Rigged and Rigmaroled

As We Journey Through the Daily Grind

Archive for December, 2009

Caperberry

Posted by Rani on December 22, 2009

As any food reviewer worth her steak will tell you – never review once the food’s gone cold. Not literally so, but about the memory. Nevertheless….. 

This lounge-ish restobar (adjacent to Manipal Center, Dickenson Road) apparently marries science with gastronomy (think nitrogen cooling), making for a rather interesting menu read (but also rending it faaaar too expensive). The inaugral ‘palate cleanser’ also made for an interesting start. 

Palates cleansed, we started with a veg platter of mashed chickpeas on tortilla-esque chips, lettuce wraps, some veg fritter….sigh. With our expectations now set a little low, and yet not quite unhappy (c’mon – lettuce wraps! how exotic!), we moved on to the main course, which garnered some brownie points for the waiter’s genuine reassurance that we could re-order at no extra cost if we didn’t like what was served (pre-emptive damage control?). And my friend had to – the risotto was much unliked, and the replacement penne was better albeit with a tad too much bite still. My seafood fusilli was incredibly fine and delicate, but….something too fishy. 

What almost completely redeemed my evening though, was the “oh you must order” dessert platter, with three different kinds of dessert surrounded by a most interesting coil of wire-like strands. Apparently that was sugar, supercooled on some fancy surface in some fancy way. Ooh la la. 

Just Desserts, with Strings Attached

The bill almost killed me, and yet this is the kind of place one needs to visit at least once. Almost. 

pinch factor: excruciatingly ouch…. almost 3k for just food? (swoon) 

service, ambience et al: very nice. makes the pinch a whole lot more bearable.

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The Cook who Cooks (for you)

Posted by Rani on December 18, 2009

Nothing beats having someone handle the cooking for you. I feel lucky and truly blessed that I finally have a cook – the cooking sessions after work were getting too much to handle!

And oddly, I didn’t feel more relaxed. Over a month, I realized a few do’s and dont’s when it comes to that new found happy addition in your life (ahem):

1. Basic supplies can be bought in bulk (of the 1-person kind) – cooking oil, condiments, masalas, rice, atta (for chappattis), riceflour etc, semolina etc, and a reasonable quantity of onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and garlic.

2. You’re safer off not buying veggies in bulk – it breaks your heart to see any go bad (since most Indian cooking needs the veggies listed in point 1, bulk-ish buying is often warranted there – but not for the rest!). The ideal is purchasing everyday, if you have a store close on by. This is especially true for curry leaves, and chillies. And  coriander leaves never last even a day, and no, I don’t trust Tupperware ‘air sealed containers’ to take care of that for me. If there’s no friendly neighborhood store, buy every three days.

3. YOU do the veg shopping. Trustworthy as they may be, the help is not going to care if the tomatoes aren’t firm. Even if you don’t care, at least do the shopping at the start, till things get into a routine.

4. Give them a menu, so they know exactly what is expected. Be very clear on how much, especially if they come in every day. You don’t want a weekload of sambar in your fridge! And now, don’t tell them how to make the dishes. Let them be, not just to give them space but also for you to not have to still end up in the kitchen. Duhhh. Nevertheless, it may be a good idea to check in on them once in a way, at least initially.

5. At least in the first month, it helped for me to list each day’s menu. I didn’t plan except on a daily basis (and that’s gotta be done the previous night, btw) but I did keep the list so I could revisit it any time.

6. If you’re working, its best to have them come in before you leave for work. That leaves my evenings free, and all the cooking gets done in the morning itself. I’m not a fan of having them in the house when I’m not there, but to each their own. Keep in mind that if you’re going to be away when the cook is in, it might be good to hand-hold the transition for the first one week at the least.

7. Have enough utensils! The basics might cover one saucepan, one or two frying pans, at least one pressure cooker, a cutting board, rolling pin and board, dish-specific tools (like an idli rack), and then the usual suspects — spoons, knives, ladles etc.

Remember – wooden spoons for teflon-coated dishes (my favorite kind). Also have tongs, and pot holders or mittens for the poor cook’s fingers. Them paper bits hardly work.

8. Any cook will subtly (or not) tell you how to buy a better saucepan, a new mixer, a new oven…the works. Handle subtly, and with due respect. You don’t want too much salt in your food, just to spite you (!!). But act with prudence – buy or change only what you know is really necessary.

Just like with any other change, even of the good kind, a little planning and a little thinking go a long way.

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Delhi belly, the kind you’d like

Posted by Rani on December 17, 2009

Constant pressure of “why no new posts” demanded I get off my block and finally write…on one of my favorite topics: Food (that’s all I could go on – all I’ve done of late has been to eat out a lot, cook some, and generally dwell in gastroheaven).

A recent trip to Delhi struck a real chord in my intestines..errm, yeah..with the Rockman’s B Island – loved that place. Situated in Ambience Mall (Gurgaon), its a loooong restobar. We headed straight to the loudest part. Since its USP of “brewed right in front of you” beer obviously didn’t appeal to me, I still had to give it to them for decor – brewing tanks right in front of you, and large casks with high seats for dining and seating. Nice. And 80’s pop, albeit remixed, but who’s complaining when you can sing along with most of them?

The menu had some delights – duck, pork, chicken (booooring), quail (!!)…. but ordered just some German franks and made did with that. This was on the promise we’d get some “real (cheaper) food” which never happened. Oh the quail that never was! But 10,000 brownie points to my waiter, who knew what I wanted even before I said much. Or else, I may have just ordered the chicken (shudder).

Next on would be 4s in Def Col (South Delhi). Quiet, unassuming, and with good(ish) food, this place doesn’t quite match up to Bangalore’s Pecos or even Windsor’s, but me still likey likey. A favorite haunt of my Delhi-based friends, the sentimental value added to its charm. Plus the reaaaally low rates (they always get everything at 50% discount!), what a steal!

And of course, 4 days and no homestyle food ensured the fabulous beef fry, chicken curry, and light-n’-fluffy parottas were gulped down in record time (albeit off designer plates). Coming to you courtesy northie cooks (!!) under a Mallu manager @ hole-in-the-wall Ammu’s behind Sahara Mall (Gurgaon).

Rodeo at Connaught Place didn’t appeal much, in spite of their really happy ‘happy hours’ (what is it with Delhi and encouraging such blatant buying? tsk tsk). Apparently Rodeo’s was the place to be a couple of years back. Not so much anymore (who finds cowboy hats appealing anyway?), but after shopping for a while up and down Janpath, all you want to do is sit. And eat. Nachos. Pasta. Mushrooms. Yumm.

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