Dario’s once more…

And there i was, back at Dario’s for a dinner. You can read my previous review here

This time with the CFG gang and Suresh Cumar [ the man behind Dario’s Chennai] was also with us tonight. Instead of doing another detailed review, am going to do a photo feature with a one liner on each of the dishes..

Focaccia Bread with Sun dried tomato dip/sauce- This is served complimentary and are quite flavorful.

Antipasto Siciliano –A fun platter- Olives, olives stuffed with red chillies, gorgonzola cheese, pickled onions, sauteed Italian vegetables, Brinjal cooked the Sicilian way and sun dried tomatoes- We all loved the cheese, it was stinky but we couldnt get enough of it. 

Funshi Darios– Whole roasted Mushrooms with lemon, garlic, parsley & olive oil- I loved this, even though garlic was strong.
Assorted Bruschetta platter– 2 with gorgonzola cheese, and 2 with Sundried tomato paste- The Cheese ones won hands down. 
This was another platter of Bruschetta- with sauteed zucchini, olive paste and tomato & basil- I quite liked the zucchini ones]
hey, wait a minute, we were offered 2 kinds of salads, damn, forgot to take pictures of them.. One was Aranciazola [Mixed salad leaves with orange slices, gorgonzola, olives and herbs] . The 2nd salad was   Verdure Grigalate [Warm mixed vegetables- baby potatos, colour peppers,zucchini, carrots and onion] 
Polpette Di Spinaci e Formatggio — Spinach & Fresh cheese balls served with spinach cream dip — We had this last time as well, i loved the starter but wish it was served with a spicier dip.

Pizza Carduni- Mozerella cheese, Artichoke, Broccoli, Mushroom, garlic, Olives an sun dried tomatoes – Loved it, the pizza stood still when you held it and dint wilt like a dried up flower.

 Pizza Stromboli-Mozzarella, red chilli, spinach, red peppers and sun dried tomatoes– Personally, i loved this one-

During the course of the evening, we were all suddenly talking about Tea when Suresh mentioned they had a Morrocan mint which was quite good. Well, yes, we ordered some and between us had quite a few cups of the tea. And then, he also said they had Blackcurrant tea. Ta da, I wanted it, i love the flavour and quite enjoyed the tea. but Blackcurrant tea is not something you can have cups and cups of, it is quite strong. So, if you are at Dario’s,, do try the Morrocan Mint, you will not regret and will come back to Thank me! This image is of the Blackcurrrant tea 🙂
Ok, moving ahead, here are the main courses that we got to sample..

Risotto al funghi Porchini- Risotto made with porchini mushrooms- It was creamy and simple flavours

Risotto Siciliano- Risotto cooked with tomato sauce, red chilli,aubergines, oregano,capers and cheese: This felt very Indian, maybe because of the tomato base.

Ravioli Kamarina- Ravioli stuffed with spinach& cheese served on a bed of tomato sauce cooked with peas , chickpeas, rosemary and cream- It was quite good, i am not a great fan of Ravioli but the texture here was light and soft.

Tortellini Formaggi &Funghi- Pasta Parcels stuffed with mushroom & cheese served in Cheese sauce- I love mushrooms and so liked it, but not a big fan of white sauce[gets heavy on the tummy]
Fusili Vitale– Fusili tossed with fresh tomatoes,sundried tomato, garlic and mushrooms- It was good, but nothing new as i make pasta quite often at home.
Crepelle Al Funghi- Baked pancakes with mushrooms, garlic, cheese, tomatoes and peas- Creamy and rich, crepes filled with veggies, dint try it last night as i had this last time around 🙂
Moving on, we were served not one or two, but 4 desserts, of which 2 I loved and others were Ok… not my cuppa tea.
Erupting Chocolate- Well, it was like the molten chocolate cake, you cut in and out oozes rich chocolate sauce. If you are a chocaholic, go for it. 

