M.P.D @ Lafayette Gourmet 

Alter ego personality clashes are uncommon among most….. FALSE!!! 
In my opinion- everyone has at least two personalities within whether they identify with it or not. Now take someone with Multiple Palate Disorder and an overriding sensation of being spoilt for choice, with 11 cuisines fighting for ones palate sample at La Fayette Gourmet, Dubai Mall and you would understand the term- Sensory Overload. 

A sanctuary, right within a bustling mall that serves the likes of lip smacking Rotisserie, Moroccan, Italian, Asian, Sushi Art, Indian, Grills, Mediterranean and mouthwatering beverages to choose from it really sends even a seasoned palate into a tantalising tease. 
Introduced by a family friend, Andrea- with the menu being conceptualised even before I set foot in Dubai, this restaurant’s reputation precedes itself and does have a dedicated fan following. Little wonder given the fact that Lafayette translates to ‘faith‘ a la ‘faithful‘ 

To segregate the meal let me first start off with a out of bed kickstart- Turkish Coffee. As the famous Turkish proverb goes; “Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love”. 
Turkish Coffee

I love the traditions that go along with the way one consumes a Turkish coffee- the meticulous details followed. There’s a certain way of preparing it. Other than having Turkish coffee beans, you need small coffee pot (copper is recommended) called “cezve” and Turkish coffee cups (thin porcelain cups like espresso cups) called “fincan”. If the beans are not ground, a Turkish coffee grinder (kahve degirmeni) is required for that smooth flow and taste to boot. 

Note: If you are not making your own Turkish coffee but being served, let the host/waiter know in advance how much sugar you want in it. It can either be served as sade (without sugar), az sekerli (a little sugar), orta (medium sugar) or sekerli (sweet).

Steeped deep in tradition, after drinking the coffee, there’s another waiting for the ones who like fortune reading. This tradition of reading someone’s future from the coffee grounds is called “fal” and very popular in Turkey. They say “Don’t believe fortune telling but don’t be left without it”. 

Did you know? Back in the old times when a woman was asked for marriage, potential husbands were served coffee and allowed to judge whether the woman was a good match for marriage based upon her ability to make coffee. Some prospective brides used to add salt instead of sugar in order to avoid an unwanted marriage. And if they wanted to end the marriage talks, they used to spill coffee over the guests. Even today, in modern Turkey, some people still keep traditions alive.

If the coffee didn’t jumpstart my senses the next serving sure did. 

Lafayette Wasabi prawns with mango salsa. Aptly described as a ‘riot’ to ones olfactory senses- succulent crunchy farm fresh prawns coated with a wasabi dip and sweet mango salsa. The first reaction is the crunch followed by the tingling hair follicles stimulated by the wasabi dip and the mango salsa playing agony aunt to ones singed tongue. This is a dish that hits the spot- in a matter of literal speaking. 
Something to cool oneself down with an Italian salad had its calling in the Burrata mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes and gazpacho vinaigrette

Ideal to share just the way the ‘Italians like it’ (sic), it’s reminiscent of the way cheese is to be consumed. Rich creamy gelatinous textures, engulf ones palate and scraps back a rolling jawline to consume it in entirety, it’s a sin to relinquish this dish in haste. The juicy tomatoes and crunchy bruschetta accompaniment all pans out perfectly much like a synchronised orchestra with tones of ‘Whiplash’ in between. Bang for the buck- (no pun intended.)

Nearly consumed yet craving for more I decided to skip dessert with more focus on the Warm Goat Cheese parcels with roasted beetroot salad, rocket leaves and raspberry vinaigrette. Yes I can see all you folk rolling your eyes in wonder at a first- (no dessert?), just goes to show how M.P.D skewed the food made me. It made me switch loyalties. Sigh!!! I go shoot myself now. 

Anyhow before I do, imagine an old Chinese uncle taking you to a decrepit attic on your 18th birthday and handing over a silk tightly enclosed parcel with ornate wonders and treasures within (not the creepy kind, think more like The Emperor Tomb from The Mummy franchise) – the sense of entitlement and satisfaction consume you all at once, with the warm goat cheese gushing and urging you to consume each parcel whole (no droplets of cheese will be wasted) with the roasted beetroot and raspberry vinaigrette laying a smooth tarmac of sweetness to accompany the fermented cheese atop ones tongue. 
It’s no wonder with creations like these, that this establishment has its ‘faithful‘ heading back to their doors for more, time and again. I look forward to my next dessert for Round 2. 

