Sunday, December 30, 2012



Spread over an area of 50 acres, near Victoria on Vancouver Island, the Butchart Gardens are world famous for keeping it vibrating all throughout the year from the summers to the chilly winters.

A while ago, I visited the Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, one of Canada’s great public gardens. I had heard that the rare blue Himalayan poppy was in bloom, and who can resist that? No less than heaven, the breath-taking views kept me you stunned for some time when I entered. It is hard to put into words just how beautiful the gardens are and the brochure doesn’t exaggerate when it says, ‘ravishing floral splendour greets you at every turn.’ If you happen to visit Vancouver Island I would highly recommend this especially if you appreciate a lazy afternoon strolling the paths, enjoying the scenery, and simply relaxing! The Butchart Gardens has become a year round destination welcoming visitors from all over the world and has been recognized by The Gardens being named as a National Historic Site of Canada on the occasion of its Centennial Year in 2004.


As the story goes, one day Mrs. Butchart looked at the ruins of a depleted limestone quarry left over from her husband’s business, and she saw a garden. It took years to transform the hole in the ground into a place of transcendent beauty as this garden was her love child. She conceived an unprecedented plan for refurbishing the bleak pit. From farmland nearby she requisitioned tons of top soil, had it brought to Tod Inlet by horse and cart, and used it to line the floor of the abandoned quarry. Little by little, under her supervision, the abandoned quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden. Tales of the fabulous gardens spread as fast as the gardens themselves. From the beginning, friends, acquaintances, and even complete strangers were welcomed as they came to marvel at the horticultural masterpiece. Today Butchart Gardens is still in the family and tended to by fifty gardeners who keep it in bloom year round.

Mr. and Mrs. Butchart named their home ‘Benvenuto’, the Italian for ‘welcome’, and they basked in the joy their gardens gave to others. Until numbers made it impossible, tea was served to all who arrived. In 1915 alone, it is reported that tea was served to 18,000 people. As for me I did sample their High Tea at the Blue Poppy Restaurant near the Historical Display set out in the Butchart Residence add colour and interest for visitors…though of course now one has to pay for it. Descendants of the family that created The Butchart Gardens hope to continue the legacy and tradition of ‘Benvenuto’ for years to come.

BEST WAY TO REACH- Fly from Delhi to Vancouver via London with Jet Airways. A great idea is to book in the World Traveler plus…it’s premium economy but maximum comfort in a little extra price.You can carry 2 bags of 23 Kg each even in economy class. You can reach Butchart Gardens from Vancouver and Victoria on several bus tours and also by public transit from Victoria or the Swartz Bay ferry terminal.
TIMINGS: Open year round, at 9am every day except for Christmas, on which day the garden opens at 1pm instead. Park closing times vary depending on the season, ranging from 3:30pm through 10:00pm.
PRICE: Admission rates also vary depending on the season. The adult ticket prices, for example, can range as high as $28.10 during peak summer seasons.




Saturday, December 29, 2012

Eest @The WestIn Gurgaon

Eest creates a new culinary experience of South East Asia by representing its basic life elements…Says Rupali Dean


AMBIENCE: The decor is modern with an Asian influence. The restaurant design integrates the interactive glass show kitchens with multiple and private table booths and an exclusive private dining area, ensuring the venue is a visual feast.

WHAT’S ON OFFER? Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Korean with five private dining rooms, tea bar, a large semi-private main dining room and a private sushi bar are on offer. Having a penchant for soups, I truly enjoyed Chef Chia’s wholesome and utterly delectable seafood dumpling soup. Eest also incorporates very good sea-food under its Oriental Umbrella. No other restaurant does the stir fried prawns to such magical effect. Fragrant, crispy and flavoursome, they are wonderful. If a light meal is what you want, the sushi and sashimi selection is excellent, deftly prepared by the chef. Not much has been left unsaid about Thai food but there seems to be a special touch in the dishes here. The steamed fish is supremely good and underscores the Thai way of using spices, enough but not too much and altogether like an exotic perfume. Another highlight is the traditional set course lunch menu under each section. The fragrant green tea ice cream here is one of the best in town. Contemporary Oriental cuisine shows off the chef’s innovation with excellent service that Westin is well-known for.

