Resolutions lie in Paris Brest 

For all those wondering where had #nolansatwit disappeared for the season- well, I was working out! NOT. Whilst I see a sarcastic grin on the face of my nutritionist (yes, I have one of those and she’s awesome) and my yoga teacher, who probably has no will left to teach me, given all the calories I’ve gained over the last fortnight (I’m sorry, I’ll shed them all, I promise)In all fairness, I did bid them sweet goodbyes before I decided to partake in a wild season laced with eating binges and reckless abandonment for waistline safety. 

This post is more of a reconciliation effort to the dedicated professionals who keep my waistline in check and a peace offering to have them take me back to the fold of ‘eat right, workout left‘. 

It’s been a while since I put thumb to phone screen, more so take a decent picture of food and granted that I’ve been sober for more than 56 hours is making progress in the New Year, and to a different progression of blogging. 

I followed my nose to an old haunt of a friends cafe, situated in the midst of the fields with the ocassional kite for company. This is what greets you at Baba Au Rhum Cafe. It’s sublime, earthy and tranquil and the music is transcendal. I promised Dayini, I would head on over once the madness of the stated ‘outsiders‘ left us all to our mundane routine and normalcy prevail. Having said that, it was packed, though it still had an overtone of calmness and peace within. 

Known for her love of organic and holistic approach from fresh juices, meaty homegrown burgers and wafer thin crusted pizzas, it was indeed something in the reckoning to start this year with. 

Before you write me off, for all the decandence of gluttony in #foodporn that I am responsible for (falsely accused and awaiting trial) I stumbled upon this piece of  heaven which does have a irrefutable historical significance engraved in sport and fitness. (An evil snicker entails, with the item in question being of sinful repute

This my dear ladies, gents and kids of all ages, is the Paris Brest– a French dessert made of choux pastry made of almond praline creme with hazelnut and dusted with sugar snow. What stands chaperone is the Cortado– a single orgin coffee espresso with foam to light up ones brunch.  

Did you know? 

The Paris Brest was created in 1910 to commemorate a bicycle race from Paris-Brest-Paris, that took place in 1891. The circular choux pastry is representative of a wheel. It became popular with riders due to its high energizing calorie value and is a common fixture across patisseries all over France. 

Whilst there try the Bacon delight  (a freshly baked croissant with avocado, local Gouda, a fluffy egg, homemade bacon and spring onions) some fresh juices with quizzical mysterious names- I stuck to a fresh beetroot juice and the Ham & Cheese quiche. And for those following my Instagram you saw the pizza. For those yet to follow me, check out my handle @nolansatwit 

Bacon Delight   
Ham & Cheese Quiche   
Did someone say Breakfast of Champions? BINGO.  
Happy New Year and here’s to more madness from my travels and foodploits this year! 
Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography. All images shot on Iphone6 

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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. 

Richter scale cupcakes 

Today was a good day. A peaceful day. A day when one just wishes to do nothing significant, nothing impactful, nothing earth moving or so I thought.  (let’s hold that thought till a little later in this post

Wash the bike, clean my room, stand in line to pay the bills, fill up gas, watch an odd movie and jump to the opportunity to baby sit a cutie pie from next door. My little bundle of joy- Anaaya, who happens to be my bestie’s niece. She’s my go to girl when I need a few shitz’n’giggles. And that’s saying a lot considering I’m mostly on the doleing end. A hop skip & jump had me head over to Anaaya’s place and we decided to bake some good ol fashioned cupcakes with aunt Ayesha at the helm. 

There is nothing like being schooled by a kiddo on the art of making a perfect cupcake. I was tempted to take Cupcake  June along to showcase my quota (without having to go through the process of baking it myself. Her name would suffice and carry me thru I suppose, but then that would be cheating now

So off went the three Musketeers to the kitchen in the quest of the perfect baked cupcake. Ayesha busy on the recipe book following it to the tee had time for Anaaya and I to goof around galore. (Evil smile) Moments later, I’m playing with gummy bears and smarties. Condiments to the final product but they created quite the battle of Gettysburg scenario dying for a good cause in Anaaya’s mouth. She devoured them and then some. I joined her too eventually. The temptation was too great and those bears had to die for a eventful cause. 

We played see-saw where Anaaya was a mountaineer climbing Everest (being my thighs) she almost squished my ‘family jewels’ at base camp though, an honest mistake, given I wore loose khakis and she never really knew where to tread on.  Ayesha as usual had a hearty laugh at my expense. Redefined the termed ‘cracking one up’ for the both of us, equally painful in minor respects or so I hope- what do you think? her lock jaw or my trap jaw. Which would be more painful?  I’ll leave you the be the judge of that. We created the Richter cupcake eventually in this fabulous video. Link: https://youtu.be/Q8m5wC0IUg4

You have to watch the professionalism of Anaaya playing horsey with me not having a tripod. A classic Hyperlapse for the ages. 