Images shot on Iphone6 

Eat your Greens!

This is part of a series of articles written for Goa Times (Times of India) on people and happenings in and around Goa. 
This article focuses on the importance of veggies in ones diet, their significant benefits as well as how restaurants in and around Goa, are taking global culinary cues to ensure the salad is the main focus and no longer a side dish. 
An interesting trend and filled with loads of goodness and benefits. 
Click on the image to enlarge it and read. 

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.

Fish’in @ a spring with Spaghetti

Admit it. You have one of two queries followed by a quizzical look on your face right about now.  One;you weren’t expecting the combination or two you think I’ve lost the plot and/or am completely bonkers.

Truth be told you wouldn’t be off considering this place is nestled serenely in a corner of Goa which only the discerning and adventurous find, yet once you get there it has a magical aura of arresting time and numbing your senses. Quietly playing guardian to the famous Uddear springs in Verna- Soul Souffle is the concept and creation of my biking buddy Reynold who is always on the move, when not on his bike-is busy traveling not to mention racking his grey cells over new concepts from regions unknown. We meet on occasion albeit he wanted to invite me over for ‘a preparation’ that he assured would pique my curiosity.

Pan seared Fish with Parmesan Cream & Aglio Oglio is the brainchild of Priyanka Sardesai who has a penchant for anything Italian (men included!). This bubbly affable chef, having worked in kitchens far and wide including Indigo Deli in Mumbai describes her preparations as playful and full of bold colors; an ode to simple and rustic European cooking which has its signature inscribed across with authority. I always love enthusiastic co-creators. What’s the saying- too many cooks spoil the broth? It’s not easy but the love for food surpasses all differences and flaring tempers that run amok in the kitchen resulting in poetry in motion being created on the plate.

As you all would know spaghetti is the plural form of the Italian word ‘spaghetto’, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning “thin string” or “twine” and this dishes first impressions were that of a neatly arranged fisherman’s tools of trade with the catch of the day being an Indian ravas crusted with paprika, rosemary and parmesan and was served alongside some tingling chianti butter sauce that added that perfect blend of a crunchy yet moist preparation. It sounded so nice I had it twice. (Literally speaking!) What surprised me the most (pleasantly of course) was the side of spaghetti aglio oglio which immediately teleported me to Mama Isabella’s kitchen in Napoli on my hiking trip many moons ago. A matriarch of a family of 9, she was queen of her kitchen and introduced me to some fresh home food especially her favorite spaghetti aglio e olio – a dish made by lightly sautéing minced or pressed garlic in olive oil,seasoned with dried red chili flakes with finely chopped parsley for garnish. I requested for some grated pecorino cheese much to her dismay (as traditional as she is adding cheese was blasphemy!!!). A gentle twinkle in my eyes had her pass it on to have me liberally apply it all across my spaghetti before she could clinch the grater away from me. This dish would definitely have met all her standards and Mama Isabella would affirm with a mere nod.

Mind you this dish is high on the calorie count and I given the sunny day I decided to be foot loose and fancy free to compliment my meal with a Bahama mama which appeased the afternoon heat quite effectively, though be wary of its potency to knock you the hell out just like a Bahama mama can. What is a Bahama mama you ask? A girl or woman from the Bahamas normally with a big rear. The music played all afternoon and was live and acoustic (a perfect blend to a fabulous relaxed noon) and the menu on offer is part of the ‘Fresh Sessions’ that happen every Sunday from 12 noon onwards.

Till I meet a mama down in sunny Bahama; Cheers to one and all.

Gone fishing!!!!!


Pic courtesy: Soul Souffle

Lights Out- Negroni style. 

This is a story about a cat. His name?-Gatto. Much like Puss in boots this cat is quite the adventurer. He likes to occasionally scoot across rooms being chased by his own shadow. His biggest mystery is trying to capture the red dot on the floor (laser tag) that is non existent except on demand. His biggest trick is chasing his own tail and nibbling on your toes unsuspecting. And let’s not forget to mention his famous south paw. He’s mastered the art wherein you would never see it coming!

