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A quaint little cafe has come to town.


le bistro du parc


It's very French, complete with chalkboard menus, divine desserts, and a very charming half French-half Punjabi restauranter called Naina.


menu


Four of us from the CAL Blogger's Table, stopped by for dinner one drizzly Saturday night. I wasn't feeling well, but Sid convinced me to go anyway and I'm glad I did.


We started with a Midinette salad - tender pieces of grilled chicken, topped with julienne of green apple and celery, studded with bright pomegranate seeds, and tossed in a very light parsley mayonnaise.


Midinette salad


Pan fried calamaris came next - a warm dish of delicious squid rings with garlic, baby potatoes, cherry tomatoes, black olives, and a red chilly coulis.


Pan fried calamaris


If you like liver, definitely try the Chicken liver parfait served with crispy pieces of baguette, a balsamic reduction, and confit onions. The pate is very delicate, and the sticky balsamic sauce is quite lovely with it.


Chicken liver parfait


The main courses are probably Le Bistro du Parc's weakest link.


There was the average Grilled lamb with vegetables. It came with a mint-mango chutney and potatoes, but none of the flavours were memorable.


Grilled lamb, veggies


We also tried the Chicken and zucchini with olive tapenade - the tapenade was rich and slightly tart, but the zucchini was overcooked and mushy. Plus there was a little too much green on my plate :(


Marinated chicken, roasted zucchini, olive tapenade


The Pan-fried red snapper with ratatouille vegetables and in a bed of lemon foam was probably the most frou-frou dish on the menu. The vegetables were slightly sweet which I loved, and the fish had a gorgeous crispy skin, but the fish itself was a little under seasoned.


Pan fried red snapper, ratatouille vegetables, lemon foam


The big gun on the menu was the Rib of beef for two. After being asked how you would like your meat (we said medium-rare) it's brought to the table like this.


Rib of beef 1


Then it's taken back to the kitchen, cut into pieces, and brought back like this.


Rib of beef 2


The meat itself was too rare for our liking (we were told that "French" medium-rare was our "rare") but it was taken back and cooked a while longer so it didn't feel like we were cavemen gnawing at raw meat.


The hand-cut fries that came with it were excellent, as was the divine morel sauce, with little pieces of the mushroom floating in the golden sauce like succulent black jewels.


And now for the main event - the desserts.


Between the four of us, we choose 5 desserts to share.


all desserts


The Lemon tart with meringue, Raspberry Charlotte, and Plum and almond tart were excellent. Each one made with care, pronounced, unapologetic flavours, and excellent presentation.


But let me tell you about the two desserts that will most certainly make me return to Le Bistro du Parc.


This most beautiful chocolate mousse - made with Valrhona dark chocolate, and served with pomegranate seeds and a strawberry coulis. When you put that first decadent spoonful in your mouth, you understand why people often liken chocolate to sex.


chocolate mousse, strawberry coulis and pomegranate


The other stunning dessert I can't stop thinking about was the Pistachio Paris Brest - a choux pastry bun filled with a luscious lime-green pistachio cream. The dessert gets its name from Paris–Brest–Paris - a 1200km bicycle race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris and is therefore shaped to match the circular circuit.


pistachio Paris Brest


Even Nachiketa, our reigning dessert queen was suitably impressed.


nachiketa


Le Bistro du Parc is a lovely place to perhaps go on your first date. It's relaxed, the food is reasonably good, and the desserts will most certainly make that magical first kiss happen.


Here's what the others there had to say:


Sid from Chef at Large
Nachiketa from Crazy over Desserts
Sushmita from My Unfinished Life


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This is how I felt at Varq, in The Taj Mahal Hotel, Delhi.


posh pants


Oh wait - that doesn't look like me, does it?


Aah here I am :) Can you say faaancy?


Posh storm


The table was set most tastefully. I love the red accents with the gold. Don't you?


Table setting


The cameras were out in full force! :)


cameras


This pretty little amuse-bouche set the ball rolling.


