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 

The Art of Sushi 


Click on the image to enlarge and read

A Guide to Sushi Etiquette
· You may be offered a hot, wet towel (called an oshibori) at the beginning of your meal. Use it to wash your hands and try to fold it back neatly the way it was offered to you before returning it. 

· Do not rub your chopsticks together. When not in use they should be placed parallel to yourself on the holder (if there is one) or on the shoyu dish. They should also be placed there when finished with your meal. 

· Don’t put wasabi directly in the shoyu dish. Nigiri-zushi (fingers of rice topped with fish or another topping) comes with wasabi placed under the neta (fish) by the itamae, and reflects what he feels is the proper balance of wasabi to fish. Some of us like a little more, and you can always sneak some separately on the fish or with it.

· It is OK to eat nigiri-zushi (sushi) with your hands. Sashimi is only to be eaten with your chopsticks. Pick up the nigiri-zushi and dip the fish (neta) into your shoyu, not the rice (which will soak up too much shoyu). The rice is like a sponge, and too much shoyu will overpower the taste of the food and could also lead to the rice falling into your shoyu dish and making soup, which is not a good thing. 

· Do not pick up a piece of food from another person’s plate with the end of the chopsticks you put in your mouth. When moving food like this use the end you hold, which is considered the polite way. 

Never pass food to another person using chopsticks as this is too close symbolically to the passing of a deceased relative’s bones at a traditional Japanese funeral. Pass a plate instead allowing an individual to take food themselves. Also, never stick your chopsticks in your rice and leave them sticking up. This resembles incense sticks and again brings to mind the symbolism of the Japanese funeral and prayers to one’s ancestors.

· Eat nigiri style sushi in one bite, a traditional itamae in Japanese sushi-ya will make the pieces the proper size for this.

· Gari (ginger) is considered a palate cleanser and eaten between bites or different types of sushi. It is not meant to be eaten in the same bite as a piece of sushi. 

· Technically one doesn’t drink sake with sushi (or rice in general) only with sashimi or before or after the meal. It is felt that since they are both rice based, they do not complement each other and therefore should not be consumed together. Green tea is a great option with sushi or sashimi

· Sake is available both chilled and hot, depending the quality and style. Experiment to learn what you like, but generally, higher quality sake is served cold. 

· Belching is considered impolite at the Japanese table, unlike some other Asian cultures. 

· “Kanpai!” (“empty your cup”) is the traditional Japanese toast you may hear. Do not say “chin chin” as to the Japanese, this is a reference to a certain male body part best left out of proper conversation. 

 

 Did you know? 

 • Sushi did not originate in Japan! – Although the Japanese get full credit for what we call sushi today, the inspiration for sushi is thought to have started in Southeast Asia. Nare-zushi, fermented fish wrapped in sour rice, originated somewhere around the Mekong River before spreading into China and ultimately Japan.The concept of modern-day sushi was invented in Japan by Hanaya Yohei sometime around the end of the Edo period.

Sushi began as cheap fast food. Sushi caught on originally as a cheap, quick snack to eat with the hands while enjoying a theater performance.

Sushi is supposed to be eaten with the hands. True to its origins, the correct way to eat sushi is with your fingers. Chopsticks are typically only used to eat sashimi — raw slices of fish.

Nigiri is to be eaten upside down – Sushi connoisseurs recommend that nigiri, a slice of fish squeezed atop a strip of rice, is best enjoyed by turning it upside down and placing the fish side on your tongue. Nigiri is typically eaten with the fingers rather than chopsticks so that you can keep it together and rotate it easily 

Puffer fish is the most dangerous sashimi contain lethal amounts of poison in glands and organs. If a chef inadvertently scrapes one with a knife while preparing sashimi, he could potential kill his own customer. To be certified to work with fugu sashimi, chefs in Japan must undergo a rigorous training and certification process — then eat their own finished product! And yes, there have been deaths during the final exams.

This is part of a series of articles written for Goa Times (Times of India) on people,food and happenings in and around Goa. 

This article encaupsulates The Art of Sushi – a cuisine that is gaining rapid popularity in and around the country and excerpts from some of the culinary stalwarts of the art. 

Ready.Set.Jump 

“Welcome to the jungle,” said the spider to the fly. You enter at ease, with dense scenic foliage around. Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary- a wildlife-protected sanctuary has an eclectic range of flora and fauna species nestled deep in the heart of South Goa. Painted billboards along the way, a guide to the forest dwellers inhabiting the jungle– king cobra, kraits, Russell vipers and the common rat snake and the elusive leopard and many species of spider and scorpion. Deep within the jungle is a hidden treasured extreme activity- Canyoning. An exhilarating technique-oriented sport, its activities range from walking, abseiling, wading and swimming through waist deep and open waters, scrambling, climbing, jumping and sliding down natural slopes. Imagine, Indiana Jones wet dream.

