Thursday, 29 January 2015

3 Magical Days at Vivenda Dos Palhacos, Goa

There are some places where you go on holiday and you end up never wanting to leave! Vivenda Dos Palhacos, a quirky boutique hotel in the South of Goa (Majorda to be exact), was just this sort of place. A group of all school friends planned a reunion of sorts over the long weekend and this lovely hotel/B&B provided us with the perfect setting to catch up, unwind and reminisce about the good old days :) 

The hotel itself consists of a beautifully restored one hundred year old Portuguese Mansion and an old house with rammed earth walls (which have now been made into the main house) and a few old outhouses. The setting is a typical Goan village and it's quite an interesting feeling waking up to cocks crowing and also hearing the village church bells ringing in the evening. The setting reminded me so much of childhood family vacations in our ancestral home, now sadly sold off. 

The property is owned by brother-sister team, Simon and Charlotte Hayward, and they are the most amazing hosts. Charlotte has travelled all over India and she was always ready to help with suggestions on the best places to visit in Goa. 

Breakfast is a communal meal and all the guests sit together and share stories about their adventures and experience. This massive concrete table was where we were treated to the most amazing breakfast of fruit, cereals, fresh Goan pav, eggs, the most delicious banana pancakes and homemade preserves- I could go on and on. The staff is incredibly helpful and go out of their way to make you feel at home. My tip would be to enjoy breakfast and head out for lunch and dinner, although they do have a fixed dinner as well as an al a carte menu. If you do it eat, try their burgers and the chilli prawn salad and for dessert, their chocolate pots are to die for.

A great amount of thought and care was put into the styling of this hotel. It's Indian, but still modern and the owners tongue in cheek sense of humour is unmistakable throughout. The bar/reception is the hub of all activity and its here where you can book yourself in for a massage (done by the most amazing couple) or order yourself an evening cocktail (they do a great Gin and Tonic and Dry Martini).

If you are a bit of a romantic, a dreamer and have a quirky sense of humour, then Vivenda Dos Palhacos is for you. It's a place to go and forget about the hustle and bustle of city life and get a feel of life in a Goan Village, although quite a luxurious one. If you are however expecting 5 star luxury, sparkling clean floors and instant service, then its most definitely not. This is a sort of home away from home, and in true Goan fashion, things happen at a different pace. I absolutely loved my stay here. It's quite kid friendly too and is perfect for a group of friends holidaying together. A must visit in my books. 

[All images by Shalini Pereira, please do not use without prior written permission]

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Discover North East Cuisine with Sneha & Karen- a Pop Up Event @ Dzukou

Hello peeps! I had a blissful few days in Goa... beautiful 30 degree weather, sun shining and clear blue skies... and now I'm back to the fog and cold that is Gurgaon :( Depressing as that may sound, at least my batteries are recharged and ideas are flowing once again!

I'm kicking the week off with some promotion. My friend and fellow food enthusiast, Sneha Lata Saikia (The Kitchen Affairs), and Karen Yepthomi, owner of Dzukou tribal kitchen (Hauz Khas main market), are hosting a Pop Up even on North Eastern cuisine on the 1st Feb. Sneha is an amazing cook and an expert in North Eastern cuisine and she is incredibly passionate about increasing awareness about this style of cuisine. So when she said she was doing this event, I was super excited. In her own words she says, 

" There is a misconception that North Eastern cuisine is all about eating snakes and insects, when it's actually a very healthy way of cooking with a use of lots of herbs and ingredients like bamboo shoots, soy beans, pork, duck, etc." 

The amazing ladies behind the Pop Up

Karen is from the Sema tribe of Nagaland and her restaurant specialises in some really delicious Naga food. The Pop Up, which covers all North Eastern food, is being held in a lovely setting, the Dzukou Tribal Kitchen and I absolutely can't wait! If you are curious and would like to attend, here is the link to the page, with all the details. I for one am definitely going to be there!

Here's a peek at the lovely setting where a delicious meal awaits...
drool, drool...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Some End of Week Prettiness

I've had just about enough of the horrible weather we have been experiencing here in Gurgaon. So I'm off to Goa tomorrow. I plan to lie on the beach all day, listen to lots of  Bob Marley, sip ice cold Kingfisher beer and hog friend fish and prawn curry :) Jealous?

But before I head off, and since it's almost the end of the week (more like wishful thinking), let's have some prettiness on the blog. I can never get enough of pretty pictures, can you? These are a few I stumbled upon, more bookshelf love, some consoles and some spaces that I adore . 

Enjoy my lovelies... 

My love of wall to wall bookshelves continues...

And I can never get enough of consoles...

A healthy dose of Indian Inspiration...

I have one post left to do, so I will see you guys tomorrow and then it's adios! from me...

