Adieu to 2014 and Hola to 2015

I love Dec 31st, the New Year’s Eve…..Here are my 8 reasons why [buhahaha why should it always be 5 or 10 or 15…]


1. The entire world makes a big deal of this day, and you sit wondering “I don’t have any plans, and then comes a call from a friend inviting you to a party and the day looks kickass and you go about flaunting your plans to all”
2.Instead of being Thankful for all that happened in 2014, it would be a
good time to show the finger to all the rotten things/moments you went
through and do a boooyah for the 2015 

3. Not to forget, you did have some awesome things happen in 2014.. so be grateful for all that!!
4.  Remember to set aside time to travel [more places to explore and discover yourself some more].. Oh and you could meet some cute guys/girls [ err whatever your preference is] ;o)  and if you are not intro travelling but feeling generous, I am always ready and willing to do it for you.. just drop me a line and let me know, will share my bank account details πŸ˜‰
5.  Dream big, take risks, it is just not worth being cooped up in your comfort zone all the time. It is the only way to live life!
6. If tonight you got no plans, you sit at home, watch TV, surf channels, stare at your phone and just have a quiet moment welcoming the new year in…
7. Ya ya the phone used to ring off the hook, but now all you get are whatsapp messages [ a few special ones have you smiling , making you realise how awesome your friends are]
8. Above all, remember that here comes a new year, a whole set of 365 days for you to learn, grow, mature, make mistakes, fall flat, embarrass yourself and just move ahead in life… go for it, reach for the stars, rather go beyond and have a fabulous year ahead!!








Here’s to a super duper new year ahead….

Weekend getaway to the K land…

After a long hiatus, am off on a weekend trip… Ever since Dec showed its face, I have been itching to get on the road and explore a new destination. I had a place in mind, but alas was unable to plan and now the flight rates have hit the skies and beyond.

Consoling myself, I had decided to hit this town that has been on my “Must visit” list for quite a while now. I have had conversations with friends who visited here, some recommended it highly while others said “Cha, nothing there but empty houses, no point”. But the heart wants what it wants right? And so, I am off to this town, not so far away from Chennai to explore and see what it holds for me…

Started as a solo trip, but then plans changed and a friend is coming along.. The 1st time we are travelling together.. Excited and anxious!!

All I am dreaming off are long endless corridors, beautiful pillars, colourful walls, the palace, the temple, the church all tucked into a quaint little town. I have seen enough photographs and videos of the place, so now am ready to go say hello…

Any guesses where am headed to?

Food Festival at Vijaya Forum Mall, Chennai












There is a reason why I am not fond of food courts, no it is not about the food, it is more about the crowd. Most malls have a food court on the top floor which houses a plethora of restaurants and the place is buzzing with people, some waiting for food while others are chatting away while digging into their orders. And then there are the counters where one needs to pick up a prepaid card from, which is used across the restaurants. I think I have a card from each mall in my wallet. And overtime you go to the mall, you need to recharge this card before you can go place your order. But then, unlike most other malls, Forum Mall in Vadapalani has a food court that is not over crowded or noisy. 

This was my 3rd or 4th visit to the food court, which is a good sign! I was here that evening to check out the Chennai Food Festival. This is a festival where the restaurants in the food court showcase one special dish and have offers running as well. Some restaurants have also included a few new dishes for the festival.  Before I forget, this festival is on from November 28th to December 14th 2014. New menu for food festival have been cooked up at joints.  

Apart from the new and improved menu, the food festival also showcases
– Cooking demonstrations
– Fusion Music Show and
– Comedy Chef Performance [ which I discovered will happen on the stage set up in the centre of the seating area]

The entire place is decorated with red banners and plenty of lights, a tad too much if you ask me, but it does add certain charm to the place.

So, coming back to the food that I got to taste- there was the paneer tikka from Dishoom [ a division of Salt, a restaurant I love]- the paneer was soft and not overloaded with spices or marinade. Following close on heels was the Pani poori from Kailash Prabhat – I love their poori, it is made with sooji unlike the others. Just when I was thinking I would love a juice,a long came a plate with watermelon juice from Squeeze stall. 
 
The evening was turning out quite well, we were yapping away, laughing and chattering nonstop, reliving fun moments and the food just kept pouring onto our table one after the other. Even before we were done with the pain poori, along came the Pizza from Quiznos. Since when did Quiznos make pizzas? well, apparently they do. The pizza was good, but by the time we got to it the pie was nearly cold. We also had a plate of sandwich from one of the stalls [sorry, forgot the name]- it was an interesting sandwich. there was a veg patties in place of the filling and then there was another tier with fresh coleslaw. It was quite filling and fresh. 

