Thursday, 20 April 2017

BBQ Factory - Food Review

Today I am going. to share my review of The BBQ Factory Bar ,Grill and Banquets ,Gurgaon .The concept of a Live grill at your table much like the western concept of Barbeque has been catching on and is quite popular now especially with the Non vegetarians crowds.
                                               

With this Niche getting crowded day by day , let us explore what the Barbeque Factory has to offer that would make it different than other bars and grills in town .
                                                 

Ambience - It has a warm vibe and comfortable , cosy atmosphere which would be conducive to large gatherings .It has ample parking space and is located in a prime location in the Central Plaza Mall ,sector 53, Golf Course Road ,Gurgaon .

                                                 

The place was booked to capacity when I entered so I recommend booking a table in advance .

The Service - The servers  were prompt ,polite and well informed .

The cuisine - Mostly North Indian 
                                                         

Marinades for the grilling and sauces 


                          
 
Mocktail Menu in a Glass !



The tasting session started with a mocktail - I chose a Musk melon and Khus mocktail which was quite refreshing and cooling .

                                                             

I also tried the lemon iced tea which was quite good and did not taste like the commercial iced tea available .

THE STARTERS 

Barbeque potatoes /Veg Salsa Tater - a kind of Fried mashed potato balls  and a creamy dressing - This was crisp on the outside like an Aloo tikki and had a creamy tomatoey sauce on top ,quite good in terms of texture but I do not like overtly creamy sauces .

Barbeque Potatoes 
                                                       

Soya Malai Chaap  - The Soya Chaaps were soft and chewy and the gravy or sauce was neither very powerful nor too delicate .

Soya Malai Chaap
                                                       

Mix Veg Seekh  - This was my favourite among the starters and it had grilled pineapple ,zucchini and Achari broccoli on the seekh with a tangy marinade .
                                                           


Mix Veg Seek
               
 
Crispy Corn - This was batter fried corn served with finely chopped onions and tomatoes .What was nice was that the onions were so fine that you could barely see them but could detect the taste .


Crispy Corn 
                                                   

 Achari Mushroom - Even though I am not fond of mushrooms ,I still liked them as they were well done and juicy .
                                                       
Grilled Tandoori Momos - Strangely despite the grilling , the momos were not tough on the outside and were filled with well seasoned carrots and cabbage .This too is a must try for all .

Grilled Tandoori Momos on the live grill 
                                               

Churrasco Pineapple  - Whole pineapple grilled on charcoals and then sliced and served .Very juicy and nicely smoky .

Churrasco Chicken  - My partner went gaga over this delicacy , exclaiming how juicy the chicken was and how it just fell away from the bone easily !

Churrasco Chicken
                                                             

Among the Cocktails , I tried ... hold your breath - Pushpa Behosh ( Inspired by the famous Pushpa of the movie AmarPrem - remember "Pushpa , I hate tears !" ).


Pushpa Behosh !!!
A Cocktail of pineapple juice, Rum, Tequila,Vodka and Gin
                                                       

This was a strong mix of Pineapple juice ,Tequila,Rum, Gin and Vodka served with a slice of grilled pineapple.I felt that the pineapple juice was overpowered by the other alcohols .


MAIN COURSE -  The main course made me very happy because not only was it very tasty but also they had served enough varieties to please all .The dishes that were on the menu were :
Vegetable Biryani ,Shahi paneer,Dal Makhani,Kadai mushroom,Kadi pakoda,Makai Palak ,Aloo Gobhi,Veg Hakka Noodles,Mix vegetables in Schezwan sauce and steamed rice .

All the items were above average , the Veg Biryani let me down a bit as it was not as spicy and fragrant as I like it but the Aloo Gobhi ,Makai Palak and the Kadi pakora more than  made up for it .
The Mix Vegetables in Schezwan sauce were also quite good .
                                       
Roasted Chicken in black bean sauce 

Grilled Fish

Rara Gosht and Murg lababdar 

Hyderabadi Murg Biryani and Steamed Rice 


I am going to mention the Non vegetarian menu too - Roasted Chicken in black bean sauce ,Grilled Fish ,Rara Gosht( mutton in a spicy gravy) ,Murg Lababdar ( Chicken in a creamy red gravy ), Hyderabadi Murg Biryani (fragrant and spicy rice and chicken dish ) and steamed Rice .

I heard good things about the Rara Gosht from the carnivores in the group .

DESSERTS - The best thing about any buffet for me is the desserts !


The desserts bar
                                         

Served among the desserts were - Fresh Fruits,Gulab Jamun,Moong Dal Halwa,Chocolate Mud pudding ,Phirni ,White Forest Pastry ,Cream Brulee , Vanilla and strawberry ice creams and the Fruit Pie  had a flaky ,melt in your mouth pastry with amazing flavors inside .Lovely !

Fruit Pie
                                                   

All desserts were good but what stood out for me were the white forest pastry with its excellent icing and filling  neither very sweet nor very greasy and fluffy texture, just light and melt in your mouth .
The Creme Brulee was not heavy and very good flavor wise ,but the Brulee was missing if you know what I mean .
                                                     
                                                 
                                                    
                                                     
Also the Moong Dal Halwa was excellent , made in desi ghee and tasted very good .
Others loved the Chocolate Mud pudding  and I could see it disappearing fast but it was slightly eggy for my taste .
                         
