Thursday, 13 March 2014 0 comments

Review: The "Hollywood on Your table" menu at California Pizza Kitchen

Italian food has always been a synonym for good food. Remember the movie Eat, Love and Pray? Wherein Julia Roberts travels to Italy to attain gastronomic nirvana. Think Italian and the first thing that comes to mind is the humble Pizza.

California Pizza Kitchen -a pioneer in Californian-style pizzas- has been serving delicious pizzas from quite a long time. I myself am a lover of their thin-crusts, so when I got the opportunity to try out their new star-studded "Hollywood on Your table" menu especially designed for this award season (available only till 16th March!) at their Phoenix Mills outlet located in Lower Parel, I didn't let the opportunity pass by.

The first thing one's eyes look for in the menu are the drinks and the "Hollywood on Your table" menu doesn't disappoint in that regard. The menu comprise of three cocktails and two mocktails. As usual I sided with the mocktails and tried both the available options, namely, the Pineapple twister and the Mango Mint Ecstasy. The Pineapple twister, naturally, happens to be my choice due to it's tangy taste perfectly married with the refreshing accents of mint. The Mango Mint Ecstasy although a bit too sweet is pretty impressive. I enjoyed it big time with my dessert.

The Mango Mint Ecstasy mocktail

Basically, the pizza section in the new "Hollywood on Your table" menu is a boon for non-vegetarians as it boasts of five pizzas out of which four are meant for meat-eaters. They get to choose from the zingy Hawaiian Chicken & Pineapple pizza, the Caribbean inspired Jamaican Jerk & Chicken pizza, the exotic sounding Deli Style Bistro pizza and the essentially Mexican Spicy Sonora pizza. The ones who tried the non-vegetarian spread swore by the Spicy Sonora pizza.

The Spicy Sonora 

The Jamaican Jerk & Chicken Pizza

Vegetarians have the option of going with the Rustica pizza or the modified Spicy Sonora pizza (I say modified because the Chef informed me that it can be made vegetarian on request by replacing the chicken with paneer). I tried the Rustica pizza and was mindblown; the perfectly thin and crispy crust topped with grilled zucchini, sauteed white mushrooms, green olives and capers was just delicious.

The Rustica Pizza

The half-eaten Rustica pizza (lol!)

Not a Pizza eater but a Pasta lover? Don't worry! The "Hollywood on Your table" menu features two pasta dishes- the Mediterranean Roasted Mushroom Spaghettini and the Spaghetti Carretierra.

Spaghetti Carretierra

The Mediterranean Roasted Mushroom Spaghettini is a vegetarian option, while the Spaghetti Carretierra (which everyone loved at the table) isn't because of the use of chicken stock in it. Nevertheless, the Mediterranean Roasted Mushroom Spaghettini that I had opted for was delicious; the mushrooms were marinated beautifully furthermore, the spaghettini tossed in extra-virgin olive oil and herbs complimented the mushrooms very well. The Parmesan sprinkled generously on the top was a wonderful addition to the dish.

Mediterranean Roasted Mushroom Spaghettini

The Spinach and Paneer Malfati with Milan Sauce and the California Peri Peri Chicken are the two much talked about house specialties on "The Hollywood menu". And I assure you, they are worth the hype! The Spinach and Paneer Malfati with Milan Sauce that I had was brilliant! The gnocchi made up of Spinach and Paneer are the 'melt-in-the mouth' kind, and imagine them in a delectable creamy caramelized onion sauce with bits of fresh Goat cheese! Ah, heaven.

Spinach and Paneer Malfati with Milan Sauce

On the other hand, the California Peri Peri Chicken is an absolute eye-candy. The beautifully grilled boneless chicken in spicy peri peri marinade, baked with a creamy sauce and served with a side of stir-fried exotic vegetables was an instant hit with the non-vegetarians at the table. And why wouldn't it be? I myself was enchanted by it's beauty!

California Peri Peri Chicken

After wiping off the main course from the plate came time to relish the dessert. The "Hollywood on Your table" menu is graced by the presence of just one dessert; the California Delight, a trio of white chocolate, strawberry and dark chocolate mousse with almond praline and cranberries. Honestly, words aren't sufficient when it comes to describing this dessert! Knowing the fact that it was gone within seconds after being served would give you an idea about how scrumptious it was! 