Eest @The WestIn Gurgaon, No 1 MG Road, Gurgaon-122002
For Reservations: +91-: 0124 4977777
Meal for two: INR 2,500 without alcohol.
Timings: 12pm – 3 pm and 7pm till midnight


STARTERS: ‘Turnip shortcake with dried onion’, ‘sashimi’, ‘deep fried chicken cube marinated with lemon grass, sweet chili sauce’, ‘spicy fresh prawn salad’
MAIN COURSE: ‘willow leaf fish grilled with sea salt’, ‘roast duck in red curry’, ‘stir fried bean sprout and tofu’, ‘spicy king prawn, minced chicken’, ‘Thai chili lemon fish’.
DESSERT: ‘Green Tea Ice-Cream’, ‘Mango Pudding’, ‘Coconut caramel’

‘My menu respects its traditions but also looks forward to the future’.

published in Discover India

Friday, December 28, 2012


Fine dining without being over the top…there is little about The Table you can fault!

Located just around the corner from the famous Taj Hotel in Colaba, this casual fine diner offers foodies like me a place to savour globally inspired cuisine - community style. Interestingly an old Irani restaurant occupied this space previously and is now transformed by New York based architect, Tarik Currimbhoy. What caught my fancy here were the long Burma teak community table and a floating mezzanine with its musical notes shaped railing, giving it a Bombay style San Francisco inspired wine bar look. To complete the perfect meal, the restaurant’s exclusive wine list of hand-picked international and indigenous wines selected by the celebrated Naveen Kotyankar complements the innovative cuisine and provides an elegant atmosphere for a relaxed evening. His unique idea of serving wine by the half glass allows one to appreciate and try more of the elaborate selection of wines. We raised a toast with the Italian sparkling ‘Prosecco’, before moving on to our whites and reds with the meal.
Chef Alex
Coming to the food, as I mentioned the menu is globally inspired which reflects the collective experiences of Executive Chef Alex Sanchez, Consultant Chef Joey Altman and Executive Chef Viraf Patel, and changes daily depending on availability of the best and freshest produce. It has influences of the San Francisco style of cooking which is translated through sourcing fresh local ingredients and ensuring each dish is distinctively unique in flavour and texture.
The menu consists of small and large plates, out of which my vote goes all out to the ‘Roasted Red Beets, Goat Cheese, Orange, Mint & Pine Nuts’ salad and  ‘Zucchini “Spaghetti”, Almonds & Parmesan or Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage-Brown Butter & Toasted Hazelnut’ in the vegetarian offering and ‘ Boneless Chicken “Wings” with Chilli-Garlic Sauce’ and the ‘ Yellow fin Tuna Tataki with Avocado, Icicle Radish, Sesame Vinaigrette’ in the non-vegetarian part of the menu. Share your plates like we did as all are gratifying. If you are in the mood for a burger try ‘the Table burger’ an you can make it more healthy by choosing a sesame bun just like me.
To end on a sweet note go for the ‘warm Chocolate Tart with Jaggery Vanilla Gelato & Morello Cherry Sauce’ while sipping on one of the dessert wines or a cuppa hot coffee or green tea along! I feel that over the years, this restaurant will blossom into much more than a restaurant, becoming a way of life, a melting pot where life imitates art, and often, the other way around. Warm service by smartly dressed waiters makes their showmanship even more enjoyable.


Ground Floor, Kalapesi Trust Building, Behind Regal Cinema, Apollo Bunder Marg, Mumbai 400039
Tel: +91 2282 5000/01/02
Operating Hours:
Lunch / Sunday brunch: 12pm to 4pm (last orders at 3.30pm)
Champagne High Tea: 4:30pm to 6:30pm
Cocktail Hour (including bar snacks): 6pm to 8pm
Dinner: 7pm to 1am (last orders at midnight)
Meal for two: INR 2,000 without alcohol.