 Three guides, with a cumulative 25 years of experience, direct each expedition. Being a moderately risk defined activity- Safety is paramount. Medical kits are on standby– water, helmets and harnesses with a wet suit provided. Instructions are delivered post the signing, of a surreal consent form. It’s more dissuasive than persuasive. One has to be moderately fit, not afraid of snakes or spiders, and have no fear of water or heights.

 The jeep meanders an uphill road, a few grunts and shrieks later; arrives at the destination. You tread the off beaten path no more than a few feet wide with loose gravel and strewn spider webs on the earth’s floor for company. It’s humid and the smell of wet earth engulfs the air. There are ascents, which run 75o inclines that get you huffing & puffing. Itchy cacti stand guard to the river like militia. It gives you the sense of a quest for lost treasure – a secret to be discovered. One is allowed multiple breaks and the guides – Clement, Vlad and Philip – are an enthusiastic laugh riot. Their jabber makes the trek bearable. The sound of cascading water can be heard beyond the dense foliage ahead. The course charts 3kms in total, yet having barely crossed a kilometer, the lactic acids in ones legs start to build up.

 Standing at the cliff’s edge, one realizes there’s no turning back. Once underway, the way out is seeing it through the end. The Sauri River majestically makes its way over rocks and boulders with numerous waterfall drops in the distance. 

At a point in a deep cove, resides Brian- a water snake. Luck in their favor, the guides catch the elusive irate reptile and can make a formal introduction on request. The canyon puts one to the test, and chances to conquer it are high, though with a few minor nicks and scratches and a multitude of tumbles in tow expected. The ending for this beginner course is far more theatrical, to say the least. The last rappel against gushing water from up above, one is informed of the rope holding self is a few meters short. The only way left, is to let go!! Fear not, the water below embraces the fall tenderly much to the impish grins of the guides above. A sense of accomplishment beckons on departure amidst tired bones and muscle aches – which would have one ready to repeat this again. Or maybe it would be the adrenaline talking; longing to see Brian, once again.

 A great place to stay at is La Mangrove. A blink-and-miss eco resort in Katebag, it offers a modern tipi concept opposite a serene mangrove. An idyllic, tipi accommodation and river lounge garden in South-Goa, only 5 minutes by cycle from the beautiful protected Galgibag Beach, also known as Turtle Beach. It’s located in an authentic and charming Goan Catholic village, 25 minutes from the famous Palolem beach. The river lounge is a ‘bubble of fresh air,’ a place to escape from the hustle & bustle of life. 

A panoramic view of what expects you at La Mangrove 

The view transcends your senses to an alternate realm of peace and calm with only the occasional egret and Brahmin kite for company. Being an eco resort that’s one with nature, the tipis come with open-to-sky bathrooms and thatched walls right behind each with a common meeting and dining area right next to the mangrove. The reception is good with free wi-fi and a delectable organic menu to choose from.

 Perfect for an early morning awakening, with a hot cup of tea to watch the sun rise from behind the riverbed far ahead.

La Mangrove has an exclusive sitting area facing the river and mangrove. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are prepared daily with organic foods by their chef from a set menu. Serving a range of Indian, Tibetian & Continental -a must try is their La Mangrove Momos, Pasta a la carbonara, Tentuk soup. 

The deep fried chocolate momo’s with vanilla ice cream is a must try. 

The breakfast is part of the package with a choice of continental and a healthy option. The food prepared is fresh and wholesome. 

A scrumptious continental spread to start the day at La Mangrove 

Another option is 10 minutes away on Turtle Beach at Santosh Bar & Restaurant. Known for his fresh fish and recommended by Jamie Oliver you should ask for the catch of the day. 

Fresh catch of the day. Basic. Scrumptious. 

An unforgettable sunset amidst the crashing waves

Word of Advice: 

  • Avoid Canyoning if you suffer from arachnophobia
  • Canyoning is best done between October and March
  • If you suffer from any serious medical conditions it is best to avoid this activity as it is very strenuous on ones body.
  • There are a variety of levels to accomplish depending on fitness levels.