[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A Visit to the Iconic Shiv Sagar, now at Janpath... A Vegetarian's Delight

A few days ago, my friend and fellow food blogger, Sneha of The Kitchen Espion, and I found ourselves in Connaught Place, around lunch time. Our tummies were complaining in hunger, as we walked down Janpath. The Shiv Sagar sign was hard to miss. We exchanged glances and without saying a word, crossed the road and stepped into the welcoming warmth of this iconic restaurant.  

A light installation - part of the swanky interiors of Shiv Sagar

Shiv Sagar doesn't need any introduction really, any restaurant chain that has endured for 30 years needs no promotion. It's pretty obvious that they understand the keys to their success so I'm not going to go into it's history. But I will say this, when I heard Shiv Sagar had come to Delhi I did a little dance :) "Why?" you may ask. Well, the kind of food they have on offer is different to anything you will find in most place in NCR. It's Mumbai style veg khana, that a kid who has spent most of her life in Gujarat and Mumbai will desperately crave for in Delhi. 

So as soon as we sat down, we ordered some Mumbai style sev puri and vada pav. My mouth was already watering in anticipation. There is nothing in the world I love more than vada pav, Mumbai style vada pav, except chocolate maybe:) And I was going to taste it after such a long time! 

Authentic vada pav with Mumbai pav from Mumbai!

The first time I tasted vada pav was in my teens, in boarding school in Panchgani. I spent most of my pre-teens out of India  and this is the reason for me having never tasted vada pav before this. I remember one of my day scholar friends had bought me some vada pav, wrapped in old newspaper. How I managed to sneak this into our dorm at night, I don't know.  But I remember my bestie and I sneaking into the laundry room late one night, once all the lights were down. We sat below the dim night lamp (that was on all night) and opened up the parcel of vada pav like it was some magical treasure. I will never forget the joy I experienced when I bit into that vada, sprinkled liberally with a red, fiery and garlicky dry chutney, held between mumbai style pav. I think that was my first foodie moment. And as I bit into the Shiv Sagar vada pav, all those memories came rushing back. It was so good! And the only place in Delhi that has authentic mumbai style pav. The vada was delicious, with just the right amount of garlic and dhania. The dry red garlic chutney was a little different to the ones I've had in Mumbai, which has some dry coconut in it. But it hardly matters :) I was happy... now there is a place I can do to eat vada pav... and soon Shiv Sagar maybe coming a little closer to Gurgaon (to Select City Mall)... I can't wait!

Plate of Mumbai style Sev Puri- ask for it to be made 
less spicy if you can't handle too much spice

Happy face :)

The sev puri also brought back memories, of annual family trips to mumbai and our pilgrimage to Elco arcade where my mom and I would guff down sev puri and pani puri from the vendors that used be lined up there. Again, the sev puri was excellent, not as good as elco arcade, but that's a tough ask (in my head nothing will ever be as good). It's a lot spicier than the sev puri I'm used to having, and next time I will ask them to add less of the red teekha chutney. But I could easily have a plate or two of it :)

The Shiv Sagar grilled sandwich

Next up, we ordered the Shiv Sagar grilled sandwich. It arrived, and it looked like the famous Mumbai grilled veg sandwich, but I was disappointed with the taste. It was very bland. I could hardly taste the green chutney, which to me has to be spicy in a veg sandwich, to compensate for the cheese and the boiled potato. It was while we were discussing this, that the man behind Shiv Sagar Delhi, restauranteur Varun Puri, came over. He greeted us warmly and then gently scolded us for not letting him know we were coming. He sat down with us and we started talking food :) When we suggested that the veg sandwich could be spicier, he explained to us that they use two distinct green chutneys, one for the vada pav (a spicier one), and one for the sandwich (blander version with ground peanuts). But he was nice enough to ask the chef to make up another one with the spicier version of the chutney and this was much much better. 

Chinese Bhel

Varun then insisted we try a number of things, ranging from chinese bhel (amazing) to the veg biryani with raita (also excellent). The pav bhaji was also so yum, but the thing I loved the most, was this interesting concoction that I would have never imagined would work. A stir fry chilli-garlic crispy idli! It sounds ridiculous, but is unbelievably moreish. An absolute must try! 

The maara mari juice

Carrot juice

Shiv Sagar is also famous for its fresh fruit and vegetable juices spiked with masala and herbs like pudina and dhania. We got to try a little of everything, and I loved them all, although my favourite was the carrot. I love carrot juice and order it whenever I see it on a menu. I must say that this was so so good. 

My next visit is going to be very soon. The hubs is grumpy because I went without him :)

[All images by Shalini Pereira- please do not use without prior written permission]

[Sneha Lata Saikia, thank you for the pic of me guffing]

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Artist James Powditch Creates a Home Within a Warehouse

I haven't done one of these home tours in a while. Just haven't come across anything that floored me until this. I stumbled upon the lovely home of artist James Powditch, created, as only an artist can, and my jaw dropped in wonderment. Only an artist can create a space as eclectic and visually stunning as this. He has set up his distinctive home almost entirely within the footprint of a 320 square metre warehouse. 

