Naturals Ice-cream – in Delhi – from Kolkatta

icecreambox

“Chocolate, Butterscotch or Cassata Sir” the  guy asked as we stopped our car next to his ice-cream truck at India Gate. Those were some great times and we still manage to that once in a while. But I am so glad that there is much more to offer in the Ice-cream space.

I love that we have started experimenting with the flavors, and so the creators are also thinking out-of-the-box. Yesterday, we walked into an ice-cream parlor that served Masala Chai, Wasabi, Paan and fresh fruit like Tender Coconut and Orange Basil. We were pleasantly surprised both at the variety and quality.

F&N
Pabrai’s Naturelle has recently opened a shop in C.P next to the famous Kake-da-hotel. Originally from Calcutta, they have an impressive client list & are inventors of Pabrai’s Nalen Gur Ice-cream. We got chatting with the owner, who said people like the Paan, Chandan and fruit flavors. Cocolate Hazzelnut and Mango remains the top seller. Wasabi was liked more by the foreigners and was supplied to hotels mainly. I tried the Masala chai, which tasted exactly like a spicy chai. Didn’t really have a taste for the gur but really enjoyed the little bits in tender coconut & paan.

If you like the Natural Ice-cream from Pune & Mumbai , you are sure to like this one too. Go, give it a try!!

I’m so glad that other than the regular Amul, Cream-bell, Kwality Walls and so on – We now have Giani’s, Baskin Robbins & a couple of Gelato joints scattered across the city. Even Mother Dairy Cookie Crumb,  Tener Cocnut & Bluberry Bliss are top notch.

unusual

We may never really reach the Tomato and Tofu flavored ice cream popular in Tokyo, but a little bit of experimenting is always good. So the next time you are asked what ice-cream would you like – Dare to think beyond Hot Chocolate Fudge.
Do let us know what’s your favorite unusual ice cream flavor and where can we try it?

Delhi Restaurants -Ambiance, Price & Food: getting the right mix?!?

Delhi now has a range of eating options – Fast Food, Casual Dining, Pub- Cafés, Fine Dining and the it’s many variations – Bakeries, Coffee houses, Dhabas, Buffets and thousands more. What differentiates them is primarily,  Food preparation style, Service (speed, quality and self/full), Ambiance and Pricing.

The top of the list is the Fine dining restaurant. They offer their diners the finest in food, service and atmosphere: hence the exorbitant prices.

My question is- Although, most average sized restaurants in Delhi call themselves Fine Dining, yet why can one never be sure of what one will finally experience?

In the last few months I have noticed that most restaurants in Delhi are a bit confused about their identity or they are just trying too hard to make a niche for themselves. Now, I agree, that it’s difficult to pinpoint what level of service and ambiance will justify the tag  of fine dining, BUT if the rating on 3 out of the 4 factors is not up to the mark then getting full marks on Pricing cannot be the ONLY factor to be a FINE DINING Restaurant.

What I basically want to say is, on an average, a meal for two excluding drinks and including taxes is about Rs. 1000, no matter what you eat – Thai, Chinese, Indian, Italian- whatever!

Actually, I don’t mind paying the thousand bucks also, as long as I am happy with what I have paid for. You can never be certain about – how good/authentic the meal will be? What quantity will be served to you? How  your overall experience will rate?

Try this simple test. Have a ‘Chicken Penne Arrabiata’ or a similar pasta at Big Chill (INR 375), Mrs Kaurs (INR 365) , Route 4(INR 325), The Kitchen (INR 300), Amici (INR 320), Café OZ (INR 350) and Urban Café (INR 350). Notice, they are all in Khan Market and within the same price range. Now compare the quantity, quality of the food and the overall experience in service, décor etc.

Or is it that the restaurants in Delhi have become so expensive that at 500 rs per head all you get is the bare minimum?

Another discussion I have had many a times is – The Food vs. Ambiance debate.

I have thought long and hard about this, for me, if the food is terrific, the place is good. Sounds oblivious enough!

But this is not true for everyone and they do have a good point. People go to restaurants – especially high end ones – for the whole experience. I have actually heard people say the place is so great but the food is ok!

To be blunt I could care less if a place is trendy. If the food isn’t good I don’t want to pay an arm and leg for it.

Take for instance the restaurant Gunpowder (22, Hauz Khas Village). It’s difficult to reach the restaurant on your own, especially the first time (including the four flight of stairs). The ambiance is average at best. The food however, is authentic and tasty.

But if you search for the review of the restaurant you shall find these as the top two reviews.  Anoothi Vishal at India food and Travel Guide starts her review by saying “It’s not a place that the average Dilliwallah”. And Chefatlarge gave it a rating of 2/5.

To each his own I guess!

All I really want is to find a restaurant with a perfect balance of Taste, Ambiance and Price and if it is close to where I live, that will be the cherry on top.


In anticipation of animation!

