Wednesday, November 5, 2014


The best part is that Liverpool is a small city so wherever you stay, you will be close to wherever you’d like to go 
Commencing with the smile from the friendly receptionist who checks you in, you would love this Asian slant on the contemporary Lounge experience. The accent certainly is on service of the highest quality! Humming away ‘It’s been a hard day’s night’ whilst having a glass of a glass of a refreshing lemony cocktail along with some delicious starters at the Swanky Plaza Premium lounge at Terminal 3, I thoroughly enjoyed my waiting time (read just INR 1500++) which included the Buffet, Beverages, shower, internet access and was rejuvenated even before my journey began at the cozy lounge   and yes the foot reflexology at an extra cost of INR 500 was indeed a perfect start to the Beatles town! 
On the first day itself, I walked through the society the Beatles lived in and gathered a good amount of background information about how they formed their band.  I am a huge Beatles fan, and I would say the exhibit is rather captivating for even a non-Beatles fan.  With my headphones on, my toes were also tapping to every Beatles song that you would want to hear!! Later I hopped on the ‘Magical Mystery Bus Tour’ and saw Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane, and John Lennon's house, (etc.) and trust me it was a whole lot of fun! I got to listen to The Beatles and our tour guide - who apparently actually knows some of the band members - told plenty of stories and corny jokes. The tour ended at the Cavern Club and I walked down the several flights of stairs for a beer and to feel the atmosphere of the most famous club in the world. Bang opposite is the Liverpool wall of fame, which has every band to play the cavern club inscribed on a brick with a Beatles bench, placed in front. As well as the Hard’s Night Hotel, complete with Beatles artwork, Lennon and McCartney suites.

The Albert Dock is definitely the most popular haunt of the locals and tourists alike and a must see. It is rife with the Tate Gallery, Maritime Museum, Beatles Experience Museum and a whole range of shops and restaurants. As for me I loved the spice lounge at its waterfront location, the food and service was brilliant!
The city of Liverpool has two football teams (both in the Premier League) Liverpool and Everton. LFC is historically the most successful team in England and current champions of Europe after beating Milan on penalties, and together with Everton they dominated the top division in the 1980’s. I witnessed a match in Everton club and loved cheering every moment for the team and finally we won!

Last but not the least the next day I Kept on walking and found myself in one of the largest shopping centers in the world… ‘Liverpool One’, sprawling for miles it had everything I’d ever needed and more and of course lived up to the reputation of being a true Indian and I shopped till I dropped.
Best way to Reach: Fly Emirates (I loved it because I could carry 30 Kgs in an Economy flight) to Manchester and drive down to Liverpool. The Dubai stopover is an added benefit for the shopaholics.
Visa Wise: Indians need a UK visa to enter Liverpool. If you have your papers in place, it doesn’t take long to get one.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

VALENCIA-Amazing Architecture, Amazing food & wine!

My first stop was Valencia, home of paella. The first glimpse of amazing architecture was the train station, a very interesting design that continued with the government building in the plaza d’ayuntamente. The entire town is filled with architectural marvels that were evident after taking the hop on –hop off bus tour of the city. The America’s Cup, held in Valencia in 2007, has given the city a new marina and livened up the beach area with bars, restaurants and hotels. The city is a kind of summer, beachy kind of place. The beach is about a 30 minute ride from the city centre by local bus which is always good fun. The beach sand is very soft and water very warm and the weather can’t be better for soaking up the summer sun.
Later I walked a bit more, within the old city walls of Valencia with my guide Manuel from Tourism Valencia (with his amazing sense of humour he made the whole trip a lot of fun), there are dozens of old churches all stunning in their own right.
In the centre of all is the Cathedral Basilica Metropolitana de Santa Maria or the Valencia Cathedral. Founded in the 13th century, it incorporates several architectural styles (its exterior is mostly Gothic but the main entrance is lavishly Baroque), and houses a large number of artistic and religious treasures. One of those treasures is said to be the original Holy Grail of the last supper which has a long history. The Cathedral was gorgeous with its bright blue domes. The Holy Grail cup is kept behind the glass but it was definitely worth a visit.
The first thing I did the next morning was a detailed trip to Mercado central with my new guide Amaya (very warm with an in-depth knowledge of everything) in search of jamon and paella pans. The market is known to have a surface area of over 8,000 square meters with over one thousand selling posts and is full of radiant stalls run by local vendors with fresh produce from near and around. In a section on the far side of the market are all the fish stalls with sea-food laid out on beds of ice. Fresh seafood is delivered here every single day. Interestingly the original paella Valenciana does not contain any seafood as it originates from the nearby marshes. Authentic paella consists of rice, saffron, garlic, chicken and rabbit.
As you stroll through the scores of stalls, it is impossible not to be impressed by the selections displayed right in front of your eyes. One can find everything from fresh fruits and meat to a paella pan that serves up to a hundred people. It certainly provides a unique glimpse into the culture and flavours of the city. Tasting an Olive from a vendor or a sweet and juicy orange juice are unforgettable experiences. Obviously one cannot bring home the fresh fruits and vegetables but the Bomba rice (heirloom variety), the spices, and the special pans for making paella are delicious reminders of your trip to carry back with you.
Next took a cab ride till the ‘city of Arts and science’. It was developed by Santiago Calatrava and is an impressive collection of architecture, science and culture. It’s composed of an opera house, IMAX Cinema, Planetarium, Laserium, Garden, Science museum, and an oceanographic park.
The park turned out to be really stupendous, instead of a large building it was housed in a few different buildings. Some were connected underground by huge tunnels filled with fish, sharks, and other sea life. The park is set up like a real underwater city where one is introduced into the different marine habitats so that they can see many different species in their faithfully reproduced natural surroundings. The entire layout seemed like a cleaner and more modern Sea World! There was also a Dolphin show wherein one of the closest Bottlenose Dolphin in the group showed us the backside of his body with a closed blowhole as he kept his nose underwater. Buy a ticket for the Hemispheric too (an original building in the shape of a human eye) for a better deal! For a lunch break try a hamburger joint or fine dine at the submarine restaurant. Back to the Hotel, contended I ate some Paella for dinner and slept well to catch the early morning cruise to Ibiza.
VISA & CURRENCY- Indians require a Schengen Visa to enter Spain and the currency used is the Euro.