Tour Operator: It is recommended you book your stay through the website http://www.lamangrovegoa.com for the best deals. Thibault can be contacted on +91 8408086365 or lamangrovegoa@gmail.com

For the canyoning experience it is best booked with Emanuel Ferre the owner of Goa Jungle Adventure. He can be contacted on +919850485641 or manu@goajungle.com


 This article was written for Lonely Planet Magazine as part of their Easy trips. No part of this publication  can be reproduced without prior consent/ approval of LPMI. 

Chocolate momos, Fresh catch, breakfast, panoramic views, hammock Pic courtesy by Nolan Mascarenhas Photography. Shot on Iphone6. Images for main article shot by Sameer Mangtani.

Tea, The Bard & Me 

Hello from Abu Dhabi. What am I doing here? Well of course I’ve come for a spot of tea to Shakespeare & Company- a Victorian era themed restaurant offering a diverse menu of reputed international fare with a elegant French patisserie for most of their short acts. 
The minute one steps into the gateway doors, is transported to a scene right off Downtown Abbey- sans the eloquent language in tow. As part of my #AbuDhabi #Foodtrail, this quaint little bistro is first off my list. From the overpowering interiors of Victorian frills and decor, to the friendly staff this has everything on spectacle- as an offering. 

The Dessert Bar 

The dessert bar, stretches far and wide with sumptuous fare, that tingles my tastebuds, leading me to the cardinal mistake of what we all suffer from- ones eyes being larger than ones stomach! I did eventually fall prey to the same and zestfully ordered more than I could chew, for lack of a better word. After all, I recollected the words of the famous bard in the background as I gorged on my first offering. 

Our bodies are our gardens,

Our will are our gardeners. 

-William Shakespeare

Will? Hah. Act One, as I lovingly called it was a Will, that fell as fast as the cookie crumbled.

 I decided to put my ‘smart consumption‘ skills to the test and try the Caramansi- a white sponge cake, coated with a creamy caramel chocolate and rice crisps sealed with oozing calamansi cream and lemon zest peel with noga for company in a sort of airtight containment formed this decadent dessert. 

Act One- The Caramansi 

Don’t let the photography fool you. This calorie monster, was no bigger than a bangle- in the palm of my hand. And I had the feeling of being well satiated with the serving as ‘apt sizing‘. However the buildup to the tea was the ultimate goal, so I truged along like a trooper. 

Act Two- Cheesecake

And then there was Cheesecake. You must be wandering how this dessert made its way in the middle of my choicest selections? Well, I’m a creature of habit and a cheesecake is a must have in any French patisserie. The quintessential raspberry jam with baked Cheese cream and a digestive biscuit base. They were taunting me with the word ‘digestive’ which was anything but, with all the calories flying around midair like scribbled crumpled pages to a rooms corner as did the famous bard. I could feel his snickering presence haunt me as to the faux pas I was in the process of committing. 

Act Three- Hazelnut Success 

This was NOT intentional. The server did not understand the gravity of the situation, when she mistakenly mentioned the following words;’ Almond Macaronade biscuit laden with hazelnut cream coated with caramelised Hazelnut chocolate coating’ , that sent all my senses into a tizzy much like a pinball machine on power surge with me almost demanding for one in a toned matter of speaking, ‘give me that and no one gets hurt‘. 

Think I scared her out of her wits as I didn’t see her for the remainder of the evening. As I said. Unintentional is the keyword I’m falling on. This is turning out to be a tea time snack of EPIC proportions. (No pun intended) 

Act Four- The Rising Flower & Caramel Eclaire

What I really did come to savor was the Rising Flower. The art and balance of carefully selecting a flower bud and allowing it to blossom inside a transparent tea kettle, watching it bloom entirely over 8 minutes (to the ‘T’)  was truly magical. The process of transforming hues with the tea light candle for company, was mesmerising and before one knew it the flower,had blossomed  with whifty tones of camomile & infused jasmine for that ethereal calming effect. Two sips and I decided to square it off with their signature Caramel Eclaire – fate a choux with caramel creame. It’s hard to describe the senses that rushed through my brain at first bite. The choux pastry was a perfect melted moment with the caramel creame for company oozing out at every bite. 

I sat there, with a satiated look on my face for the better half of the hour post consumption. However, this foodtrail has gotten off to a great start with the bard whispering in my ear, as I depart- “All’s well that ends well” 

Cocktails & Dreams 

In the midst of reading this article there will be no words of wisdom from Doug Coughlin or the impish smile of Brian Flanagan (apologies for the spoiler alert). 

