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EarnesTaster last won the day on June 5

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  1. Regally situated high inside the gorgeous Shangri-la hotel, Caprese is an elegant deluxe-quality Italian restaurant with stunning views of the green Bangalore cityscape. Entering and luxuriating in the large high-ceilinged hotel lobby shimmering with gold, beige-'n'-chrome is an experience by itself. The airy restaurant is classily done up with executive-grade burnished wood and plush furniture while huge windows create marvellous views that I have rarely seen in other establishments - overall an excellent venue especially by daylight for that special outing.The cuisine uses high-quality ingredients with a style and level that is a clear advancement on the mama-mia basics. Weather permitting, there's an adjacent al fresco space invitingly and expansively occupying an oversize balcony deck. But Caprese's cuisine, since the whole set-up spread-eagled its ambitious wings two years ago, has consciously desisted from post-modern fare - this might soon change. Suresh Hinduja, Bangalore's leading cuisine impresario and a familiar national figure in the specialist circles of cutting-edge gastronomy, hosted a grand luncheon wherein Caprese's eager-to-please staff presented a special six-course meal of cutting-edge Italian cuisine. I had the privilege of being one of the select invited guests. Executive Chef Anurudh Khanna (who oversees the whole hotel's cuisine) and Chef De Cuisine of Caprese, Wasim Raja were assiduous in presenting to us the tastes and insights underlying the food while Resident Manager Rakesh Sethi shared his keen understanding of the industry's nitty gritty. Chef Anurudh Khanna (L) : Resident Manager Rakesh Sethi Even before the food, I very much enjoyed a wonderful cocktail "Her Hype" by the brightly smiling and talented mixologist Jayandran Anthony, which was a chilled exquisite blend of vodka, chenin blanc and the works, superbly presented in a tumbler-size steel bucket adorned with more designer frills. Men At Work : (M) Mixologist Jayandran Anthony, (L) The Don (L) Ila Naidu (R) Shamira Ajani (Director of Communications) The first two starters were a cool confident display of Italian umami - a boutique of mozzarella, tomato and parmesan with cameos by olives and aubergine. A surprise Japanese cameo : Technical acumen then came into play with melting-soft tortinos of mushroom, with mushroom crumble sprinkled over for texture while a burrata sauce formed the white base. Good-quality grilled prawns marked the first meaty foray but the star of that plate was a shrimp flan, like a super-soft morsel of frittata. The expert touch of spices and fresh embedded prawns in that little cloud of starch created exquisite echoes of aftertaste. The restaurant had a decent sprinkling of guests for lunch but from what I have seen of other city restaurants like Graze and Caperberry, it suffers from the same problem that afflicts all of Bangalore's nouvelle cuisine places - insufficient patronage. There is uncountable money in the city but regrettably, its cuisine-oriented customers are still hesitant to put Bangalore on the international dining map. Cut to the mains : The vegetarian main of an 'Involtino' was a entry fit for a masterchef competition - so deceptively simple, yet challenging and elegant it was. Thin tender zucchini strips were wrapped around beautifully rendered aubergine in a rich core of fontina cheese, with creamy tomato sauce at the base. It was all so soft and agreeable you could feed it to a baby but it takes a discerning adult to appreciate the quality of its composition. Moist, tender Indian seabass had a robustly crunchy crackling-like exterior, with a smooth sauce of saffron blending into mashed potato, my only quibble being that the acidic element needed to slice through those broad savoury waves, was inadequately supplied by lemon foam. Deconstruction and stylish reconstitution informed the desserts. "Tiramisu" appeared as a galaxy compressed linearly. The central dark 'sun' was a chocolate sphere encasing the cream, while a long streak of biscuit crumble lined the whole set-up. The next dessert was even more enjoyable - deconstructed lime pie, with sharply tasty swirls of lemon curd intertwined with arcs of crunchy pastry. This was a brilliant afternoon, in a glorious venue with special company and confident evolved cuisine. I hope these next gen offerings find a special section on Caprese's existing menu.
  2. Awadhi Lucknow cuisine

    Complex discussion , Mr.Hinduja indeed had a "tagda" panel to keep him company !
  3. EarnesTaster

