Review: Cafe Ludus, New Delhi

The latest entrant in the restaurant scene is Cafe Ludus at MGF Metropolitan mall, Saket. Ludus literally means school and that is the ambience they have treid to create as I learnt from one of the five owners, Gaurav Gupta. The areas in the cafe’ have been divided into various aspects of school like the laboratory, a Library, a cafeteria and amphitheatre and just as names suggest the areas depict exactly that, for instance-the library is named such cause it has been designed with books and board games stacked on the wall, so one can come in and read if tired of shopping in the mall or even play board games with friends. The amphitheatre is where they plan to hold various events like sundowners, body painting and more such. The laboratory will be the bar, but they are very clear the emphasis is not the drinks, they don’t want it to turn into another lounge or bar but be a cafe with emphasis on food and even catching up with friends. Hence the emphasis on the board games and the interactive events.

Ludus - Bar 1. www.stylecity.in

Cafe Ludus, www.stylecity.in

In terms of interiors again they have kept in quite sync with the school theme and mostly it is minimal wood and steel with some areas of exposed brick. The rest of the spaces like the restrooms have graffiti and other graphic designs on the walls. The furniture is mostly wooden benches and chairs with table tops having blackboards with scribbled menus. Its only the outdoors which breaks the school cafe scheme and seems a bit of a lounge with stone benches and cabana’s with wicker furniture and white sheer curtains, which is a slight disappointment from the rest of the decor. But here too they have tried to incorporate the theme with alphabet cushions and some mismatched furniture.

cafe Ludus, www.stylecity.in

In terms of food, Café Ludus has flavors from around the world and a vast variety. Starting with breakfast, where you can select from pancakes to eggs. During the rest of the day you have a handpicked selection of soups, salads, mains, house burgers, deserts and shakes. All prepared with finesse and served with an exquisite Sauce. They have over 70 different sauces to go with the various meals and they are out of the world. In terms of dishes, we tried a whole bunch of them and were super impresses. We started with the Jalapeno croquettes followed by Drunk sole; which is beer battered fish served with Tartar sauce and Chicken Souvlaki which is grilled chicken served with Turkish aioli dip as bar snacks along with our mocktails (that time they had not got their liquor license). They are obviously very influenced by Greek mythology, as most of the names on the menu have Greek reference, and as tempting as Poseidon Panini and Maximum Tenderloin burger looked we decided to skip them so we could have a greater variety from the menu. This included the Chicken Roulade which was Spinach stuffed chicken served with wasabi mashed and sitaki mushroom juice, fish especially Basa has become a favourite of mine so Cambodian Basa which was grilled to perfection was also on the list. Finally we decided to get a Marco Polo pizza just so we could try it out, again it was delicious. But as much as I loved the food and over all concept, the desserts were a disappointment, but the owners and chef assured me they are working on it so will be amazing by the time I visit next. I sincerely hope that has happened as I am looking to go there this week! You should do the same.

PANKO JALAPENO CROUQUETES

CUISINE: SPANISH Cafe Ludus - Panko Jalapeno Croquette. www.stylecity.in
CATEGORY: STARTER
SERVINGS:  5 PIECES

Ingredients
1 FLOUR 125gm
2 MILK 600ML
3 CHEEDAR CHEESE 125GM
4 BUTTER 70GM
5 OIL 30ML
6 JALAPENO 100GM
7 SALT  to taste
8 PANKO CRUMB 100GM
9 BLACK PEPPER to taste

Method
1 “Heat butter and oil in a sauce pan on slow flame and add flour. Make roux out of the mixture. After making the roux add milk , cheese and make a dough.”
2 After making the mixture add salt to taste. Add chopped jalapenos.
3 “Make a batter of flour,water,salt and pepper.”
4 Heat oil in a pan for deep frying.
5 “Make round balls of mixture and dip in batter. After dipping, coat with panko crumbs.”
6 Deep fry in the oil.
7 Serve hot with cocktail dip.

DRUNK SOLE

CUISINE: CONTINENTALCafe Ludus - Drunk Sole. www.stylecity.in
CATEGORY: ENTRE

Ingredient
1 SOLE FISH 250gm
2 BEER 50ml
3 TARTARE 30ml
4 FLOUR 100gm
5 OIL 10ml
6 DIJON MUSTARD 30gm
7 SALT  to taste
8 LEMON JUICE to taste
9 PEPPER to taste
10 SAGO 50gm
11 EGG 2
12 PAPRIKA 10gm

Method
1 Slice Sole into fine finger sized slices
2 “Prepare a batter by carefully making a thick batter of the flour,egg,paprika powder,salt,lemon juice,beer ”
3 Marinate the fish in the batter for about two hours
4 Thereafter coat the battered fish with bread crumb and sago crumb
5 Deep fry till deliciously golden brown
6 Serve with slices of lemon and tartar sauce/dijon mustard

Beauty Ritual: Spa Natural,The Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka

RITUAL: Pindasweda, 90 mins, USD 100 approx

LOCATION: The Fortress Resort and Spa, Galle, Sri Lanka

Massage- www.stylecity.in

Any trip to The Fortress Resort and Spa cannot be complete without visiting their Spa- Spa Natural, which offers a simple and holistic approach to well-being, with eastern and western treatments combined. From signature Ayurvedic treatments which begin with a consultation with the in-house Ayurveda Doctor; who finds out the body constitution (Prakrthi),the state of body humours (doshas) and formulates a personalised treatment, to western massages and body scrubs there is a whole lot of treatments you can experience.