The art of the cocktails has evolved from playing safe with the regulars for the faithfuls to the ever evolving palate of the discerning international traveler- with mixologists taking global cues with local infused mixes to create fusion blends and classics alike. 

With the temperature rising, here are a few coolers to play sport in and around Goa.  

Mulled Wine Sangria 

concept created by the Goan produced Armada Liqueur, the mulled wine sangria is a flavorsum blend of a medium bodied red wine and fanta laced with Armada liqueur and finely chopped apples and oranges with mint leaves. 

Oscar De Sequeira Nazareth, proprietor of Armada states- “Liqueurs are a very popular ingredient in cocktail making – from Jagerbombs to really complex layered cocktails, their colour and flavours lend themselves to all sorts of combinations! I chose to highlight the Mulled Wine Sangria for a couple of reasons: Firstly because Sangrias are a very popular summer drink in Portugal and Spain, where the recipe for Armada originated. Secondly because it allows the subtle spice notes of Armada to really shine through. Thirdly to showcase our liqueur’s versatility: Creating a cool version of a mulled wine is no easy task – to then turn it into a Sangria is the work of a skilled mixologist case in point Nupur Joshi for bringing this concoction to life!


French 75 

cocktail made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar developed over the 1920s. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. Brought back to life by Sunder Aaron & team of Pizza Mia quips “ We wanted something authentic and unique giving a twist to our cocktail selection with the wide variety of Pizza’s on offer. It’s a cooling and refreshing drink, consumed either night or day.”

The Peanut Buttercup 

The best way to savor this cocktail would be atop the cliff with the setting sun for company. Souvik Mishra the mastermind bartender behind this creation at Antares, infused a generous amount of Peanut butter laced with baileys and vanilla caramel based on vodka. He states, “ This is one of our most sought after cocktail, favored by one and all as it blends the tastes of a dessert with every sip. A must try for every gorgeous sunset we witness daily.”  


Poptail 

Imagine a sparkling bubbly Prosecco from Italy with a choice of Ice candy lollipop- Blue Lagoon & Hawaian Chilli. 

This is the brainchild of Chef Xavs Norr from Route 66 in Panjim.

 An experimentalist at heart, he decided to pair a sinful fruity bubbly with the jolt tones of candy flavor in every sip. He explains “ I like to bring an element of fun and passion in every creation. This brings together the two sides to the coin- a grown up adult with their Proseco, a regal drink, and the kid inside us all with the lollipop submerged within. The reaction on their faces is priceless each time I present this drink to them. Many are stumped as to how to consume it. The answer would be, any way you please.


Cazulo Peru Meru 

drink born out of circumstance, the Cazulo Peru Meru found its origins from the Bloody Maria- which was riff of the regular Bloody Mary replacing vodka with coconut feni, thus staying true to the basics, but adding a Goan spin on the drink. However one December, Goa was faced with an unexpected shortage of Tomato juice.

 Not being deterred Hansel Vaz, owner Cazulo Feni- innovated and decided to use a juice that isn’t normally used in a cocktail, thus experimenting with Guava- thus the Peru Meru was born. “Our secret ingredient… there is always one.. was creating a rim of chilly powder and salt. Not only is it an interesting blend of flavours, but each sip of the cocktail and the salt chilly rim, invariably takes you back to your childhood school days were Guava smeared with chillypowder and salt was the most sinful thing we ever did before coming home.”


 Amour de Paris 

drink celebrating Paris in Goa through the Good France Week to promote French cuisine across the world. True to its gastronomic tastes of all things wine and cognac this cocktail is cognac based with triple sec and layered with lemon juice for that after taste zing. The strength of the cognac with subtle flavors of triple sec appeals universally top both stronger and lighter taste palates. Saurabh Khanna, General Manager of The Park Calangute states- “Amour de Paris as the name suggests means ‘Love from Paris’. This is our own libation made of French liquors by our barman Srimanta Dey. An easy to consume drink it is available with us all year round.”

Karp Wheels

A twist to the classic bourbon- the Karp Wheels is a symbolic balance of the yin and yang between sweet & tangy much like the effervescent colors inspired by Koi fish. It also looks much like the wheels of a ferris doing kart wheels’ quips Shefali Gandhi of Koi Goa. While it may look subtle and delicate with vibrant hues it’s got a heady mix of Angoustra bitters infused with sugar cubes garnished with lime & lemon wheels with maraschino cherries for company. A dash of grenadine, ginger ale and club soda over a layer of burbon seals the deal for this summer refreshment.  Aziz Lalani further adds ‘ We decided to play around with good ol’ burbon as its a common favourite and not commonly used  as a summer thirst quencher given its heavy hues. However this balances out perfectly and is quite a hot seller at Koi. No pun intended.’ 