FOOD: 4.5

published in FNL






Thursday, December 27, 2012


roulade. elephant ears, long beans, pistachio, drumstick
The Lowdown – A Modern American dining concept, with menu items inspired  by a myriad of ethnic ingredients and international techniques. The menu changes daily depending on the freshness of the ingredients received as they believe in the Farm to Table concept. Owned and operated by IB Hospitality, it offers the best in class and refines the experiential dining scene. And yes it is the only restaurant in Mumbai that serves Pinot Grigio and Prosecco on tap!
Prosecco on Tap

Ambience- The design seems to be inspired by the collision of rustic simplicity and glamour. Supple leather seating and tiled table tops add a touch of elegance and compliment the statement chandelier. An explosion of vintage paintings in every style and era alongside several large format paintings by the designer himself adorn the walls. Needless to add for people around being here seemed reason enough; soaking in the grandeur of an elegant era while enjoying a selection of viands below reproach.
foie gras. french grade a, pomegranate, peanut butter, jam, challah

Lip-smacking- ‘Chantrelle mushrooms and truffle air’, ‘Home-made ravioli with a pumpkin filling’, ‘Lobster with smoked corn, avocado, roasted spring onion, pimento air and manchego crisp’, ‘Australian Beef Cheeseburgers with house made fries’ and ‘Holland Pork Belly with steamed buns, kimchee, apple butter and jalapeno’.

Don't even go there –If you are looking for gigantic American sized portions. The food is surely something to write home about; however it’s not cheap by any standards…so if you have the money and don’t mind small portions, go for it! The tables are tightly packed and it is tough to get out once you are seated.

'Man’ Speak – While this restaurant represents the epitome of sophisticated Modern American-concept dining, it has warmth about it that is almost close to home.

How to get there – B-1, Amarchand Mansion, 16 Madame Cama Road, Colaba, Mumbai -400039. It is opposite National Gallery of Modern Art, Behind Ravissant in Colaba. Closest station would be Church gate.

Tel- +91-022-6621 3333  

Timings- Dinner- Tuesday to Sunday 7pm to 1-30 Am, Cocktail Hour -6pm to 8pm, Lunch –Tuesday to Sunday 12-30pm to 3-30 pm.

Cost – A meal for two would be approx. 2,500 without alcohol.