I for one had a great consultation with Dr.Pushpika, where we discussed not only the type of treatment I should have but also things I should incorporate in my diet. According to Ayurveda the body consists of three Doshas i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kappha and each person’s nature, health and ailments depend on which Dosha is most prominent. In an ideal situation all three must be balanced, but that rarely happens with one being the most prominent and a second following close, my most prominent Dosha is Kappha followed by Pitta. After my consultation I learnt I need to increase intake of greens as well as some high pungent tastes to my diet like Black pepper, ginger, cumin so as to balance my Dosha. Also meditate and be more physically active so I don’t get too lethargic and depressed which is the negative side of having a higher Kapha Dosha. After this I was booked for an Ayurvedic treatment for the next day.

Spa, The Fortress Resort and Spa, Galle. www.stylecity.in

I enter the Spa Natural and am asked to wait in the relaxation room while the treatment room is given final touches for my therapy. The treatment set up for me by Dr.Pushpika is Pindasweda in which a special type of rice is cooked, tied into a cotton ball, dipped into an herbal mixture with warmed milk and then skillfully massaged into the body. These hot herbal bags(potalis) have herbs which are a great combination of correct herbs for all three Doshas and hence are great for balancing any Dosha missing in your body. The Potalis are heated to a high temperature to make the body sweat hence easier for the herbs to penetrate and heal the body. This treatment is excellent for muscle relaxation, improved blood circulation, remove joint stiffness and swelling.

I wont lie, when the treatment began I was extremely uncomfortable with the excess heat induced to make me perspire, but as the therapist worked on my back (which had come up as a problem area during my consultation) and down through my legs and thighs, I slowly started feeling the effects. By the time the therapist stopped using the Pinda’s, and started giving me a massage I was so relaxed I fell a sleep during the last 15 mins of my treatment. When she finally woke me up to tell me my treatment is over I could feel most of my bodies stiffness had gone and I feel lighter than I have in a long time. In fact I practically glide into my room to get changed and check out of the hotel.

I made a huge mistake by booking my treatment for the last day of my stay instead of taking up a package for all three days, which is also an option. So in case you visit Sri-Lanka and get a chance to go to or stay at The Fortress Resort and Spa I suggest you definitely get an Ayurvedic consultation and go in for the treatment suggested to you and if possible for a three-four day package. I promise you will thank me for recommending!

Reservationsfor any Small Luxury Hotels of the World property can be made by calling 000800 650 1456 (India), online at www.slh.com or via the SLH iPhone app. Travel agents need only remember the GDS code LX for LuXury.  To receivespecial benefits including a complimentary breakfast, upgrade (subject to availability)and late check-out, join The Club of Small Luxury Hotels of the World at www.slh.com/club  Membership is offered on acomplimentary basis

Review: Vinoteca by Sula, Mumbai

Vinoteca, literally means a wine collection. Although in Spain, an exclusive wine bar is also called Vinoteca. Having sommelier Cecila Oldne at the helm of the vino collection, Rajeev Samant of Sula, decided to open a wine bar, for which he was looking for the perfect chef to design the menu. When he met Silvia Grimaldo of Ibiza, he was originally thinking about serving sushi but the chef convinced him to go for a Spanish authentic tapas bar.That is what makes Vinoteca the perfect place to lounge on a Sunday afternoon — their great (and might one add highly affordable) collection of Indian and international wines, and the beautifully designed menu, put together carefully with traditional snacks from the Latin countries from both Europe and America. The decor while being slightly cliched “wine bar” comes with the Spanish tapas bar chalkboards with specials thrown all over the place. But the music most definitely works for the mood.

VINOTECA, Mumbai. www.stylecity.in

“All the tapas places serve very fancy tapas. I didn’t want to do that because I don’t like it. Spanish tapas, to be enjoyed with wine should be light, and basic. I wanted to recreate the traditional tapas bar menu that I have grown up eating,” says Silvia, who comes from a family that makes their own wine. And we must say that Silvia’s menu manages to blow your mind right from the first course. A Sula Brut with a Cheese tabla, which featured Manchego from La Mancha, the smoky Idiazabal with Kalamata olives and dill hummus. “I don’t know why Indians ask for crackers with their tabla.”