This is part of Spotlight- a series showcasing unique gastronomic trends in and around the culinary food world. 

mr. NObody and The Goan 

Hello one and all. Currently living out of my suitcase, managed to have a lovely chat with the folks at The Goan recently. 

A lovely tete-e-tete with Kurt Bento about the world of mr. NObody and his views on the world of gastronomy. 

The full interview with mr. NObody. 
  

What prompted you to do this culinary journey to different cities and countries over the past months? And where do you go? 

mr. NObody is a lifestyle blogger,showcasing travel and food from India and the world. This year the focus is on quest for the Michelin trail and South East Asia as a region. So far he has travelled to Dubai for the ‘Eat the World Food  Festival’ followed by a Michelin starred restaurant by Vineet Bhatia and Bangkok for another two starred chef. A few institutional restaurants were on the list which included Bread Street by Gordon Ramsey, Zuma in Abu Dhabi and Long table in Bangkok. 

You’re mr. NObody,aren’t you? Why the avatar? 

I grew up in a world where everyone places a value on self importance. Everyone today is a somebody or wishes to be one. With a pun on the word NO- Nolan and heavily inspired by the lyrics of Marilyn manson and his song ‘The Nobodies‘ growing up, the character was born. It’s my satirical take on the importance of man. 

You’ve been to some interesting and new innovative places in Mumbai/Delhi, tell us about them. 

Interesting would be an understatement. Some insanely creative, to knock ones senses silly. For example, Ziya in Mumbai – for a special preview of the Jugalbandi festival comprising of three Michelin starred chefs coming to blend Italian, India and Far East Asian (Japanese predominately) for a 8 course meal of gastronomic delights, with a touch of class or panache eating on a limited edition gold plated crockery from Italy. A true master piece of opulence and flavorsume creativity; indeed. 

The crowd in Mumbai/Delhi respond to new places, new innovations in food etc. Goa doesn’t have that big a market base, so do you think we’ll ever see that kind of innovation here?

Mumbai and Delhi are the yin & yang sisters of the culinary food world. The buzz is eclectic, vibrant and cut throat thus raising the standards of the consumers culinary palate. Restauranteurs bring their ‘A’game, day in and out in order to survive, let alone thrive. The consumers are globally aware- hence being up to date and abreast of the latest happenings is a must. A concept is only good for an few years, at most,as most customers fatigue of the same as soon as they have adopted the same.  A few restaurants however have stood the test of time and retained their legacy till date. For upcoming entrepreneurs it’s an exciting time to get into the culinary field indeed. A challenge ,so to speak with a huge payoff if done right. Goa;  I am pleased to note is opening up to the same given the same customer base who flock to the location as a relaxing party destination. Speciality restaurants are sprouting up and I have been witness to an iota of the innovations at standalone and starred properties alike. So, I am quite pleased. 

With the advent of social media and the Internet, identifying a Michelin recipe demonstration and trying ones hand at it, has become accessible. Many creative chefs here have showcased their wares which I have highlighted in a dedicated article on my blog. 

Your experience at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant in Dubai was interesting. Tell us about that. 



For starters, no food was thrown out the kitchen, neither did it have anyone leave for the main door crying. Then again its probably cause he was at the Oscars during my visit there.

 On a serious note, I have had a brief meeting with him earlier and he is a gem of a person. I was amazed for a multitude of reasons. First, the simplicity in a world of complexity and too much happening on ones plate. His ethos is simple. Wholesome food to be shared is the motto. The portions are huge. There is no fancy plating-just presentable. 

The kitchen is a dream and its line mechanism is splendid to the view of an orchestra pyramid setting. After all dishing out service that ensures ones order reaches the table in under 7 minutes for a 400 odd seater restaurant- is symphony at play. 

The little nuances- details from subliminal design to belt buckles of the server being the Union Jack flag, adds the finness to a well oiled machine and keen eye. 5 dishes consumed including dessert and my meal ended before it started- In 30 minutes flat. Quite an interesting case study. 

Tell us about Michelin and its latest craze that has gripped many foodies around.  

It’s interesting you ask that question. What I love about Michelin is the origination of the concept. How a tyre company got into the world of food and being reverred as one of the most sought after institutions to be associated with. In my limited tryst with a few chefs associated with it, it’s the level of commitment and creativity in the subjectivity of cuisine and marrying a few to create ‘nuvo cuisine’ that drives them. 