 

Being an animation fan, I thought it would be great to let people know what they might be able to catch, miss and then eventually watch on DVD this year! This is definitely the year of sequels: Cars 2, KungFu Panda 2, Happy Feet 2 and Hoodwinked 2. But aside from these, there are some great movies to look forward to: Rango, Hop, Smurfs, Rio, Adventures of Tintin,  The Lion of Judah, Puss in Boots and many more!

The Lion of Judah

US Release Date: 25 March

The Lion of Judah is the sequel to the movie Once Upon a Stable, taking place 30 years after the events of the first film. Follow the adventures of a bold lamb (Judah) and his stable friends as they try to avoid the sacrificial alter the week preceding the crucifixion of Christ. Interesting thing, it features the voice of Anupam Kher!

 

Eddy Deco

EDDY DECO starts off as a classic hard boiled detective story. Eddy is hired by a beautiful and mysterious woman to find her missing father, but as the plot unfolds with several bizarre twists and turns, the story has similarities to Men in Black, and Star Wars. Eddy’s search leads him to villains who have a disconcerting habit of turning into giant lobsters and octopi.

 

Hop

US Release Date: 1 April

The Easter Bunny is accidentally hit by a car, and it’s up to the offending driver to save Easter. The movie tells of E.B. a teenage rabbit who on the eve of taking over from his father as the Easter Bunny, leaves his home in Easter Island for Hollywood to pursue his dream of becoming a drummer, and is hit by Fred O’Hare an out of work slacker who was driving home. Feigning injury, E.B. manipulates Fred to take him in as he recovers. As Fred struggles with the world’s worst house guest, both will learn what it takes to finally grow up, as Fred is pressed to partner with E.B. to save Easter from a evil Easter Chick named Carlos who wants Easter Chicks to be in charge of Easter.

Rio

US Release Date: 15 April

When Blu, a domesticated macaw from small-town Minnesota, meets the fiercely independent Jewel, he takes off on an adventure to Rio de Janeiro with this bird of his dreams. Blu is a rare species of blue Spix’s macaw resident at a bookstore in Moose Lake, Minnesota, who is the last of his kind. When scientists learn that another macaw was spotted in South America and that the macaw, Jewel is female, they take him out of Minnesota and send him to Rio de Janeiro to meet her. While there, he learns to confront his fear of flying in order to win her heart. Along the way, they get kidnapped by poachers to sell them to get a fortune. After they escape, they try to avoid the thieves and their pet Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Nigel with help from a few friends on the way.

 

Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil

US Release Date: 29 April

Red is in training for the Sister Hoods. Now, teaming with Wolf, Red must investigate the mysterious disappearance of Hansel and Gretel.

Kungfu Panda 2

US Release Date: 26 May

Po joins forces with a group of new kung-fu masters to take on an old enemy with a deadly new weapon. Po, now a kung fu master, is fighting to protect the Valley of Peace alongside with Master Shifu and the Furious Five; when a new evil, the emperor peacock Lord Shen, emerges to take over China with a weapon so powerful, it threatens the existence of kung fu itself. Po sets out with the Furious Five to vanquish this threat, but must first confront his own mysterious past in order to find the strength to succeed.  This movie was originally going to be named Kung Fu Panda 2: Pandamonium, then changed to Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom, and is now finally, just Kung Fu Panda 2.

 

Cars 2

US Release Date: 24 June and UK on July 22

Star racecar Lightning McQueen and the incomparable tow truck Mater take their friendship to exciting new places in Cars 2 when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car.

 

The Smurfs

US Release Date: 3 August

When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world and into ours — in fact, smack dab in the middle of Central Park. Just three apples high and stuck in the Big Apple, the Smurfs must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down.

 

Puss in Boots: The Story of an Ogre Killer

US Release Date: 4 November

The film is based on and follows the character of Puss in Boots from Shrek and his adventures before his first appearance in 2004’s Shrek 2. The prequel’s story centers on the swashbuckling cat and how he comes to meet Shrek and his friends, while introducing new characters as well.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Release Date India: 11 November, US Release Date: 23 December

Tintin and his friends discover directions to a sunken ship commanded by Capt. Haddock’s ancestor and go off on a treasure hunt.

 

 

Happy Feet 2

US Release Date: 18 November

Brittany Murphy, the original voice actress of Mumble’s love interest Gloria, was set to reprise her role and begin recording sometime in 2010 but she died in December 2009. Singer Pink appears to be the late Murphy’s replacement and will contribute a song for the film while Brad Pitt and Matt Damon will be the “tiny krill” voices in the film.

Khan ka Khaana : Eating out at Khan Market

So you are in Khan Market, on a bright sunny day or late in the evening and wondering – where do you go? 

This market has consistently ranked as one of the costliest high end streets. In fact in 2010, it was rated as the world’s 21st most expensive retail high street by real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. It’s the newest hangout market, a place to be seen. With limitless options, Khan Market does not disappoint. Just be prepared to spend the moollah.

