CANTAN – The Chinese Bar House

Red Alert! Manu Chandra and AD Singh are at it again. This time again in the swish locales of Lavelle Road (and at the cost of repeating myself) just up my alley…literally!
Lady Baga is now ‘Cantan Chinese Bar House’!

Beautifully done up interiors with fancy red lanterns and even the minutest details looked into by the fastidious Chef Manu, the vibe is eclectic, happy and modern. One can be sitting in any of the modern cities in China…even the chopsticks were gold tipped resting on the backs of the cutest porcelain whales and really fabulous crockery. I expound thus, because I noticed! The details are in the small things, and it shows!

We expect nothing but the best from our homeboy Manu Chandra and he doesn’t disappoint. Top quality and authentic food (as authentic as possible because all ‘authentic’ food in China is cooked in pork fat and not suitable to the Indian palate!) with the quintessential Manu twist (read as; everything we ate was to die for!)
A close knit group of their friends were invited for an intimate ‘dekko’ and all of us just fell in love with the place and the food…

Shabash! AD Singh and Manu Chandra…another well earned feather in your respective caps!
No second guesses as to who is making a beeline to Cantan this week and the next and the next…if we get reservations that is!

The Four Seasons Hotel Opens in Bangalore

Friday we all headed to North Bangalore to the new swanky address in town. The Four Seasons Hotel threw open its doors and to avoid a veritable stampede a few select (and lucky guests) were invited to gasp at the sheer beauty and luxury of the hotel and thereafter gasp a little more at the excellent fare that awaited us at their all day diner Cur8!

With an extraordinarily polite, efficient and friendly staff, catering to ones every whim, it was achligly tempting to check into one of their rooms and spend the entire weekend there and say ‘to hell with the rest of my work’!

The hotel has an imposing facade, and clean open and bright lines in its interiors. A great place to feel the buzz and vibe and yet discreet corners to allow a private tete-a-tete.

The charming GM, Fredrik Blomqvist, an Indophile, was at his charming best. It’s great to see ex-pats who enjoy our country and are curious and excited about our food and culture.Their executive chef, Stephan Calvet, comes highly recommended with a formidable reputation in the culinary world, smiled shyly as we raved about the superb salmon, house made sausages, perfectly done lamb chops and tenderloin, sumptuous prawns, scallops…Ah! The list went on and on…

A small piece of paradise in the hustle and bustle of Bangalore, with a massive pool,gushing water-fall, bloom filled niches to enjoy a perfect English tea (paper thin cucumber sandwiches, hot creamy scones et al), a niche butterfly garden and more…much more.

I’m glad they took their time to open up…and they did with love and care for their guests oozing from every pore…take a bow Mahema Bhutia, Gargi Guha, Fredrik BlomqvIst, Stephan Calvet and the entire team of The Four Seasons!

TICK-TOCK!

Good morning Bangalore! I’ve always wanted to adopt this tag line and since this is my column…what the heck! I’m going with it.

It’s a wonderful to be writing a weekly column again after a lengthy hiatus, but this time in a new avatar. This time it’s all about ‘my ooru’, what makes her tick, what ticks her off and the general ‘ticks’ that abound in her space. It’s all about weeding out the weeds in our (ex) garden city and a finding the ‘aqua’ that will make her bloom again. So, hop onto a merry, unapologetic carousel ride fellow city slickers, and let’s discover Bangalore’s soul together!

Election fever has gripped the nation and how can our placid city be left behind. Politicians and their ilk were throwing ‘manure’ (I have to be polite!) like it was going out of fashion and I was hoping against hope it meant it would provide fodder for our fast depleting green cover, but no such luck. The sun shone on us relentlessly and a heat wave made even the mild mannered Bangaloreans mutter expletives under their breath. We are thankfully not as colourful in our language as the quintessential ‘Narth Indians’! All that is fine, but it didn’t explain the poor voter turnout in most areas! The posh Central Business District had the election staff and police personnel swatting flies! What are we, a city of armchair intellectuals? Even a city like Mumbai had the film folk out in full force, prettily posing with their black dotted fingers so the adoring paparazzi could ‘pap’ them. Maybe a couple of page 3 photographers hanging around would have changed the tide here.  As for all those Bangaloreans who used the voting holiday as a long weekend getaway, Shame on you! You don’t get to gloat if you don’t vote.

