Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Truly an old world experience - Sarvi


Having heard innumerable tales of Sarvi's sheek kebab's, we ventured down to Nagpada in a South Mumbai suburb on Diwali, last year. You hear about Nagpada in the same breath as police station, but this little treasure is definitely worth a visit. This haunt has been in the Sarvi family for over a half a century & kudos for the management for just letting it be the way it was back then.

You can take your pick of seating areas, a table with the view of the Nagpada police station or one with a view of the erstwhile Imperial Bank. Its fun watching the world go by while rubbing shoulders with taxi drivers & mêlée  of other transient Nagpada residents.

Nothing much has changed since my Mum frequented this quaint eatery close to 30 years ago. (I promised my Mum wouldn’t give her age away).The typical Irani marble top tables and wooden chairs may have lost their sheen, but the guys in the kitchen haven't lost theirs.

We stuck to the basics which were sheek kebabs and naans. Must I say, they were done to perfection. The meat is done just so, & is mildly spiced which does not set you up for heartburn later. (No blasts from the past here). The kebab's have this unusually crusty outside & a melt in the mouth inside. Ohh!!! the naans have to be the biggest in all of Mumbai & are definitely better than any other I have had anywhere else. They are soft & fluffy, without getting all rubbery in five minutes. They also make a mean bheja fry( brain). Their service is quick, helpful and extremely efficient. Suffice to say that the portions sizes are large with excellent VFM.

The only drawback is they offer no desserts. To add to our woes, Rolex (which is across the street) has now sold out, so that’s the end of their famed pudding. Well I guess if you liked stone pudding…..But if your sweet cravings still need to be pandered to, then don’t miss their cutting chai in the most mismatched teacup set you will ever see. i like it because the teacups & saucers look very nice together even if they don’t belong to each other.  All in all it’s a must do, if you are in the vicinity.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

PS.. I Love You


I am not one to read romantic novels of any kind and yet PS I Love You, will definitely be one of my current favorites. Cecelia Ahern, introduces us to Holly Kennedy. Set in Dublin, Holly, newly widowed is struggling to move on with her life.

Through flash back memories of Holly in happy times with her  soul mate, childhood sweetheart and husband—Gerry—we get glimpses of their lives, hopes and dreams. As with childhood sweethearts, no one knows and understands Holly, her quirks, her fears & her compulsive and impulsive shopping as much her Gerry. The book takes us through the last few months of Gerry’s life and how in spite of his absence still lingers on in Holly’s life, giving her something to smile about, helping her look for her goal, encouraging and sometimes pushing her to the brink to overcome her fears.


Gerry leaves behind ten notes for Holly, to be opened every month, a missive to help Holly  move on with her life. Some of them are difficult challenges (I love the episode of Holly attempting a karaoke competition in utter sobriety. I know that fear, I’ve been there. Its amazing how a couple of margarita's give you the prowess to take on Mariah Carey’s five octaves, cold turkey sober its a different story altogether). Holly finds unlimited support in her friends Sharon and Denise and her sometimes MIA sister Ciara & brother Daniel.

Each of the notes left behind by Gerry touch a chord, because trust me, we’ve all been in each of those situations at some point of time. While on holiday, Holly and the girls attempt to ‘catch place by the pool’, done that in Andheri local train. Dealing with unrequited feelings, inadvertently stepping on someone’s toes at work, misjudging people’s intentions, spending way too much on clothes and shoes (well sometimes they are on sales!) and the list goes on.

Couple of things that I’ve learned from this book is the clichéd live every day to the fullest and cherish every relationship like its the only one you have. I guess that’s why my husband’s encouragement  and support got me here. Thank you Marco. I learn from you everyday.  Like Holly’s parents, my folks who have been my constant support, my secure base and just being my giant rocks of Gibraltar. My brilliant brother, Michael. I have yet to come across some as talented, thoughtful and yet so oblivious to it. Thank you Suellen, my closest friend. Thank you for keeping me grounded, giving me grief when I deserved it and just looking out for me. (I have cut down on coffee and stiletto's, I promise).Guess we all have some thanking to do.

