Wednesday 13 September 2017

Flavors Of Maharashtra Food Festival Solitaire Kohinoor Continetal | Food Review | Food Photography

Was here for their Thai Food Festival almost 5 months ago and was floored, was back here on Saturday with family for Maharashtrian Food Festival (going on till 17 sep) and once more, we all thoroughly loved the experience. Delicious food, very value for money price point, elegant calm ambiance, excellent staff and superb service-pick your reason to visit Solitaire and just do it :) 

My high school best friend is Maharashtrian, so I have been privy to some authentic Maharashtrian food at her home for more than a decade, and so can completely vouch for the authentic lip smacking flavors of every single dish at this food festival. They have got some of the most famous dishes in the buffet, from Pune, Konkan region, Sindhudurg, Malvan region and so on, in both veg as well as non-veg, replete with home-made spices. There aren't 500 items in the buffet, but more than enough for anybody to feast like royalty. They have tried to introduce some 'forgotten gems' and the way everything tastes like prepared by a loving grandma, we would say they have completely succeeded. Also,enjoy the fantastic selection of classic old-school Marathi songs playing, creating a rustic festive vibe in the air. And the walk till Solitaire is adorned with information about some famous Maharashtrian public figures over the ages, nice touch :)

Started off with Sol Kadhi, tangy and tingling, just like it should be, and moved on to Pineapple Soup, something I tried for the first time and 100% loved with its spicy-tangy-sour medley of flavors,

The starters section was hands down my favorite with plethora of bites in crunchy and healthy avatars, including-
Poha Chivda,
Cucumber-dahi salad,
Beetroot-Coconut salad,
Shankar Padi (bite sized sweet crunchies, we call it shakkarpara in north :D)
Adu Wadi (one of famous street food in Mumbai, you see these little green sweet-spicy monsters everywhere :D)
Curd Rice,
Mashed Potatoes (not continental ones, these have a healthy dose of spices,onions etc. to create an explosion of flavors),
Kothimbir Vadi,
Matar Karanji (Same as Gujhiya but filled with mashed peas instead of suji/rawa, so this becomes a savory item instead of sweet, still so lip-smacking :D)

And so on!

I specially loved Puneri Misal Pav with the mix of Poha, Farsaan, Spicy curry, Sprouts all going beautifully with buttered pav, culinary heaven.

For main course, we noshed on another set of down-to-earth dishes found in Maharashtrian households. Think veggies with grated coconut, daal with distinct tanginess, curries with ample red chillies to warrant arrival of fire brigade, chapatis made of healthy ingredients such as amaranth, bajra way before quinoa and kale became fashionable! We had and loved-
Jhunka Bhakar,
Puris made of rice,
Bajra roti,
Rice flour roti,
Masala Bhaat (my favorite)
Papad, Home made Pickles...

Everything made with limited use of ghee/oil, something my sister pointed out because she hates seeing a layer of oil floating on top of any dish,thankfully she was supremely happy here :)

And then we had to save some space for dessert too, again some dishes not seen anywhere else made their appearance, starting right from everyone's favorite Puran Poli to Homemade Modaks to assorted Chikkis from Lonavala to Amrakhand (I could have had 50 of these alone!) to Gujhiya, Basundi, Pineapple Halwa, Mango Kulfi and Tutti-Frutti ice cream. Delicious end to this memorable meal came in the form of Meetha Paan. Seriously, what else is the definition of good life? 

Sunday 10 September 2017

Juno's Pizza | Vegetarian Pizza Pasta Dessert | Food Review | Food Photography

A pizza is a pizza is a what one ought to say about arguably the most famous fast/street/quick food in the world - a slice of pizza. But of course that is not true :D There are pizzas that are distinctly memorable and then there are those that make one want to give up eating food completely! Without getting into debate of 'gourmet vs fast food' or 'gourmand vs foodie', let's just agree that a good pizza has good crust, good quality and quantity of cheese, fresh tingling sauces and nice crunchy,flavorful toppings. Juno's is good on all these points. Excellent pizzas, good pasta, sides, desserts and even drinks, decent on pocket, excellent staff with quick service, so it basically ticks all the right boxes :)

Was here for a bloggers' table and enjoyed everything way more than expected, pushing it in a respectable position on my foodie list of where next to order my pizza from. Situated right opposite Ghatkopar East station, the ambiance is clean and bright, even though it is a small outlet but it doesn't feel cramped at all. The sparkle of greenery with wise use of constricted space brings a cheery youthful vibe.