California Delight

One second on, other second gone!

Overall, the "Hollywood on Your table" menu at California Pizza Kitchen has some exceptional dishes. I would certainly return for more of the California Delight! If you want a taste of "The Hollywood menu" better do it ASAP, as the menu is around only till 16th March. So hurry up folks!  
Monday, 10 March 2014 0 comments

Review: Sensational Sliders at Trader Vic's Mai Tai Lounge

When deciding on a place to chill at with friends over some good food and drinks, honestly, there aren't many options available in Mumbai and out of the ones to choose from, the damage they inflict on the pocket is pretty huge (especially, a student's).

Enter Trader Vic's Mai Tai, a chilled out Polynesian themed lounge. A lively casual place perfect for almost anything; be it a brunch with family (yes, this lounge is family friendly!) or hanging out with friends over some fun drinks. The open air seating paired with tropics-inspired tracks being played in the background adds to the already festive ambiance. And the best part? The food is excellent and decently priced!

I discovered this lounge after receiving an invitation to try out their new "Sensational Sliders" which are on the menu till 24th March across all its outlets. I decided to check them out at the one at Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel. Tucked away in a breezy corner, away from the frenzy of the mall area lies this outlet. Honestly, I was kind of nervous when I entered, but the peppy ambiance and the super friendly service instantly put me at ease.

Coming back to the "Sensational Sliders", the menu has been thoughtfully set. And being a vegetarian I quickly scanned through the vegetarian section as soon as I was handed over the menu, mainly because I've noticed that generally restaurants are repetitive when it comes to vegetarian options. But boy! there is something for everyone; the Mushroom Alfredo slider for the cheese lover, the Cottage Cheese & Olive Tapenade slider for the picky paneer eaters, the Beetroot & Brown Rice slider for the crisp-cravers and the Falafel Pita slider for the person wanting something different.

I first went for the Mushroom Alfredo slider. The service was prompt and within sometime appeared a plate of modest looking sliders on the table. It did look plain-jane but just a bite and the melange of flavours erupted in my mouth; the cheesiness of the cheddar, the smooth creaminess of the white sauce and the soft bits of the mushroom aided further by Maui Waui dressing was just terrific!

The Mushroom Alfredo Slider

Next up were the Falafel Pita sliders. Sounds interesting? Well, it is! Little triangles of grilled Pita bread enveloping a chickpeas and spinach patty seasoned with yogurt aioli arrived. A bit on the spicy side, this one surely didn't disappoint with its middle-eastern flavours.

Falafel Pita Slider. Interesting, no?

The Cottage Cheese and Olive Tapenade sliders followed. Honestly, I am not a fan of cottage cheese, I find it too heavy for my liking but I got to admit that the cottage cheese steaks in those sliders were amazing; marinated to perfection and cooked beautifully! The jerk marinade and the olive tapenade were undoubtedly adding to the overall deliciousness of this slider.

Cottage Cheese & Olive Tapenade slider

The last one I savoured were the Beetroot and brown rice sliders. Crispy due to the use of toasted circles of bread instead of buns along with a beetroot and brown rice patty, the beetroot flavour was subtle and well-balanced. It let gherkins and the chilli garlic aioli shine through too. All in all, a delightful slider.

Beetroot & Brown Rice slider

The non-vegetarian section is massive featuring six sliders, namely, Italian herb & Chicken slider, Jalapeno & Olive Chicken slider, Thai Fish Cake slider, Chilli & Lime Fish slider, Black Bean & Prawn slider, and the star slider which every meat-lover at the table raved about: Cubanito slider.

One of the non-vegetarian slider

Shifting focus to the drinks section now, one would be spoilt for choice when it comes to the mocktails and cocktails! The famous Mai Tai cocktail, which the manager informed us, was originally invented by Trader Vic, hence, stay assured that you are getting an authentic stuff! And it was the drink which everyone swore by at the table.

Me being not legal yet to drink, was confused regarding the mocktails and that's where the manager came to my rescue and recommended The Coral Reef, a slushie-like drink composed of strawberry and mango with subtle hints of coconut served in a tiki-inspired glass, and Puerto Principe, a coconut pineapple mocktail which comes in a really fun "Aloha" mug. My choice? Both!