VINOTECA, Mumbai www.stylecity.in

And then we had something that we will recommend you to go all the way to Vinoteca to just try — their Ceviche. A cold food, raw chopped kingfish in marinate made of sweet lime, lemon, orange, french mustard, coriander and green chillies — Peruvian tapas that evolved after the second world war when a large Japanese community had settled in Peru. Along with which, the main course had Beef Tagliata — a light beef tapas with parmesan, porcini mushrooms — the best thing to have with a Sula Dindori Shiraz. Vegetarians should not forget to try their Melanzana a la Parrzegiana, which by the looks of it might remind you of creme brulee but it blows your mind with the fresh mozarella and brinjals like you’ve never even fantasized about brinjals. And finally Berenja Rellena – halved brinjals, topped and cooked with minced lamb. Each dish had its own distinct flavour, simple yet tantalizing. Dessert lovers have nothing to worry about. Vinoteca with Amore gelato have developed a Shiraz and a Zinfandel gelato, both of which are the most refreshing flavours in cold desserts that you will see.

Overall, Vinoteca gets a two thumbs up. Get yourself down to Worli and park yourself there till your head is swirling between a wine buzz and a food coma.

* * *
Tapas-wine Pairing:

Chef Silvia Grimaldo recommends–

1. Brut with the Cheese tabla
The stronger the cheese is that is served on the tabla, the better it pairs with the refreshing and a little bubbly Brut.
2. Sauvignon with Almejas Marinera
Sauvignon is the driest of the wines, pairs well with seafood in tomato sauce, the onion and garlic in the Marinera sauce.
3. Rasa Shiraz with Entrecot a la Pimienta
Rasa Shiraz is a red wine that works perfectly with the pepper in the white sauce of the Entrecot
4. Solar de Estraunza with Jamon patanegra de guijuelo
Nothing goes as well with rich Spanish food as does a rich Spanish wine
5. Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut NV with Tuna Tartare
This Piper is an amazing dry wine with refreshing bubbles. It pairs brilliantly with the raw tuna.

The Fortress Resort and Spa, Galle, Sri Lanka

On my recent Sri Lanka trip, I had a reservation for two days at The Fortress Resort and Spa thanks to Small Luxury Hotels of the World to review the property. Small Luxury hotels of the world, have tie-ups with some of the most beautiful boutique hotels around the world, so I always have really high expectations with the properties they are linked with and “The Fortress” did not disappoint.

THE Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka. www.stylecity.in

On our way from spending the day at Galle fort, we actually missed the property and drove past it, cause as the name suggests, The Fortress is like a fort next to the beach with high walls and solid wooden doors. When we did manage to turn around a find the place I was a little intimidated by the huge size of the wall, but once you enter the property that changes, for you are greeted by lush gardens and a view of the swimming pool over-looking the vast blue ocean and served with a cool welcome drink which is a refreshing welcome for The Fortress is 160 km from the airport (and Sri Lanka is really humid)

The Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka. www.stylecity.in

Inspired by the Dutch Fort Design, The Fortress has 53 rooms with six distinct styles of guest’s rooms and residences, each creating sensual living spaces with a naturally modern twist. The categories are the Fortress Room, The Beach Room, The Ocean Room, Splash rooms, The Ocean Lofts and The Fortress Residences. With a well-balanced design concept at the forefront, each room has been designed with either private courtyards or balconies with a view to either the gardens, water features or the Indian Ocean. We are shown to our Ocean View room, which is on the upper level and faces the Swimming Pool and the Ocean.

The Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka. www.stylecity.in

The Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka. www.stylecity.in

The Fortress Rooms feature a superior King size bed (7ft x 7ft) dressed with Egyptian cotton with an open plan bathroom with rainfall shower and bath. A state of the art entertainment system including a plasma screen TV’s, Bose DVD and sound system and a private Bar are just some of the features.The Ocean Lofts are approximately 140m and the design of these split level rooms creates a one-of-a kind experience on each of its two separate floors. The largest of them all is the Fortress Residences which are 240m and creates the ultimate living space as it is on the upper level of the Fortress and each features two bedrooms and an outdoor dining deck. Guests staying in these residences are pampered by their 24 hour personal butler to cater to their every requirement.

The Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka. www.stylecity.in

The Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka. www.stylecity.in

Each evening there is a different dining program varying from Sri Lankan food special to Sea Food barbecue, which is what was on the first night we got there. Chef Kumar made it even more special for us by arranging for us to sample various dishes from the ala carte menu so we can get an idea of the wide array of culinary delights are served at Pepper, the Central dining venue at the Fortress. A combination of international Cuisine and local flavours are offered to the guests and for those who prefer destination dining , private dining within the confines of the Fortress can be arranged. They also have a large selection of wines, which makes it every wine connoisseurs dream come true. You can have this large selection along with your in-room dining as well as at the Sea Lounge, which is the bar by the pool.

Spa , The Fortress, Sri Lanka. www.stylecity.in

Spa, The Fortress, Galle, Sri lanka. www.stylecity.in

Another great offering of The Fortress Resort and Spa is its Spa Natural, which offers a simple a holistic approach to well-being with eastern and western treatments combined. From signature Ayurvedic treatments which begin with a consultation with the in-house Ayurveda Doctor, who finds out the body constitution and state of body humours, based on which a personalised treatment is formulated to western massages and body scrubs there is a whole lot of treatments you can experience. You can also have customised treatments and make a full Spa vacation of your stay. I for one had a great consultation with Dr.Pushpika, where we discussed not only the type of treatment I should have but also things I should incorporate in my diet. Details to follow soon.

The Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka. www.stylecity.in The Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka. www.stylecity.in

Finally, before I end this post earlier over here I had  spoken about The Fortress as one of the SLH properties you can choose for your Destination Wedding. Now after visiting the property I am more convinced than ever that it is a perfect property for a wedding. To begin with Sri Lanka has a warm tropical climate throughout the year, so if you avoid the monsoon season you should get clear skies (we only got rain one day through my 6 day stay at Sri Lanka). The Fortress Resort and Spa also has a variety of wedding packages for you to choose from, Moonstone, Star Ruby, Star Sapphire and Serendib Sapphire Package. Each of these packages has some basic items like wedding planners, decoration, Wedding cake, Floral decoration and a 24 colour photo wedding album. Of course, besides the above items each package are tailored to include certain other amenities. If you cannot manage your destination wedding at The Fortress, they also have great deals for Honeymoons and Anniversary’s.

The Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka. www.stylecity.in

World Luxury Hotel award and Asia Pacific Hotel award winner The Fortress is a perfect destination if a serene place combined with luxury is your idea of an ideal vacation.
The Fortress Resort and Spa – PO Box 126 Galle. Sri Lanka. Tel:+94 777 743 750
Rate– The Rooms begin at USD 280* per night
Transport– International Airport: Colombo 140 km (transfers arranged by the resort). Local Airport: Koggala Lake (KCT) 2 km (transfers arranged by the resort) Train station: Galle 10 km. Pick up service: By resort at time of booking. Helipad: on-site & on request (please book via the resort)
Guests are met by resort staff at Koggala Airport. Seaplane comes direct from Colombo Airport. From Colombo Airport – Take main road into Colombo and then the Galle Road direct south to Koggala.

*These rates are approximate rates and could vary.Reservationsfor any Small Luxury Hotels of the World property can be made by calling 000800 650 1456 (India), online at www.slh.com or via the SLH iPhone app. Travel agents need only remember the GDS code LX for LuXury.  To receivespecial benefits including a complimentary breakfast, upgrade (subject to availability)and late check-out, join The Club of Small Luxury Hotels of the World at www.slh.com/club  Membership is offered on acomplimentary basis

Review- Rara Avis

So a Style City correspondant had already been here and reviewed it a few months back, but I loved the place so much when I went for dinner last night I had to re-post this, for anyone who hasn’t been has to check it out.

Review- Rara Avis.

Review: Cocoa House, Vasant Vihar, Delhi

Style City Correspondent

Every great hangout spot comes with three basic requirements — ambience, food and beverages. Some people will include music in that list, but when you are with your friends and having a great time, most music tends to be pleasant. You will find yourselves tapping your feet to almost any halfway decent beat if your taste buds are tripping and you are comfortable. Cocoa House in the D block market in Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, has the complete potential to become that. And then some.

The decor and ambience are perfect for a post-work drink and snack or even a meal. It is perfect for a coffee in the middle of the day or even if you want to have a work meeting. With quirky art and photographs on the walls and posters of beers from around the world, the place makes you comfortable quite instantly. They have a reading area and wi-fi and a lot of books and magazines. This place is serious about wanting to be a hangout spot and it is doing a good job at it. Cocoa House also comes with a fully equipped bar if you want to turn your evening coffee into a party till it’s time to go home. The manager insists that their cocktails and mocktails are designed to freshen you up and he is quite right. Try their signature Cocoa Belle, with green apple and fresh watermelon juice, this beauty is a taste trip.

 

Usually a place which serves more than two cuisines is dubious but Cocoa House manages to pull that off with grace. From mediterranean to continental to plain old desi served with their chef’s own twist, the menu is overwhelming to look at. But once the food is on the table, you are on your way to a happy tummy. They do their medium thin crust pizzas quite well, if you ask us. They even have an experimental chicken teriyaki pizza. But what they get perfectly right is the lamb. Not everybody makes a great lamb shoulder that rolls in your mouth and with every chew, it releases flavour. They even make some great momos. Their dumplings are light and just like their lamb, are done right.