We started off with round of drinks- cold coffee was good,could be stronger, Lemonade fantastic, star of the show however was CHILLI BERRY PITCHER with tangy-sweetness of berry beautifully cut by spicy chilly tinge at the end. Lovely.

From Tasty Sides section, both CHEESY GARLIC BREAD and GARLIC BREAD SUPREME (it has mushrooms) were fantastic, the garlic tinge could be a bit stronger but the overloaded cheese made it a favorite of everyone.

Up next was Iceberg Salad which was basically loads of veggies in sweet-ish creamy salad dressing, a good option for those who like something healthy. Show stopper however was BAKED NACHOS -cheesy, crunchy, tantalizing, definitely must-have with friends (again, don't go arguing about authentic gourmet taste, just enjoy it)

Another must-have is CREAM OF MUSHROOM soup-hot, dense, creamy, felt like grandma's warm embrace, top-notch soup to have here while waiting for pizzas.

From Pasta section, definitely go for PESTO,extremely flavorful, wholesome, almost all of us licked our plates clean with this one, also tried Arrabiata and it was decently spiced, I am not much into spicy stuff myself but it was good too, so go with your personal preferences here. Next time, I will try the lasagna here,have a feeling it will be good :)

Finally,the pizzas! Patrons can make their own by choosing crust,toppings or just choose from their bestselling combinations, we tried 4 and they were fantastic-

HOUSE SPECIAL with crunch of capsicum, loads of cheese and sauce, tinge of garlic,

FULL SMASH with Capsicum, Mushrooms, Green Chilly, Jalapeno and Olives, a wholesome combination, warm and satisfying,

THE GOTZ with Garlic, Onion, Cherry Tomatoes and Zucchini, absolutely MUST-HAVE with the burst of cheese and flavors with every bite, this one can make anyone's eyes pop out of their sockets,

BOSS'S FAVORITE with 4 Cheese and Red Paprika, literally a combination devised by the owner of the place, made special with his own grandmother's secret sauce, this one is absolutely TO-DIE-FOR, something all of us will go back for! Explosion of cheese, sweet-ish sauce, spicy kick of paprika, the combination is deadly good and it works so well. WINNER all the way.

We tried their Thin as well as Thick crusts and they were both great, I prefer thin crusts so will reorder those.

They also have HAPPIZAA, small thick crust pizzas that are pocket friendly and good enough for 1 hungry soul, both CHEESY and TOMATO CORN pizzas were really good but the simple cheesy one was more delicious with the beautiful combination of various cheeses there,

And on to desserts, we tried Home Made TIRAMISU which is good, a bit thicker than how one would expect an authentic tiramisu to be, felt more like a cheesecake actually, but tasted so soooo good that I can see myself coming here with my college friends and noshing on this (those college days..*nostalgia*)

I especially loved the CHOCOLATE BROWNIE, served warm with chocolate nuts,almond garnish and a generous dose of chocolate sauce, this will be permanently on my to-order list along with Boss's favorite pizza :D

This was my first visit to Juno's and it is just the first of mannnnnnyyyy more, it is that good and totally recommended to everyone :) 

Thursday 7 September 2017

Hemant Oberoi Signature Lunch BKC Mumbai | Culinary Legend | Food Review | Food Photography

A legendary name taken with reverence in the field of culinary arts, with more than 4 decades of unbeatable experience,encyclopedic knowledge and a passion to provide an innovative fine dining experience to patrons. Hemant Oberoi at BKC signifies all this and more.

Walking in, an elegant ambiance greets us. High ceilings, plush couches, deep intense colors, beautiful chandelier, mahogany bar, it is modern yet comforting, cavernous yet intimate. Staff is trained diligently to provide 5 star level service which they do unfailingly from beginning to end. 