Much love my rockstar. Till we bake cupcakes again. 

P.S. How did they taste? Fantastic with a extra oodle of baking powder. That’s how. Booyah!!!! Baked out. 

Choco chip cupcakes   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Gone ba-na-nas

I’m going to sing a song. You have one guess to get it right. It goes a little something like this;

Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-nanaBa-ba-ba-ba-ba-nana banana-ah-ah 

togari noh pocato-li kani, malo mani kano chi ka- baba, ba-ba nana 

It’s Minion time. And while I’m on the subject of these lovable hilarious characters, I must say after a hectic trip to Jaipur, rather spiritual and fulfilling in nature, I’m back to doing what I do best – going bananas at Off the Wall in Sinquerim near Fort Aguada. A quaint and creative Art-Bistro wherein one can witness the art of food and art in general medium. It’s a rental space where one can even hold their own exhibitions. The food compliments it perfectly, at the hands of Ian Marc De Souza . Creatively inspired. A man who shares a similar penchant for travel, rather a sufferer of wanderlust like yours truly, he is back from one of his jaunts, to lands of mystery and unfulfilled quest for discovery. He delights me as always by catering to my sweet tooth apart from other delicacies he has picked up from his worldwide travels. Let me get these delicacies mentioned out of the way before I head on, first is a must try, the Pan-Pizza. A  pizza with a southern Italian salsa, red onions, bell peppers, Home made goan chouriçe, topped off with oodles of mozzarella and American cheddar, thin crust style. The sweet delicate balance of sweet and tangy with a crunchy bite sends one into a stratospheric gastronomic realm. And I insist as a personal favorite there, to consume the succulent Grilled Tenderloin Steak with pepper n garlic , delicately finished off in the oven served with grilled cherry tomatoes, sauteed Greens with olive oil & smoked paprika and oregano. As Ian recommends it best served Medium. Do check out and subscribe to my Instagram feed to see these delightful images. The handle is @nolansatwit, for those unaware.

Having merely mentioned in conversation of my backyard banana tree yielding fruit and not knowing what to do with an abundance of butter bananas in my kitchen, he scoots off into the kitchen to come back with a simple yet scrumptious , Banoffie  Pie– a biscuit texture-NUT crumble base, laden with banana caramel toffee, and fresh butter banana slices, served with a side of crème Chantilly! Now that’s just putting words, not to mention bananas in my mouth.

Banoffie Pie   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

And with his impish smile he carries on to call for the second dessert to grace our table – fresh banana slices and sauteed in butter, with bruleed brown sugar accompanied by an almond crumble. Now while this may seem simple (and mind you it is enough for me to consume it as a 3 am sweet craving snack) and unassuming it is a power house dessert that will leave you wanting and unfortunately pining for a second helping. Better hit the treadmill post. I had to roll out of his joint. Literally.

So before the minions head on over there after reading this on the World Wide Web, I suggest you make a Gru line towards this place. Are you drooling like Kevin yet? Go and grab some ba-na-na!

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 

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.

The Legend of the duck 

I admit- this experience has got to be one for the books, for a multitude of reasons. For one, I have never really had a fascination for duck (even when I visited China way back in 2007 and dined at the famous Bianyifang -the first restaurant specializing in Peking duck, having being established in the Xianyukou, Qianmen area of Beijing in 1416. But as time progressed, this dish grew on me having enhanced and expanded my palate over various cuisines on my numerous travels. Peking duck is a famous dish from Bejing that has been prepared since the Imperial era, and is considered a national dish of a China.

The ducks bred specially for the dish are slaughtered after 65 days and seasoned before being roasted in a closed or hung oven. The meat is eaten with pancakes, scallion, and hoisin sauce or sweet bean sauce. Having said this and being witness to the meticulous process observed by Chef Yang at China House- a restaurant designed to exude the warmth of a typical chinese home, that offers a casual dining experience with a modern approach, it was a treat in store for me. One of the popular restaurants at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai, the design integrates interactive glass show kitchens into a multiple-seating layout accompanied by surrounding table booths and lounge areas. And with Chef Yang at the helm, who I believe has spent the last 10 years perfecting the art of the Peking duck, it was an opportunity to be seized.

