Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A Contemporary Barn House- Home of Cinematographer Darius Wolski

I love, love, love, LOVE this home!  The interiors are like a fresh, cool breeze on a warm Summer day. Too much? Can't help myself :)

There are so many reasons why. Where should I start? Firstly, I love the contrast between the exterior and the interior. It looks like a rustic old barn on the outside. But on the inside, it's got a contemporary, slightly industrial feel with high beamed ceilings and steel girders. Secondly, I adore the predominantly black and white palette which acts as the perfect backdrop for knick knacks and antiques sourced from around the world. 

Finally it's so dreamy and welcoming, but most of all, it looks so lived in! 


[All images- Desire to Inspire]

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Cobalt Designs- Beautiful Designs in Metal

A while back Valay Gada of Cobalt Designs reached out to me and invited me over to his studio for a cup of coffee and a chat about his work. Unfortunately I haven’t made it over to his studio as yet, but one look at their website & I fell in love with his studio’s work.

Founded in 2012, Cobalt Designs is a partnership between two young designers, Valay Gada & Michael Rodrigues. The studio works primarily in metal alloys like brass and copper. The pair is inspired by classical traditions and they are deeply passionate about preserving the tradition of Indian craftsmanship, bringing them relevance and adapting them to the modern aesthetic. They do this by engaging and working with local artisans and nurturing local talent.

Their product range is spread over a wide range of categories, from luxury furniture, lighting, bath accessories, mirrors, hardware and some costume jewelry too. They also work with architects and interior designers on customized pieces such as jalis and murals.

Their work is contemporary and edgy with an emphasis on a high level of finishing and is inspired by industrial design, Art Deco and traditional Indian crafts.

Here's a peek at some of their works...

More from Cobalt Designs here and here

[All images courtesy Cobalt Designs]

Monday, 21 April 2014

Dessert Heaven @ Tres

I don't do restaurant reviews on the blog too often. I've sort of always felt that since the blog is called 'All Things Nice', only the restaurants that completely blow me away with their food and service make it on here. Well the latest to make that cut is Tres in Lodhi Colony.

Here's a little something about our experience there...

Last Saturday afternoon the hubby & I made our way to Tres for lunch. Tres has been on my wish list for quite a while now and I was really excited about trying the food there. When we pulled up outside the restaurant, which has quite a nondescript frontage, my husband was convinced that we had come to the wrong place. In fact he was quite concerned and jokingly said that maybe this wasn't the best choice for lunch :)

Once we went inside though, it was a completely different story. Tres is a cosy, little restaurant that reminds me of a Parisian cafe or a Spanish tapas bar which is what Tres seems to be aiming for. Quaint black and white framed photos dotted the walls and some lovely Spanish music was playing in the back ground, only adding to the warmth of the ambiance. I quite liked the interiors, it was welcoming and the dark wood and light walls ensured that the small restaurant didn't feel too cramped. 

We were warmly welcomed by the head waiter and quickly shown to our seats and introduced to the waiter who would be serving us. We both ordered a glass of Jacob’s Creek bubbly, which we enjoyed along with their complimentary bread basket. The wine was cool and crisp and perfect for the warm afternoon. Things were off to a good start.

The bread was really good- fresh and soft. The bread was served with a herb butter and a tomato spread that only increased my anticipation over the food. 

Since we were there as part of the Citi Bank Restaurant week, we each got to order a starter, a main course and dessert. The hubby ordered the roasted goats cheese with salted beetroot and apple and walnut dressing. I ordered the tenderloin on a bed of greens with horseradish and yogurt dressing. The salad was really delicious, fresh, light and crisp- the perfect way to start a meal. My tenderloin was very good. The meat was tender, although I would have preferred it on the rarer side. I loved the horseradish and yogurt dressing. It worked so well with the tenderloin, and the shavings of Parmesan only made things better. Only downer was the bit of sinew which I found in one of the strips of tenderloin. This bit of hard sinew was inedible and took away slightly from a dish that would have otherwise been excellent.