So if you find yourselves in Vasant Vihar with either time to kill or friends to catch up with, StyleCity recommends Cocoa House.
Location: D-8, Community Center, D Block Market (Near Modern School), Poorvi Margh, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. Phone No.:  011-41420233, 9560070731
Meal for 2: (Incl. tax with alcohol) Approx. Rs 1300/-

Baby lamb shoulder
Ingredients

300gm(after cook)
Rose merry glaze-100gm
Sauté vegetable-60gm
(bellpepper,zuccunni,carrot,broccoli,babycorn,beans.)
Jacked potato-70gm
Rose merry fresh -10gm
Salt –05gm
Black pepper-05gm
Sour cream-05gm
Spring onion-01gm(for garnish top on the potato)
Butter-05gm(sauté for vegetable& put in sauce)
Oregeno-02gm(sauté for vegetable)

Method of Preparation of Baby Lamb shoulder
First Marination:
Apply salt and black pepper, Rosemarry, garlic and Worcestershire Sauce on Lamb Shoulder of 500gm. Leave it for one hour at a temperature of 1 to 4 degrees celcius.
Cooking:
Add olive oil in pan. Add sliced onion, roughly sliced carrot, celery, leeks, garlic. Cook till dark brown.
Add marinated lamb shoulder then cook in its own juice called braising.
Add water to submerge the lamb shoulder and cover it with lid. Leave it for 90min at slow fire.
When cooked, take out the shoulder and remaining juice to be reduced for concentrated flavours. Strain the reduced Au Jus and serve with lamb shoulder as its accompanying sauce.
Serve with jacket potato topped with sour cream and sauted vegetables.

Falafel
Ingredients

1 cup dried chickpeas or 400gms of chickpeas.
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons flour
Salt
Pepper
Oil for frying

Method
Place dried chickpeas in a bowl, covering with cold water. Allow to soak overnight. Omit this step if using canned beans.
Drain chickpeas, and place in pan with fresh water, and bring to a boil.
Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then let simmer on low for about an hour.
Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. Add flour.
Mash chickpeas, ensuring to mix ingredients together. You can also combine ingredients in a food processor. You want the result to be a thick paste.
Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping-pong ball. Slightly flatten.
Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (5-7 minutes).
Serve hot.

HUMUS
Ingredient   

1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Method

Grind all the ingredients in a food processor with the help of olive oil till it become smooth paste
Served with Pita bread, humus and deep-fried falafel. Accompanied by home-made Arabic pickle
Preparation Time:  8 hours
Cooking Time: 45 min
Serving for 3

Beauty Ritual: Heavenly Spa at Westin, Mumbai

TREATMENT: Harmony Treatment, 75 mins, Rs.4,000
LOCATION: Heavenly Spa at Westin, Mumbai

Spa for most of us means a place where you get a massage. Which is actually not the case and the Westin, Heavenly Spa shows us why. The concept at Westin Heavenly Spa is to create a complete wellness experience. This is done by focussing on the body, mind and spirit simultaneously to promote longevity and good health. Even the tag line of the Spa is restore the body, expand the mind. The treatments are divided into HEAVENLY TOUCH which includes a variety of massages, HEAVENLY GLOW which includes facials and other body wraps, HOLISTIC WELLNESS which has many Ayurvedic therapies and massages, YOGIC WELLNESS where Yoga practices are incorporated to suit and compliment you body and mind. Besides this there is also a special Spa Cuisine available at Splash. As you can see the menu is vast and will take me more than one visit to really capture the complete essence of the place but I decided to go in for the Harmony massage, which as the name suggests is meant to restore balance and harmony back to the body.

Before the treatment I go in for a steam, here they have infused Eucalyptus oil into the Steam which is supposed to be great for any ailments such as cold cough and in my case my bothersome Sinus. For once I did not feel like rushing out of the steam room as I could actually feel the oil open up my sinuses and I wanted to take full advantage of that fact. From the steam I head for a quick shower and then go in for my therapy. As I had mentioned earlier, at Westin it is not just about a massage but also wellness. So my therapist starts with soaking my feet in warm water and using mineral salt to clean them, while reciting a shloka through the process. She reprimanded me for crossing my hands which I agree is a bad habit since the salt is meant to remove negativity and if you cross you your hands or legs the energy flow gets stalled.

From here begins my Harmony treatment which is basically a combination of Swedish massage and Aromatherapy. The long gentle strokes with firm kneading movements done to increase circulation, combined with the smell of the aroma oil has a very soothing effect. The therapist begins the massage with my feet and slowly moves her way upwards. As the warm oil seeps into my body I can feel my aches slowly fade away and I am entering a state of absolute bliss. This goes over an hour and she slowly kneads on my muscles combining that with gentle strokes. The last 10-15 minutes she spends massaging my face and head. More like pressing the correct pressure points and releasing stress. The treatment ends with her gently tapping a singing bowl over my body. From here I go for a shower and decide to not use any soap as I really want to let my very dry body soak in the oil. The post therapy consists of a cup of tea, with options varying from Basil to Chamomile to Green tea. I stick to the green tea and then go back very relaxed waiting desperately to get home and sleep, which I do very soundly that night.

Review: Club Czar

During my college days in Delhi, we did not have a lot of night clubs. Well that is a lie, we did have a decent number of night clubs but most of them were in hotels which meant too expensive and a very strict age limit, also the fact that back then it was really difficult to convince parents to let us go out at night. So at that time arose the era of going to clubs in the day. These were mostly stand alone clubs that had come up in the usual teenage hangout spots, mostly popular markets and movie hall venues and offered great deals on everything from food to alcohol and ofcourse the major trend back then “hookahs”. So when I walked into Club Czar one Tuesday afternoon a few weeks back that is exactly where I was transported in time i.e my college days.