The Duck being roasted for 45mins @ 270 degrees centigradePic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

While I was trying to be obscure in my curiosity towards the hand crafted progress of the meal, it eventually did get the better of me. I sneaked into the interactive kitchen keenly trying to observe what Chef Yang was hard at work on. He was kind enough to take me through a few nuances of the process- especially the special ‘herb water’ used to fill the duck with, to moisten it during the roasting process. This comprised of a mixture of celery sticks, wolf berries, schuan pepper, spring onions, cinnamon sticks & star anise. The uniqueness of this dish is the attention to detail the duck endures before it reaches ones table. For e.g., the ‘7’ times the duck is dipped in sugar water. Why so? To give it that crisp caramel texture showcased on the skin. And of course, the ‘herb water’ mixture described above, which is poured into the duck and corked at the base with a dry bamboo shoot comprising of mango wood, to ensure it is cooked with all the herbs within over a 45-50 minute process in a wood fired oven. Peking duck is traditionally roasted in either a closed oven or hung oven. The hung oven was developed in the imperial kitchens during the Qing Dynasty. It is designed to roast up to 20 ducks at the same time with an open fire fueled by hardwood from peach or pear trees. The ducks are hung on hooks above the fire and roasted at a temperature of 270 °C for 30–45 minutes. While the ducks are cooking, the chef uses a pole to dangle each duck closer to the fire for 30 second intervals. And whats interesting, is almost every part of a duck can be cooked. Each aspect is carefully monitored and is taken with pride and gusto by the chef in charge.

Left to Right: Crispy duck skin & breast  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

The art of educating the customer is a must see at China House- the way the duck is served and consumed is something that excited my senses.To the quick carvings- a step process starting with the skin being a delicacy, is normally consumed by dipping the skin in a bowl of refined sugar, to give it a crunch to ones pancake. The meat is slivered in three stages- the skin is one serving. The breast is laid out perfectly and is succulent and tender and the third carving has a mixture of the thigh and skin to give it that coarse and crunch to the moist pancake. The meat is then served with steamed pancakes, spring onions and sweet bean sauce. Cucumber sticks and chopped spring onions are provided for accompaniments. The sauce is evenly concentrically spread, and optional sugar is sprinkled, over the pancake. The pancake is wrapped around the meat with the vegetables and eaten by hand.

Mind you the duck can feed a table of 4 with ease. So do order carefully.

In 2012,The Huffington Post ranked Peking duck 1st in list of “10 Foods Around The World To Try Before You Die”.

The #legendoftheduck awaits you. What are you waiting for?

A Coppa with Sofia

I did mention earlier of my detox diet plan and eating healthy for a period of time.Then again after some serious sunshine and a sudden heavy unexpected downpour- I took refuge in a place away from home in Baba’s Wood Cafe ‘Da Maria’. I love all things Italian- The cars, the bikes, the women, the fashion and of course the food (at times not necessarily in that order.) And Mariagrazia Raschi with her welcoming Italian hospitality makes one feel at home the minute one steps in. For all those living under a shell- they have shifted to Miramar and are right above Bina Punjani Hair Studio. With the thunderous roar and thrashing showers (which I barely managed to escape- thankfully bone dry) I found myself staring at Sofia Loren (not in person, f course) in her early 20’s preparing Spaghetti cacio e pepe from a still of her movie La Ciociara (Two Women- 1960). A gorgeous photograph resonating the quintessential focus of a ‘trattoria’, which Mariagrazia proudly advocates. Its home style cooking with fresh ingredients- satisfies the senses every single time.  

But for a minute, leave Sofia be and let’s focus on what Mariagrazia brings to the table. She thought a nice shot of brandy would cheer me up. And known for my love for all things sweet she asks me to try out her latest creation- Coppa Amaretto & chocolate. As exotic as it appears and sounds- it is rather simplistic in nature. Lets deconstruct shall we? A  gooey free flowing chocolate mousse interspersed with crunchy amaretti biscotti layered with a slug of brandy topped with fresh whipped cream.Simple enough to make you drool? The portion is huge. A suggestion would be to share even for the voracious appetite. Its sinful indulgence. You make a fool of yourself trying to consume the remnant stains of mousse that holds dear to the spoon taunting you to slurp some more to show its chrome beneath. The fresh cream sends you into a heady tizzy like a walk in the clouds both in color and texture. A delightful chore indeed but in the end so worth it.

Coppa amaretto and chocolate   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Did you know? Legend has it, the invention of this amaretto has received an amorous Renaissance treatment. In the early 18th century, a Milanese bishop or cardinal surprised the town of Saronno with a visit. A young couple – residents of the town, welcomed him and paid tribute with an original confection: on the spur of the moment, they had baked biscuits made of sugar, egg whites, and crushed apricot kernels or almonds.These so pleased the visiting bishop that he blessed the two with a happy and lifelong marriage, resulting in the preservation of the secret recipe over many generations.