I’be never really been a cat person till i adopted a Persian called Cupcake June  and since then let’s just say I was CAT NAPPED post.  I’m an addict to their existence these days.

Gatto in Italian literally means cat. I love the simplicity of identity association. While I was of the opinion that he took quite a fondness to me realisation dawned later on that the smell of my female cat was driving his hormones into overdrive. Let me rephrase -Overdrive would be an understatement.

So me and my dear friend Maria who always loves the pamper me with I-ta-lian hospitality every time I meet her offered me a negroni. 

The negroni -is a cocktail made of one part gin, one part vermouth rosso (red-semi sweet) and one part Campari garnished with orange peel for that after kick citric zing. It is considered an aperitif. Legend has it being invented in Florence Italy -1919 at Cafe Casoni now Caffe Cavalli. Named after Count Camillo Negroni tasked his bartender to strengthen his favourite cocktail, the Americano by adding gin instead of normal sofa water used.

Known for my quest to try anything adventurous I decide to partake though it was unfamiliar territory. I’m also of the firm belief that when ordering an ‘exotic drink’ one has to be in a frame of mind. Hence certain drinks are made for certain moments -Like a chilled beer on a hot day or a whiskey over the blues it’s the drink that compliments your mind set. Gatto had no mind to let me enjoy this drink in peace.

What carried forward over the next 30 minutes was a sight indeed. Our dear ‘cat’ stealthy crisscrosses over the table with the rouse of discovery unassuming but of course. And then slowly starts lapping my negroni!!!

Maria and myself are in animate conversation when I am pointed towards this act with Gatto cheekishly looking at me with the – I won you lost after thought. Triumphant he decided to scoot across to his master and relax. What unfurled is for all the see in the sequence of events that followed.

In this case I’m guessing Gatto’s last thought would have been a contemplation of nine livers vs nine lives.

Sweet dreams cat!! Till we drink again. Hic!!

Who me? Noooo… the dog did it!! Honest 

I have no idea what i drank but it was soooo gud

   Bottoms up..

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Pizza & Pie 

It’s pouring in Goa and I mean everything is literally coming down my umbrella included. 

I happened to stand under the shelter of an old Portuguese house in the middle of Panjim city and a friendly voice from above distinguishing me by my infamous umbrella (I have one with Marilyn Monroe on it – sue me I’m Metrosexual) rang out to me to come and dry off at his establishment perched prettily above the shops below- Cafe Mangi. 

Now everyone who knew me before I knew myself knows my love for anything sweet. I could practically carve a meal out of it without second doubt or a hint of remorse towards my bulging waistline. And was I in for a treat. 

Freshly baked off the oven came their famous trials done by their ever jovial chef (considering it was a slow day with not many walk-ins thanks to the horrendous weather) I would consider myself lucky to be caught in the storm that day. 

Apple Pecan Bourbon Caramel Pie -Quite the mouthful eh? What’s harder is having to fight the urge to forge ahead and devour it at sights notice purely at the risk of burning the inners of your mouth cavity. Oh the horror. 

And this carefully placed with a dollop of freshly home made vanilla ice cream with the vanilla pod essence still lingering in the after taste of every bite savoured. 

Apple pecan pie with fresh vanilla ice cream 

While I ate this with glee and delight on my face with a nice cuppa hot chocolate my senses were under threat when I smelt the fresh Alphonso mangoes fast approaching our table. And voila. I was served with nothing but a freshly baked Fruit pizza. It had a fancy Italian name which I can hardly remember (obviously since I was not paying attention- look at it would you in my place manage to curb your enthusiasm to dive right into that sea of cream?) 

This hit all the right spots. Cinnamon crumpled cookie dough base with ounces of cool whip and softened cream cheese with the playful banter of Mangoes, stewed apples and strawberry compote one could obviously have a sinful bite and confess at church the next day. 

Cinnamon cream Fruit Pizza  

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

All in all I hope to be caught in many more storms if this be the outcome (caveat to note only if there’s a restaurant above me or next to me) 

Buon Appetito…..