Club Czar in Saket district of New Delhi really reminded me of my college days, firstly cause it was an actual club, not a pub or lounge with dark interiors and funky lighting fixtures, complete with LED lighting and automated bar and a projector screen and ofcourse a dance floor. The club has been given an industrial look with a separate VIP room, there was a pink room with graphics all over the walls and a mezzanine VIP area in the middle of the club. Even during the day, there was a DJ playing and the club was absolutely full. Yup! all the tables were full and people came and went throughout the time that I sat at the club. The club does an equal amount of business at night I am told by the manager and weekends you need to be on the guest list if you don’t want to pay entry(WOW!).
The first thing I noticed was that every table had atleast one Hookah on the table, which surprised me as Hookahs are no longer allowed in public places, but I was assured by the manager that these were herbal hookahs, so my friend and I went ahead and called for one. Now I don’t know the difference between an herbal and non-herbal hookah but the Paan flavoured Hookah we called for was quite good. The other thing we saw on almost all tables were Beer Towers, for those of you who don’t know what that is its like a tall tower which contains two-three litres of beer. This we skipped cause after all it was a weekday afternoon and we were there to do a review not get drunk, so we called in for a cocktail each. The cocktails had the usual list of LIIT, Blue Lagoon, Margarita’s, Martini’s etc. Obviously more importance was given to the Beer and Hard Liquor which is what my friend shifted to after he had one LIIT.

From here we moved on to food because honestly in a club with loud music it does get a little difficult to have conversation and since I could not really get drunk at 2 in the afternoon, as much as I would have loved to, but perils of writing reviews I need to remember exactly what went down, food seemed like the next best thing. So we ordered a variety of starters like the Melange of mushrooms, Czar Mezze platter, Pickled chicken Bruchetta and Harissa chicken skewers. The best out of these were the Melange of mushrooms which we finished till the last morsel. By now the music, the hookah and alcohol had given both me and my friends quite a buzz and we were really enjoying the place and had begun to forget it was actually middle of the afternoon and not night. After a bit we got a bit hungry so we decided to call for the main course, which was brilliant. The starters were alright but the Main course was amazing especially since I did not expect that from a night club or day club. Each table I could see had a pizza so I decided to call in for a Pepperoni Pizza, A chicken Shawarma and Caribbean Barbeque chicken. All in all, it is a night club so would mostly recommend you check it out at night, they have different music on different nights, apparently they do an Arabian Sufi night on wednesdays and definitely do try the Hookah and eat atleast a pizza if you can’t get down for dinner. Besides that if you happen to be around during lunch stop by to revisit college days, unless you are in college then well have a blast!

Club Czar: G-9, Salcon Rasvillas, D-1, District Center, Saket, New Delhi, Tel:8527880303
Average Cost of Meal for 2: Rs. 1100 ++ (with beer)/Rs.700 without

MELANGE OF MUSHROOM

Preparation time: 12-15 min (Serves 2)


INGREDIENTS:

·        200g Button Mushroom

·        30g Shiitake Mushroom

·        15g Porcini Mushroom

·        15g Garlic (chopped)

·        15g Onion (chopped)

·        150g Spinach (blanched and finely chopped)

·        10g Olive black

·        10g Dried Tomato

·        2g Basil

·        10ml White Wine

·        A pinch of Chilli Flakes

·        Seasoning  to taste

METHOD:

·         Cut button mushrooms one into four.

·         Pour olive oil in frying pan and add garlic, onion and mushroom.

·         Now add white wine and chilli flakes and cook it for 4-5 minutes.

·         Add shiitake and porcini mushroom and cook in high flame.

·         Sauté the spinach properly.

·         Keep separate and use mold for presentation.

·         Garnish with black olive, sundried tomato and parsley springs.

Carribean Barbeque Chicken:
PREPARATION TIME: 45 MIN
COOKING TME: 15 MIN
SERVING FOR- 2


INGREDIENTS:

·         220g Chicken Breast

·         60g Pineapple slice

·         30g American corn

·         80g Exotic vegetables

·         60g Brown sugar

·         25g BBQ sauce

·        Seasoning according to taste

·         15g Garlic

·         10ml Red Wine

·         20ml Olive oil

·         10g Dijon mustard

·         10 g Butter

Method:

·         Marinate chicken breast with Dijon mustard garlic paste, BBQ sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper for 30 minutes.

·         Cut vegetables in baton shape and marinate in BBQ sauce with sliced pineapple.

·         Grill the marinated chicken breast for 5-8 minutes along with marinated sliced pineapple.

·         Heat oil in a heavy based frying pan and sauté vegetables 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat. Add some sauté American corn and seasoning. All above preparation arrange in plate according for sauce.

·         Heat pan and make Carribean BBQ sauce by pouring brown sauce, red wine and BBQ sauce cooked on medium heat sauce. Finish it with butter; pour BBQ sauce on chicken breast.