 A new restaurant opens and closes every month here and it surely is the survival of the fittest, so the old favorites like Chonas or Big Chill are forever favourites, but these days the choices have truly increased! Let me list out some options-

The Fine Dining Experience: Even casual dining restaurants tend to be fine dining in this market, if you know what I mean!!

Big Chill – Continental, Italian, Desserts, Avg Cost/dish INR 400. One of the oldest most famous ones, there are two outlets in Khan Market itself. I feel that the hype is a bit more than it deserves, don’t get me wrong it used to be awesome once upon a time.

Blanco– European, Japanese, Thai, Avg Cost/dish INR 400. Food is good; they also have a happy hour. They have Meats outlet as well, some really good stuff. Every thursday is women’s night with free mojitos… so enjoy ladies!

The Kitchen – Asian, European, Japanese, Thai. Avg Cost/dish INR 350. The food is really good, it’s a small place but worth the wait for the table. Definitely try their Khao Suey and notice the number go up on their Khao Suey meter!

Mamagoto –Asian, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. Best known for their wok & curries, it’s a must try. Go for their Meal in a bowl choices, its filling and tastes good!

Chonas -Chinese, European, North Indian, Avg Cost/dish INR 250. It has been around for 20+ years and is famous for their Happy Hours and only the Happy Hours. Some people have recommended the sizzlers.

Side Wok – Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. Great Thai food! The prawn red-curry was excellent, and to top it all they have an online reservation system. How cool is that?

China Fare– Chinese, Avg Cost/dish INR 300. It’s been the only Chinese restaurant in Khan for some time, and the food is good. But now that they have competition, we’ll just have to wait and watch. I always notice the cat sitting outside the door, see if you can spot her.

Watermelon – Health food, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. It has a relaxed lounge-like atmosphere, segmented into multiple rooms that provide some privacy, I guess?! With a limited menu and average dishes, avoid it if you are particular about your food.

Amici – Continental, Italian, Others, Avg Cost/dish INR 350.Best known for their oven fresh pizzas, they have some good days and bad days. I went on a bad day!! But have heard really great stuff about the place too.

Mrs Kaurs Crepes and More -American, Fast Food, Desserts, Others, Avg Cost/dish INR 300. Best known for their breakfast menu, they have light meals to enjoy all day too. The portions could be a little larger but that’s gives you an excuse to order some sweet-something.

Ginger Moon– Chinese, Avg Cost/dish INR 400. On my ‘To-Try’ list.

Khan Chacha Kabab Corner– Rolls & North Indian, Avg Cost/dish INR 200. Yes, the famous Khan Chacha is now a restaurant on the first floor, but the real fun of the place was the ‘street-food’ so to say atmosphere that is now lost. For the loyalist this remains the only place for kathi rolls.

The QSR (Quick Service Restaurants): by which I mean stand and eat type of places, they are certainly quick and seem to have a lot of fan following too. So don’t get discouraged by the crowds.

Hotdog Factory– American, Fast Food, Avg Cost/dish INR 100.

Chicago Pizza – American, Fast Food, Pizza, Avg Cost/dish INR 200. Their pepperoni slice is nice.

Al Bake– Fast Food, Lebanese, Avg Cost/dish INR 75. an offshoot of the NFC outlets, this one is better than the original.

Salim Kababs – Kababs & Rolls , Avg Cost/dish INR 150. Haven’t tried it yet.

Aap Ki Khatir– Rolls & Mughlai, Avg Cost/dish INR 150. This one is definitely recommended and the rolls are better than some of its counterparts in the same market.

Mrs Kaurs Premium Cookies – Bakery, Avg Cost/dish INR 75.

The Kathis – Rolls & North Indian, Avg Cost/dish INR 150.

Cocoberry- Desserts, Avg Cost/dish INR 150.

The Cafés and Pubs: for some informal, laze around type of an environment step into one of the many café’s at Khan. Some of these turn into a party zone with loud music and beer as the sun sets.

Latitude – American, Continental, Italian, Avg Cost/dish INR 450. The latest eatery to set up shop in Khan Market is Latitude 28, a café by The Good Earth, which has its kitchen supervised by chef Ritu Dalmia.

Cafe Turtle – Cafe, Continental, Italian, Others, Avg Cost/dish INR 150. An old haunt for most, it’s great to have some ice-tea and slice of freshly backed cake while you are immersed in the book you are reading.

Sugar N Spice – Bakery, Avg Cost/dish INR 75. Like any other of their outlets, breads and pastries are good.

Market Café – Bakery, Avg Cost/dish INR 200. One of the many specialties of this place is the wi-fi facility. It also has a Sheesha place on its second floor. The one thing you will find about this cafe’ at any given time is that you can actually ‘have a conversation’ without screaming your lungs out like in regular places. Quiet, comfortable and open, its a nice place if you want to really “catch up” with friends.