For the mains I ordered the pork, chorizo and prawn pasta and the hubby ordered the vegetable pasta. Once again both were just delicious. I didn't try the vegetable pasta, but mine was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of garlic and chili flakes. The chorizo was spicy and delicious and worked so well with the sweetness of the prawns- a lovely main.

Finally came dessert I knew what I wanted... the orange cheesecake with the raspberry sorbet. The hubby ordered the caramel and banana tiramisu with lemon cream cannelloni. 

Dessert is such an important part of a meal. You can have the most fabulous meal, but if the dessert is not up to the mark, the entire meal is ruined. This is what happened to us recently at a restaurant in Cyber Hub, Gurgaon. But I was thrilled to say that Tres did not disappoint here. My cheesecake was absolutely divine! They really hit the ball out of the park with this one. One spoonful and I closed my eyes in happiness. I can honestly say that this is one of the best desserts I've ever, ever had! The sorbet was tart and light and really cut though the richness of the creamy cheesecake that had a delicate flavor of orange. The tiramisu was good, but frankly I've had better. I think there is some room for improvement with this one.

Another thing that made the meal enjoyable was the service. Our server was incredibly attentive, almost too attentive at times :) But he made sure we were well looked after. After every course the head waiter came over and checked how things were. I thought that was really impressive and a very nice touch. It's things like this that make customers feel they are valuable. I also noticed that he interacted with all the customers and did a great job in ensuring everyone was happy. It was clear that the management has trained their serving staff very well. This makes such a huge difference. 

At the end of the meal I filled in a feedback form, where I mentioned my disappointment over the sinew in my meat. We paid our bill and left. A few minutes later the head waiter came out and met us to enquire about the problem and apologize. Even though I mentioned that it was not a major issue he seemed genuinely concerned and very keen to learn areas where there could be improvement. This really impressed me because it shows that they care about their food and service.

I had a wonderful experience at Tres. It’s a little expensive, but the quality of food and great service justifies this. It’s a lovely place to celebrate a special occasion and I couldn't recommend this lovely little place enough.

OK, so I've really praised Tres a lot, but a small complaint that has nothing to do with the food... the interior designer in me was pained to see that there were a lot of issues when it came to finishing in the interiors. I noticed white paint drops and flakes on several wooden surfaces and edges of ply that seemed to be unfinished. I know I’m being overly critical, but this is one area they could look at for improvement. These tiny things show the importance given to detail and I believe they count.

Overall though, Tres is a place you must visit... if for nothing else, then just for that cheesecake, which was heaven on a plate! I drive all the way from Gurgaon to Lodhi Colony just for this delicious plate of yumminess!

My ratings overall- 4.5/5

Ambiance- 4/5
Food- 4.5/5
Service- 5/5
Value for money- 4/5

*Please note that we were not invited to review this restaurant, but visited as paying customers.

Friday, 18 April 2014

And the Winner is...

When I first decided to have a giveaway on All Things Nice, I was quite nervous that there wouldn't be much of a response... I mean what if no one sent in any entries? But after the wonderful response I got from all you lovely readers I'm really happy that all that anxiety was over nothing... Isn't that always the case?

Anyway picking a winner was a really tough call and in the end, it came down to two entries and it was so difficult to pick one over the other, but a decision had to be made :) So who is the lucky winner?

Drum roll please....

And the winner is... Nayana Donga!

Here's what she had to say about her Fab1 decor must have

Flowers are my absolute no. 1 decor must have.They add life to any vignette and are instant mood lifters. I love waking up to this beauty on my bed side table or passing through the beautiful flowers arrangement on my kitchen table a million times day. I also love trying out unusual, different things as vases to give them new look each time and best of all they all come from my tiny garden :)

Congratulations Nayana!

For more from Nayana, visit her blog Cherish Dream Live. A big thank you to Molly of Design5 for sponsoring this giveaway.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Magnificent Chand Baoli

I've always had a bit of a love affair with historical architecture- monuments, palaces, forts, old havelies, temples, churches- basically everything encased by the hash tag 'heritage architecture'. But more than any of these, I'm really obsessive when it comes to stepwells. I'm not sure if I've already mentioned this, but one of the things on my bucket list is visiting every major step well in India- sounds silly I know, but I'm completely fascinated by these structures. I recently visited Kesroli for a weekend getaway. The thing that tipped the scales in its favor was its proximity to a beautiful step well. We were in Kesroli for 2 days and on one of those days, we drove down to see the magnificent Chand Baoli.