Published in The Man





Monday, December 24, 2012


Featuring simple food, which can be coupled with tasty marinades, sauces and butters, barbecues make the perfect choice for relaxed informal entertaining! The best part is that they are easy, appetizing, oodles of fun and almost everyone is involved in the cooking…a great way to bond with family and friends!
Of American origin, the barbeque method has been associated with the legendary conquest of the west and later spread its magic in Europe and the whole world. Interestingly there is a major debate on the origin of the word itself. I personally feel that it may have come from Haiti meaning barbacoa aka grill, though some feel it could come from the French word de la barbe a la que meaning from the beard to the tail, which actually refers to the method the animal is treated on the roasting spit. French word barbeque derived from the Roman berbec which translates into roast mutton just might be another connection.
These can vary depending on if you have a nice backyard with a garden, or a veranda. The cheapest one is basically a hearth which is made of either heavy cast Iron or a thick steel plate; this contains charcoal and a grid. A little expensive which is slightly complex too is often electric and come replete as a garden cooker with spit, a removable hood, oven, dripping pan et all. And if you are a bit more adventurous and prefer camping, you can buy foldable Barbecues which are equipped with a wind break. More often than not a unique kind of wood which consists of partly carbon purified sticks that keep it heated for a longer time are used as fuel. Lava stones heated by butane gas and sometimes solar energy are used as fuel sometimes. Accessories required are tongs, poker, bellows, oven gloves, long handled spoon and fork, cutting board, knives, fish slice, aluminium foil etc.
Anything and everything can be grilled on a Barbie with the exception of veal and extremely delicate fish. Remember to first bring your charcoal to glowing ember stage before you start cooking. Also each item should be brushed with oil so it does not stick to the hot metal.
There are many varieties of whole fish which are great to cook over a charcoal fire and my favourite is the sea bass as it needs nothing except lemon wedges and sea salt to make it taste delicious. Whole fish do not usually benefit from a marinade but adding any herb towards the end of cooking imparts an amazing aroma and flavour to it. The whole fish can be cooked with the scales intact as it also protects it from fire, but if you like eating the crispened skin you can scale the fish first. As for me I love king prawns which need to be Bbqd briefly and make for a delightful nibble while waiting for the main course. As a matter of fact even scallops which take fairly less time to cook make an ideal starter.
The weight of the meat needs to be distributed evenly along the length of the spit. Try and ensure limbs of meat like chicken doesn’t get charred by keeping it in place using wooden skewers. First seal the meat by placing it close to the embers, once crust is formed, move it away so that it cooks slowly and well. Also when spit roasting any large joint for example a leg of lamb, you need all round heat, so it’s best to push the barbecue coals away from the centre to form a hollow. Put a foil tray in that space to catch the juices thus avoiding any fire flare.
They pair best with savoury butters, for potatoes cut cross on each and stuff it with garlic slivers and herbs. Wrap in foil and place in embers for about an hour. Once done open up the cross and add the butter…decadent to the core! Aubergines can be cut into ½ inch thickness sprinkled with salt and left aside for half an hour. Rinse, pat dry, brush generously with olive oil and grill for 3-5 minutes on both sides. Corn on the cob should be left covered with the husk and cooked for about 20 minutes, turning frequently, the husk can then be peeled back and with butter it’s just succulent. Onions and peppers can be threaded into quarters, brushed with oil, turning occasionally for 15 minutes. Whole heads of garlic grilled till the skin splits are my favourite!
“The barbecue has always been a hit amongst most people as it’s a perfect way to social or for a community to come together. The execution technique is simple, fun and interactive. It is fast and not as time consuming as braising or other slow cooking technique. Always having a barbecue accentuates the environment, it arouses all senses in sense of the aromas, the smoked taste and the sight of the meat on the grill. Barbeque style cooking requires less ingredients; one can put marinated chicken breasts/steaks/sausages and a variety of vegetables to create a wonderful meal for friends and family at the beach or their backyard.” Says Chef Surjan Singh Jolly, Executive Chef, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel.


Serves- 4
Burger Bun:  04 nos; Tomato Slice: 100 Gms; Green Leafy lettuce:  100 Gms; Mayonnaise: 40 Gms; Butter: 20 Gms; Cheddar Cheese: 80 Gms; French Fries                320 Gms
Chicken Mince: 640 Gms; Onion Dice: 80 Gms; Leeks Dice: 60 Gms; Celery Dice:             60 Gms; Carrot Dice: 60 Gms; Thyme: 10 Gms; Parsley chops: 10 Gms; Salt: to taste; Olive oil: 10 ml
Californian Grapes:  200 Gms; Balsamic Vinegar: 50 Ml; Grainy Mustard: 10 Gms
Chicken patty
1.    Sauté all the vegetables in olive oil and chill it in refrigerator.
2.    Add the cold vegetable mixture in chicken mince, mix well and shape into patties 160 gm each. Check seasoning.
Grape Mustard Relish
1.    Peel the grapes, remove seeds and cook with balsamic vinegar until grapes are mashed and mixture becomes thick.
2.    Chill the mixture and add Grainy Mustard.
1.    Burn the charcoal grill.
2.    BBQ the chicken patties on hot grill, both sides until well cooked.
3.    Cut the Burger Bun from middle, spread butter on both sides and toast the buns on grill.
4.    Spread mayonnaise on sides, place lettuce, Tomato, chicken Patty and slice of cheddar cheese on the base of bun, cover with top part of the bun.
5.    Serve the burger with Crispy French fries and Grape Mustard.