Route 04– American, Avg Cost/dish INR 300. You’ll find a lot of young kids, music is all American and by the end of the evening everyone is singing. Route 04 run by the owners of Turquoise Cottage and enjoys the same loyalty. Try their burgers, and head there during happy hours, they even have pitchers of LIIT as 1+1, a challenge to finish!

Cafe Oz & Bar – Continental, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. Nice beer & burgers. My fav is the lime & mint spritzer. I love the balance of café and pub that that Cafe Oz has.

Urban Café – Chinese, Continental, North Indian, Italian, Avg Cost/dish INR 600. Drinks are bit on the expensive side and so is food, when you look at the quantity. It has a nice ambience for some club/pub atmosphere with more well traveled diners. (And not just screaming teenagers, that you see in most pubs)

For the lets-stick-to-the-basics diners, there is a McDonalds, Subway, CCD Lounge, Barista Lavazza and the others thrown in for good measure. Hope you enjoy your trip to the mighty Khan and find your calling in one of the three lanes – outer, inner & middle.

Bon appétit!!

The Best of the Idiot Box

Television has become not just the pastime of the bored, but also an inherent part of our everyday lives. It’s no secret I love watching television, the only difference is that earlier I watched and waited in anticipation for an episode every week, now, I watch online or download the newest episodes, without so much as watching an advertisement or changing the channel in between. It’s pure unadulterated continuous television watching experience!

I have been watching a number of shows since I was a kid, so I’m gonna list my favourite from then and now!

The Wonder Years
An adult Kevin Arnold reminisces on his teenage years spent growing up during the 60s. As he goes from adolescence to adulthood, he experiences, along with his best friend Paul and sometimes-girlfriend Winnie, the full range of trials and traumas that come in just about everyone’s life. This nostalgic and heartwarming series, where one boys journey, similar to  many others the same age, is one I remember from my childhood days.

Doogie Howser M.D.
Doogie is no ordinary teenager, he is a doctor. As smart as they come, he has been a doctor since the age of fourteen. But it’s not because you are highly intelligent that you don’t have the same feelings toward life. He is constantly torn between a life of teenage fun with his buddy Vinny, and a more serious and quiet life practicing medicine. I remember this show for one of the best endings in television, i.e. he maintains a diary entry  on his computer, and every night you see him come back to his desk and write the most philosophical yet true yet common things, that happen in daily life, but you never really give a second glance to. Following the life of a child genius makes this another great show. Ps. the main character  Neil Patrik Harris is now ever so popular as Barney from ‘How I Met Your Mother’ (another top fav in the list to follow).

F.R.I.E.N.D.S
Some may call it the longest running sitcom on TV – Why? Cause this particular show created history, its broadcasted in various countries, different languages and many an off shoot of the same concept can still be seen in television and cinema today. Six young people, on their own and struggling to survive in the real world, find the companionship, comfort and support they get from each other to be the perfect antidote to the pressures of life. We know them as Ross, Rachael, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler and Joey. The ten seasons of Friends are most likely on every desktop and DVD cabinet of this generation of viewers. Its hard to describe this series, as if you haven’t watched it, you’ve pretty much missed a slice of this generation’s best comedy. Everyone relates to some character, they find their quirks embedded in them, and its probably that way, the aptly titled sitcom is the longest re-run show till date.

How I Met Your Mother
The show is about 5 friends – Ted, Marshall, Lily, Barney and Robin. Ted and Marshal were college roomates, and Marshall has been dating Lily since college. Barney is Ted’s self proclaimed best friend (they first meet at a urinal -*trivia) and Robin, well, egged on by his best friend’s upcoming nuptials, (Lily & Marshall) Ted believes he finds the woman of his dreams in Robin, a Canadian in NY to land a job in a TV Network. The Narrator of the show is Ted and even though in the beginning you think he will end up with Robin, the whole concept of the show is Ted speaking to his two kids on the couch, about How he met their mother, which till date, the series isn’t even close to getting at. Barney is played by Neil Patrick Harris, mentioned above as the young Doogie Howser. And Lily, is Alyson Hannigan, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The Big Bang Theory
A recent addition to the television circuit, The Big Bang Theory began in 2007. It is the story of 5 people – focusing on three main characters – Leonard, Sheldon and Penny. Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper are both brilliant physicists working at Cal Tech in Pasadena, California. They are colleagues, best friends and roommates, although in all capacities their relationship is always tested primarily by Sheldon’s regimented and non-conventional ways. They are also friends with their Cal Tech colleagues, mechanical engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Rajesh Koothrappali. The foursome spend their time working on their individual work projects, playing video games, watching science fiction movies or reading comic books. As they are self-professed nerds, all have little or no luck with “popular” women. When Penny, a pretty woman and an aspiring actress originally from Omaha, moves into the apartment next to Leonard and Sheldon’s, Leonard has another aspiration in life, namely to get Penny to be his girlfriend. The show is firstly for those who are at least interested in technology and have a somewhat basic idea of physics and chemistry. But you might also be like me, who loves the jokes, Sheldon Cooper and Bazinga! While Sheldon is the most annoying roommate one could ever imagine, his quirks make him likable, acceptable and adorable! Bazinga is his way of telling people that he has played a practical joke on them, or that he is simply joking. (Otherwise he never does so). His roommate is the ever patient Leonard whose heart is set on his neighbour Penny (Kaley Cuoco – “8 Simple rules”). It’s a great show, with tons of laughs and Indians will love it cause of the presence of Raj Kuthrapalli, an Indian character played by Kunal Nayyar.