And now comes the piece de resistance. A tray with two plates came to our table. One had small banana dosas and other had a cup with 2 vazhapoo vadai. I used to love bananas  but then stopped eating them and so wasn’t sure I would like this, but fell in love with it, it was just divine. The vadai needless to say was amazing and yummy [was left wondering why there was no chutney served with the vadai].. ID sure has wowed me once again and I do hope they introduce

this dosa and vadai into their menu across centers. 


Hmm, have I left anything out? have i missed out anything?? Nope, am done!! πŸ˜€ 

So, you can see you are spoilt for choice when you do visit the Food court in Vijaya Forum Mall anyway, more so till the 14th December!! Next time you are in that part of town, you know where to head for a bite.. 

Meanwhile, to register for the special cooking classes, call 4904 9000.

Address:
#183, NSK Salai, Arcot Road, Green Park Private Entrance, Vadapalani, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600026
044 4904 9000

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon AppΓ©tit πŸ™‚

Absolute Barbecue, Chennai



Well, now that you have feasted on the photographs, do I need to tell you more? πŸ™‚

I was at Absolute Barbecue on GN Chetty road. Of all the years of being in Chennai, I have come across quite a few restaurants that open up and are good. But this is probably the only restaurant that I see doing phenomenally well that every single person is raving about their experiences here. Not one or two, but more than just a handful have been recommending this place to anyone who asks for a place to go for lunch or dinner and then there are those talking about how difficult it is to get a table here and how one needs to book well in advance. 

Well, I have been here three times and every single time the experience has been memorable, food has been just as good and service is outstanding. Infant, the staff is constantly checking up on you, making sure things are to your liking, if you need anything else or giving you tips on what else you should try while there. 

The evening began with the grills being placed in the table, and then there were the skewers brought forth- some with non veg and others with veg. I am a veggie and so I got to taste their sinful paneer, potato, mushrooms, assortment of vegetables and then of course the coconut kebab and american potatoes which were all divine!! They also bring forward the freshly grilled pineapple that is cut in front of you and served hot- the pineapple with cinnamon is simply outstanding, i could eat just that and be a happy camper.. 

If you still have space after the starters, you should check out their Wish grill- it is a counter where you pick the veggies, noodles/rice, sauces and they cook it for you on the ginormous grill. There is also a pot of freshly steamed idiyappam served with one side dish [this works for both veg & non veg]. And if you have more space [you are probably Gadothgachan or his relative], you must have some plain rice with Daal makhani..

Wait, it doesn’t end there.. There is dessert counter to be attacked- cold stone ice cream, few dessert items and then there is the dessert of the day- I have had Ghevar with Rabdi and Moong daal halwa- both of which were yumm. There is also a fridge of sorts with shelves lined up with colourful desserts- pudding, kheer, cake and much more.. 

If you are gaping and wondering how expensive the place is, let me reassure you it is not. Veg is priced around Rs520-550 while non veg is close to Rs600. They also have a early bird rate that works during certain hours of the day. 

Address:
Absolute Barbecue

No. 45, Tower Victorie, 3rd Floor, T. Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600017
089397 59382

Website: http://www.absolute-barbecue.com

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon AppΓ©tit πŸ™‚

Quick wrap up!

Dear Diary,
How have you been? I know I haven’t written in you in a while.. As I say silence means good news! So things have been going good, have been busy with work/projects and also managed to do not one but three trips to Bangalore [ albeit short ones] over the past 2 months. 
Looks like my “no bangalore” streak has been broken. I might be one more trip there, if only to spend more time with the cute little bundle there… He has the cutest smile and laugh that bursts into air overtime you sing a nursery rhyme, esp Pat-a-cake baker man… πŸ™‚
Apart from this, friends are always around, which makes it all worth while… But then off late I do notice there are a few changes in their behaviour… One odd has started pulling away, I am perfectly fine with that, just hope they aint going down the wrong path [ if my intuitions have taught me anything, it is that they are always right, which is what worries me] but then I do know that I cannot control or be there to guide people, they will figure life out..
Also realised I don’t need some people in my life.. Makes me sad to cut them off but I am doing it for my own good.. Negativity around does sneak into your life and pulls you down… And these are people who I have come to realise just don’t change, even though they talk about changing.. If i were to tell them this, their response would be “you have no idea how horrible my life is, I just can’t do what you have done.. la la..” well, all I can say is “If you want to change, you need to find a way to change, else stop cribbing and deal with it”… 
Being in touch with people is good, but off late the sense of constantly in touch is getting to me.. I am the kind who likes space and so I consciously switch off.. And then there are those who you think care, who turn out to be just the opposite.. hard to digest but needs to be accepted ~!! Expecting them to do anything else is like expecting Floppy to talk, well he does by barking but imaging if he started talking like em dogs in Dr Dolittle.. πŸ˜€ 
Well, the past few days have been trying- in terms of health, life and work.. but things will settle down and I shall bounce back to my usual self.. Until then, time to just let go and live it up!! 
See you later… 
Adios
Yours truly
Aarti
a