Peeled medium sweet potatoes, into 1-inch [cm] cubes: 8 no; Olive oil: 3 tablespoons; freshly chopped thyme leaves: 1 tablespoon; freshly chopped rosemary: 1 teaspoon; small cloves garlic, minced: 2 no; crushed chilies: 1/4 teaspoon; salt: to taste; Fresh thyme: a few sprigs; Fresh rosemary: a few sprigs; Pine nuts: 100 Gms
1.    Preheat barbecue to medium intensity, to approximately 400°F [200°C].
2.    Make a fresh herb pesto with herbs, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil. Make a fine paste of that.
3.    Into a medium bowl, delicately mix together sweet potato cubes with this pesto and evenly arrange seasoned sweet potato cubes into lightly oiled cooking rack.
4.    Barbecue until soften and just golden, for 20 to 30 minutes, turning often.

 published in Get Lost


Saturday, December 22, 2012



The Lowdown – The Hotel partners with two star Michelin Chef Sergi Arola, an irrepressible culinary trend-setter to bring his sublime ‘Arola’ brand (six around the world) to India. Chef Arola firmly believes that Catalan food is all about enjoyment and quality ingredients. He makes sure his diners are delighted by excellent food that Catalan cuisine is world-famous for. The new perspective on Spanish food makes the meal a gastronome’s delight.
Ambience- Upmarket Spanish with handsome décor, breath-taking views of the Arabian Sea and noble ambience echo the beauty of Renaissance Spain. Contemporary lounge music with distinctive Spanish and Latin influences sets the mood. The cocktail couture at interactive the bar prominently offers over 30 varieties of Gin. The unique culinary concept on offer by the chef is called ‘Pica Pica’ – a style of dining where a variety of creative dishes are served on a platter for all to share. The food is presented on small beautiful ceramic, glass and stone plates.
Lip-smacking-Chef Sergi Arola’s signature preparations include ‘Patatas bravas’(“Bravas deAROLA”, deep fried potatoes filled with a spicy tomato sauce and topped with aioli), ‘Sardinas’ (Marinated fillets, with “Huevas deArenque”, tomato and toasted bread), ‘Filet Mignon’ (Knife cut steak tartar, with a soy sauce and wasabi infusion and crunchy onions), ‘Tomates Maduros’ (Served as a salad, tossed with extra virgin olive oil, marinated tuna and black Alentejo olives) and ‘Gambas’ (Prawns sautéed with garlic, chili and parsley). And yes the famed ‘Spanish Sangria’ is to die for!
Don't even go there – If you want to eat lunch.
'Man’ Speak – This chic lifestyle destination will surely put Mumbai on the World’s gastronomic map.
How to get thereLobby Level, JW Marriott Hotel, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai
Phone to reserve- +91-022-66933220
Timings- 5pm to 1 Am, Open all days!
Dress Code - Smart casuals (open footwear, short pants, and sleeveless shirts for men not allowed)
Cost - An average meal for two without alcohol would cost INR 3,000 plus taxes.
published in The Man



Thursday, December 20, 2012


Certainly Hong Kong’s reputation as a Culinary Paradise is well-earned …Eating out in Hong Kong is like an extravaganza…


It was a dream come true for me when I got an invitation to go for this foodie focused trip to Hong Kong, having worked as a Chef before I have always been intrigued by Hong Kong’s food culture and I must also add here that if you are ticking of the things to eat before you die, Chinese food in Hong Kong is a must tick! You will figure out why after you have a peep into my reccee.
A friend holding a dried lizard