Beauty Ritual: Mystic Spa, New Delhi

TREATMENT: Water Bed treatment, 60mins, Rs.3000
LOCATION: Mystic Spa, Greater Kailash ll

Spas have always been considered something of a luxury treat. So much so that until a few years ago the only Spa treatments available were those at hotels or else if one was to travel abroad. For the rest of us we had to make do with an occasional head massage at our regular parlour and wait for the shoulder massage which comes complimentary or maybe an Ayurvedic massage if one went to Goa or Kerala. So as you can imagine a Spa enthusiast like myself is more than happy with the current range and availability of Spas but I was even more excited when I got a chance to review Mystic Spa’s latest branch in Delhi. The reason being Mystic Spa promoted by Mystic cures has over 10 years in R&D and managing spas of some of the leading five-star hotels in Delhi and NCR, and also providing products to various chains like Taj, Hyatt and Sheraton. So even though I never got a chance to visit any of the Spas managed by them I got a chance to visit one run by them.

The newly opened branch I visited is situated in GK 2 market has four treatment rooms which are used for all the spa treatments that include a variety of massages, scrubs, wraps and even facials. As I mentioned earlier Mystic cures provides Spa products to various five-star hotels, hence it is their in-house oils which are used for the treatments including Relaxing oils, Oils for muscle pains, Skin care and various aroma oils. Anyway I decide I want to go in for the Water bed therapy, because though I know what a water-bed is I always imagined it to be one of those funky things some people sleep on and had no idea how one can use it for therapy but apparently you can and I was about to find out. Water massage Bed allows to choose among different treatments like Swedish massage, Lomi Lomi which can be combined to the four chromo-therapy treatments: Harmonizing, Energizing, Revitalizing, and Colours, which thank to various colour change options, give an overall total of 12 treatments. I decided to go ahead with the Swedish massage.

The first thing when I step in I am handed a small Jute bag which has various things to be used during the session and can be then taken home. It contains a small Loofah, Slippers, Comb, Shower cap and even a small snack bar for after the treatment. The Swedish massage as well all know is a popular massage for relaxing sore and tired muscles. I had selected Sandalwood oil for my treatment, which has sunflower as the base oil and helps to calm and soothe ones emotions. So anyway I am made to lie down on my stomach on the water mattress as my therapist starts her massage. As she kneads her my muscles I realise the full effect of this treatment cause the pressure she puts on my body puts a reverse pressure from the bed so with each movement I feel like I am getting a massage from both sides. This process continues throughout and my body feels nicely relaxed and massaged. So my blissful 60 minutes go very nicely and peacefully. And as always time flies much to quickly when one is enjoying themselves. So my treatment ends and I go in for a shower and finally leave the Spa after having some green tea and ofcourse with my Good bag or whatever remains of it. I am really dying to try out their Spa facials which sound awesome. So look out for my review on those.

Review: Oasis, Claridges Surajkund

A mere 20 minute drive from South Delhi leads us to Claridges Surajkund, a great repose from the bustling city life of Delhi. Since I had already been here for a Spa review and had a great experience I was more than excited to check out their restaurant and do a food review for which I had selected Oasis, an interactive kitchen offering Italian, Chinese and Indian cuisine. But before the food review I decided on a wine tasting at the Wine Library.

The Wine Library stocks over 900 bottles of carefully selected wines from around the world. Over the years, wine tasting has become an excellent way of entertaining guests and since the Wine Library acts as both a wine shop and wine bar it is a perfect place to start your evening. The tasting happens each day between 7-9 pm where you get to try four different types of wine. The first, Golden Mile Chardonnay which is an Australian wine with an acidic side and a fruity aroma. This costs approximately Rs.2,000 for the bottle. Then we sipped the Manawa Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand which is a dry medium bodied wine, crisp acidic with herb grass and smokes flavours along with apple and melon aromas. This is around Rs.2,500 per bottle. Then my personal favourite, Manawa Pinot Noir from New Zealand with soft Tannis and very light colour,with black cherry, berry plum and rose aromas. This was about Rs.2,500 per bottle as well. Finally Peter Lehmann, a full-bodied Australian Shiraz with tart acidity and hard tannins with black currants, red berry, chocolate tar and meaty flavour was served. This was too strong for me but my dinner companion enjoyed it. This was approximately Rs.500 per glass. The wines are accompanied by cheese, fruits and crackers, and post the tasting guests are encouraged to choose a wine to accompany their meals, my companion and I decided to skip the bottle and just have a glass each of our favoured wines.