Amuse bouche


I started with this most gorgeous plate of Varqui crab - layers of lightly spiced crabmeat between crisp filo sheets, topped with a plump tandoori shrimp.


Varqui crab


Next up was Haleem aur Kebab - a heavenly trio of smooth haleem, melt-in-the-mouth galouti, and a kebab in a glass.


meat


You can't do posh without lobster now can you?


This dish of Lobster Rassa was a broth with prawns, scallops, and crisp squid. The presentation was so simple, yet beautiful.


soup


We tried some signature cocktails and mocktails with Indian flavours - I particularly liked the mint and pineapple. (I didn't drink ALL those btw :P)


Drinks


A very magical, smokey palate cleanser of lime and ginger came around shortly.


Palate cleanser


For my main course I chose Sea Bass on spiced potato dauphinoise and I'm so glad I did. The fish was fresh and flaky, the potatoes were done just right, and the gravy - sigh. My favourite coconut and mango flavours danced about in my mouth in perfect harmony, and it really was a creamy, spicy bowl of joy.


Sea bass


Even though we were stuffed beyond belief by now, I tried the Martabaan ka meat with baby naan. This was one dish where there was no fuss about the presentation, and it was probabaly my favourite of the night. The meat was incredibly tender and flavourful, and the crisp naan was a perfect accompaniment.


Martabaan ka meat


It came with these Aloo and Palak wadi side dishes.


Sides


The dessert was another trio: khaas malpua, apple kheer, and jalebi. The unusual apple kheer was delicately sweet, and the gravity-defying jalebi was sticky and very crisp.


dessert


Nachiketa, back from her fancy stint at Le Cordon Bleu in London, was in attendance and she's promised us some pastry secrets. So exciting!


Here she is with Sid. Now tell me she's not looking like Nigella Lawson!


Sid and Nigella


It was such a happy night. Everyone on the CAL Blogger's Table was there because it was also Ruchira's bye-bye dinner. She's leaving us in Delhi, but she won't leave our hearts. She brought us presents which we're all going to blog about soon and wrote us lovely letters. Ruchira - we will miss you so much but I know you're going to have the most fabulous time!


Group at Varq


The next time you're looking for some poshness, stop by Varq, at The Taj Mahal Hotel for some yummies.


This is what the others there had to say:


Sid from Chef at Large
Nachiketa from Crazy over Desserts
Parul from The Shirazine
Deeba from Passionate about Baking
Sangeeta from Healthfood Desi Videshi
Ruchira from The Great Cookaroo
Sushmita from My Unfinished Life
Rekha from My Tasty Curry
Mukta from Bake-a-Mania
Himanshu from The White Ramekins


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Last Saturday, Delhi was under water. I’m not kidding – cars were floating, little boys on the street had taken off all their clothes and were dancing in pools of water as high as them, and I was in a car, wondering if I might die.


Okay that was a tad dramatic, but seriously it was a crazy amount of rain. Apparently the most we've had in 4 years!


I was on my way to a Fratelli event at Set'Z in DLF Emporio to celebrate their award winning wines over a CAL Blogger's Table lunch. I didn't turn back and head home for two reasons - I love these wines. And this was a chance to spend a relaxed afternoon with some of my favourite people!


The menu had such apt writing on it. Take a look the circled text below. Hehe :P


Raining wine


We started with some lovely cheese and caramelised walnuts. Yummm.


Cheese plate


Then we said hello to these two lovely white wines: a tart, summer-in-your-mouth Chardonnay and a fruity-flowery Chenin Blanc.


White wines


With these wines we had some delicious sushi, dim sum, and herb roasted chicken among other things.


Sushi


Next came the full-bodied red wines. I love how pretty the bottles are :)


Wine pouring


Red wines have a way of creeping up on you - particularly if you're tasting 4 types in 2 hours.