After the elections it was business as usual in ‘namma city’. Braving the traffic, poor infrastructure, electricity outrages and lack of water is a given. We are of course, a ‘swalpa adjust madi’ type of city and we have learned to take it in our stride. While the hoi polloi went their way, the glitterati were out to play. There were a spate of flashy parties and events and anybody who was somebody exchanged notes on whether they were invited and if so, the eternal damning question…what do they wear! The Omega black tie dinner was pretty specific about the dress code, but yet we had a couple of rebels in our midst. A black tie does make the men look a wee bit like penguins whilst the women look gorgeous in their LBD’S and swirling silks and chiffons. A little unfair but women look gorgeous even wearing sack cloth and ashes n’est ce pas? There was a veritable brand war as the swish set flaunted their Gucci’s, Prada’s, Louis Vuitton’s and Hermès…Bangalore a ‘B’ town? Surely you jest!

Being an ardent gourmand, I firmly believe that our city is turning into a food capital of sorts. The food pallet in this city is wide and varying. One can savour authentic food from all over the world at its best, including the most mouth-watering Indian food too! Give me a ghee laden masala dosa or an Andhra biryani anytime, anywhere! An enterprising young lady who runs a venture called The Chef Post, Sneha Chandrashekar, organized a mega event with over twenty participating restaurants and hotels to show case the most brilliant translation of seafood on a plate! Chefs of all nationalities vied to show off their skills to a group of special invitees. Good friend and celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani was amongst the discerning audience.

Bangalore is a city of many contradictions, bright lights and marquees and pot holes and bad governance. It’s an art, of being at the right place at the right time. That’s what makes the city tick.

Till next time, Ciao!

Unveiling the Omega Constellation Manhattan Ladies’ Collection.

A beautiful soiree at The Ritz Carlton to unveil the newest ‘jewel in crown’ from Omega, the Constellation Manhattan Ladies’ Collection.
A timeless masterpiece like that deserves the constellation of Bangalore’s stars that turned up at the invitation of Namita Gupta for a very elegant show-casing of brand Omega!

Since the invitation specified it was a black tie event, Bangalore’s galaxy of anybody who is somebody turned up looking quite spiffy, and by and large the dress code was adhered to.One never has to worry about the ladies of our ‘ooru’ but it was nice to see the gentlemen all polished and dapper in their suits!

I met up with old friends I hadn’t bumped into for ages, and the spectacular bouquet of wines and cocktails only helped as a conversation starter!

I for one love sit down dinners as they enable one to not only enjoy and savour the food and wine, but it also gives one an opportunity to have real conversations rather than constantly be distracted with large groups of friends floating in and out of your periphery!

My lobster aperitif and sea bass main course kept me quite occupied as did my never ending glass of Reisling!

A great evening filled with conversations, good food and wines and a spectacular collection of Omega watches…I just wish I had worn mine yesterday!!

House of Masaba, Bangalore

Another swish store in the swish environment of Lavelle Road. The gorgeous and enterprising Sarayu Hegde has opened up the very popular designer Masaba Gupta’s outlet called ‘House of Masaba’ au naturellement!

Beautifully turned out lovely ladies who know their clothes and accessories were seen picking up armloads of gorgeous clothes in silk chiffon and pure cottons.
I for one am thrilled that we don’t have to trudge all the way to Mumbai to buy Masaba’s beauties.

This is just up my swish alley!!

New Sunday Brunch Menu @ Cafe Felix, Bangalore

When Rishad Nathani comes into town to launch a new Sunday brunch menu at his very popular restaurant Café Felix, then there is no question that we must be there!
Firstly because he carries the family name Nathani which is music to my ears (the Nathani family and moi go back a long way since my school days), and secondly because he owns and runs the best restaurants both in Mumbai and Bangalore!

Cafe Felix is a massive space, with a rooftop bar, cozy corners and a bright sun lit view of our city.The food ranges from quick bites to gourmet meals. And when I mean quick bites I mean ‘gourmet’ quick bites! Superbly fresh prawn cocktails, scrambled eggs, on a crisp waffle (I loved it!), with a smidgen of truffle oil and salmon, the best salads in the world, (I couldn’t even get a photo of the flaky tuna salad which was devoured as soon as it was placed!), and The Chateaubriand with grilled Asparagus and onions was out of the world. The dessert table groaned under the weight of baked desserts and I lost track of the amount of crisp white wine and Mimosas I imbibed!

The vibe is modern,electric and yet comfortable with something for everybody. The band played some retro numbers and a surprising number of guests belted out some olden goldies as well as new numbers on the mic which had a lot of people who got up an danced…very impromptu.

It was clear that everyone was having a blast…just what the Doctor ordered on a Sunday afternoon.

Great going Rishad Nathani, and you can be sure when I am in Mumbai we are going to rock The Clearing House…as long as your sister Arshia Nathani Ladak gets her homemade pani puris and I get my homemade khoja achar!

Looking forward to more great food, fabulous cocktails and a fantastic atmosphere…

The Coach Flagship Store Launch in Bangalore

It is always exciting when another brand hits our city…’Coach’..where else would they open their flagship store but at the swanky UB City mall.