Exploring Galle, Sri Lanka

There we were in our last leg of the trip, heading towards Galle before driving back down to Colombo for a day’s rest before catching our flight back home. While down from Unawatuna, our cab driver told us the Galle fort area is a must see. We trusted his judgement and allowed him to show us around. 

We drove through an archway, the walls resembling that of an old fort. It was indeed a Fort, the Galle Fort. There was a mini city of sorts within these walls, there were buildings, there were court houses, stores [including a Gems& jewellery store- our cabbie told us the prices here will be crazy as they target international tourists], narrow lanes with cute looking houses lined up on either sides and then of course on the other side was the long running Fort wall beyond which lay the beautiful blue ocean. We got off near a staircase, walking up the fort wall and along it taking it all in. From the height, we spotted a temple, a church and a few tall buildings as well.
Suddenly, we noticed a small cafe near one of the pretty lanes. We went over to explore the place, discovered it was a quaint bed & breakfast places besides which was a cart selling stuffed paratha of sorts. Decided to indulge and bought one stuffed paratha and it was divine.. Wish we had known about this homestead, we would have planned better and maybe stayed in Galle one night. 
We hopped into the cab and drove around till we came to a Court house where we spotted a newly married couple walking down in all their wedding finery. The groom was decked up in a gold suit with a maroon velvet vest and a beautiful headgear, the bride was in a saree and wore so much jewellery I was amazed she dint need help standing upright. There was an entourage following them, all dressed in identical outfits, and a photographer with his gear as well. As we drove along, we spotted quit a few similar groups around. My friend in fact took a picture with one of the married couples who happily posed πŸ™‚ 
On our way towards Colombo, I decided to read up on Galle from the pamphlet I had picked up. I came to know,
The fort was built first in 1588 by Portuguese, subsequently fortified by the Dutch sometime in the 17th Century. What is amazing is that the place which is nearly 423years old stands tall and majestic even today, courtesy the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. It is also referred to as the Dutch Fort or the “Ramparts of Galle”.
To know more, click here 

Pind Balluchi, Bangalore

After a day of walking, sleeping and work, come evening we decided to head out for a walk. Two of us had been toying with the idea of catching a movie, and then the other two also joined in. We wandered out and after a few minutes decided to head down to Garuda Mall. It was a good 15-20 mins walk, and once there we headed straight upstairs to INOX. While the idea of a movie was exciting, we weren’t looking forward to paying hideous sums of money[ we all knew Blore cinemas was expensive] .. After a bit of deliberation, we decided on a movie and imaging our surprise when the ticket was priced at Rs120 each.. Apparently weekday night shows are cheaper than rest of the shows. :O 

Since we had a good 2 hours before the movie, and were kinda hungry, we wandered around the mall till we came upon Pind Balluchi. The restaurant had the standard sardarji statues near the entrance and a giant tree just inside. We made a beeline for a table all the way at the other end of the restaurant, amidst all the flickering lights and dancing sardarji men on the wall .. While we were browsing through the menu, we heard quite a bit of thud thud, only to discover the restaurant was right next to the Bowling alley… πŸ™‚


We placed our orders, 2 chaas, 2 jal jeera, 2 rumali roti, 2 naan, 1 missi roti, 1 portion Daal makhani and 1 of gatte ki sabzi. 

The food arrived within minutes and it was piping hot. The thing that stayed in my mind was that the staff brought out little katoris [cups] and served us the sides in the same. I loved my roti and the sides and looked like the others did too.. During the meal, we noticed the neighboring table had ordered rasamalai and were raving about it. That was it, we made up our mind and went ahead and ordered some for ourselves and it was sinfully yumm indeed.. 