It all started rather innocently - with one glass of hearty Cabernet Shiraz and Simon, a Fratelli sommelier, (in the centre) telling us about the different types of wines. That's my friend Varun on the right. I adore him.


Simon the sommelier


I learnt how to swirl my glass to release the flavours.


Glasses swirling


There was some great food to accompany the reds - like this melt-in-the-mouth Bara gosht kali mirch.


Tender mutton


And these yummy thin crust pizzas.


Pizzas


Oh and some perfectly fat-kissed pork belly skewers.


Pork belly


Soon there were three more types of reds before me - the rather smooth Sangiovese, the lighter Merlot, and perhaps my favourite of the afternoon - Sette.


Three


A fusion of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese varieties, a Sette needs to be decanted before it can be enjoyed and Jaswinder (our CAL wine man) did that like a boss.


Jaswinder the wine guy


Here's the decanted Sette being poured into my glass :)


Decanted wine


By this time we were smiling (or should I say giggling :P) rather loudly. Look at pretty Mukta - I love her smile! :)


Mukta


At one point there were four glasses in front of me.


Four


And very quickly after that, I lost count!


Ummm five


I'm sorry I can't say more intelligent things about the wine. What I can say is that they were all immensely drinkable and enjoyable. I loved some more than the others, but I'm sure you'll find your own Fratelli favourites.


We rounded things up with dessert and then spent some time exploring the mall before heading home in the receding rain.


Desserts


Here's another look at some of the lovely Fratelli wines. Which one is your favourite? :)


Fratelli wines


*GIVEAWAY WINNER*


The winner of Timescity shopping voucher is Bhakti! Congratulations sweetie! :) Thanks everyone for their entries!


Have a good weekend folks!


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“The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.”
George Miller


I can tell you that man knew what he was talking about.


Last Saturday the CAL Blogger's table met up for some Italian food at Pomodoro, in Hilton, Janakpuri. We were expecting some good food - we just weren't expecting so much of it.


The courses came to us in a never-ending chain, one after another, until we had to loosen our pants.


It all started rather innocently with this lovely bread, accompanied by a tomato dip and some Parmesan-y pesto.


Bread


While the rest of us were waiting for Ruchira, we gobbled up the bread, which was magically replenished every few minutes, just before the last piece vanished. It was lovely with this fresh, summery Riesling we drank through the afternoon.


White wine


The food officially started with Bruschetta - two types. First, this almost sweet, tomato and Parmesan one. So cute it was.


Bruschetta 1


And this equally adorable artichoke and olive one.


Bruschetta 2


After OD'ing on bread, it was time for some seafood: Insalata di gamberi e calamari con burro fuso or Warm squid and prawn cooked in brown butter. I loved the "fishiness" of this dish that came from the crushed anchovies. Also, that prawn deserves a moment of our respect. Such plump awesomeness.


Seafood


Rekha's fav dish - Minestrone di legume con pasta arrived next. I enjoyed the crispy garlic bread that accompanied it even more than the soup. Everything is made better with some Parmesan grated over - don't you agree?


Minestrone


Pizza Pomodoro followed - a colourful riot of veggies over a thin, cheesy crust. We could spy onions, peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini among others.


Pizza


You need to see what Ruchira did to her pizza - Atkins would be so proud.


Ruchira's pizza


My favourite dish of the afternoon came next - Rigatoni alla pastora or Slow braised lamb ragout with pecorino cheese and red wine. A non-fussy dish of chunky (not minced) bits of lamb in a rich sauce coating each piece of rigatoni - this dish made me think of cozy winter dinners at home.


Pasta


The carbs were no match for Ruchira this time either.


Ruchira's pasta


There were several choices for the main course - we all ordered different things so we could taste almost everything.


I got the Trancio di salmon or Pan seared Salmon which was probably the most beautifully presented dish of the afternoon. The skin was crisp and the flesh beneath - flaky and tender. It came with Parmesan mash, a Parmesan crisp, and a creamy caper-parsley sauce.