Can’t wait to catch the movie!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My last lecture…


In a training program at work last month, my MD showed us a clip of Dr. Randy Pausch, who was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. This man delivered a speech --  Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams --months before succumbing to pancreatic cancer. This was his message to his children, to his family and to his friends. I must tell you, whether you read his book or watch the clip, you will be moved by the sheer grit and determination of this man, who never let anything or anyone get in his way. And yet you see him as a human being like anyone of us, trying to make sense of the crosses we have to bear, and trying to come to grips with a destiny that is not of our making. That’s when we got to think about what would our legacy be. So after not too much pondering, here are my musings…

I may not have a string of alphabets behind my name, and I may not have millions in a Swiss bank account, but what I do have is the experience that has enriched my life through the years.

Experiences that I have my family, my friends, my colleagues to thank. Its not about what knowledge I have imparted, but what I have gained from those who made my memories and the foundations of my existence.

Respect, for everything and everyone around me. No one is too small to accord respect to. Treat others with the same dignity you expect. You are only as superior as the next guy.Last lecture

Give people a chance. How many times did I fall off my bicycle? (you don't even want me to answer that one). How many times did you try and get to the bottom of an algebra sum? Did your parents every throw their hands up? Did you teacher every say you were no good? Everyone of us has potential its just up to us to help people realize what they are good at and give them a leg up.

Not everyone is the Joker. Are people inherently bad? Or are we catching them in situations that bring out their worst? Are they really mirroring our actions and behavior? Everyone is entitled to a bad day, and its not for us to judge who’s good or bad. Someone is judging us back.

Learn to give. They say charity begins at home. But it doesn’t always have to be material. When at home are we really spending time with the family, or are we glued to the TV? Is there someone at work who will benefit from your time at the company or from the knowledge you have gleaned. Be accessible to people, and make your time with them count.

I urge you to pause for a moment and think of what legacy you leave behind. Impact somebody, anybody…

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Del Italia – Prima



There are a lot of mixed reactions to Del Italia (DI), but I for one will rate it 11 on a scale of 10. Over the last few times that we've been to DI,  they have delivered consistently on every count. So if it is ambience, service or the food that excites you, these guys will not disappoint.

However, my recommendation is to please stay away from the Sunday Brunch. For Rs. 1250 + taxes, it’s limited fare leaves a lot to write home about. Ironically, they call the Sunday Brunch – home-style….

Now back to the good stuff. They are one of the few restaurants that can boast of an all-out Italian wine list that spans from Milan to Naples. A must try are the sangrias. My personal favorite—the Melon Sangria. They even make a regular brandy with hot water taste great. For the teetotalers, the plum-based mocktails are the best.

When it comes to the antipasti, the quail wrapped bacon wins hands down. I love the caramelized onions and succulent roast potatoes that go with it. The Carpaccio is done very well, but the salad topped off with toasted pine nuts that accompany it is sheer bliss. This should be earmarked, as it comes from someone who is fatally allergic to salads. Being mainly a carnivore, this review will be biased accordingly.

For most of us who grew up with Smokin' Joes & Dominios, the pizza's are really a shocker (but in a good way). They are authentic to the 'T' as far as thin crusts go. Don't miss the BBQ Chicken. The Ricotta and wilted Spinach pizza is highly recommended as well. Go exotic with the Parma Ham pizza ( though, they do get a  little stingy on those celestial slivers of perfectly cured ham)

A side order of garlic bread, which arrives nice and warm straight from the oven with a hint of oregano is perfect for a between-courses nibbler. So heavenly… . At this point you an actually hear violins.

