go for it at the stroke of midnight. In the confines of her house with no recording devices for proof, I distinctly remember the taste as clear as an hour before. Post consumption the next I find myself  waking up next to cat litter (thank god for small mercies my face was far away from the spoils of war). Remember the word unassuming? My point exactly! 

Since then I have kept this incident at the back of my mind. Apart from the deadly trio (Absinthe being one of them) which I hold and respect in reverence to the way they can turn you into a clapping monkey- Arak ranks high with its potency range of 40-63% proof. 

Dried dates with feta cheese and almonds 

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

The dried dates filled with Feta Cheese and almond shavings were delightful. While this was the item not coveted on the menu served by many, it had a significance in its role given the hardiness of the dates in fiber as well as the feta cheese to line the walls of ones stomach for that perfect sealant lining. It’s the best prevention for massive drinking (in this case minimum damage with a shot or two) to prevent the impending hangover. 

 Arak Haddad Elite
Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

I have been informed there is going to be a dedicated section in the near future serving Moroccan tea and sheesha under Bedouin tents atop the terrace under the stars. As a concept and I look forward to those aromatic blends with gusto. There is nothing quite like it – a bucket list item so to speak. So if you feel lazy to hop into a flight to Turkey, head on over to OPA instead. 

The Festive fiery season 

I love the festive season in Mumbai. Right in time for Diwali, the city is vibrant and overflowing with a buzz on overdrive with holiday mode in full swing,not to mention the chocolates and mithai that’s flooding my bag at the moment. 

And to add to this joy and celebration the ITC Maratha Mumbai,at their famous Dakshin restaurant -has introduced a Telangana menu at the able and passionate hands of Chef Sankara who hails from the newly divided state. At this juncture,I can think of Two states by Chetan Bhagat but we ain’t talking about a love story here just yet nor was Alia Bhatt at the far end table for company. 

The food from the state of Telangana is quite a boot camp for my senses. It’s quick and dirty with its flavors that send your gastronomic senses into a tizzy, with the level of spice playfully infused with chillies that would play tongue twister with you on multiple levels. 

I’m not a player in the realm quest for dragon’s breath nor do I intend to save the damsel in my shining armour this time round, however had to defeatingly quench my tickled tastebuds from the overdose of spice with a freshly squeezed sweet lime juice for company. 

Joined by a few foodie friends and the lovely and graceful Rini Sinha, who meticulously detailed the offerings with a doze of historical significance, it was a much needed sigh of relief before my next morsel. Mind you the food was scrumptious but the spice factor was a level 4 tectonic plate shifter in my books. 

Punugulu  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Diving right into the menu the spotlights apart from the filling thali being the star of the show and a must have for an overall meal, was the Punugulu- a deep fried green lentil dumpling which resembles much of a wada and anything that deep in crunch is something loved by all. 

Kodi Roast Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Move over immediately to the Kodi Roast- succulent chunks of fried chicken tossed in tempering chilli and koriander leaves with a melange of spice. 

Royala Vepudu  Pic courtesy:Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

The highlight for my meal was the wafer paper thin Appam’s which I could not get enough off, accompanied with the Royala Vepudu- king prawns tossed with onion and tomato marinated with ground spices. A dry gravy, yet so moist the minute consumed with the ‘hot melt’ like appam’s. Bliss

There are a number of delights from the state on offer. Being a festival you have a limited time offer period running. It’s on from the 13th-22nd November only, so hurry and make your reservations for some mouth watering delicacies in the most literal sense of the word. 

Flight of the Butterfly 

Morning peeps. These are the new series of flash travel updates in the life of #nolansatwit. 

After a heavy torrential  pour last evening, it cooled things down a bit in hot sticky Goa. It was getting rather unbearable and I didn’t even see the need to shower that much given the fact I would just perspire the minute I got out. Just a dip in the sea would suffice over the last few days. However the tan was killing me. 

I’ve been restless the last couple of days. A lot playing on my mind. For one a close friends dog passed away. I remember getting her that dog all cuddled and cradled as a pup. And he grew up to be such a handsome fellow. I doted on him and felt like a proud godpa. Zeke’s sudden death rattled my insides- transported me back to day hard to forget, a day he waddled as a pup on my floor with big brother Mojo standing guard over him- big brother like. It was a transition phase wherein he spent a day with me at home after a long journey from Chennai. I am still in shock to know that he’s no more. 

The only other time this happened to me was when I heard my grand mum passed away when I was 11. It’s a feeling quite hard to describe. I needed something to clear my head. Needed to just get out there. Some peace and solace perhaps. 

I decided to head on out with Anabelle (for those living under a rock she’s my Harley- yeah she’s named after the doll character from the horror film) 

An early morning, with a faint smell of wet mud and Mother Earth followed by the morning ritual of the wash and clean. It’s therapeutic. A oneness with the bike. It brought some much needed calm. Much like a ‘fluttered’ romance. And right when I went to close the faucet I see this magnificent creature spread across my tank. It’s gorgeous and I’m afraid- afraid of scaring it away. This is, after all my first butterfly shot. Never have I ever managed to capture something this close. It waits as if posed and once I am finished flits away to the flower close by. The say a butterfly is an omen for the start of a new beginning and something good ones way.  