Salmon


Sid got the Costolette di agnello or Grilled lamb chops. The meat was was pink inside, slightly rarer than we usually have it, but still melt-in-the-mouth tender.


Lamb


Ruchira tried the Verdure alla griglia e polenta or Grilled vegetables on creamy polenta. Veggies have never looked better.


Polenta and veggies


We rounded things off with Tiramisu, which we had great hope for, but unfortunately it was much too creamy and lacked that distinctive strong coffee flavour we all love in the dessert.


Tiramisu


It was a fun afternoon punctuated with many laughs, as our times together always are.


I leave you with some smiling faces and a mustache.


Smiley faces 1


And some more.


Smiley faces 2


All in all, Pomodoro at Hilton, Janakpuri is a great choice for Italian food if you're in the area. There are several options for both vegetarians and meat-eaters, and enough fresh, crusty, wonderful bread to drive you into carb-induced coma for days.


The other happy folk at the table were:


Sid from Chef at Large
Mukta from Bake-a-Mania
Aishwarya from Aishwarya Eats
Rekha from My Tasty Curry
Ruchira from The Great Cookaroo


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If you know me at all, you know I’m not a fan of vegetarian food. However good Mr Vegetarian pretends to be, he could never match up to Mr Meat. Just never. Mr Meat and I are long time lovers.


Then, one evening, the CAL Blogger's Table met at The Piano Man Art Cafe, in Vasant Vihar, and I was made to eat my words.


A small cafe with a global menu, this is the place to be in if you're looking for some great vegetarian food, good music, and desserts that will make you weep with sheer joy.


The cafe


A cellist was playing some haunting tunes - including Nearer my God to thee, which always reminds me of death, but he changed it up soon enough.


Cellist


This stunning piano sat by one side of the cafe, and we got to hear Arjun Gupta belt out some fabulous jazz that night.


Piano


Now for the main event - the food.


I started with a Chocolate hazelnut shake which was served in small bottle-type jar. Very chocolatey with a whisper of hazelnut, the rich drink went down slowly and rather pleasurably. Some others at the table tried the Paan smoothie, which was bursting with paan flavour and fresh green in colour.


Chocolate hazelnut shake


The best soup I've had in a long time followed next. It was a sunshine yellow Pumpkin and peanut butter soup. Both flavours were prominent, yet their marriage in my mouth was a thing of dreams. Please, please try this soup as soon as you can.


Pumpkin and peanut butter soup


A very crisp salad of Apple and fennel came next.


Apple fennel salad


That was probably the first and last "healthy" thing we ate that night.


We shared this generous Mezze platter. Loved the Hummus.


Mezze platter


These adorable Vegan sliders were so good. The patty was walnut and brown rice - who would have guessed? But why are they so cute? I want to hug them.


Vegan slider


We also tried Potato Dauphinoise (super rich and creamy), Wild mushroom risotto (cooked perfectly but not "mushroomy" enough for me), and some divine Maple-glazed corn cakes (unusual sticky texture, laden with fragrant lemongrass).


I really enjoyed the Ratatouille - full of aubergine, peppers, and zucchini.


Ratatouille


While we were digesting our crazy good meal and making room for dessert, a magician entertained us with some card tricks. Here he is doing some cool shufflin'.


Magician


Here's happy Sid having a go.


Sid


For dessert it was Tiramisu (not overly sweet - which was much appreciated and enjoyed) and this decadent, can-die-for, poetry-inducing, worth-an-arm-and-leg, gorgeous Sea salt caramel chocolate tart.


Salted caramel tart


Just look at that stunning fleck of sea salt, glistening like a diamond. I can almost taste it on my tongue.


Darling Ruchira also made a Crack pie to celebrate 2 birthdays (Sushmita's and mine) earlier that week. This was so good - head off here for the recipe.