It’s exhilarating to see the passion exuded in the quest for something that is terrifying as well as visually stimulating as some foods do not play well with others. A dish could go completely awry and that’s the risk they take day in and out, to get the perfect concoction. A work of edible art in a matter of speaking. Also another philosophy I truly appreciate is the concept of less is more. Given today’s need to try and sample as much as one can digest in one sitting, emphasis of less is more in a portion- is something they are masters off. 

This adds to a lot of creativity as well as a whole rounded meal as a by product, leaving the customer to experience a holistic dining experience while at it. 

 What is the common thread with modern restaurants today. How do they change things up?

Restauranting today is evolving into an art form for many. Visual appeal is the call for hour in an age of Instagram and social media. ‘Eat with ones eyes‘ is the moniker many restraunteer folk are banking on. And everyone, (self included) is on a Michelin sojourn- to experiment, pair and follow the latest trends of mixing and pairing cuisines from across the world. It’s a format that is adopted which is acceptable to many. Small and precise with immense visual appeal to intice the wow factor in consumers. 

Having said that its great to see the level of creativity used to make dining an ‘experience‘ instead of just dishing out voluminous plates of curries and gravies with side garnishes as an after thought measure. The trend indeed,is, in a momentous change for the better. 

South East Asian food is always light and healthy. Can we learn from the Thais and Malaysians when it comes to creating healthier and lighter food? 

I believe it’s universal. Leaving aside an ethnicity of sorts, many cultures have hidden treasures which are globally adopted. Take for example Greek and Mediterranean food. It’s light. Filled with wholesome goodness from the oils to salads made. 

In my opinion, a big error in the past,in the Indian context was the trifecta of oil, sugar & salt and loads of spice plastered across dishes to make it platable for the end consumer. This would be wrong on so many levels as the flavour emitted from certain meats and vegetables would get lost in the preparation. That trend is nearly extinct due to change in pattern of the evolved customer who are adapting to a lighter, less portioned served healthier lifestyle of dishes. The calorie conscious customer is defining the trend these days. 

What’s your go to cuisine, apart from Goan food? And if you had a chance to cook just one dish for your culinary idol, what would it be? Are you a good cook, btw? 

mr. NObody is a culture vulture. In a current frame of mind, I am fresh off Thai herbs and spices and am tripping on pad Thai noodles- relished at an ashram in Thailand. However right before that I was in love with the simplistic spice rub on a lovely kebab in Abu Dhabi. Thyme and herbs salt rubbed on succulent meats grilled to perfection. 

However, I love to experiment with salads and greens as a daily detox diet when I’m not working my tastebuds to the ground. Cooking for my culinary idol is tough one. First and foremost living in a household of food writers and hospitality professionals my writing is under scrutiny let alone my cooking skills. 

For those who know me, my love for barbecues is paramount. So it would probably be something on the spit with a refreshing mock tail/cocktail for company. Perhaps a good oriental seasoning rub over a local fish. 

A good cook? One and all are invited over and let me know your thoughts post. 

I want to EAT the WORLD & I want it NOW!!!!

I’m on a trip.  No, I am not under the influence of psychotropic substances or reaffirming my existence as a shaman in an alternate universe. However i believe at times I am almost there, when listening to one of my all time favourite artist- James Douglas Morrison. A poetic, retrospective frame of mind. And right about now, I want to Eat the world indeed! What better place to start at- Eat the World DXB

I must admit, I’ve been trolling (OK, stalking more like it – Milo & Hectors Ice cream ever since 2015.) The fat kid in me loves ice cream ever so much,gawked and drooled  at the ‘Ice cream sandwich’ like Kris Kringle to cookies and milk on a Christmas chimney shake shake. 

So on a prayer and an over booked flight, i make my way to the first of a series of #foodtrails this year and the first stop is Dubai. While most of you have been to this tourist destination, there’s not much to mention that you already are unaware off. So diving into the concept of Eat the World DXB– it reminds me of a gypsy caravan tent site. Mind you, the majority of folk there in participation were British, albeit the food anything but, the oh so famous -Fish & Chips. Each one setup across the sprawled lawns, right next to the majestic Burj Khalifa that played gracious and colorful  host with its amazing light and sound display, across the tower as well as the periodic dancing fountains in front of it. The weather was peppy and crisp with a nip in the air, that would allow you to curl up in a blanket and settle into the sounds of funk and some great covers from the band in the background. A camp site indeed (sans the bonfire and gypsies dancing around it in rejoicement and celebration.