No prizes for guessing- Tiramisu- However, this one tasted very different, and Suresh mentioned it was eggless. 
Where are the other 2? Patience… I have saved the best for last… Remember the song? yes, well, here it is, the dishes that stood out amongst the others, the ones that still lingers in my mind… What is it? Read on… 

 Risottoragli Asaparagi- Risotto cooked with Asparagus, cream and cheese- Oh man, this was divine. you could taste the richness, the flavour and there were so many different textures. It was the highlight of the evening for many of us. 🙂

Panna Cotta- A simple dessert served with Blueberry preserve and thin slices of apple- every spoonful was heavenly

The Lemon cheesecake- Hubba hubba hubba.. This one sure is a winner.. The lime flavour comes out so beautifully, it sings a song in your mouth 🙂

As i bid adieu, it was one awesome evening with Friends, Food and an ambiance that oozed with FUN…

You can read my earlier review here

Highlights at Dario’s

  • It is a pure vegetarian restaurant
  • There is a lovely indoor and outdoor seating area
  • They are open till 11pm… 
  • There are plans to launch corporate lunch packages with a set menu[ for large groups] priced around Rs650
  • The desserts are eggless, even the Tiramisu.. 
A meal for 2 should cost around Rs1000 – 1500… 

Dario’s Address:

#11, Kasturi Rangan Road,
2nd Street,
Chennai- 600018
Ph:             044-4919 3333      

URL: http://www.darios.in [you can not only read about the restaurant, but also see the detailed menu]

Landmark: Next to Ashwini Hospital [1st right after the Russian Cultural Centre]

The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  🙂

Art and Artists – Chitra Santhe, Bangalore

It is that time of the year again, the day, the Sunday when  Chitra Santhe happens in Bangalore. It is a celebration of every possible form of art you could think of.. It happens just once a year and is quite an event… 

When? Today, 27th January 2013. ONLY TODAY….

Where does it happen? All through Kumara Krupa Road, all the way into Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath (CKP) and beyond [near golf course, Windsor Manor Hotel and Ashoka hotel]

What is so special about Chitra Santhe? The entire street is buzzing with artists and craftsmen showcasing their work. There are a few doing sketches, while others are polishing their brass sculptures while some are giving the finishing touches to their pottery/clay structures. It is an amazing feel to be walking along that street today. This year they are expecting over 2000 artists to participate.  

How do i know? Well, i was fortunate to have been in Bangalore during the event and went to check it out with Lakshmi [her mom in law i remember had called and suggested we go for this] .. It was the 1st of its kind that i saw, and i was quite fascinated by the whole concept. Watching the myriad of hues and images floating along the streets, people vying for a good photograph, and other artists more than willing to chat with you. I quite enjoyed the event… 

[Movie Review] Kumki

After hearing rave reviews, i nudged a few friends to watch Kumki. Alas, it was not to be, we were at the theater, Inox, waiting for the doors to open when a staff came over to tell us there was some technical issues and the screening was cancelled. Our hopes fell and we were disappointed. Anyways, that weekend an excolleague of mine called asking if i would like to catch up, and what do you know, it began with us watching Kumki, at Escape Cinemas, Express Avenue. 
I had seen and enjoyed Director Prabhu Solomon’s earlier movie Mynaa, which is set in the village and is very rural. Wondered if maybe this movie too would be similar. There ends the similarity. The setting was the only common factor between the two flicks. 

What was Kumki about? 
It is a fairly simple tale about Bomman (Vikram Prabhu, Sivaji’s Grandson & Prabhu’s son),a mahout who along with his uncle and another help[played quite well by Thambi Ramaiah and Aswin] go from town to town with their elephant [Manickam]. They get invited to temple functions and other such small festivals. On the other side is the village of Adhi kadu [in the region of Panimalai, Marthandam)]where a wild elephant Komban has been on rampage. The wild elephant attacks women who are out in the field and has killed quite a few, especially during harvest season. Unable to deal with the menace and determined to not run away to another town [which is what the cops suggest the villagers do], the village chief calls for a Kumki [a trained elephant used to tame wild elephants] 
The scene where we are introduced to Komban and his rage is quite disturbing. He is all set to trample Alli [Lakshmi menon] when she slips and just about escapes.  One day when heading back to base after a brief spat with the officials after Bomman fails to show Manickam’s papers [which his uncle had lost somewhere along the way], the man who helps them Mani annan receives a call from the village asking if the Kumki elephant is ready to be transported to the village. 
The twist in the tale happens now, the ordered Kumki elephant’s mahout is stuck with some personal emergency and says he will take about 3days to reach the village. In the meanwhile, Bomman volunteers to go to the village and hold fort till the real Kumki elephant takes over. The villagers welcome and treat Bomman, his clan and Manickam with great revere. While they are under the assumption that Manickam is a kumki, reality is that Manickam is indeed a very timid elephant who shies away from breaking coconuts