Dried Sea food market

After a quick walk on the local dried sea-food market (where we even found other animals like dried lizards) ,We went to “Luk Yu Tea House” on Stanley Street for the most authentic Cantonese experience. Interestingly some cute old women restaurant staff would walk around carrying a tray stung around the neck to offer their goods. Daily offerings of Dimsum, especially the “Chinese sausages and fish dumplings” and “Deep fried chestnut and duck meat pie” should not be missed. The extensive menu has something for everyone. The “sweet and sour wanton” is a tasty morsel and their “barbecued pork bun” will make you reach for more. The prawn dumplings are a staple to any yum cha meal, and these were probably the best dish of the day. The portions are usually served 4 pieces to a plate, so you can share if you wish to.   Besides the dim sum items listed on the checklist menu where one places one’s order, on offer are several fragrant teas to wash it down. My “bo la”, (a fermented black tea) complimented the food extremely well. The tea house is raucous most of the time as it is well patronized. Surprisingly, inexpensive for the good quality food.

Well, Lunch was at “Lung King Heen” (translates into View of the Dragon) at the four Seasons, the only Chinese restaurant in the world to have been awarded a Michelin star. A must try is the Peking duck, a crisp succulent experience of the highest order. Served with chef’s own secret bean sauce, the slices of the duck skin are melt in the mouth tender. The wide range of Dimsum has won hordes of followers who swear by their fine quality and exquisite flavours. The plethora of seafood dishes are not your typical mass –produced fare, more like the crème de la crème of gourmet seafood. Abalone is fresh, instead if the traditional dried or canned variety and cooked to perfection. Other dishes represent the wide spectrum, which is regional china, for example very good roast pork. Chinese vegetarian food for long has had a reputation of being too oil laden, simply because many dishes are fried but not the chef has created an art out of vegetarian fare without the oiliness. To top this off, a beautiful panoramic view of the city is bound to make dining here an experience of a lifetime.


A cup of tea and an egg custard later on the Ding Ding tram route, we went pub –hopping on Lan Kwai Fong (most popular watering hole street after the sun sets) and there were some brilliant pubs like “The Keg”, “Stormies”, “The cavern” etc. Luckily it was Halloween that night and we had great fun being a part of the street party. I could see people dressed up in some outrageous costumes for example there were sexy nurses, Chinese ghosts, Dracula’s and prisoners etc, interesting Halloween dishes in restaurants and lots more. All I can say is that it was indeed arguably the best time of my Life!


  • Best Way to Reach- Fly Cathay Pacific, it is the most economical.
  • Visa Wise- You don’t have to plan much ahead to go to Hong Kong. Indians get a Visitor Visa on arrival and can stay upto 14 days.
  • Currency- I HKD is equal to approximately 6.5 INR.
  • Best Place to Stay- Four Seasons for the most terrific location and Views.
published in Food & Nightlife

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Summarizing Christmas, it is some tradition, a lot of food and socializing, some sports, some presents but without overdoing, and a fair amount of fun and celebrations to connect it all. Christmas has become a multi-cultural phenomenon around the world, celebrated by many and excluding few.
 …..Here are a few magical places to celebrate this festival.



In Australia Christmas happens in the middle of summer. Some of the traditions and customs are similar, but the weather and a very different climate make for a uniquely Australian experience. It is amusing to see that people put out decorations with northern hemisphere snowy Christmas themes included. However Santa wears a summer suit (could be a swim suit too) and his sleigh is pulled by Kangaroos. Plants that bloom at Christmas in OZ cannot be found elsewhere. The fact that they have red and white flowers, with one even shaped like tiny bells, makes for a perfect X-Mas Decoration. A traditional Xmas dinner can end up feeling very heavy in hot summer weather, (and I write from experience) Hence options are a more sensible meal of a buffet with seafood or cold ham, turkey and salads. One unique and excellent Aussie dessert is Pavlova, which is wonderful with strawberries, passion fruit and whipped cream.
DO NOT MISS-The concerts in the churches and at the market itself.

Santa at Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi, in the north of Finland, and the capital of Lapland is Santa Claus’s Home and if you are here this Christmas, you might just come across the real Santa! The celebration of Christmas starts early in Finland, with Christmas markets, festive lights in the streets, “Pikka Joulu” (Little Christmas) parties, and special goodies including the traditional “Glogi”, a spicy hot mulled wine. Santa Claus is alive and well and living in Finnish Lapland where workshops are staffed by elves, and where sleds and sleighs hauled by reindeer form the local transport. Well, if you want a White Christmas you’ll most certainly get it and this will be an absolutely fantastic trip 
DO NOT MISS- A Reindeer or Husky Ride.