Thank you rain gods to drive me into the arms of two amazing Italian women to share a coppa to the melody of the falling rain outside.

Monday Blues Aboard the Royale? LOL 

I could have been a standup comedian- had I managed to remember my lines on stage amidst the constant glare of a beaming light (much like that of an interrogation room) shining right at me for the duration of the act. Alas, all said and done I decided to do the next best thing and be their muse sitting in the front row getting picked on like scavengers for morsels of scraps and enjoying every moment of it. 

A Mundane ‘Moanday’ is something many a folk associate with- even in the sunny state of Goa. Yes people actually work here! (much to others surprise) Back in Mumbai, I used to wait in anticipation for the weekend; apart from some R&R and the familiar bike cruise up and down marine drive and chowpatty at 2am in the morning I used to keep an eye for the theatre and standup acts that happen around the city. This is something Goa is sorely missing (don’t get me wrong we have our tiatrs and cultural festivals in splendour and pomp and quite the fan following but a good play or a classic standup is something far and few) and thanks to the folks @thedeltinlife, Deltin Royale has a classic line up of rib tickling slapstick in your face comedy acts that give you ‘lock jaw’ syndrome with the LOL Monday’s 

Now I know your all especially in Goa must be rolling your eyes in blasphemy with the mention of a casino here. Trust me it’s my second time aboard and I’ve had a wonderful experience so far. I had the privilege of being ‘placed’ on the front row seats to the jib of Sorabh Pant who had a field day at my expense till his eyes gazed upon the Marwadi ladies next to me who became his muse for the rest of the evening. From anecdotes ranging from politics to marriage it was a hilarious affair indeed. Angad Singh with his all so familiar Sardar twang got people in rollicking splits especially with his relationship advice of a newly committed gent. Yes i used the word ‘committed’ on prupose. Much like ones voluntary commitment to an hour with the Joker. 

Imagine a floating world where you stand a chance to win an IPhone 6 every hour, treat yourself to some amazing chaat while your at it and be entertained ever so with free alcohol to make the non comic a believer of that effervescent pearly white smile. It’s a win win for all. Please put your laughing ‘pant’s on. (No pun intended Sohrab.)

With season one coming to an end I am looking forward with gusto to Season two. 

Standup and head there peeps.

 It’s something you don’t want to miss. 

Season One Finale Lineup   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

The Emperors new suite 

Flashback to 6.00 a.m. in Bangkok, I wait for a bus to go home, from a night about town. At the corner of my blurry eye – a push cart in front of the bus station. I keep my head low and wait patiently for the transport to arrive. Not today, I remind myself. An hour later I  arrive at my destination, and there it is again, in the stalls around my building. I frantically ignore it and head to bed. Once awake, the urge for consumption leaves places to devour an entire giraffe. 

Its 2p.m. I glance through my curtain and get enticed by the sweet aroma emitted from the stall below. That all so familiar taste of spice from the pad kra pao gai. Present Day: Just like that, in the sleepy by lanes of Goa, lies Deltin Suites with their hidden gem – The Emperor cooking up a scintillating, elaborate Thai inspired pan Asian cuisine to transport one to the bustling streets of Bangkok. This dish is a contender for the most popular, and the most beloved street food dish in ALL of Thai cuisine. In Thailand it’s available and eaten everywhere.

You know sometimes when you go to a restaurant and you have no idea what to order, or even what you want to eat? When that happens in Thailand, pad kra pao gai (with chicken), or any type of meat stir fried with Thai holy basil, is a dish that comes to the rescue. Flavors respond immediately as the dish reaches our table. The presentation is crisp with the fried sunny side up egg that accompanies their Thai basil chicken, better known in Thai as pad kra pao gai. Street food has only been popular since the 1960s when more Thais moved into cities to find work and eat out. This culture basically has folk eat most of the meals outside which resonates in the way this dish is presented. Crisp and compact. And that is something that the Emperor follows keeping it close to the authenticity of the dish. 

Phad kra pao gai in a crunch basket served sunny side up.  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

A Cooking Tip: Unlike mincing (which is usually done) try grinding, it really releases all the juices and oils of the chilies and garlic and it brings out an extra depth of flavor, which in  return makes the entire dish of chicken basil more vibrant, garlicky and spicy.
So the next time you wish for some good street style prep make a beeline to meet the Emperor. I am sure he would approve.