Cougar Town
Recently started show, though it will air on Indian television from this month. One season is over in the US and its a pretty funny show. The main character is Monica of Friends fame or Courtney Cox. She plays a recently divorced woman  who decides to find some excitement in her dating life. Cougar a is term we’ve all used at some point to describe older gals who get glammed up to troll for younger men. A woman of 40 years with a teenage son, divorced husband, hot across the road neighbour and a best friend (on the side house) neighbour, Jules (Cox) owns a real estate business and post divorce, decides to get back on the dating market. Her friendship with her neighbour and best friend Elle (Christa Miller) is hilarious, where one of the best quirk about Ellie is that if a conversation goes on too long without her name in it, she zaps out and doesn’t listen. Her son Travis, gives the cool underlying funny moments with ease and her ex-husband reminds you of “God, that was a mistake” kinda guy! Overall, a fun series to watch!

Two and a Half Men
A hedonistic jingle writer’s free-wheeling life comes to an abrupt halt when his brother and 10-year-old nephew move into his beach-front house. The Harper brothers Charlie and Alan are almost opposites but form a great team. They have little in common except their dislike for their mundane, maternally cold and domineering mother, Evelyn. Alan, a compulsively neat chiropractor and control-freak, is thrown out by his manipulative wife Judith who nevertheless gets him to pay for everything and do most jobs in the house. Charlie is a freelance jingle composer and irresistible Cassanova who lives in a luxurious beach-house and rarely gets up before noon. Charlie “temporarily” allows Alan and his son Jake, a food-obsessed, lazy school kid who shuttles between his parents, to move in with them after Alan’s separation/divorce. The sitcom revolves around their conflicting lifestyles, raising Jake (who has the efficient, caring dad while having a ball with his fun-loving sugar uncle who teaches him boyish things), and bantering with Evelyn and various other friends and family. Other fairly regular characters include Charlie’s cleaning lady Berta and his rich, self-confessed stalker neighbor Rose who often sneaks in to spy on Charlie.The show has its share of laughs, sarcastic moments and well once you start watching, you tend to continue.

Castle
I am a big fan of crime shows. This one is by far a little more interesting, and moves from crime, to fiction, to family. Started very recently – 2009, the show is about a best selling writer – Richard Castle, who is asked to help Detective Beckett on one of her cases (where the murder is similar to Castle’s books) and thanks to his friendship with the Mayor, he assigns him self to shadow Detective Kate Beckett in her cases for his new book, whose main character, Nikki Heat, is based on this detective. Castle is played by Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic plays Beckett. Castle’s daughter Alexis (an over achiever, straight and strong headed) and mother Martha Rodgers (a retired actress) give the series the homely feel and colour, and act as inspiration to Castle’s problems without even knowing it.

White Collar
The newest “crime-related” show on TV is luring viewers (read: female) by the plenty. The lead in the show Neil Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) is a suave ex-con turned FBI aide. This white collar (a non-violent crime, generally for personal gain and often involving money) criminal agrees to help the FBI catch other white collar criminals using his expertise as an art and securities thief, counterfeiter and racketeer. But you watch one or two episodes, and you’re hooked. Not just to the whole crime solving mystery but also to the exceptionally good looking, hat wearing, smooth talking Neil Caffrey. The guy who ends up catching Neil twice is the very intelligent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) who heads the White Collar Division. His wife is played by the beautiful Tiffani Thiessen. But one of the other very interesting characters is called Mozzie (Willie Garson) Caffrey’s aid and a quirky little man who has a little trouble with those he calls Suits (those in the bureau). This bald OCD character uses his intelligence, ingenuity and charm to help Neil in tricky situations. The show is addictive and one of the contemporary ones that you shouldn’t miss!

Grey’s Anatomy
A drama centered on the personal and professional lives of five surgical interns and their supervisors. It has been running for five years now and still going strong, its got the McDreamy, the McSteamy and pretty strong characters to back it up. One of the best quotes from Meredith Grey in the series is about surviving surgical internship… “The key to surviving a surgical internship is denial. We deny that we’re tired, we deny that we’re scared, we deny how badly we want to succeed. And most importantly, we deny that we’re in denial. We only see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe, and it works. We lie to ourselves so much that after a while the lies start to seem like the truth. We deny so much that we can’t recognize the truth right in front of our faces.” The characters are full of character and feeling and sense and everything that is in the best television.  The story lines are believable with sad parts, funny parts, intense moments, and refreshing insights…just everything a great show needs. There are enough surprises to keep you guessing, but enough stability to keep one coming back to watch the next episode. This is truly an absolutely wonderful show!