Crack pie


Here's all the happy people. (Thanks Mukta for the picture :))


CAL bloggers


Parul from The Shirazine
Sangeeta from Health food Desi Videshi
Ruchira from The Great Cookaroo
Sushmita from My Unfinished Life
Aishwarya from Aishwarya Eats
Mukta from Bake-a-mania
Rekha from My Tasty Curry
Rituparna from Chocolates & Dreams
Sid from Chef at Large
Himanshu from The White Ramekins


A fabulous night, spent in the company of some wonderful friends, really great food, and lovely music. Head over to The Piano Man Art Cafe soon, and if you leave without trying the Pumpkin and peanut butter soup and the Sea salt caramel chocolate tart, you'll have me to reckon with. Grrrrrr.


Have a happy week ahead lovelies :*


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Chefs, in general, are quite wonderful.


They could be moody and temperamental, or lovable and cuddly, or bald and handsome.


Whatever their personality, it's always a treat to spend time in their company.


Last week, Saffola Masala Oats organised an event at Blue Frog, Mehrauli to meet the Michelin Star chef, Vikas Khanna.


Vikas Khanna 1


Since I'm far from what you would call a fan of the Masterchef India tv show, I went with not-too-high expectations.


I was SO pleasantly surprised!


Vikas Khanna (as anyone who has interacted with him will know) is a veritable treat. He has that rare and supremely attractive quality of being able to laugh at oneself. He's obviously very talented, but he's incredibly humble. He lives in New York, but is endearingly Punjabi at heart. And he is crazy funny! We all were in splits throughout the event.


Vikas Khanna 3


He made a surprisingly tasty baked tinda dish (I know!) and spoke about the healthy + tasty dishes you can rustle up with oats.


Vikas Khanna 2


I decided I'd give it a shot too.


And these mini cuties are the result of that.


Oat bites 2


What I don't like about oats is their general gloopy quality. Made this way, the baking dries them out a little bit, while retaining all the goodness.


I used Saffola Classic Masala Oats, which is one of the 6 flavours available. You could be far more adventurous with your toppings - although this fresh, lemony tomato-onion mix is kinda perfect :)


Oat bites 3


Mini oat bites


Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes: 5


Ingredients:


1 packet Saffola Masala oats
oil, for greasing
1 tomato, chopped
1 onion, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste


Saffola Masala oats


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Pour the oats into a bowl and cover with about half a cup of boiling water (the mixture shouldn't be too runny). Stir well, cover, and set aside.
2. Grease a cupcake tray with oil. Mix the tomato, onion, lemon juice, and salt together in a bowl.
3. Add about one heaped tablespoon of oat mixture into each of the grooves in the tray (I got about 5). Pat down gently with the back of the spoon and bake for 15 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the sides of each oat patty and gently remove from the tray. Top with the tomato-onion mixture and serve.


Oat bites 4



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What’s better than a chilled mojito on a hot summer day?


Mojito 1


Maybe two?


Mojito 2


Perhaps three? ;)


Mojito 3


The very popular Hard Rock Cafe, in Delhi, is currently running a mojito festival called Mojito Mania.


All the mojitos are made with Bacardi and are available in many, many fresh, fruity flavours like Watermelon, Mango, Grape, Green apple, Strawberry, and Kiwi to name a few.


The drinks have a generous portion of muddled lime and mint in them. Such summery flavour boosters!


I particularly loved the watermelon one - it had chunks of the juicy fruit in it and wasn't too sweet.


Strawberry was another popular one at our table, although I found it a little too sweet.


The mango one was super - yellow in colour and very refreshing with the occasional bite of slightly-sweet, slightly-tart mango.


Mojito 4


The ones to steer clear of in my opinion are: kiwi, grape, and bell pepper. None of them had any discernible flavour.


On only for a few more days, stop by the Hard Rock Cafe, Delhi for perfect summer pick-me-up drink!


Mojito 5


Read what the others there had to say:


Sid from Chef at Large
Parul from The Shirazine


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Recently, the CAL Blogger’s table had the opportunity to visit The International Institute of Culinary Arts in Hauz Khas.