Chand Baoli is located in Abhaneri village in the Dausa district of Rajasthan. It's about an hour and a half drive from Kesroli on some pretty good roads, except for a small stretch midway. (I was really impressed with the Rajasthan State Highway roads... they put many roads in Gurgaon to shame) 

When you first see the baoli from the outside, you feel pretty disappointed... sort of like, 'I drove 1.5 hrs for this?' But when you enter you're really surprised by its size and scale. The geometry of the steps that descend to the water is magnificent- hypnotizing almost. I wish I had a wide angle lens to really do the place justice :)

As step wells go, this one is quite well kept, unlike so many others in India which have, sadly, been forgotten. It's also not overcrowded and touristy, which is so refreshing. There were only about a handful of tourists while we were there, so one can really get a feel for the place and enjoy it in relative solitude.  

There were some beautiful relics- intricately carved stone pillars and statues of deities lining the passages. I think restoration work on them is underway. 

Here are some interesting facts about Chand Baoli...

1. It was built in 800 AD by Raja Chand of the Nikumbha dynasty
2. It is considered to be one of India's largest and deepest step wells and extends 30m underground 
3. It consists of 13 storeys that are made up of 3500 steps
4. A sequence from the film The Dark Knight Rises and The Fall were shot here
5. Locals believe the well was built in one night by ghosts. Legend has it that the step well contains so many steps so that anyone who throws a coin in the well cannot retrieve it easily.

If you ever happen to be in the vicinity of Abhaneri, you must visit this beautiful step well. It's an experience you'll remember for a long time!

[All Images- Shalini Pereira]

All images are clicked by me. Please do not use images without prior written permission

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Frames, Frames & More Frames!

Been a while since I've done a post on decor... it's been mostly travel stuff lately. But today I've got some eye candy for you and it's all to do with decorating with frames.

The dining area is one of the most important spaces in our home. It's the place where we do most of our entertaining. Come any dinner party and friends are either sitting at or standing around the dining table. At our place, it's where all the action is at :) All the good stuff, from food to drinks and even those juicy bits of gossip are usually to be found in this space. 

So for me, getting the decor and styling of this area is so important. I have so many fond memories of great evenings spent with family and friends sitting around the dining table, laughing, joking and just enjoying each others company. That's why I love the idea of picture frames in the dining area. There is something about a wall full of picture frames that have captured moments forever. Aside from this, I love the grid-like geometry that frames create on a wall. A collage of frames can give a wall a sort of texture that I find so interesting. 

So today I'm posting about how frames can create a really great feature in a dining area. I personally like the idea of using family photos. But if that's not your style, there are so many other ways to decorate your dining area using frames. Take a look...

Monday, 7 April 2014

Aqueducts of Alwar

It's Monday morning-not the greatest start to the week. India lost in the T20 World cup final and I'm not too happy about it :( But the show must go on...I guess. Another post from my trip to Alwar... 

On the way from Alwar to Siliserh lake, on Rajasthan SH13 you will come across the remains of an arched aqueduct sitting proudly in a semi marshy area. Aqueducts were means by which water was supplied to ancient cites from sources hundreds of kilometers away. I remember seeing these structures during my travels in Europe. Imagine my surprise when I came across one on my way to Siliserh lake, Rajasthan! At first I was a little confused... I always imagined aqueducts to be associated to the Romans. But after a quick check on Google, I found that they were first constructed by the Egyptians, Greeks and in the sun-continent. In fact evidence of these sort of structures have been discovered in Hampi.

These arches are part of an aqueduct that was constructed by Rajputs to supply water from Siliserh lake to the city of Alwar. It's worth stopping your car to take in this amazing site and marvel at the ingenuity of its builders. As soon as I set eyes on it, I ordered the hubby to stop the car. No sooner did he do this, did I jump out with camera in hand and started happily clicking away. I was so taken by this relic of medieval times that still stood tall today, its sturdy stone arches reflected in the marshy water at its base.