Now to the meat of the matter: the Duck and Chicken Lasagna just melts in the mouth. For a meat and potatoes kind of person, please, PLEASE have the medallion. It’s a hunk of the best beef cooked to order, and the quality of the meat is supremo. I am not a big fan of continental fish dishes, but the John Dory just blows you away. The fillets are cooked to al dente and the lemon butter sauce just completes it. Saffron risotto makes the perfect accompaniment. What a holistic experience. I am a Risotto freak, and I must say that this is one area ( & I've tried all their Risottos)where I think DI could work on ditto for the Carbonara that lacked identity.

When it comes to dessert, these guys have got it down to an art. The Panacotta is the lightest thing on the menu after the pizza. DI panacottaPlease ask your server about the stewed fruit of the day: you will be in luck if they have figs or pears. Now if you are one of those chocoholics (like my mum), you can take your pick from the Chocolate & Grappa Torte (rich divine chocolate), Chocolate & Mascarpone Torte (a fine balance of cheese and chocolate) or the classic Tiramisu.

Admittedly the pricing is on the other side of VFM, but it is well worth the indulgence.

Sigh…… happy memories…. Damn you dietician, damn you (she who cannot be named)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Coffee with the Stars


If you’ve cried every time you see Meg Ryan with her coffee in “You’ve got Mail”, here’s your chance to re-live the moment. An unassuming little café in New York lets you experience this moment and make your own movie history.

After walking through a place as expansive as New York’s famous Central Park, every warm blooded sweet toothed mammal would be craving to seek out the solace of a great desert den.

That's where Cafe Lalo steps in.Walk a few blocks north to 83rd street  trust me when I say, that the walk will be worth the pot of honey (in this case a groaning cheesecake display) at the end.

Unlike in the movie, make sure you get there early in the evenings, to ensure, if not reduce the waiting time for a table. As the evening progress Lalo’s get jam packed with its regular patrons and first timers like me, out to get their dessert kick.

Lalo Lalo’s is very easy to find, in the evenings, just follow the string of fairy lights, or  the throng of people waiting to get inside. While in the mornings, you can’t but stop to look into the large French windows, showcasing the shelves and counters stacked with every imaginable cake, pastry slice and cheesecake.

The café offers a wide selection for breakfast. The chefs here have really captured the essence of New York here, by catering to every palette here. A true melting point, of cultures. Don’t miss the Authentic Belgian Waffle served with cinnamon whipped cream and pure maple syrup( I know, I know, you put on half a kilo just reading this). Add your choice of pecan or hazelnuts to it and pure sin. For the more adventurous gourmet, a must try would be the traditional Jewish breakfast, comprising of Lake Sturgeon with greens and fresh baked bagels and rugelach. Ask for the Espresso, they make the best Espresso on the other side of the Atlantic.

Alternatively, you can also try the true blue New York breakfast or lighter options such as Swiss or the Irish breakfast.

If you do stroll in for brunch, Lalo’s has a surprising array of items and vegetarians can be assured that there are plenty of options. Go for the grilled sandwiches, which are huge or choose the entrées. You can end your meal with a wide selection of cheese. And if you still have room top it off with frozen yogurt. (Give me calorific sin any day!!)

Now, we get to my favorite part. Lalo’s has one of the largest selections of desserts ever. You can take your pick from the rows of tarts, pies and cakes. A must try the Chocolate Trip, a silky chocolate walnut truffle cake with mixed berry sauce and home made vanilla ice cream. Don’t miss the Hazelnut mousse either. The velvety consistency you just can’t miss. My personal favorites are the New York cheesecake and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse. ( Go in a big group, that way you get such a wide sampling….. bliss). Do ask the waitress what the specials are, because the patisserie team here out do themselves combining chocolate and coffee based deserts with fruit. Round it off with a mug of Lalo’s hot cocoa and you can die and go to heaven a very happy person.

The café is extremely vibrant the waitresses are extremely polite and efficient. The pricing is a little above average. But you really shouldn’t bother, because at Lalo’s it is not just food for the stomach, but for the senses.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Looky, I’m here!

So I’ve finally gotten down to setting up my own blog (thanks to the persistence of my husband!). Watch this space for reviews on food, holidays, books, and general life in the city of The Slumdog Millionaire!

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