Friday, September 21, 2007

Soul food at Quilon, the Queen's neighbour

To me, London is always a fascinating place. And the only place I never tire of going back to. It is also the place where one never gets homesick. One of the things that keep homesickness at bay is the lovely Quilon restaurant, a stone’s throw from the Queen’s residence, the Buckingham Palace. A Taj property, Quilon is elegant and unostentatious. But it is the food that scores. It specialises in Indian coastal food, but with a Continental twist where presentation is concerned. The mini dosa comes on a narrow place with a conical little dosa in the middle flanked by chutney and curry; the seafood combo appetiser is delicately flavoured and brings back memories of cool, coastal evenings; and the humble kesari bhath is transformed by its elegant setting. Fish and chicken combos, with parathas or appams, mildly flavoured lemon and tamarind rice – all constitute the main course. An enduring favourite is the mango curry, eaten with plain rice.

Quilon is not pretentious about its recipes and will gladly give printouts to anybody who’s interested. Chef Sriram Aylur (pic below), a Taj veteran, has done a fantastic job and the results are there for all to see. Quilon is packed most days and patrons include many Bond protagonists, tennis star Roger Federer, British celebrities, visiting Indian VIPs and the like.

Chocolate ahoy! World's tallest chocolate fountain

There’s decadence and then there’s mind numbing decadence. And there’s only one place for the latter – Las Vegas. And yet, there’s nothing gross about it. Paradox, did you say ? Well, that’s Las Vegas. Take the magnificently designed and built Hotel Bellagio. Apart from the beautiful umbrella chandelier at the entrance, the glittering mirror-work horse in the lobby, the Oriental-styled garden in the middle and water curtained Sensi restaurant, Bellagio is home to the world’s largest chocolate fountain. That’s right, a chocolate fountain. Forget the teeny-weeny ones you might have seen in candy stores. This one, designed by the Bellagio’s executive pastry chef Jean-Phillippe Maury, is a whopping 27 feet tall and is made up of gooey liquid chocolate ranging in colour from the luscious white to the richest dark and a few shades in between. Sadly, it is all encased in glass, so no chocoholic can have a swipe at it. To stand in front of it and watch the thick liquid making its way from top to bottom is a mesmerising experience and provides the same high as downing the sinful stuff !!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sizzlers galore

Tangerine on 100 ft road, Indiranagar, has always been a favourite place. It is a dedicated sizzler place and lays out a spread that is decidedly the best. I went there recently, and the place only reinforced my bias towards it. The staff is most courteous, but it would be nothing without the lipsmacking food that Tangerine dishes out. Though it serves starters, soups, salads and even north Indian food, the sizzlers are what you should have here.

Mixed seafood grill

Skewered vegetables

What always gives me the kicks are the dips which have unique ingredients like red wine and spiked cocktail. Batter-fried prawns are heavenly and potato skins give potatoes a whole new meaning. As for the sizzlers, they are pure bliss. Check out the skewered vegetables, mixed seafood grill, Cajun chicken and many many more. To round off a great meal (if you can handle it, that is) try the chocolate mousse, which is sinfully rich, smooth and deeply satisfying. Yummy!!

A gastronomic welcome to foodies !

People say they can remember what they wanted to do or become ever since they can remember. I don't know about that, but this much I can say with confidence - I was a foodie ever since I can remember. And tried out new recipes ever since I was given permission to use the kitchen. Oh, and not to forget, my enormous appetite for collecting cook and food books !! It was always a given that friends asked for suggestions on where to eat or for recipes, especially quick fixes. But being a journalist and writer, writing on food was something I did not want to get into, since I did lots of writing anyway. But now, my passion for writing on food is as strong as the food itself. So here I am, sharing notes on places I eat, new cuisines I try, unusual dishes and eateries and even the occasional recipe. I am making no tall claims, have no illusions or pretensions - just a fun thing that I want to share. I hope you enjoy reading what I write as much as I enjoy eating and cooking.