  4. Pork with Cabbage

    From the album EarnesTaster

  5. Grasshopper : Restaurant Review Rating : 3 stars out of 5 (Good) Visited in October 2015 Bangalore, India Grasshopper restaurant in Bangalore has been doing for fourteen years what no other restaurant in Bangalore has dared to do - present a degustation meal with no a la carte choices. Chef Himanshu Dhimri and his wife Sonali Dhimri operate their restaurant in a farmhouse-like property in a peripheral part of Bangalore better known for its proximity to the zoo, and in an area that is yet to show good urban development (even the busiest parts of central Bangalore are barbarian miles away from real civic development). My dining companion was Mr.Suresh Hinduja - restaurant critic of The Times of India - and the most sought-after restaurant personality in the state at the time of writing. We opted for a long leisurely multi-course degustation offering the very best that Grasshopper could offer. Grasshopper does not do lunch on weekdays which is why our weekday event was illuminated by night. When is the last time you have heard your fellow diner shrieking with pleasure? If you leave out the last two words , I did on this night when a young lady next to our table climaxed her vocal cords not courtesy the chef, not due to her co-diners , and certainly not as a reaction to the waiters (this place does not have topless service staff anyway) but because the friendly restaurant dog leapt onto her lap. I am not an admirer of chicken liver pate , but Chef Dhimri had accomplished a texturally faultless pate excellently cut by caramelized onion and tart scintillas of capers - it was a beautiful opening example of flavour calibration, and an auspicious start to our meal (the dog instinctively knew that it should leave us alone). Thin slivers of asparagus yielded very easily to the bite - just like the versions tasted two weeks ago in Caperberry - but neither these nor Caperberry's had that crucial dimension of extra thickness that can really bring out the tres tender slightly crunchy totally wonderful soul of asparagus. Even more fetching would have the been the feat of contrasting it with something that would intensify the vegetable's fresh essence - like how Flower Drum does by pairing asparagus with superb pearl meat ,but here there was no such value-enhancing companion. I was surprised that Chef Dhimri could condescend to present us with a crostini for the next course - sure it was a moreish morsel with chopped zucchini, basil pesto and feta but this , eventually, is bar food which has no business being in an ambitious fine-dining establishment. From aeons , Grasshopper has been presenting beetroot with blue cheese - and this de rigueur dish was also given to us. Pinenuts are added for crunch , and the overall flavour blend is interesting without being memorable - I was mainly interested in seeing whether the beetroot had remarkable flavour, which it did not have. Disappointment intensified with a prettily composed diagonal lay-out of salad. Its elegant esthetics were not matched by underwhelming contrasts of grapefruit, lettuce, nuts and a tart dressing. Two plump prawns - looking palely gorgeous - had ginger, seasame and seaweed plainly evident on the tasting as per the chef's intention but unwittingly the prawns' intrinsic taste did not manifest. This long procession of average flavours had begun to take its toll on my peace of mind. We sat in the verandah , overlooking the pebble-strewn courtyard which has tables of stone. Irrespective of the seating domains, all the tables are admirably spaced widely apart. The very limited wine menu cries out for more variety , and charging only Rs.300 (US$ 7) as corkage fee for bottles procured from outside is not the most elegant of solutions. A reasonable Rs.3000 is billed for a seven course meal. Suresh Hinduja Esquire I don't think Grasshopper understands how pliable and satisfying a German lass has the potential to be. The pork with pickled cabbage it presented had cuts of fat amalgated with inadequately tenderized meat . Sea bass was dressed up as an appetizing voluptuous hunk of white fish bathed in a tart sauce. I see now that in restaurant after fine-dining restaurant - in NZ, Australia and India experienced over the last four years - a major chunk of chefs present fish which is admirably soft with an odour that is very safely non-offensive but very few of these gentlemen know how to channel the fish and manage the supply chain in such a way that the taste's redolence satisfies a true fish-lover. The one here had everything going for it except deep flavour and a smartly roasted exterior - two crucial qualities the absence of which semi-sunk this sea bass which Mr.Hinduja informed me was likely farmed near Vizag (overseas seabass tasted in JW Marriot's Alba was not impressive either). Mr.Hinduja was greatly impressed by the lamb which he felt to the best version he'd tasted in the entire country. Superbly slow-cooked with a slickly roasted exterior, it displayed a beautiful disclipine in texture right throught the entire thickness and for all its manicured sculpted beauty, this tournedo would have been a complete tour de force, were it not for its slightly dry interior. Chunks of potato on the same plate lacked the pillowy softness that fine-dining restaurants are expected to engineer. Service was just about par for the course but it could easily be more polished and charming, apart from doing more to ensure the kind of vigilance that redeems world-class establishments. Keeping service staff of that caliber will easily drive up the bill but I am sure that the extra bucks will not matter to the kind of people who come to Grasshopper expecting it to be a destination restaurant (there is a very low likelihood of diners accidentally finding themselves in this remote place). Desserts totally atoned. Their excellent panacotta had soft body - with cool creamy notes of exquisite espresso. Discs of chocolate ganache were terrific - their silky melting sophisticated richness recalling an intimate encounter with a curvaceous supermodel. This was cleverly paired with mustard ice cream that would have benefitted from slipping one notch lower in sweetness, but that is strictly a minor crib only. I admire the audacity of Mr.Himanshu Dhimri and Mrs.Sonali Dhimri but yes, there is certainly space for this restaurant to evolve. This 10 course Grasshopper meal came at the end of a month-long India trip that included dining experiences in Orient Express and Indian Accent in Delhi, Zodiac Grill and Masala Library in Mumbai, Caperberry and Dum Phukt Jolly Nabobs in Bangalore. It was a succession of dining experiences that sometimes made me collapse with the exertion of it all, with my ability to remain standing not exactly helped by the fact that the pocket had become much lighter. Sadly, in none of these restaurants did I come across an auteuristic signature that I could deeply admire. I realized as I did in my whirwhind coverage of Sydney's and Melbourne's elite restaurants, that in fleeting trips like this , reaching restaurant nirvana is often a throw of dice. Sometimes you come away with experiences that dreams are made of, but on both of the above journeys I mentioned, I have been left with a mixed bag that one is not entirely persuaded to lug along the lanes of memory. UPNWORLD
  6. Veg Forever