On Orchard Road

Orchard road is lighted up with impressive and colourful Christmas lighting display! All malls look like Christmas presents. Interestingly Tanglin Mall does an amazing snow display, which is a large blow-up Christmas display and a machine spouting “snow”. Locals and tourists love to drench themselves in it.Colourful Christmas floats make their rounds every night. So be on the lookout! There are loads of free performances by churches at various locations on Orchard Road like Carols, Pantomimes, Dramas and dance.
DO NOT MISS- Great Deals on Orchard Road

Bangkok's city centre is all lit up with Christmas displays and decorations everywhere and there are more tourists than locals who come here particularly for the shopping as Bangkok is absolutely full of shopping malls.  You can count 14 on just one street. The local Vegas-styled show, Fantasea in Phuket hosts a special event for Christmas Eve. The ticket includes an entry into the beautifully decorated, marine-themed park as well as a fantastic buffet dinner with many international and local treats, including turkey! And of course an entry into the show. The Fantasea show is an excellent performance by dancers in very bling costumes and showcases the history of Thailand. The show uses interesting special effects including lasers and water, magical acts, trapeze artistry, and even elephants of all sizes performing to music. The show is a wonderful treat on Christmas Eve.
DO NOT MISS- Shopping in Bangkok, A spa treatment at The Banyan Tree and Fantasea in Phuket.

Malaysia has its unique style of celebrating Christmas. To add more fun and enjoyment to the festival celebration, on offer is Malaysia Savings Sale or popularly known as MSS – the much anticipated shopping event of Malaysia. During the Sale period, tourists to Malaysia enjoy privileges and promotions at the malls in and around the Klang Valley. All they need to do is pick up a Tourist Welcome Pack from the airport and the Tourist Information Counters in the city which contains a booklet and details on the various tourist privilege cards, how and where to get them and what kind of bargains await them. Hoping to capture the spirit of the year-end festivities, in action are various music bands to play and entertain shoppers at the Christmas Band Competition i.e. a in and around the Klang Valley.
DO NOT MISS- Look out for the bar code style logo for to shop and save.

Winters in Holland are a thrilling time. Holland sparkles with festive lights during the winter. The Christmas Market Fluweelengrot (Velvet Cave) in Valkenburg, in southern Netherlands, comes alive In November until Christmas. The spectacular marlstone cave with its magical atmosphere is doubtless the most famous Christmas market location in the Netherlands. A walking tour of the market will lead you through the romantically lit up Christmas Cave with an 18th century chapel, impressive mural carvings and sculptures.
DO NOT MISS- Putting on your boots, warm jackets and go skating on the frozen lakes and waterways.

published in HT city

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Farm to Fork as a concept is a relatively new trend in India, but it is worldwide and growing. That said, it is as old as time.

A few months ago I visited the ‘Phillipkutty farm’ in Allepy in search of Vanilla and went in for a tour with Aniamma who explained how orchids are grown and most importantly pollinated. She walked me down to the shade houses on the farm and pointed out various plants along the way which were home to many new baby orchid plants. She explained that patience is a necessary trait for vanilla farming. Plus, it is incredibly labour intensive, the vanilla orchids are pollinated one by one by hand, which is why vanilla is so expensive. The tour came to an end with a delicious home cooked Syrian Christian meal with many ingredients from her farm which left me thinking! The meal was decadent and tasted so fresh and to my joy I discovered that more and more chefs today focus on seasonal produce and supporting local farmers.