The Coral Reef

Will I visit Trader Vic's Mai Tai Lounge again? Definitely! Go check out and try their "Sensational Sliders" which would be around only till 24th March. I'm sure even you'd return for more.
Sunday, 23 February 2014 0 comments

Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2014

I went there...not once, not even twice, but thrice. Each time with a different set of people but the experience of the exhibition remained almost the same; a sea of people flowing in a direction and carrying everyone along with it as a tide does. The scenario was the same on every visit; people hanging on the exhibition, trying to capture a perfect shot for their next "profile picture". The vibe was less "art festival" than it was of a "fair".

The only thing that made the festival worth it for me was the classical music concert about which I wrote some days back. Maybe the fault lay in the days I chose to visit the exhibition, still, the way most of the public treated the art installations was pathetic!  Nevertheless, I did take pictures of some art installations (and not of all, thanks to the crowds of people swarming around them like bees).

The bottom-line is, although Kala Ghoda Art Festival is worth going to atleast once, please try and chose a day on which you wouldn't encounter the college crowd (like a weekday), so that you are able to evade the maddening crowd and properly appreciate the art installations. 
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 1 comments

The Day she fell in love

Just like every Sunday morning; it was a battle she had to endure to crawl out of the comforts of her bed, the worn-in cotton sheet rubbing softly across her cheek made her drop back on it after a few seconds every time she attempted waking up. A long struggle and a growling tummy finally did the trick, and there she was grabbing her breakfast, or as she put it, her Sunday "brunch" along with the thick stack of Sunday newspaper. She settled down on the giant flower-printed maroon carpet spread in the center of the living room and quickly fished out the copy of "Brunch", the weekly magazine that came with the newspaper every Sunday.

It was the year 2008....
That Sunday's "Brunch" was abnormally thick, hence she decided to check whether it were just more advertisements or there was some real content inside. Instead of the glossy colourful pages, a huge portion of the magazine was plain white with long lengthy paragraphs on it, and that too without any images! Hurriedly she turned over to the page preceding the plain ones. All it took was a glance and she was absorbed; the title, the cover picture, it immediately sucked her in!

And the rest is history....she went on reading, and when done, re-reading every word those plain white pages contained. She felt every emotion, envisioned every scene depicted and befriended every character that Sunday.

That short story compacted in the Sunday magazine somehow changed her life. The short story titled "Hell-Heaven" from "Unaccustomed Earth" was nothing like those classics she'd read before, no! The depth and intensity of every sentence shook her. "Who is this author?" she wondered, and that is how she fell in love; with the author, with Jhumpa Lahiri. And she never stopped.

P.S. Wishing all a belated Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, 16 February 2014 1 comments

The Concert at Kala Ghoda Art Festival

It is Sunday today, exactly seven days ago happened a weekend which I haven't gotten over by now! Let's just break down that weekend into two parts, so that in this post I can talk about the amazing classical music concert that I attended, that musical concert which flagged the start of that lovely weekend.

My first proper classical concert it was, expecting a low turn out for it, I went at a time which I assumed would ensure me a front row seat at the Asiatic Library steps (the venue); approximately half an hour before the scheduled time of 6'o clock and boy! How long the queue was! Composed largely of 20s-something people, the excitement they contained for the gig radiated from their faces.

A long wait and finally the admission to the concert began and by the time I reached inside there were hardly and seats left! People had turned up in such massive numbers! A bit of adjustment on my part and some on the part of the people already seated freed up some space for me and hence, I managed to get a seat for the long yet beautiful musical journey ahead.

A click during the concert

The Khan Brothers i.e., Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan, sons of legendary sarod player Ustad Amjad Ali khan started off the concert with an alluring composition called Raga Rageshwari, followed by a modified version of Rabindra Sangeet. They closed their set by playing a fusion of classical music styles of Northern and Southern India. An already spell-bounded crowd broke out in a standing applause. The request for an encore followed and the Khan Brothers happily played another composition, this time, the one composed by their Grandfather.

A concert definitely worth waiting for, I am glad that I didn't let lack of company affect my decision of attending this gig. And that brings me to a question which has been nagging me ever since people turned down my offer just by hearing the word "classical concert": Why are Indian youth ignorant towards and repulsed by "classical"? If you have a take on this, please feel free to comment below.