Though I had been encouraged by most people to go in for the Dhaba which is the Indian restaurant, I had decided to go in with Oasis, the Multi-cuisine restaurant. The reason being Dhaba at Claridges Delhi has been a family favourite for years, hence almost every occasion meant a meal over there and I wanted to try something different, plus leave Dhaba for what it has been the past few years, a family memory.
Living up to the essence of its name, Oasis,not only offers a great culinary experience but also dazzles you with its ambience and decor. Offering both indoor and alfresco seating, the restaurant overlooks the beautifully landscaped central courtyard with exciting water bodies showcasing an intricate interplay of water, light & music. With its three live interactive kitchens – Italian, Chinese & Indian, bustling with the essence and flavours of joyous indulgence, the Oasis is an exotic dining experience.The Italian battery kitchen indulges guests with live wood fired pizza,  freshly tossed pasta, risotto and much more.Amongst, the signatures on offer at the Chinese counter are a variety of  exotic vegetarian & non vegetarian steamed and fried dimsums & stir fried dishes  cooked in Szechuan and Cantonese style.The Indian interactive kitchen invites guests to explore the real taste of  Indian food and curries, scrumptious galouti kebab  and dum ki nalli cooked with baby lamb shanks and Indian herbs.The a-la-carte menu offers Italian, Chinese & Indian selection through the  day. The dinner buffet on weekends has an extensive food spread, with live  counters and a large dessert selection. There is also a private dining section, which you can book out for special occasions.

My dinner companion Gayatri, who has done reviews for us in the past had already been to Claridges Surajkund before and recommended the Sushi platter, by Chef Keisuke Uno. Since both her and I are huge fans of Sushi that was not an issue at all and we called for a vegetarian platter for her and Non vegetarian for me. Before tasting the Sushi it took me a while to convince myself to destroy the art work as it was presented so beautifully. After we finished the amazing platter we decided to take a small break and sip our wine outside in the courtyard where there were already quite a few diners having their meals. Honestly as much as I had heard about the beauty of the courtyard in reality it is even more astounding and peaceful. We went inside to complete our meal which we decided on a European main dish with Crespelle e ricotta, spinaci con salsa di pomodori e pinoli for Gayatri and Black cod “Livornese” for myself. These were as delicious as the rest of our dishes as well as the bread we had earlier but we were so full it was a struggle to actually finish them. But still more out of greed than anything we had to try dessert and here to the chef recommended Tiramisu and I have to say it was out of the world. All in all I would recommend everyone to try to do a weekend at Claridges Surajkund. That way you can experience the whole thing and also try out more restaurants and definitely expereince the Spa

Address: Shooting Range Road, Suraj Kund, Faridabad,NCR. Tel:0129 419 0099
Price: Rs.2,000 for a meal for two without alcohol


Crespelle e ricotta, spinaci con salsa di pomodori e pinoli

Ingredients
For mixture  
Spinach- 80gms
Chop onion/ garlic-5gms each
Olive oil-10ml
Ricotta cheese-50gms
For pan cake
Flour-100gms
Egg-30gms
Water-200ml
Basil (chopped) 1 gms
Saffron water 10 ml
For sauce
Blanch cherry-5no.
Chop garlic/onion-5gms each
Tomato juice-25ml
Seasoning
Olive oil-5ml
For garnish
Crushed pine nuts-1tsp
Celery leaf-1bunch
Blended pilati sauce-for drizzling 

Method
For mixture– blanch spinach cool down in ice water then take out water chop it finely. Heat oil in a pan add chop onion and garlic broil it for few sec. then add spinach broil it for 2min over low heat add seasoning and keep a side for cool down. After cool down add cheese mix well
For pan cake – make a batter with flour egg and water.
For sauce– heat oil in a pan add onion and garlic sauté it then add cherry tomato, tomato juice and basil leaves and cook over low heat for 15min. adjust seasoning and keep a side.At order time- make pan cake with the batter stuff spinach mixture in it and make two roll of it. Add parmesan cheese on top and cook in oven for 5min. at 180’C. heat sauce place on the bottom of the plate arrange pan cake one whole and one cutting into two garnish with celery leaves, blended pilati and crushed pine-nut’s line by side.

Black cod “Livornese”

Ingredients
Black cod steak-180gm
Olive oil -30ml
Sea salt- to taste
Crushed pepper corn-3gm
Tomato blanch burnoise-10gm
Onion chop-3gm
Fresh thyme- 2-3 sprig
Garlic chop-3gm
Basil leaf -4no.
Black olive- 2no.
Caper-5no.
Fish stock- 50ml
White wine- 10ml
Butter- 5gm
Cream- half tea spoon
Potato wedges fried- 6no.
Onion slice- 5gm
Parsley chop- a pinch

Method
Firstly take fish steak put three cut on skin now marinade it with salt pepper and oil. Heat oil in a non stick pan sear fish in it skin side first, after searing cook fish in oven for 5min.
For sauce-heat oil in a pan add chop onion, garlic, celery, thyme leaf sauté it for few sec. then add caper and tomato, now add white wine after reducing wine add fish stock, now bring it to the boiling, then add seared fish, black olive and basil leaves reduce the heat cover the pan with a lid, cook over slow flame for 5min. Then take out fish finish sauce with butter and cream.
For potato– heat oil in a pan add garlic, slice onion sauté it than add fried crushed potato wedges add seasoning finish with parsley.