Crime Scene Investigation (CSI)
An elite team of police forensic evidence investigation experts work their cases in Las Vegas. With the amount of episodes this series has, and the offshoots of CSI Miami, CSI New York, this is a great crime solving through forensics show. While the first CSI (Las Vegas) focuses on old school methods of forensics (still pretty much better than anything real in our country!) CSI Miami goes into a whole new digital playing field of forensics. The show is simple, a crime is committed – a murder/homicide… and forensics are the key to unearthing the killer. It’s one episode, one story and sometimes that’s all you have time for. So its something I love.

Heroes
Creator Tim Kring, has a kick-ass imagination, and I for one love it. The series is about people who thought they were like everyone else… until they woke with incredible abilities. The writing and the interweaving plot and characters is compelling and interesting, nothing dumbed down, but nothing contrived either. The direction fits the concept perfectly, it grabs you as much as it should, without being distracting. The acting is most surprising in that it’s actually good. Masi Oka, who plays “Hiro Nakamura”, is quite possibly the best of the cast, and with the best ability – to freeze time, or time travel. The rest of the cast has impressive abilities as well. There are some pop culture references and nods to comic book lore which seem to give it a very cool hero/comic book hip feel that makes you trust the writers on this one. This is one show, you need to continuously watch, those who I know saw couple of episodes and came back later, well they are no longer interested in the show. Its something you need to be seeing from the start to finish without missing anything in between. The story moves fast, the characters keep interacting, powers or abilities are exchanged, history is revealed, the good and bad have thin lines of judgment and most of all, it travels in so many spaces of time, that continuity of the viewer and the cast is of utmost importance.

Couple of shows are now off air, one being the Gilmore Girls, my sister and I loved that show. Another few, 8 Simple Rules – for dating my teenage daughter, Charmed, Dharma & Greg, Lipstick Jungle (only lasted a season, but not bad!) Full House, Star Wars, Ugly Betty, That 70’s Show  and Practice are some I remember fondly.

Others that deserve a special mention, which I watch, but not so regularly now are – Boston Legal, Bones, Without a Trace, One Tree Hill, Scrubs. These did well, but somehow lost interest in them.

That’s whats so interesting about television… you start by sitting in front of the tv flipping through channels, get engrossed and sometimes before you know it, you’ve been sitting there for couple of hours. Right now top on the list of TV watchers is Reality TV. That post will come up soon!

Soo Ra Sung – Korean – Bangalore

Chinese, Thai and even Japanese, we all know and have been to restaurants that specialize in these. But how many of us have tried an authentic Korean meal?

Well, I’ll forever be thankful to a friend of mine who introduced me two awesome things that are Korean.

The first is the movie My Sassy Girl…

Sassy literally means Bizarre, is a South Korean romantic comedy film directed by Kwak Jae-yong, in which the lead protagonist’s chance meeting with a drunk girl on the train changes his life. It is based on the true story told in a series of love letters written by Kim Ho-sik, a man who initially posted them on the Internet and later adapted them into a novel. I will definitely recommend anyone who like romantic-comedies to watch it.

…And the other is the restaurant in Bangalore – Soo Ra Sung.

I was fortunate enough to try out this place before I left Bangalore and it will be on my itinerary when I visit Bangalore again. Soo Ra Sung is an authentic Korean restaurant on Wind tunnel Road near the HAL Airport. How do I know it is authentic? Well, for one it is owned and run by a Korean Lady and also, of the 6 tables occupied on the day I had dinner there we were the only non-koreans.

When had made reservations to ensure we get a place, as it does get crowded on weekends. The owner is a warm & friendly lady that makes your ordering easy and experience enjoyable.

One of the highlights is the barbecue meal that is done right at the table. All dishes on the menu are complete meals. They are served with a delicious assortment of small side dishes and condiments. Everything was cooked to perfection.

Korean food stands out from other cuisines mainly because of the banchan (side dishes) that are served during meals in small bowls, and can be anything from vegetables to meat to seafood. These are served with the main dish, and there are no separate courses. So when you eat at a Korean restaurant do not over order.

Koreans have perfected the art of preserving food over thousands of years, so many of the side dishes are pickled, salted, or fermented. Some are spicy and the others sweet & salty. Kimchi, Korea’s famous spicy cabbage, has over a hundred varieties with different vegetables, including some non-spicy types. You may be given a pair of scissors to cut the kimchi. Rice is the backbone of almost every Korean meal, and all the dishes will be served with some sticky rice.

You’ll also be served Soo Jeong Gwa (Sweet Cinnamon Punch). A traditional brown-colored Korean drink, consisting of cinnamon, water, sugar, dried persimmon, and ginger. It was a light and refreshing end to a great meal. Sojo (Korean wine) and beer is also available on request. Manuscrypts has given a great description of what one can expect in Soo Ra Sung.