Menu is compact and serves choicest veg as well as non veg Peruvian, European and Asian dishes, a combination of exotic authentic ingredients imported from respective locations, traditional recipes, infused with a contemporary vigor and yes, also suited to Indian palate to a good extent.Portions just about sufficient for a good meal. I can say this with happiness that even my mom,who is not huge on experimental food, really liked dishes here that she would not normally think of ordering on her own :)

Yes,it all comes at a price. But I am not going to crib about that. I am no gourmand. Just a normal foodie, I liked the food, I loved the service and for an experience that I won't get anywhere else, dishes that I won't get to taste at many places, prices are more or less justified. When I walk in at an IMAX theatre to watch a movie like Interstellar/Avatar in Imax 3D, I happily pay 400 bucks per ticket because I know the experience is going to be superlative, unlike watching Kick or Dilwale. It's all good.

Before starting off with our tasting lunch, we ordered some beverages, just told the staff that I like refreshing stuff while my mom loves fruity flavors, and they got us really good selection. My mom had an orange based mocktail followed by a special concoction of berries + oranges while I had a watermelon cocktail followed by a mix of green apple + red apple refresher. Loved both rounds.

Lunch was flagged off by Amuse Bouche i.e. palate cleanser of PERUSHI Peruvian Sushi = Avocado-Cucumber Sushi with Peruvian spices, served alongside soya sauce, wasabi and ginger. Really nice. Plating done beautifully.

Qui-Know-Ah-Quinoa Salad with a hint of Mango and Balsamic Dressing = an explosion of flavors, sweet-spicy-tangy and ofcourse the healthy quinoa wholesomeness right on top, heartily recommended.

Beans on the Plate = Edamame & Chestnut Dumplings, with crunchy asparagus, and a hit of Amarillo Aioli to bring creaminess to the dish, worked out nicely, simple flavors done right.

I am not much into soups, have had enough of usual tomato/mushroom, but the ones here are definitely must-haves. If you are into warm soups, go for Leeks and Cusco Mountain Potato Soup with Beetroot Paper, it is creamy, fragrant, feels like something grandma made on a really rainy day. For those with an affinity for colder soups, do go for Melon Gazpacho, a bit on sweetish side, but oh-so-delectable. Again, simple flavors made special with little gourmet touches.

A little interlude with warm freshly baked bread & basil butter followed right before main course, enjoyable to the hilt.

For mushroom lovers, Cry O Pac Three Mushroom Ravioli with Toasted Oats & Truffle foam is a must-have = Ravioli filled with Portobello + button + morel mushrooms, in sage and butter, garnished with pecan nuts, frozen in tin cans, steamed right before serving, ensuring that the flavors of butter/mushrooms/nuts all meld together beautifully and every layer of this dish is just beautiful to look at as well as to relish. Even my mom, who would otherwise not touch mushrooms, really loved the way all the flavors and textures played together.

Finally, a very comforting dish = Asparagus Risotto with Aged Parmesan, creamy, dense but not overpowering so, the crunch of Asparagus Pears juxtaposed beautifully with the risotto itself. Simple warm dish to have during rains/winter :)

My favorite section is always the dessert section and HO presented two excellent dishes here-

Chocolate Mille-Feuille = Thin dark chocolate bars balancing droplets made of dark and milk chocolate, like a string of pearls, garnished with pecan nut, a must-have for every chocolate lover. Think of all the health benefits of cocoa for heart and dig in :D

Three Milk Parfait = Luscious cool parfait made of Cow milk + buffalo milk + goat milk, drizzled with salty caramel, garnished with candied popcorn. One is just not enough. Comforting, delicious, global, I am definitely coming back for this alone :)

Mondays to Fridays choose from a 2 course or 3 course lunch meal for around 1700 bucks or walk in for the weekend 11 course meal for around 3000 bucks, or just hop in for happy hours everyday with offers such as 50% off on all beers, I say Hemant Oberoi has got something for everyone and I will surely be back soon.