Kitchen Team at the Renaissance Hotel, Mumbai
Most restaurants now offer menus inspired by a myriad of seasonal ingredients and international techniques. While polished local ingredients are a rarity, Chefs are now feeling strongly about supporting local and as such, frequent the market multiple times weekly to pick what’s ripe and to standard. Some restaurants even practice a “No-No” list and aim to offer the best selection and quality of Food and Beverage to all guests. Any resources that are endangered or mismanaged; genetically modified or ill-treated are not served, and are added to the list. Free range meats are used; the majority of vegetables are grown on the site itself and are 100% organic. Television is another media which creates awareness and Chefs are being featured on food shows creating and discussing this epicurean revolution.
 “Sustainability and nutrition are becoming key themes in Bangalore, with the increased popularity of Fine Dining stand-alone restaurants like Caperberry, Fava, Tatva, Shiro, etc. Micro-Breweries like the Biere Club, Toit, and Left of Centre”, shares Abhijit Saha, Founding Director and Chef- Caperberry and Fava
Roasted Beet Salad at The Table, Mumbai
Avant Garde Hospitality. At “The Table” in Mumbai chef Alex turns out a globally inspired menu which reflects his collective experiences and changes daily depending on availability of the best produce. It has influences of the San Francisco style of cooking which is translated through sourcing fresh local ingredients and ensuring each dish is distinctively unique in flavour and texture.
Herb garden at The Renaissance, Mumbai
“The idea behind of having an in-house “Chef’s Garden” is to provide the guests with nothing but the freshest of ingredients grown and supervised by the team of Chefs, to incorporate the all organic vegetables in the restaurant menu. The concept goes well with one of the core values of brand Renaissance – being Indigenous, to be self – sustained, green and local. For the Chef’s Garden the hotel has specially sourced black soil from Pune. The garden produces Iceberg lettuce, Curled lettuce, Red lettuce, Red cabbage, Brinjal – 3, 4 varieties (white, round, long), Carrots, Radish round, Celery, Eggplants - 4 varieties (Thai, oblong etc.), Beans, Tomato cherry, Tomato pusa red, Sweet peppers, Hot peppers, Lemon grass is grown in the farm along with exotic flowers like Flower Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) and Exotic candy. The fresh produce is used in the restaurants of the hotel - Fratelli Fresh, Emperor's Court and Lake View Café. The garden is a size of 2 basketball courts but the hotel will soon expand the space because the demand for the organic produce is over whelming and the hotel plans to produce more fruits and vegetables in house to offer the guests the best in the city”, says Surjan Singh Jolly, Executive Chef at the Renaissance Hotel and convention centre Mumbai.
Chef Saby of Olive
At Olive Beach and Mehrauli in Delhi Chef Sabyasachi Gorai launches a Farm to fork menu every winter, which he feels “is an initiative to offer the freshest local produce to our customers ensuring your meal is as natural, as organic as it can be. It’s also a step towards providing sustenance to the local farmers. This menu's ingredients are sourced from local farms and are almost all organic. This also reduces carbon foot print for transporting produces from far off places. Also it boosts economy of the local farms”, says Saby.
Chef Shaun kenworthy
 “Understanding more about our food, how it tastes and where it comes from makes the act of eating all the more pleasurable. There ought to be practical lessons in school which are as integral as a music or dance lesson wherein children are taught to gather fruits for example strawberries Guavas or whatever. Together, in a much-needed exercise for all ages, they’re learning exactly where our food comes from, how it gets onto our plates, and why eating locally grown vegetables and fruits even if that equates to sweet tooth-friendly strawberry shortcake is the first step in global salvation”, says Shaun Kenworthy a senior chef consultant based out of Kolkata.
As for me my dream cuisine experience would be a visit to the local market with a Chef at buying fresh ingredients followed by a cook off and lunch at his restaurant. There would be no menu, just what the chef decides to cook each day from the freshest market ingredients. Trust me, at a time when organic and fresh are the words on every foodie’s lips, my dream never seems more modern even if the recipe is centuries old. It did happen for me in paris ....a yummy gourmet meal cooked by chef cyril in paris!
Chef cyril at cuisine attitude, Paris

 published in The Man