One thing that caught my eye was the tiny notes on the lift. The restaurant is on the fourth floor, above a guesthouse. One has to enter a tiny lift that has precise instructions on when to open and close the lift.

The roof top location gives a wonderful view of Bangalore, making a trip to Soo Ra Sung well worth the effort.

Here’s to Good Food and Great Friends!!

The Killers – Movie Review


Interesting title… why? well cause it honestly doesn’t really depict what you think the film will turn out to be, but in the end, it to me felt almost like a title written in jest. The movie is about a whirlwind romance, where Katherine Heigel of Grey’s Anatomy fame (who I think quit television to come to act in rom-coms, which in retrospect must be earning her loaadz of money) meets the man of her dreams, Ashton Kutcher while vacationing with her parents in Nice, France.

Ashton Kutcher right from the beginning is seen as the quintessential spy – fast red sports car, perfectly sculpted body, sharp suit with  scuba diving skills useful in climbing aboard a ship and placing a bomb underneath a chopper .. you get the drift. Somehow I wasn’t very convinced of it… maybe because he isn’t a Spy-Spy but turns out to be a contract killer, which you find out fairly quickly. Somehow the whirlwhind romance, of meeting a girl in the same hotel, falling in love overnight and suddenly refusing to do your job, and getting ‘out of the game’ seemed to have taken less then the first ten minutes of the film. Edited well, but somehow I think it lost the essence of what it was… there wasn’t a spark that you saw, the love that you believed happened that fast… it seemed “scripted”…

Anyway that aside, you are taken into their sub-urban life when suddenly one day Kutcher is contacted by his ex-boss and all hell breaks loose! Suddenly everyone wants to kill him… in all this Katherine Heigel, his wife acts suprised, bemused, uses a gun, crashes into another car and is all – ‘I’m too normal, not exciting, humdrum life, too close to my parents” kind of person. The randomness of those who attack them is funny and at the end of it, the movie does have a lot of humour and fun moments… it won’t feel like anything new or something you haven’t seen happen before in a rom-com (think: whole nine yards) but it still worth a watch on your comp… I won’t recommend watching it in theatres, but yes, for those who love chick-flicks and like seeing it to numb your mind and just chill… this is a fun flick… plus who doesn’t mind looking at the cuteness that is Kutcher, Heigel – well sometimes I think she was better as Izzy

…. overall a good “girl-type” watch 🙂

The Ants Cafe, Indira Nagar, Bangalore

When I first came to Bangalore I was astounded by the number of Café Coffee Day (CCD) in this city. Since their launch in 1996, they have successfully covered every pin code of Bangalore. CCD for many college kids is their second home, but I for one want more out of a coffee shop then just coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I like CCD especially their spinach & corn sandwiches and tropical iceberg are great, but I want more…

That search brought me to Ants. My first visit to the place reminded me of Café Turtle at Khan Market, Delhi. This café is not the run of the mill …we have 500 branches …and the taste of coffee is exactly the same in each branch… kind of the place. It’s unique.

Well to start with, it is a boutique-café with a purpose. ‘The Ants’ was started under the guidance of the Action Northeast Trust (ANT), a non-profit organization based in Assam. What you find here are treasures made by tribal groups from north-eastern India and coffee in a relaxing environment.

The place is divided into two sections; the terrace café and the shopping area. The ground floor of Ants has apparel, products of black pottery and bamboo furniture. There are kurtis, stoles, scarves and shawls made of cottons and silk. You’ll also find some ethnic jewelry of the Northeast Region. Pots from Manipur, beautiful weave from Nagaland and handicrafts from Assam. Very beautiful and authentic, having spent some time in the NE region, I can vouch for that. I’ll say it is affordable, for the things you’ll find here are extraordinary. The only other place you may buy this is – maybe a state emporium.

Shopping! That always diverts my attention. We were talking about the café. What I like about the place is the ambiance. It is ‘chilled out’, with different levels of seating (although, some may complain since most of it is low seating). The big blackboard gives a long list of specials for the day and there the regulars as well.

The food is good overall. The non-veg sandwiches and the omelets are amazing. Of course, there is coffee and tea and smoothies. There are cakes and pancakes, fresh fruit salads and regular salads. There is also pasta and burgers if you are a bit hungry. Everything is freshly made too. Which is why, you should expect some slow service. But that’s alright- right? The whole idea is to sit back and relax, chat with friends, or read a book. Enjoy!

So next time you need a break from café coffee day, you know where to go.

Road, Movie

It’s amazing what a promo can do… it can make you think that what you will watch will be amazing… it can make you perceive the excitement involved, it may make you consider watching what the promo has to offer. One such promo is for Dev Benegal’s latest “Film Festival” churn out… Road, Movie.

It’s amazing what a promo can do… it can make you think that what you will watch will be amazing… it can make you perceive the excitement involved, it may make you consider watching what the promo has to offer. One such promo is for Road, Movie.