We were invited to sample a 5-course French meal prepared by the 1st year students of the institute.


The institute was started in 2005 by Mr V.S Dutta with a vision "to become India's finest culinary institute delivering international standards of culinary education and training chefs for tomorrow."


Before the lunch we were given a tour.


We saw some fantastic sugar work action (we even learnt a trick or two).


Sugarwork


And also checked out the kitchen where our lunch was being prepped and prepared.


Salads being plated


We were then seated at an elegant, tastefully set table with refreshing bright-yellow lemon drinks. I must add that there was some very romantic French instrumental music in the background that did its part in mentally transporting us.


Table setting


The first course was the very classic Salad Nicoise. This is a salad I've eaten in several places across the city and I have to say this is the best rendition of it I have tasted. Not only did it include all the right elements (right down to potatoes, capers, and anchovy paste), but it was also plated in a simple way that made it look just beautiful. I could go on about the mix of textures and flavours in this dish (the meatiness of the tuna, the creaminess of the egg, the sharpness of the olives, the fishy-ness of the anchovies, the crunchiness of the beans) but it will suffice to say I absolutely loved it. (I still have dreams about that wonderful anchovy paste.)


Salad Nicoise


The second course was Soupe a l'Oignon or French onion soup. The soup was mild and not onion-y enough in my opinion. Traditionally it is made with beef stock which lends it a stronger base flavour, but here it was made with chicken stock which is obviously weaker. The Gruyere-covered baguette could have done with a little more bubbling cheese.


Soupe a l'Oignon


There was an assortment of freshly baked bread and herbed butter at the table, which we were constantly nibbling at. Can someone please tell me how, just how, breadsticks are so awesome?


Bread and butter


The third course was Sole Meuniere. The fish was cooked to perfection - moist and covered with a very light lemon-butter sauce. It came seated on a bed of delicious sauteed spinach, accompanied by a posh lady lemon wedge who looked like she was carrying an olive hand-bag! No, seriously! Look :)


Sole Meuniere


The fourth course was Poulet Saute Chasseur or Hunter style chicken. Crispy skinned chicken, covered in a rich brown sauce, served with a steamed vegetables and some divinely buttery baby chateau potatoes.


Poulet Saute Chasseur


The fifth and final course was my favourite. Yes, yes, it was the dessert course - a stunning Mango Romanoff. A chilled cream and sweet mango marriage, topped with a crisp sugar-work web. Inside there was also a thick mango puree (not too sweet) which added even more flavour. We all devoured this dessert like it was the end of the world. And believe me, I'd do it again.


Mango Romanoff


Post this wonderful, wonderful lunch it was time to meet the very talented students and the teacher-chefs while we snacked on some petit fours with tea.


Petit fours


If you're someone who's been thinking about taking a cooking course or want to study the art, this seems like a wonderful place to do it. The teachers are inspired and fun, and the stuff you learn is bound to be delicious!


I'm tempted to do it myself!


Here's the very happy bunch of us. Thank you to all the students and staff at IICA for making it a truly memorable French afternoon.


The whole group


Read what the others there had to say:


Sid from Chef at Large
Himanshu from The White Ramekins
Mukta from Bake-a-mania
Tanya from Communicating and Cooking
Aishwarya from Aishwarya Eats


*GIVEAWAY WINNERS*


The following lucky folks have each won a 150/- INR FoodPanda voucher.


1. priyankazneverland
2. Philip
3. who am i??? (@myscribblings)
4. kumartarang
5. Nungshi Singha
6. Manasvi


Send me an email at charis1984@gmail.com and I will send you the voucher codes. Congratulations :)


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Meeting David Rocco

One of the best parts about food blogging is the opportunity to meet brilliant, talented chefs who have so much to share.


I have a thing for chefs. And I have Pinterest board to prove it.


But I have an even bigger thing for chefs with no hair or not much hair. Yes, I'm weird.


