Sunday, December 28, 2008

F&B - The Garden Cafe

It's been so long since I wrote about any place I'd been that typing itself is now feeling like such a tough chore! And add to that the fact that I visited the Garden Cafe on Christmas day last year (exactly a month since I'm writing this), I've forgotten most of the details. However, the fact that I'm writing this should suffice to indicate that the place is either worth visiting coz it's a treat, or it's an absolute disaster (for this it's the former).

The Garden Cafe is the new avataar of Bouquet, which is what it used to be called before I guess. Now with the daily 'buffet', they have made things really interesting. I used buffet in quotes and said interesting simply because at Rs. 360, you get to eat all the items on their menu (and trust me, there are a lot of dishes) - from soups to appetisers, from sandwiches to pasta to classic continental fare, this place gives you absolute value for money - a setup to put you at ease, great ambiance, excellent service, and amazing, lip-smacking, finger-lickin food.

As I mentioned, I had visited this place on Christmas day with my brother (who was in the midst of his Christmas vacation/study holidays). And since this was a while ago, this post will only have the names of dishes we had, and not the usual long drawn out story with the pictures.

I think this was called Pacific Blue (something with Blue Curacao)

A mango mocktail my brother had

Chicken Satay

One of the best prawn dishes I've had - with garlic, ginger and soy sauce

Chicken Tikka

Christmas special - Scallops on mashed potatoes and leek

Pasta fusili for the brother

A classic BLT sandwich

BLT again

Chocolate & almond tart


Lemon Meringue

Cinnamon something

Like I said, I just remember pigging out, and since my brother isn't that great an eater, I allowed him to have what he wanted, and gorged my way through lunch.

Food: Fantastic
$$$: Complete value for money (I think the buffet has now increased to 375)
Service: Good
Verdict: Must visit. In my opinion, the best sit-down buffet for a multi-cuisine meal anywhere in Bangalore (all things considered)

F&B - The Garden Cafe, Papanna Street (off St. Marks Road), before Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore. Phone: 40333888

Monday, December 22, 2008

Rogue Elephant...redux

Actually, threedux (this is the third time I'm going there, and haven't written about second time). A bright, sunny afternoon, and Mr VP and I headed out to Rogue Elephant, and just as before, we learnt something new from the owner Anand there. Although we reached well past noon, he greeted us with a "Good morning!", and when Mr VP responded "Good Afternoon", he replied, "Oh, but it's never afternoon until the customer has eaten lunch!". I'll need to remember that line.

We started off with what we've almost always had, a lime juice, the fig salad and the just like crab meat, same as what we had when we went there the first time. However, for the main course, I decided to go veg and tried the Moroccon vegetable stew with cous cous.


Mr VP ordered the King fish medallions with a Putanesca sauce. And then, Anand gave us an instance of how when he was working at a hotel in London, and was manning the trolley while serving a roast chicken, he moved up to the table of the lady who had ordered it and began carving the chicken and asked her "Would the lady like some stuffing?". ROTFLOL. 'Whack', the head chef apparently slapped him across his head and said, "You idiot, you never ask a lady if she wants some stuffing!".


Once the main course was done, as usual Mr VP seemed full and so I decided to have the strawberry pannacotta for dessert. This tasted good, and since I love strawberries, this was doubly good.


A nice, fat belly, and back I headed to work, and back to planning the office team trip we had planned for (more about it in the other blog as soon as I get down from the high of that trip).

Rogue Elephant, 119, Ambara Complex, Annasamy Mudaliar Road, Ulsoor Lake, Adjacent to Foto Flash, Bangalore.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I baked a pizza from scratch!

That's right, I finally made the time to bake a pizza, right from making the dough for the base to baking it in the oven...oh, and lest I forget, it tasted good too! It's been a couple of months now since we got a new microwave oven with convection capabilities too, and so finally I decided that it was time I ventured into baking food using an oven and using the preheating capabilities in an oven, and what better dish to start off with than a pizza.

Ingredients:
1 cup flour (maida)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
6-8 tbsp warm water

Method:
Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowler, add the sugar and the warm water and dissolve the sugar and add the yeast into the water and stir a little and leave it in a warm place for about 5-10 minutes or until you see froth on top of the water, which indicates the yeast has dissolved (or is dissolving). Make a well in the flour and mix the water with the dissolved yeast and start mixing them. Add the olive oil and continue mixing to form the dough. Add a little more water and/or flour if needed until you have a smooth consistency. Form a ball and cover and leave in a warm place for an hour or so, or until the dough doubles in size (by the action of the yeast).

After the dough has doubled in size, knead it with your knuckles and "knock the air out of it". Knead into a smooth ball, and then roll it out. I didn't toss it up like you see on TV (come on, this is my first time!), but maybe the next time I will. Drizzle a little olive oil on top or smear a little butter and then add whatever sauce you have - a thin layer should do.