MUST DO: Dine at Casa Gijon a family restaurant, Shop at El Corte Ingles, 

Taste original healthy & refreshing Valencian drink ‘Horchata’ at the traditional ‘Horchateria El Siglo’, founded in 1836,

Visit the Bioparc, Visit Albufera lake where the Valencian rice is grown and do not miss a Paella lunch at Finca l’ Estall from Rice Tartana.

published in Travel Span

Monday, November 3, 2014


An all time favorite, family comfort food, pasta is quick and easy to make and always tastes yummy. Trust me with all those carbohydrates it can be healthy too! The trick is to keep portion sizes under control and compensate by adding more lean protein and vegetables into the mix or you could even replace the refined flour with whole wheat!
My favorite pasta pairing is linguine and clam sauce, I am sure you have your own! The possible combinations of pasta and sauce are limitless and may even be a little intimidating when you start to think about it. The nuances of shapes and texture are less pronounced in fresh pasta than in dried and fresh pasta carries and absorbs any sauce more readily than does dried. Fresh pasta generally follows the same rules as dried: the flatter and longer shapes combine well with olive oil and cream sauces, while sturdier shapes, work well with chunkier and more assertively flavored sauces. Tomato and simple cream and butter sauces are universal and will go well with basically all pasta. The general rule of thumb is to match the delicacy of sauce with that of the noodle. For a light sage butter sauce, go for capellini (angel hair) or penne rigate rather than jumbo shells. A hearty Bolognese, on the hand, deserves something more substantial, such as fettuccine or pappardelle. And if you aren’t sure what sauce you want, go with farfalle (bow ties).
To make your own pasta at home, you will need the following equipment:
  • The KitchenAid Stand mixer to make the dough. And for those who do not know the stand mixer has a magic hub on which you can attach various attachments and can practically make of now lets talk about pasta!
  • The Pasta roller & cutter attachment for rolling out the pasta dough into sheets. ( includes Angel Hair & Thick Noodle cutters)
  • clean kitchen towels to cover the fresh pasta while it’s  drying
  • plastic wrap to cover the fresh pasta while it’s  resting
  • a ravioli wheel for making farfalle and ravioli
Step 1: Place 400g plain flour in the stand mixer bowl on a clean work surface. Crack 4 eggs into the flour. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. (To check if the dough is ready, press it with the tip of your finger. If it springs back, it means it has reached the desired texture.) Shape the dough into a ball and coat lightly with flour. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to rest.
Step 2: Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough. Set the pasta machine on the widest setting and coat the pasta rollers lightly in flour. Feed one portion of dough through the machine. Repeat 6 more times, folding the pasta into thirds and then turning it 90 degrees to the pasta machine before you feed the pasta dough through each time.

Step 3: When the dough is the same width as the machine, stop folding it into thirds. Continue to feed the dough through the machine, gradually narrowing the pasta machine settings, one notch at a time, before you feed the pasta dough through each time. Repeat until you reach the second last setting on the machine. Repeat with the remaining 3 dough portions.



Sunday, November 2, 2014


If you want a Pan Asian restaurant with plenty of space (when its full of people), Yum Yum Cha may not be for you. But if you are willing to sacrifice some of the atmospheric frills that accompany most residents for an excellent, thoughtful meal, then go for it. That said it is tastefully decorated and a cascade of pleat formed butterflies in vibrant colours which cover the ceiling of the origami-themed restaurant is an eye candy and gives the place a lively and cheerful feel. Located in the city’s ultra-hip and busy Select City mall in Saket, the line out the front door every day at this brand new eatery supports that. Take a close look at each section of the menu, and you will find something different and eye-catching. Order it and you would know that the flavours here can be both clear or complex, always well-expressed and often laid out cleverly by a deft hand. 

It was impossible not to enjoy myself that afternoon; Yum Yum Cha has done a valiant job bringing delicacies like ‘Takoyaki’, aka fried dumplings - crisp on the outside and melt in the mouth inside, brought piping hot to the table – literal translation – Octopus, but don’t worry they have chicken and cheese pepper options too to a hip, cool, and mainstream audience, and for that, I tip my hat. Choice selections of quality sushi and Dimsums are the order of the day! But What I really enjoyed was the sticky rice with chicken and basil that arrived in a sizzling stone pot which the server mixed up with vegetables, chestnut, and prawns on the table…really special. I would say if you’re going to eat carbs, you might as well do it in style.
To end on a sweet note I would highly recommend the Coconut and Jaggery Mochi Ice cream, the pounded sticky rice and sugar based vibrant shell adds to the taste and these are morsels divinely creamy in texture and taste, but you could give the Matcha Green Tea ice cream a skip. Overall I think this Pan Asian Bistro is a great spot for a casual lunch. Quick, easy and good value for money – hard to argue with that! Plus I love being able to see through the hole in the wall to see and hear what the cooks are up to. I have heard a few times already from a few different sources that the dinner is great too; I suppose I’ll have to check it out in that case.

WHERE? Select City walk, Saket, Second Floor, New Delhi – 110017
FOR RESERVATIONS CALL: 011-41553030, +91 9810002994
TIMINGS: 11:00am to 11:00pm
PROMOTERS: Varun & Prathna Tuli