So I don't need to tell you what happened when I met this man.


David Rocco 1


David Rocco, for those of you who live under a rock, is a fabulous Italian chef. He's done several tv shows, but my favourite is called David Rocco's Dolce Vita. In it, he roams the Italian countryside with his friends, family, and miscellaneous cute animals, cooking up honest, fresh, home-style Italian food.


David is currently in India shooting a brand new tv show that'll be on air later this year. ITC hotels have been hosting him and I had the fantastic opportunity to meet him twice!


The first meeting where I was all goo-goo eyed happened at ITC Rajputana in Jaipur.


With David Rocco


You can read about it here.


The second meeting (where I was still goo-goo eyed) happened just last week at ITC Maurya in Delhi.


A group of Delhi food bloggers had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy an intimate sit-down lunch with David Rocco at Westview in ITC Maurya.


We ate some delicious Italian food (all David's own recipes) paired with Fratelli wines.


Here's a look at the yummies.


First course was Rigatoni con Pomodori e Melanzane (Neapolitan style pasta with eggplant and Mozzarella sauce) paired with Fratelli Sauvignon Blanc.


Neapolitan style pasta


The pasta was an example of how just a few simple ingredients can result in a delicious, wholesome dish. The sauce was the right mix of cheese and tomato, with small bits of fried eggplant.


Second course was Saltimbocca di Pollo (Chicken with prosciutto and sage, cooked in Marsala), beet risotto, and baby carrots with cilantro, paired with Fratelli Sangiovese.


Chicken with prosciutto and sage


The pretty pink beetroot risotto was perfectly done - the right amount of bite and full of flavour. David was a little skeptical about whether we'd find it underdone to our taste, but we assured him we loved it.


To end, we had Torta Caprese (flourless chocolate cake) and Zabaglione con Frutti di Bosco (mixed fruits with espresso zabaglione). I enjoyed the dense cake and the bits of almond that I happily discovered in every bite. The zabaglione however, was a bit too egg-y for my taste, though I loved the coffee flavour.


Zabaglione


Through the meal, David shared his experiences with us in his signature candid, lovable style.


We chatted about olive oil in India and Italy. He told us how some working professionals in Italy, take a week off work and go olive picking. They then get paid for their labour in top-notch olive oil which they use for the rest of the year. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have something like that here? I love the idea.


David Rocco 2


He also spoke about the importance of making the best of the ingredients you have. David himself often shops at the "back of the store" where you get ingredients that have been on the shelf for a few days, and are past their prime. For things like tomatoes that have to go into a sauce or eggplant that can be fried, you can use produce that is not in the front of the store (and the most expensive). It's such a great way to discourage waste and learn how to cook delicious food with whatever is at hand. I just love the fact that a world-famous chef, who can have his pick of the best ingredients, still chooses to do this.


David Rocco 3


These days there is much talk about making your own pasta - so I asked David what he thought about it. I learnt from him, that making fresh pasta isn't something that is always preferred. It works for some dishes, but for some, dry pasta is certainly preferable. If store-bought pasta is good enough for David Rocco, it's good enough for me baby!


I can't wait for his show to be aired in India - it's going to be awesome.


A big thank you to ITC for this wonderful opportunity.


And thank you David, for being so warm and wonderful.


DSC_0757


We need more chefs like you- chefs who are passionate about their food, and want to share that knowledge.


Oh one last thing. David Rocco gives the best hugs ever. Just look :)


David and me


Here's a collage Sangeeta made for me. (I love her btw) You can see how smitten I am :P


David and me collage


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I had heard about the wonderful extravaganza that is the Kingdom of Dreams.


I'd seen a few pictures and read some articles, but nothing in the world could prepare me for the experience I had.


Let me take you on a journey.


The entrance itself was glittering and golden.


Entrance


There were huge elephant sculptures, men in colourful clothes, and festive music.