    After pledging to be strictly vegetarian for the rest of my life (it's been 3 easy months now) , I was hankering for some well-made Vadas and got handsomely rewarded with these beauties in Dosa Plaza, Botany Junction, Auckland. Amongst India's greatest contributions to the world, was , is and will be , mind-smashing vegetarian cuisine. In Pic : Vada (deep-fried savoury lentil cakes impeccably paired with sambhar and chutney). I told the restaurant owner what a fine job he had done considering how difficult it is to find good Vadas in NZ , and he told me that after achieving 40 minute-long queues for his joint in Australia , he had come to Auckland to revive the franchise and hit similar success. He's obviously on the right track :):)
  7. Indian Accent NYT Review

    The review I was awaiting from aeons has finally arrived !!! Indian Accent opens its New York branch and gets the treatment by Pete Wells : restaurant critic of New York Times. And what larks it brings! Good ol' Pete bhaiyya of NYT skewers the Dilliwala persistent over-keen salesmanship for his appetizer lines "The emails from New Delhi began last spring." - he starts! ' "Dear and Most Revered Mr.Pete" one began' - that's the line from the third para (ROFLOL whole squared !!! : small wonder they didn't proceed to call him St.Peter !) . In the previous para, he says " a new mail arrived every few months".. reminding him of the "Greatest Indian Restaurant In The World". Manish Mehrotra & Co. showed have known that St.Peter (for all of NYT's Hillary kow-towing) would have plastered such solicitousness prominently in his write-up. Khair, koi baat nahi ! The good news is that Mehrotra gets 2 stars from NYT ( a rating I find reasonable to understand though I have tried only the Delhi joint , not the NY one) and that is no easy achievement given that four stars is the absolute maximum, and a "Good" rating itself starts with 1 star , while there are 3 separate unstarred levels of Fair, Satisfactory and Poor. Mehrotra needs comparison to nobody and I feel he can ascend greater heights if he pushes himself relentlessly , but if one does consider the NYT yardstick for now , Indian Accent NY can gloat that it occupies the same 2 star pedestal as the formerly haloed "Per Se" which NYT smashed down this year from its glittering Four star status (and it is a measure of NYT's honourable clout in restaurant reviewing that Thomas Keller apologized to his patrons, instead of protesting). Wells' Indian Accent review was briefer that I expected though he covers a fair amount of ground. He concedes that Indian Accent is a "young restaurant,,learning to transplant..." and that gives me hope that Mehrotra can shoot even higher on the rating scale provided he does not get distracted by money and accolades. Here's hoping for more of Manish Mehrotra's ilk. Now for some band baaja of my own ! Pic from archives : Top Chef Manish Mehrotra with UPN , in Indian Accent, last year. Insert other media
  8. Zorawar Kalra's Farzi Café in Bangalore

    Certainly going to check out this joint when in town. But Sureshji (trust you're doing swimming well) you should have given your gyaan to Zorawar apropos the video! Video , aside from misadvised shots of violin playing and unconvincing food circus, does not tell me much about the restaurant
  9. My HK - Mongolia trip

    Fantastic write-up! Vicarious experience through your neat evocative account. Keep going!
  10. Duck Wellington

    © Upnworld

  11. Matterhorn , Auckland

    1) Duck Wellington 2) Rabbit Renditions 3) Plate of Pig 4) Guanaja Chocolate, et other heavenly delights.

    © Upnworld