The highly anticipated movie, with the sar jo tera chakraye soundtrack according to the promo, was fast paced, with subtle humour and had a sense of visual alacrity and aesthetics not commonly seen in today’s cinema. If one were to regard this as a “Festival Film,” with festival implying catering to the film festival audiences, yes the film has its moments. But if you were to put this in the “Bollywood envelope” it fails miserably.

It does have it few moments, but it seems more for the Festival fraternity especially in a scene where you see the kid (Faisal) giving the customer (Abhay Deol) tea and saying, “tujhe kya lagam yeh starbucks hai?” (Did you think it was going to be Starbucks?) This dialogue in a film, where the country hasn’t even seen Starbucks, a term only the jet-setters or travelling community would know, does not make sense to the average Joe. The other more insane dialogue, which you think could have probably come from a Bingo commercial is the tel dialogue where Abhay offers the local water-lord tel and says that would make him a ‘real man’.

The film doesn’t live up to the promo. It seemed as if the promo’s intention was to entice. With its colours, a fantastic rendition of an old song, interspersed with the best moments of the film, it truly did its job, of bringing people into the theatre. But that’s where it ended. It could however not keep them in their seat, which is where the director truly disappointed.
One would think, that if given more time, the director could have probably managed a screenplay wherein which the story could have been shaped better along with characters having a hierarchy instead of all being middlemen, and no one clear character emerging as the archetypal hero or villain. Even if you keep aside the hierarchical nature of cinema, and think of the director of doing something new, the fact of the story not feeling complete cannot be ignored.

The movie is not only slow, but its visuals after a while, especially those of the road seem monotonous and almost forced. There is a charm to aesthetics, but it only remains if it is used in modest quantities. To simply put it, I would have rather left this movie on the road, then called it a movie in a hall. The only saving grace, its 95 minutes and in the end, you can hear the song played in the promos before leaving the theatre.

Interesting fact: Faisal has previously worked in a final film made by four students of MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia titled ‘Boot Polish’. Dev Benegal was the adviser at the time the film’s proposals were being discussed by the students who directed it.

My top 5 @ Road Trip – Bangalore

Roadtrip is fast becoming our favorite restaurant in Bangalore. The comfortable surroundings,  the casual setting, the awesome food and the fact that they now serve beer are all great reasons to go there.

The food is always good, in fact on our last trip someone said “I’d like to know what they don’t make well” that says a lot for any place. We have tried most of the things on the limited menu and some on the ‘Today’s special’.  Apart for the Bacon Quiche, I don’t remember anything that I haven’t liked. On the Quiche, I’ll give them the benefit of doubt, though – it was probably just a bad day.

Grilled Fish with Mustard
Here are some of my recommendations of what to eat at RoadTrip.

Tangy Prawns

A light and tasty starter, where coral pink prawns are sautéed in garlic infused butter, then some fresh coriander is folded in. It is served with a crunch salad in a vinegar dressing. One portion of Tangy Prawn (Rs. 200) is a great starter  for about 4 people.

Ham & Cheese Pizza

Rarely have I eaten a cracker-thin-crust Pizza that comes close to the freshness and lightness of ingredients and texture that you’ll get at Roadtrip. The menu has something called the Ham & Cheese Pizza (Rs. 275)  with whole-wheat or normal base options. Of course you can ask to customize the toppings to your liking. I like to add the sundried tomatoes & mushrooms to the ham, cheese & basil toppings.

ravioli
Chicken Ravioli

Ravioli is a type of pasta that looks like little packets of seets. It is basically a filling sealed between two layers of thin pasta dough. The Chicken Ravioli (Rs. 250) in white sauce with some sundried tomatoes is divine at road trip. Again the ‘Custom Made’ option is available at no extra cost. This one needs to be eaten to understand how good this really is!

Pasta in Arrabiata sauce with Broccoli

Don’t you think anyone can make good pasta in white-cheesy sauce? I mean if it has cheese and some chicken & herbs, not much can go wrong.

It is the arrabiata sauce that is the real test. Arrabbiata is a Roman sauce of garlic, tomatoes, basil and red chili cooked in olive oil. You know what all’ arrabbiata means? It means “angry style”, named as such due to the heat of the peppers.
Road trip has a great arrabiata recipe, even the veg with just some broccoli tastes smashing. So if you find yourself in Road trip on a day you need to eat only vegetarian, try this one.

Straganoff
Stroganoff

The next thing on my list is the Beef Stroganoff.

This is originally a Russian dish of sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with sour cream. From its origins in 19th-century Russia, it has become popular in much of Iran, Europe, North America, Australia, South Africa, Lebanon and Brazil, with considerable variation in the actual recipe.

The tender juicy meat was somewhat unexpected at first glance but it was marvelous till the last bite.

These are just a handful of things we have tried and liked. Do try the other Italian and Continental dishes on their menu and let us know your favorites. Road Trip is open from noon till Bangalore closes, seven days a week.

Bon Appetite!