  The Burj Khalifa. Need I say more? Didn’t stand a chance to get a glimpse of Shilpa Shetty though. Food with a view indeed. 

I have always pride myself in understanding the finer nuances and cheat codes of deciphering an all you can eat buffet, by trying to beat the system. Albeit, just like the discreet charm of a casino, the house always does get the better of me and win. With over 45 camper trucks participating with eclectic food ranging from Crab burgers and sushi to Mexican burritos, pizzas and gelatos this poised itself as a mini episode of Man vs Food with a selective calorie choice of sorts for moi. 

Always up for a challenge, I meticulously surveyed the carts and the first hour went by the admiration of these food trucks. Reminded me of the Jon Faverau movie Chef. Cuteness overload with sayings and innovative artwork & design- it called out to my creative senses. A kids area with inflated islands made me wish I was young again- just to bounce with no care in the world. 

  

This dynamic duo kept the feet tapping all night with a heady mix of contemporary jazz to covers. 

There were a few live seminars and cooking demonstrations that had a captivated audience, understanding the art of baking the perfect cake, to mixology sessions for ones next house party.  As much as I would have liked to sit through it all, I had a mission. A mission to ensure I ate my heart out (figuratively speaking). 

  
Live cooking sessions underway. I love the Brits and their sense of humor. 

Here is a spotlight of the event through my IPhone. A snippet of each dish would be self explanatory, in order not to send you into a inception like comatose state. I’m nice that way. NOT!! 

  

Gelato’s drive me wild. On a stick, they take me to the brink of insanity. Especially freshly made and a wide variety of choice- Walnuts, pistachio, coconut, Vanilla bean, Belgian chocolate & Strawberry to name a few. 

  The Crunchy Crab burger is the stuff dreams are made off. Beer batter fried chunks of crab in a wholesome bun with loads of coleslaw and secret sauce. Hits the spot. 

  The folks from Made of Dough, stole my mind and thought for innovative design. An old Land Rover Discovery converted into a stone slab wood fired pizza oven was innovative and compact and looked so good. Quite practical indeed. The pizzas were nice. 

  Onion rings with crab sauce and fiery chillies was your gastronomic orgasm for the fast food fiend in me. Gulliver would be proud given the size of em rings. 

  Ever tried Haloumi? A delicious Cypriot semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, (sometimes cows too). Slightly coarse in texture and deep fried with pomegranate seeds and melted fondue, this was definitely an acquired taste. 

  One can never really go wrong with French fries, especially when you are listening to La bamba being belted out live in front of you. Lest to forget the crab dressing accompaniment. Sweet sour and tangy. 

  Braco’s sliders-These are undescribable. I shall do a great injustice even trying to explain the same. Let me stick to the ingredients and let your mind run wild in all different directions. Here’s goes.  

 Grass fed rib eye beef with chimichurri & British cheddar cheese torched with a flame gun (shown above) and served buttery. A calorific sin of magnanimous proportions. 

  Churros Churros Churros. Fresh off the boiling vat. Whoop. Little sticks of chocolate doughnuty heaven indeed. 

  This organic cooler was a thirst quencher. Fruity with a tequila base and some Thai cucumber- it was indeed (almost) organic. Aint tequila in some cultures considered organic too? 

  Italiano in UAE. Love the enthusiasm of this bunch and they were so much fun not to forget mentioning some of the best Buffala I had on my trip there. 

  

‘The dream’ fulfilled. Milo & Hector’s caramel ice cream with sprinkles sandwiched in double chocolate gooey cookies. Heaven in every bite. Screw the calories. It was so worth it. 

Stay tuned as I tunnel my way back to the real world. 

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. 
  

Art on a Plate 

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 encaupsulates Art on a Plate in the age of food being presented as a work of art- a feast for the eyes. 

Click on the image to enlarge it and read. 
  

Publication:Goa Times 

Written by: Nolan Mascarenhas 

Planet Hollywood Hotel- it’s here!

Let’s dig deep and ask ourselves- are we star crazy? I’m not referring to the constellations or stars in the skies rather all the Stars in ‘Woods’ ranging from Holly,Bolly,Tolly and perhaps someplace in the world-Molly. 

Let’s play the Instant two second reaction game? Ok! Here goes.What happens to you when you see a known celebrity pass by? Do you salivate, perhaps scrimmage through your Gucci handbag for that IPhone (selfie time to guffaw with friends over drinks later) and go ditzy and weak in the knees all at once? I have the odd family member time and again and it’s hilarious, mind you. If so, this is one place you don’t want to miss on your destination radar. 