This is for you -Zeke and Smita back home. A start of something new however hard it may seem right now. Much love. 

Will see you in doggy heaven- Zeke. 

Till we meet again, bring the house down pup. 

  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Robin & a biscuit 

I remember the first time I laid eyes on a dog. I was in love. Though the thought of having this monster approach me with a mesmerizing gaze in her eyes, did send chills up my spine enough to shudder a bit, I stood still. She towered over me- a Great Dane of course and my frame maxing out at a 1 foot nothing (all of 3 years I was told) was enough to look right into the drool that was about to accumulate high above. Much like a American Bomber about to deploy a weapon of mass destruction.  

But what did eventually follow after what seemed like forever, was a sniff and a nudge which sent me plonking to the ground accompanied by a light whimper and a tear rolling down the corner of my eye. What followed was magic. A reassurance of a slobber laid kiss, (the way one would lick a postage stamp)to say ‘I’m sorry, little one’.  

From then on, began my love affair with dogs and carries on till date. I have a loveable, oaf of a mutt- Mojo, who I dote over with,unabashed, unconditional love and every now and then I’m the Pied piper about town with numerous strays being befriended along the way. I find myself in the land of royalty- Jaipur, for a quick meeting and chance upon an old post office. I decide to write a hand written letter to a special someone. The art of being a purist. I’m old school that way. 

Outside this old torn down post office, I hear a few whimpers under a broke down scooter, only to see a litter of mutts cowered together away from the heat. It is hot here. Scorching to put it lightly. So what needs to be done? Water to rescue, which was welcomed by these pups. And this one inquisitive fellow I christened -Robin (for the mask like Batmans sidekick) followed me around and waited with me while I stood in line without a care in the world. He kept staring up at me the exact same way I did all those years to Laika, the Great Dane and I felt that instant connection of life having come around a full circle. We played a bit, devoured a packet of glucose biscuits (mashed in water) while I sipped on my cuppa. The solace and gratefulness of having this creature next to me was an unparalleled experience. No spas, no reviews, no restaurants, no fancy hotel rooms- just me and Robin exchanging thoughts through the desert sun. I was tempted to take him back with me and inquired about their well being. The guard happened to mention the mother was nearby and right before I departed made her way to her litter. The joy and happiness seen in their faces when they saw mommy dearest approach. The simple things in life. 

And right then before I left, Robin arrested my senses and gave me a look. The look of a thousand words that conveyed one simple message, ‘We are your best friend’. 

A packet of biscuits and a pup- was exactly what the doctor ordered to realign me with purpose. Thank you Jaipur and much love Robin. Till we cross each other’s paths again someday. 

 Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Locked & Loaded 

I find myself in familiar territory in the lanes of Bandra and am taken to this quaint little dessert bistro- Loaded, an amalgamation of an eclectic mix of a variety of things, thanks to the ever imaginative thoughts of its creator and owner Tripti Singh- an affable and almost instantly loveable soul.

The first thing that stands out about the persona of Loaded is –good things do come in small packages. That being said with Tripti at the helm, it’s quite the loaded affair. The essence behind the name was genuine and heartfelt in conversation with Tripti. Mumbai is definitely NOT cheap and the parallel equation of quantity to price is normally quite skewed across the city. Some serving a lot less for a lot more. Tripti wanted her clientele to enter hungry and leave consumed and satisfied. The pricing is a guffaw especially for the  quantity served in my honest opinion.

I was told of her famous –Red velvet crepe with chocolate brownie which does make the cut to be mentioned on my blog- it’s an instant crowd favorite and oozes with decadence. However I left myself entirely to the dessert madness that engulfs Tripti’s mind and her insistence of having to try her recommendation- the Kitkat Brownie Sandwich with chocolate ganache.
Before I head on to describe this orgasmic monster- a simple ‘thank you’ to the lady who stood her ground and was adamant we try the same. As they say, never argue with the chef as chef knows best. Mind you the image showcased is only ‘half’ a portion and that was enough to send me into a sugar rush and food coma instantaneously.

The sandwich satiated the appetites of my fellow foodies Shveta @hoppingfoodie and Ayesha @ayeshabarretto, who I personally carted from Goa to help me consume this madness. Thank you both for the help. X

Deconstructed, it’s as simple as something one could make in their kitchen at home. It’s an orgy of bread, loads of Kitkat, gooey chocolate brownie with hints of ganache and caramel -toasted. Salivating yet?

The Red velvet crepe with chocolate brownie and white chocolate shavings is an instant hit in Mumbai and with good reason. Ticks off all the boxes in terms of uniqueness, creativity and taste construct. It’s got perfect texture and is hysterically balanced to let your senses fight for taste when consumed and is served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Red Velvet crepe with chocolate brownie   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

We entered with an appetite for a meal and tucked in the corner of the menu is Tripti’s famous and overshadowed Mac n Cheese pasta. Try it before you indulge yourself into ‘dessert madness’.

Reveal in the maniacal world of desserts and leave Loaded. Over and out.