In a turn of events, Bomman sets eyes on Alli and falls in love with her, forgetting the real purpose of thier visit to the village. He decides to stay on, telling the owner of the real Kumki that he will manage, and train Manickam to deal with any kind of emergency. Eventually, he understands the severity of things and comes to a point where he says  “i cannot mislead the villagers, i am putting everybody’s life at risk, we should just leave” What happens next is the climax of the movie…

As real as the visuals are, i felt the director could have shown more scenes of Manickam and his antics, and of Kumban as well. The songs are beautiful, especially Sollitaale Ava Kaadhala ,Ayyayayo Anandhame and Onnum Puriyalai. The romance is sweet, the pride the villagers have of their property and heritage is amazing.
Vikram Prabhu has done an amazing job, for a debut artist. The scenes where he cajoles and pampers the elephant, the push ups he does on its tusks, wow… shows the relationshiop between a mahout & his elephant.   Lakshmi Menon fits the role perfectly and has played her role well.  Thambi Ramaiah is wacky as always, and infact i felt he got more screen space than others.

A movie worth a watch…. yet another offbeat story..

I would rate it 4/5

55 word story- Carnage

So mom, I was wondering- can I not study history anymore?” Saul asked. “Honey, it is part of who we are. You need to learn that stuff” countered his mom. “ Eeks, reading about the appalling carnage in that war torn country makes me want to puke. I want to learn about robots” he whined.

 It was published here

Skywatch Friday… Grandeur Galore

I couldnt believe myself. I was actually there, a place I had been wanting to visit for quite sometime now. This was such an impulse trip, and I was loving every minute of it. Where was I? I was in the temple town of Kumbakonam, more importantly I was standing at the entrance to the infamous temple complex- “Gangai konda Cholapuram” 

A man who was watering the plants came over and asked where I was from and what I was doing there.  When I told him I was from Chennai and here just to explore the place, he was quite fascinated. Said he maintained the temple premises, the garden mainly and had been working there for nearly a decade. Asked if I would like to know more about the place and I happily nodded my head. He guided me around the place, sharing information on the history, the ruler, and the various temples within the premises. 
Here is what I learnt,

What was once a city founded by Rajendra Chola is today a rustic village and all that remains is this grandeur [ASI] property. It was founded to commemorate the King’s victorious march to the Ganges.  This was also the capital of Chola empire during the 11th Century CE for almost 250 years from then. Emperor Rajendra wore the title of Gangaikonda Cholan when his army captured the Ganges Plains. That is how the place came to be named Gangaikonda Cholapuram. 

It’s from here that the Chola empire expanded reaching great heights. They went on to control South India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia & even parts of Indonesia. It is believed that Rajendra Chola’s army brought water from the River Ganges to Gangikonda Cholapuram, filling up the tanks.    

The first thing that catches your eye is the larger than life Nandi (Siva’s Bull) at the entrance of the Maha mandapam. I know that the Nandi stands guard in all such temples, but here it is huge, and then there is a smaller one on the landing above the staircase. The attention to detail, and the intricate carvings on the Nandi are beautiful, you can make our each curve, each bell around its neck and the work on its legs as well. 
For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday

Haagen-Dazs arrives in Chennai

Häagen-Dazs, a name that brings a twinkle in every eye,
Häagen-Dazs, a brand that people who are into desserts, especially ice creams will know
Häagen-Dazs, need i say more?

Well, today, Chennai has a new entrant in the ice cream arena, that too in prime location- Khader Nawaz Khan road. Yes, you read it right. Even though all this while  Haagen-Dazs ice creams were available across select outlets in the city, a stand alone outlet sure changes things. It shows that the city has welcomed the brand, has shown them they have a place in this beautiful city. 🙂 

Häagen-Dazs (pron.: /ˈhɑːɡəndɑːz/) is an ice cream brand, established by Reuben and Rose Mattus in the Bronx, New York, in 1961. Starting with only three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and coffee, the company opened its first retail store in Brooklyn, New York, on November 15, 1976.  Häagen-Dazs produces ice cream, ice cream bars, ice cream cakes, sorbet and frozen yogurt.
~Source: Wikipedia 
The outlet is situated in the same complex as Cascade & Man mandir store in Khader Nawaz Khan road, and on the ground floor is where Haagen-Dazs is located. The Franchise is owned by Sam Paul, the one who opened Crimson Chakra on KNK road, and who also owns Toni & Guy salons in the city.