Welcome to Planet Hollywood. A place that could possibly have you mingling and hobnobbing (non chalantely) with A and B listers on the next breakfast table or casually lapping it at the pool. It’s a destination hideaway where the stars come to unwind and this iconic international brand is the ONLY one of its kind (currently) making its presence felt in our backyard right here in Goa. Only two Planet Hollywood Hotels in the world (the first being in Las Vegas) and the first one in Asia. This is a huge deal indeed. I’m excited!!!

I drive up the very German block design inspired driveway and make my way to the reception. Right then and there I stand with a jaw drop expression. No I did not see Pamela Anderson walk past me, though that is on my bucket list this lifetime, rather was arrested by the ‘Wall of Fame‘ with its ginormous screen at the bar in the lobby- The Heart Bar. 

 The devil lies in the details of the minimal decor and color tone setup with white and purple being the predominant winners for the overall theme. My check-in was smooth and time flew by, as my eyes traversed the length and breadth of that wall. Stars in all their glory from current to yesteryears- with the ocassional odd movie playing on the screen for visual appeal. 

Tired from my journey, post the meetings and greetings from the effervescent staff, I am ushered to my room. It’s uncanny how I am given a room with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson adorning my masthead above in his Hercules avatar- a movie I happened to watch just the other night. Karma perhaps?

 The room is spacious and well balanced in decor and light. It’s got mood lighting for all you lovely couples and a beautiful relaxed balcony with a hint view of the beach in the distance. The bed has a cloud like embrace and allows you to sink in whilst it moulds itself to the contours of your body. There is an added touch with a leg massager given for those aching feet and is a much needed delight to sore heels. 

The bathroom is well proportioned with his and her sinks and a wet rain shower cabinet with a similar resemblance of ‘Boogie Nights’ and shimmering floors. Rather large enough to hear myself think, like ‘The Thinker’ on the commode. 

Tastefully Opulent   
A hot shower post, I am ready for breakfast. While this is a #staycation mention, the one item making it to this review has got to be the delicately moulded Eggs Benedict at the hands of Chef Sundar. I would do it a great injustice if this had to be explained especially the gastronomic senses that sent my tones into a frenzied rapture- a mere suggestion for you egg lovers? Do yourself a favor and head on over to Planet Dailies and order this marvel.
Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce  

The eager beaver in me scouted the grounds to find out much an interesting thing. There is a playground for kids and an archery zone to practice your aim. The beach is close by with its pristine sands. The swimming pool is magnificent and vast with a pool bar menu thrown to you by the peppy staff as a frisbee. Fun indeed!! 

For those more adventerous there is a Zorb in the pool as well as a paddle boat to exercise those muscles. The gym has an overview of all the heavenly bodies entering the pool in swim trunks and bikinis. This could, without doubt be a venue for the Pirelli calendar of 2017. I did spot a couple of celebrities but this is a haven for them to unwind; so Mum’s the word!!! Head on over and carry your camera.

The spaces are expansive and one can make out the grandiosity of the venue through the definition of its negative space. Neat and crisp lines with memorabilia around to remind you of the theme at hand. 

Grandeur defined in negative spaces 

Each section of the resort is well defined; from their Pink Room Spa to their multiple dining venues. There is Planet Dailies– their signature all day dining restaurant, Fame– the hot spot resto lounge, Heart Bar– the eclectically designed high energy bar, Cigar lounge– A perfect place to relax over champagne, martinis and that perfect stogie in old world charm (I felt the ghost of Winston Churchill while I sat there- it’s that Brit!!) 

Being spoilt for choice I have decided to head on over soon just to cover the Food Junket of these amazing establishments. More on that shortly. 

Feeling Nostalgic @ Cigar lounge   

If you know me, I have a bucket list of sorts. One of them would have recently been ticked off this year, all thanks to the magical pool under a starry lit sky. The lights twinkle beneath you and the cool blue water is a perfect romantic setting for you and your loved ones. I happened to do hand stands and cartwheels however- blame it on the kid in me. But imagine a late night swim (the pool is open till 9pm) with your beloved and relax in the perched jacuzzi ahead and whisper sweet nothings to your special someone. A truly magical experience. 

Before I sign out here’s mr. NObody for a fleeting second feeling like a Somebody!!  Till I head on over again Planet Hollywood – you have been a STAR! 
Stars above and below 

 

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography. All images shot on Iphone6