What do I love about this home? EVERYTHING! From the concrete walls and floors, the paint stained wooden floor boards, the eclectic mix of mid-century modern, vintage and contemporary furniture, to the way the light floods into the space from the large door that opens into a courtyard. The cherry on the cake is the incredible collection of artwork adorning the walls! The house itself has a feel of a colorful canvas that seems to have been done effortlessly in a moment of inspiration. Oh! how I wish I could curl up with a nice book on that lovely blue couch and while away a quiet afternoon... 

Hope you enjoy this as much as I have... for all the details about this beautiful and stunning home you can visit The Design Files.

Monday, 12 January 2015

A Glimpse Into the World of Japanese Cuisine

I have not always been a fan of Japanese cuisine. For the longest time I associated it with raw fish, and the idea of eating raw fish completely freaked me out. But while studying for my masters a few years ago, a friend pushed me to try it, more like dared me, and well, in a 'challenge accepted' kind of moment, I did. Boy was a I surprised at how much I liked it! Although I did draw the line at maki rolls at that point:) It's been a few years since then though, and I have slowly become more and more adventurous when it comes to food on the whole, and Japanese food in particular (I thank MasterChef for this). The one thing that has always appealed to me though, is how beautiful it looks. It's like art on a plate, and I'm always amazed by the care and skill involved in creating these mini works of art.

A while back, I got an opportunity to visit Kitchens of Asia (KOA), a newly opened restaurant in DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon. It's the baby of restauranteur Amit Arora, and over the course of the evening I chatted with Amit about his journey from IIM Bangalore and the world of management, to the food industry. For someone like myself, who is only just starting to discover Japanese cuisine, it was a treat to hear Amit explain cooking concepts like Sashimi, Robata (a technique of grilling), Teppanyaki (basically cooking on an iron griddle or plate) and Tempura (a kind of deep frying) with such absolute passion.  

Although I'm no expert on this sort of cuisine, I really enjoyed most of the things I tried at KOA, from the maki rolls, nigiri and sashimi to the grilled meats and fish. The seafood used in the sushi and sashimi was fresh and the gari (a kind of sweet, pickled ginger), wasabi paste and grated daikon served with it was really good.  I look forward to visiting many more times and discovering more. I found the flavours subtle but incredible. But this post isn't about a review of the food at KOA, although I loved it :) KOA has an open kitchen concept and you can see the chefs at work, grilling and preparing the different kinds of sushi such as nigiri, maki rolls and sashimi. It's a photographer's delight (not that I consider myself one), but I did have my camera handy all evening and was delighted at the chance of practising my camera skills and taking some pictures of the 'cooking' that was happening. So often when we review, we just talk about the food and how it tasted, missing the story behind its preparation- the effort, technique and skill involved. Here are a few pictures I managed to click... hope you like. 

If you would like to read my in-depth review of KOA on Zomato, please click here.

The process of Robata ...

Some beautiful tasting robata chicken

Perfectly grilled fish

The making of a maki roll...

These are western-style sushi rolls called Uramaki 
(inside-out roll) 

Prawn tempura filling

Tuna filling

The sashimi platter

[All images clicked by Shalini Pereira- Please do not use without prior written permission]

I attended this review on an invite 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Our Little Green Wall of Frames- Part II

A while back I had done a post about our tiny entrance foyer which I had livened up with a splash of crisp apple green and some art work. It was, if you remember, a work in progress. There have been a few additions since then, a few colorful wooden masks that I picked up from Sri Lanka and a nice modern looking wooden ledge that I picked up from Pepperfry. 

The ledge is something that I've always wanted, mainly so I could keep a bowl there to deposit my keys (I'm always losing them, much to the exasperation of the hubs). I came across exactly what I was looking for on the Pepperfry website, was happy to see it was within my budget, and placed the order just before Diwali. It arrived after a little wait, and I excitedly got my carpenter to fix it up. 

What I like about Pepperfry is that they have quite a variety of choice in terms of styles ranging from modern and funky to colonial as well as traditional. The one I decided on was a simple, clean-lined design that seemed ideal for our rather cramped entrance. I also didn't want something too traditional looking because of those traditional brass lamps. I didn't want things becoming too ethnic. 

The ledge is the perfect addition to our green wall of frames. Finally I have a place for those keys! Ever since it was fixed up, I've been playing around with different combinations and arrangements... of course the hubs looks on, rolling his eyes and shaking his head in amusement, but even he admits that it's so much better than before:) 

Still a little more art to be added, but it's getting there :)

There's my cute little Fijian Kava or yaqona bowl in which 
I keep my keys

A wooden toy rickshaw I picked up in Sri Lanka

Tea lights and flowers add a nice welcoming touch to the entrance, 
which earlier was very unwelcoming :)

[All images by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

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