Being surrounded by ‘brands’ is …how do I put it succinctly…just ‘my thing’! And, when the invitation is from the very elegant, Dia Bhandary then I must go!
Not only because she is a good friend but also because the lovely Bhandary family is en familia…

It was a pleasure browsing through the store with some lovely canapes,vino and cocktails helping one along. I met up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and all of them looked drop dead gorgeous!

A lovely and elegant soiree (nothing less could be expected from the gorgeous Dia),and I’m quite sure that many a Coach wallet will be popping out of the other ‘branded’ bags that were out in full force yesterday…

Well done Dia! Thank you to a ‘finesse first’ evening.

Being A Wine Goddess on Women’s Day!

There are times in my life that I really feel blessed! Blessed to be able to do the work that I love doing and then being able to spend an evening at the most fabulous environs, partaking in the finest of cuisines and drinking some really phenomenal wines in the company of discerning aficionados and good friends!

Of course when this elegancia took place at The Oberoi… one can only expect nothing but the best from them!
The service was spot on and that only seemed to heighten our culinary experience.

It’s always a pleasure to meet up with the effervescent and erudite Madhulika Bhattacharya aka Madam LaCave, of the uber chic La Cave, luxury wine and spirits retail store with an extensive selection of wines from all of the over world and an eclectic collection of spirits. Madhulika brings out the passion of life with her sheer exuberance. A beauty on duty, who is equally passionate about the beauties in their bottles. A food aficionado, a talented singer an RJ and an intrepid traveler, her introduction to all the beauties in the bottles are on point. This time it were the simply fabulous wines from Penfold, Australia.

For perhaps the first time, the finesse of the spirits overtook my obsession of only indulging in an exquisite meal. I can safely say that I was more than adequately ‘watered’ and ‘fed’!

The crisp and elegant Koonunga Hill, Autumn Riesling, was a great place to begin with. The ‘meet and greet’ chatter rose slowly but surely to a crescendo!

The wines were perfectly paired with a quasi Indian meal and at the cost of repeating myself it was spot on!

The fruit driven Koonunga Hill Chardonnay paired with Asparagus, almonds and goat cheese kofta Shorba, was in one word ‘incredible’ But the dense and rich Seventy Six Shiraz Cabernet with Chicken Khichda Bitterballs, and the elegant Bin 407 Coonawarra Shiraz paired with a Millet Pothi Choru and a divine Kasundi Salmon and Jhinga were my clear favourites. Both as a pairing and individually.

Thank you again la familia, Visheshwar Raj Singh GM, The Oberoi, the lovely Sanaya Raj Singh, and the uber fabulous Pinky Padmaraj for an impeccable and flawless evening, laced with bonhomie, music, singing (who would think that a talented chef like Nimisha Verghese had an hidden talent for singing!) and maybe even a spot of dancing…blame it on the food and wine!

Codorniu Raventos Wines launch at Caperberry

A lovely mellow pre-Girlantine evening spent with some new and old friends, enjoying the newly launched Codorniu Raventos wines at Caperberry.

The French brand ambassador of these Spanish Wines (truly global wot?), Gaetan Lefeuvre, was nearly as delicious looking as Abhijit Saha’s menu! Fine wine, finer food with a bunch of discerning, fine people…can anything get better than that?

Sunday brunch @Farzi Café

The word ‘Farzi’ has many meanings in Urdu and Farsi but in layman’s terms it means ‘deceptive illusion’ and I think that describes #FaziCafe to the tee!

Looking at the easy, non-formal vibe from the outside one would be astounded at the sophistication of the cuisine served on the inside.No over fried gloppy bar food is dished out here…no way! The menu is well thought out and brilliantly executed by their talented young chef Sombir Chaudary. The execution of the dishes, their presentation and the adherence to quality and their commitment to keep the food healthy and delicious is quite an eye-opener.

Imtiaz and I hosted a table there over a lazy Sunday brunch with a couple of close friends who I knew would also be blown away by the innovative and delicious food there. Needless to say that a heady mix of great food, ‘wow’ service mixed with great cocktails did the trick! The restaurant resounded with laughter and bonhomie and with good friend, VP Operations of Massive restaurants the irrepressible Rekha Ghosh at hand, everybody had a fabulous time!

Zorawar Kalra and his iconic father Jiggs Kalra go back a long way with our family and young Zorawar’s ambitious restaurants have now made him a household name…he always believed in ‘the bigger the better’ and thus the moniker #Massiverestaurants!

Take a bow Zorawar, Rekha Ghosh and Sombir Chaudary! You surely have a winner on your hands!