 The range of desserts-Top shelf- Brownie, Cookies[they were huge], Blueberry muffin and choco muffin; 2nd shelf-  Cheese cake, Blueberry cheese cake, Apple crumble pie and behind is the Minnesota Mud pie. 

 The waffle cones, they were divine- so crisp and beautiful

 Paradise- a layered heavenly dessert- ice cream scoops tucked between layers of waffles, served alongside fresh strawberry fresh cream and chocolate sauce.

Chef Anthony, addressing the crowd & answering queries

               The set of 3 cup cake ice cream desserts
                                                                                                                          The tub of ice cream we got when we left

The pricing is around,
Single Scoop Ice Cream Rs 180/- 
Double Scoop Ice Cream Rs 300/- 
Large Pint Ice Cream Rs 700/- 
Shakes/Drinks Rs 300/- odd 
Sundaes 3 Scoops+Sauces Rs 420/- 
3 Cup Cake Ice Cream Desserts Rs 550/-
There also offer elaborate desserts, almost like a meal, which cost around 800 bucks. So, take your time, sample the ice creams and then decide what you want 🙂

They are priced similar to Movenpick situated across the street. Only time will tell which of the two giants survive and which one buckles.  

 No. 32, Ground Floor, Platinum Towers, Khader Nawaz Khan Road
Chennai – 600034

The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  🙂

Pretty Pansy in Ooty

During my visits to Ooty, spending a few hours at the Botanical Garden has become a routine of sorts. This time too i was there with friends, mainly cos it was my friend’s 1st time in Ooty and because the gardens provided the kids open space to run and have some fun. 

I noticed this peculiar flower during my earlier visits as well. This time, i went up to a lady sitting nearby [who  had a bucket and a broomstick, and looked like someone who took care of the place] and enquired about this flower. She said it was called the Pansy, and dint know any more. They always remind me of Master Shifu from Kung Fu panda. the tiny face, focussed eyes and cute structure i guess.  Here are some shots from the recent visits and finally one from my earlier visit. 

                                                More from Ooty can be seen/read here

Pongal… Kanu pidi…

1st comes Bhogi, the day when old and unwanted things are burnt and thrown out to ring in the new. The highlight of the day is Bholi [rice pancake with lentil or coconut filling made with jaggery]
2nd day is the Main Pongal day, the day when people rejoice a good harvest. Us city dwellers wake up , shower, do a pooja thanking the Lord for all that he has blessed us. Special prasadams are 
Sakkarai Pongal made in the traditional paanai with Manjal leaves tied around it [ sweet rice dish cooked in the traditional vessel- either a brass pot or pan with fresh turmeric plant tied around it]
Karumbu [sugar cane]
Payasam [ milk based rice pudding of sorts]
Plain Rice with ghee 
3rd day is Kanu pidi and Maatu pongal [for the cows]. 
On pongal day, before we hit the bed, we were told that the next morning we had to wake up early [before 6am if possible]. These days we do Kanu pidi sometime in the morning. Gramma would draw a line using the fresh turmeric on our foreheads and then we would prep the space for the Kanu pidi..  Women of all ages place offerings for the crows while praying for the well being of their family, husbands and brothers incl. 
  • In an open space in our backyard, gramma or mom would draw 5 kolams in a line. 
  • Atop that we would place two Turmeric plant leaves for each person. 2 beetle nut leaves, 5 pieces of Karumbu, 2 of beetle nut is placed on the left side. 
  • 3 bowls – 1 with sakkarai pongal, 1 with curd rice and finallly one with white rice coloured using the fresh turmeric is kept beside the leaves. 
  • A small bowl of water is also kept

We make small balls of the different rice and place them in rows on the leaves. And then wash our hands, take some water in our palm, run it around the leaves and drop them on the ground. Say a prayer and complete the process.  
Women say “Kakaipidi vachen Kannupidi vachen, Kakka kuutam kalienchalum, enka koottam kalayama irukkenum” [i hereby make an offering for the crows, for the family, even if the crow family splits, mine should not] before winding up and heading for a shower.. The other key aspect is that one has to make sure none but crows eat these, other animals/birds need to be shooed off [cos we believe crows are our ancestors]… 🙂