I had some chicken sausages at home and so I chopped them into little pieces and distributed them around the base of the pizza, along with a few shavings of onions.


Add as much cheese you want, and usually stick to Mozzarella. Preheat the oven at 250 degrees centigrade and then bake the pizza in it for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. I baked it at a slightly lower temperature since it was my first time and hence you'll notice that the crusts haven't browned as you'd have expected them to have.


If you have it, use it! That's a principle I usually follow while cooking, and since I had a few strawberries, I sliced a few and tossed them along with a few mint leaves.


Sllurrrp! I should seriously consider switching careers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Via Milano

Finally I got to go to this place that I've heard so much about, and it turned out to be as good as it was was made out to be if not better. As far as comparisons go, I think this place edges out Fiorano as a better venue for Italian food (I haven't been to I.T.alia, and since Little Italy is pure veg, Via Milano scores over the place hands down, even in terms of ambience, service and decor). The place is really nice and the furniture is perfect for an evening of pure Italian magic, with nice dark wooden furniture and white sofas, which is where Mr VP, Ms WeightConcious, Mr Saucy and I were seated. Every staff member here is cheerful and even if they're pretending, it's a pretty convincing act.

Once you're seated, they place a bread basket on your table and along with 3 dips: mayonnaise, basil pesto (obviously with olive oil) and diced tomatoes (usually found on a bruschetta). Along with this came 3 test tubes filled with olive oil, something, and balsamic vinegar.





When it came to ordering the drinks, it was again a case of my mind randomly deciding not to have alcohol tonight, although in past there have been instance when I've had a drink and driven back (like when we went to TGIF). Mr VP too wasn't having any booze, so we were the teetotalers tonight, while Ms WeightConcious and Mr Saucy were going to be the tipplers. The only wine available that night for drinking (glass, not the entire bottle) was a South African red wine, Two Ocean Pinotage, and that's what Ms WeightConcious had.

Whenever I have a cocktail or a mocktail, especially one I've never tried before, I always hope and secretly pray that it's never too fancy looking, or too feminine looking, but almost always I've ended up with something that exactly matched the criteria I'm avoiding, and this time was no different when my order, a Tahitian Breeze arrived.

Mr VP stuck to his tried and tested drink of a Virgin Mary (right) while Mr Saucy had a Christoffel Beer (left).

For appetisers, we ordered a Smoked Chicken salad, and I think there was more salad than smoked chicken in it, but I guess that's how things usually are when you attach the word salad to anything else. It tasted good, and the dressing was apt.

The other appetiser we had was something that sounded really funky, was a let down when it came, and the taste was, well I'll get to that, hang on. It was called platter of Parma Ham with Melon, and I expected different cuts of ham, but it turned out to be just one type, but it tasted, although I don't know what the melon was supposed to do - it neither enhanced the taste of the ham, nor did it complement it. The ham tasted good on it's own.

For our main course, I wanted one of the dishes to be a pizza and everyone agreed. Ms WeightConcious ordered a beef lasagna, and this was different in the sense that the meat inside wasn't the usual minced type, but thin slices of beef that were cooked perfectly and slid in between layers of lasagna sheets. The secret sauce drizzled around it was fantastic.

Mr VP wasn't sure what to order, and so I randomly looked into the pasta section and with the help of our friendly waiter, selected a chicken tortelloni, which came in a white sauce.

The pizza ordered was a Prosciutto E Annanas, which was Prosciutto and pineapples with mozzarella cheese. The thin crust was yummy, and I dare say it was better than the pizzas I've had at Little Italy, which until now were the best I've had in Bangalore.

Mr Saucy ordered a Lamb loin, and the presentation of the dish was probably the best of the lot. Again, as with the lasagna, the secret sauce around it was excellent.

We were pretty darn full by the time we finished the last morsels of our main course, and so decided to settle for only two desserts. I ordered a Lemon Meringue with strawberries, and I think this was the best I've had among desserts in quite a while. The tangy lemony twang was perfect and the lil sprig of lemon grass on top was pretty creative (but then again, I think it's an obvious addendum).

Mr Saucy ordered a tiramisu, and according to him, this one was one of the better ones he's had. I like the tiramisu too, but then again, I haven't yet had one that's tasted bad :)

After a dinner that was quite obviously one of the best I've I had, and where conversations moved from arranged marriages and love marriages to the problems faced today and the decisions that we need to take, we finally headed home. I know it won't be too soon before I come back to Via Milano again, but I can't wait for the second visit, and hopefully it'll be soon.

Food: Vary good.
$$$: Expensive.
Service: Pretty good.
Verdict: If you love Italian, this place should be on your list.

Via Milano, Asha Plaza, Above Reebok showroom, 80 Ft Road-100 Ft Road junction, Adjacent to Sony World, Koramangala 4th block, Bangalore. Phone: 41309997, 41309994