Music men


For the adventure junkies, there is a reverse bungee jump you can try. I was feeling like a chicken that day, so I decided to just enter the main building instead.


Reverse bungee jump


The Kingdom of dreams is a celebration of all things larger than life.


Everywhere you lay your eyes, there is something impossibly beautiful looking back at you.


Like this serene Sleeping Buddha, that reminded me so much of the one in Thailand.


Sleeping Buddha


Or this wall of reflecting mirrors that catch the light in the most delicate, dreamy way.


Wall of mirrors


Take a look at this bejeweled entrance.


Bejeweled entrance


You can see the thought in every little detail.


Details


The Culture Gully was my favourite section. It is, very simply, where the food is at.


You'll find a restaurant representing almost every state in India, and it's impossible to not find something you'll love to eat here.


Decorated to showcase the culture of the region, each restaurant also has a shop where you can buy trinkets and curios that you'd traditionally find in those places.


Here's Bengal. It made me homesick.


West bengal


Here's the stunning Chennai. (This also made me homesick. I'm all mixed up okay, so it's possible.)


Chennai


Bombay had a local train motif going, which I loved.


Mumbai local


The interiors were even more stunning.


This was inside the Kerala restaurant. Aren't the colours magnificent? (Homesick yet again. Sigh)


Kerala


A wall of cups and saucers in the Assam section. Perfection!


Assam


There are also some fun activities to indulge in like face reading, palm reading, and foot massages!


We checked out this very cool Bollywood Lounge bar with huge movie posters, and lots of red carpet to walk around on.


Film lounge


The whole Culture Gully area is covered with a false sky - so any time of the day or night, it's always a cheerful blue at Kingdom of Dreams.


False sky


Here's a look from above.


View from above


Once we had looked around, we went to the beautiful Rajasthan restaurant.


Rajasthan


This very charming Maharaj ji regaled us with his stories, and made us feel as though we were eating in a family home.


Maharaj ji


The food, although vegetarian, was outstanding.


This Raj Kachori was the best I've ever had. It was stuffed till it burst, and had a delicious sweetness from pomegranate seeds, crunch from the bhujia, and a silken creaminess from the yogurt.


Raj kachori


We also tasted the thali which was a mix of some traditional and some unsual Rajasthani offerings. We were given advice on how best to enjoy every dish, what to mix it with, and which items to eat first.


Thali


We were fed with not just the food, but with unbelievable amounts of care. That is what made it so very memorable.


Stuffed till we could eat no more, we headed off to Nautanki Mahal, a venue for Bollywood style musicals and theatre. It was here that we watched Zangoora- The Gypsy prince - the most amazing Bollywood show ever. It had FANTASTIC dancing, beautiful costumes, and amazing sets. There were acrobats and hanging gliders and other magical stunts. The music was only popular Bollywood numbers and we couldn't stop ourselves from singing along. Sushmita and I even got a chance to dance with some of the performers at the end of the show.


Unfortunately photography was prohibited during the show. Otherwise I'd have got at least one picture of the very talented Hussain who plays the main lead. (Ladies - he took his shirt off. And his abs are a sight to behold. Just another reason to go watch the show :P)


Kingdom of Dreams is a celebration of all things Indian. It is magical, colourful, musical, bright, delicious, and very, very happy making.


We had an unbelievably fun day! Here's a picture of some of us still grinning after the show.


Sangeeta, Sushmita, and me


I went home feeling like child - with my hope in all things good, restored.


Doesn't this lion make you believe in magic?


Lion


Head over to Kingdom of Dreams as soon as you can. I promise you'll have the most memorable time.


Here's what the other bloggers had to say:
Sangeeta from Banaras ka Khana
Himanshu from The White Ramekins
Parul from The Shirazine
Sushmita from My Unfinished Life


*Giveaway winner alert*: By a random draw, the winner of my 100th post giveaway is Priyanka Banerjee! Congratulations sweetie! Email me at charis1984@gmail.com with your address please :)


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