If you're ever making your way to Siliserh lake, keep a lookout for this aqueduct!

[All images- Shalini Pereira]

Please do not use without prior written permission

Friday, 4 April 2014

Here Comes the Weekend!

It's Friday again... that time of the week that everyone's been waiting for. After all the driving we did last weekend, both the hubby and I are looking forward to a quiet weekend at home lazing around in our PJs :) But before that we're breaking out the beers and getting set to cheer India as they take on South Africa in the T20 World Cup tonight! Go India!

I also wanted to let you know that I'm extending the deadline for the Fab1 giveaway to 10th April so if you haven't sent in your pictures, you still have a couple of days to more.  

More travel posts next week, images from our visit to Alwar and the incredible Chand Baoli, a step well in Abhaneri. I'm currently completely fascinated with step wells and have declared to the hubby that visiting every major step well in Indian is on top of my bucket list :) Of course he rolled his eyes at this and nodded his head with mock seriousness. 

Well have a great weekend guys. If you're in NCR and looking for something interesting to do this Saturday evening, head out to Bakheda, Said Ul Ajaib for an evening of Stand Up Comedy. Details here. 

With that I'm signing off for the weekend and leaving you with a few images I clicked as part of my #practicemakesperfect series. This is a vignette of a paper mache elephant from Bihar. I picked this cutie up at Dili Haat. I have a collection of tiny elephants and this one is my favorite. I captured these images in some lovely morning light and then tried my hand at editing on Photoshop. I was quite pleased with the results :) 

Happy Weekend guys! And I'll see you on Monday.

[All Images- Shalini Pereira]

All images have been clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A Weekend at Hill Fort Kesroli

Stark, romantic and imposing... those are the words  that came to mind when I first set eyes upon Hill Fort, Kesroli. This 14th century fort, just over two hours drive from Gurgaon, is now converted into a heritage hotel and is part of the Neemrana group of hotels. 

I have been wanting to visit for the longest time. Sitting atop a rocky hillock, it looks out over the flat plains below and offers some spectacular views of the rural countryside from atop its ramparts. 

I love places like this, places steeped in history- places that have an atmosphere. Don't expect to be pampered though, the way you would be in a five star hotel. Hill Fort Kesroli is more along the lines of a boutique hotel. It's not grand and the rooms don't ooze luxury. The charm of this heritage hotel lies in the fact that it allows you to relax and enjoy yourself in a historical setting. 

This small fort has been lovingly restored and is a wonderful place to escape and disconnect from city life. We used it as a base to explore some of the sites around Alwar. We also drove down to the Chand Baoli step well in Abhaneri, which is about an hour and a half away.

We stayed in the Bhaaj Mahal, a tiny quaint little room which was cozy and pleasant in spite of its size. The staff were incredibly helpful and pleasant and the food was really good. One of the things I enjoyed most was afternoon tea, which was served on the lawns. Along with the tea they served these tiny little banana and almond cakelets which were absolutely delicious and something I'm going to try and replicate at home. 

I was so taken with Kesroli Fort that I went a little crazy with the camera. I simply couldn't stop clicking pictures:) Much to the amusement of the hubby, who joked that he had created a monster by getting me the new camera :) But I really couldn't help myself, there were just so many pretty things to capture. The charming gardens, the rambling bougainvillea growing on the walls with its riot of red and pink flowers that looked so pretty against the mustard walls. On our last day there, I woke up early and carried my cup of coffee and my camera up onto a turret close to our room. From there I gazed out over the plains below. The mist was still creeping along the plains and it was magical and a little eerie. I closed my eyes and could almost imagine hearing the whispers of the fort's past occupants, or feeling the presence of the stoic guards that would have stood guard in that very spot centuries ago.

I'm getting a little melodramatic now so I'll stop before you start rolling your eyes :) 

[Images- Shalini Pereira]

All images have been clicked by me. Please do not use images without prior written permission

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