With 10 mins to spare, we paid the bill and made our way back up the escalators. This was my 1st visit to Pind and I heard that all their outlets have a similar decor and food is good in all of them. The bill was close to Rs1400/-

Address: 4th Floor, Garuda Mall, Magrath Rd, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560025
Phone: 080 4115 3753
Hours: 11:30 am – 11:30 pm
Website: http://www.pindballuchi.com/#

Dunkin Donuts, Bangalore

We were walking along Brigade Road after a good breakfast which was followed by an hour of meeting when we spotted Dunkin Donuts signboard outside Mota Royal Arcade [ yes, that mall at the end of Brigade road]. A colleague travelling along asked if we wanted to go have a donut and that is how we ended up at DD in Bangalore on a cool Tuesday morning. 

I chose a double berry donut [ if you know me, you would have known what I would pick], while the others went for chocolate and other flavours. They had quite a range, but what surprised me was the ambiance. There were funky furniture all around, royal red chairs, a long wooden table with orange chairs and few others as well, and then there were the pillars which were filled with quotes [giving it a black board look] and the quirky masks on the wall.  One colleague chose the Kesar pista which was a simple glaze donut with plenty of slivers of pista on top.

Another aspect I was surprised by was that the Donuts were quite reasonably priced, between Rs50 – Rs60. You get to pick from simple glazed donuts to those with toppings, filling and much more.. Apart from these, they also serve a range of hot & cold beverages, bites, burgers,and sandwiches.

We enjoyed our donuts, some oozing with filling while others had a thick glaze on them and made our way to the Hotel down the road. 

Even though the donuts were good, I still prefer the ones from Donut House!! Have tried Krispy Kreme and Mad over donuts as well. 

Wine & Cheese at Park Hyatt, Chennai

For years now I have been hearing about how wonderful Wine & Cheese combination is. But I am quite clueless on what wine is good with what cheese and why. So when Park Hyatt announced a Wine & Cheese festival, I had to attend it, if only to quench my curiosity. 
I reached the hotel around 7 and waited a good hour for the other bloggers to arrive and for the restaurant to get ready with their set… We were then welcomed into The Dining Room in the lobby level where the festival was happening. 
There in the corner of the restaurant was a table set up with quite a few varieties of cheese. Besides this on another table were bread, olives, mustard and few other varieties of bread. And then as you turned around, was a bucket with ice and quite a few White wine bottles which were accompanied by a few Red wine bottles outside the bucket. This is another thing that leaves me puzzled- why is White wine chilled while Red is served at room temperature? I am still clueless about this.. 

I got to interact with Alessandro from Italy, a wine connoiseur who spoke about how the Tuscany region he hailed from was popular for Wine. He wore a thick chain of sorts with a flat cup at the end. He mentioned it was for wine tasting and that he never ate a thing or drank a drop of any liquid when working. He spoke in length about wine, which wine goes with which cheese, but then all this just vanished into thin air in a few minutes and I was just happy to be tasting so many varieties of cheese and sipping on different kinds of wine as well. 
It was one fun evening, I would love to learn more about wine and cheese.. Hopefully soon!!
Address:
Park Hyatt
#39, Velachery Main Road, 
Guindy, 
Chennai- 600032 
Ph:- 044 7177 1234

Food Tales.. Food memories

There are these flavours that we grow up eating, which stick with us for life… Some of which remind us of the times we lived through and others of people who were a part of our lives. 
I woke up today morning and remembered the Sago Porridge I used to have for breakfast during that phase when mom was away in Chennai [during her last trimester] and my gramma used to do all the cooking[ what little she could manage]. We also had my great grandmother living with us and she used to have this porridge for breakfast, and I started having some and eventually fell in love with it. Today, I see sago porridge or payasam anywhere – I go back in time and smile… Not to forget I grab a bowl of it and savour every spoonful.
Another thing that I remember vividly that I am longing for is this vadam we used to have, my great grandmother called it “Chambekkai vadam” and it was used in Vendiya Kozhambu. I did not know what it was made with for a long time and then discovered it was made with Pumpkin. It has been years since I had it, but I think of it often and wonder if I should go looking for it or find someone who can make it for me! Great gramma was so good with her hands, she would make mor milagai, vathals and all sorts of things when she was sitting idle, or busy cleaning out cupboards or fidgeting with something or the other. Never a dull moment. And if I was around, she would tell me stories & shlokas related to food/eating/sleeping..
What are your fond/food memories?