They have a live music and a full bar available .

FINAL VERDICT - I rate it a 4.1 /5.
Plus marks for the great service and the warm ambience and the variety in the menu, minus marks for some dishes that could have been done better .This is a place to watch out for if the suave and talented Chef Nikhil Chopra stays put .


 Address
Ground Floor 1, Central Plaza Mall, Golf Course Road, Gurgaon
Phone number

011 33105049



BBQ Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Fragrance Review - Cacharel Amor Amor

I was introduced to this brand very early in my childhood when my Mom wore Cacharel Anais Anais - the classic floral perfume from this French House .So I already have an emotional connect with Cacharel .
                                                   
Image-Amazon.com
 Price - Mine was a gift but I saw it listed for INR 3678/- for 50 ml online .

Presentation - This perfume comes in a very cute and handy small red bottle decorated with a simple white rose print and a silver top .It is very convenient to carry and very light too .

Cacharel is a French fashion brand founded by Jean Bousquet in 1962.A bit of Trivia here - this famous brand was named after the local name of a small duck (the garganey) !
Cacharel is known for their youthful vibe, lightness, feminine style and use of bright colours.

While Anais Anais was mostly floral and demure , Amor Amor is a bolder ,floral fruity nectar and has been designed for a younger woman who loves adventure and thrill .



                                            

                                               What I liked about CACHAREL AMOR AMOR

1. I just love the delicate ,simplistic red bottle . Red being the colour of passion ,denotes a full of  life spirit to me , a  joie de vivre and so I use it when I want to feel in control and on top of the world  or on a special date .

2. The composition of the perfume is described as main notes of : pink grapefruit, mandarin, blood  orange, Cassia and Bergamot .The middle notes belong to -Apricot,White Lily,Malati Flower ,Lily  of the Valley,Rose  and base notes of  sandalwood, vanilla and ambergris ,Virginia Cedar and white  musk .

3. A perfumes smells differently on different persons , I first smell the vibrant citrus notes which  give an energetic vibe , it then quickly settles down into the white flowers and I can smell the  jasmine and lily which is heady and finally a smooth powdery and lingering sandalwood and musk  with mild hints of vanilla and Cedar .

4. The name Amor Amor means Passion or Love in french and the perfume aptly gives that initial        thrill followed by a gentle lasting undulation .

5. It is more of a skin perfume ,so lasts on the skin for upto 8-10 hours easily even in the hot    summer weather .

6. Can be worn as a day scent as well as evening wear as it does not have a strong sillage .Sillage  (pronounced as see-yazh) is a term used to describe a scented trail left by the fragrance wearer .

7. I have tried it in the hot weather and I think it is quite apt as it smells fresh and floral .

8. More than a head turner , I think it is a scent that makes the wearer feel in Love and feel good  about herself , it gives that occasional heady vanilla scent and musk and then suddenly smells ambery , has an almost haunting now here ,constantly changing perception .

                                               

                                             What I did not like about  CACHAREL AMOR AMOR

1. As with all perfumes , this is slightly expensive .

2. It has low sillage , though that is a positive thing for me ,but for those wishing to have a cloud of    perfume around them when they walk about , this may be a minus .In that case you may need to  reapply it after few hours .

3. For some strange reason , any more than a single spray and I get a headache ! So I restrict it to a    single  spray and that works for me .



FINAL VERDICT -   I rate it a 3.3 /5 .I love the attractive bottle and the way the opening notes add a spring to my step and make me feel nice .I also love the kiss of the lingering sandalwood and musk but then there is the headache to take care off too !


Some more  fragrance reviews :

1. Miss Dior Absolutely Blooming Perfume Review 

2. Dior Hypnotic Poison EDP Review 

3. Marks and Spencer Autograph Black Amber EDP Review 

4. Mont Blanc Legend EDP for Men

5. Chambor Geneva Tender Tuberose Fragrance Mist review 


Monday, 10 April 2017

Food Review - Cocktails and Starters at United Coffee House Rewind

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Your truly was invited to a tasting session for food bloggers to United Coffee House Rewind at Malls of India in Noida to review a new cocktail and starters menu at this restaurant .


                                                          
                                                          


I had been to the United Coffee House at C.P., Delhi and you can easily feel the difference between the two in presentation and food.The UCF was conceptualised in 1942 and is reminder of the Raj Era .It has a regal and vintage ambience and is more in league with fine dining , the Noida outlet has a more casual and informal feel to it which is reflected even in the lighting fixtures (chandeliers in C.P. and a more urban and edgy wrought iron lights  in Noida ) and the seats (plush velvet and leather in C.P. and simple wooden chairs in Noida ).


                                                    


In keeping with the theme purposefully , the menu at Noida outlet has also been given a more contemporary treatment with more  fusion cuisines being introduced into the menu to cater to the young and restless generation .

Coming to the tasting session , here are the dishes and the cocktails I tried and my short review of the same ;

THE MOCKTAILS
                             

                                           
             
Jamunrita -Fresh Frozen black jamun extract spiked with red chilli and foggy clove smoke .This was a sweet tangy Jamun juice with just enough saltiness and chilli .It was well received by all and would be a perfect foil  for the Indian summers .Though it came with a bit of drama , with smoke/fog emanating from the bowl beneath the Jamunrita ,I still think a bit of garnish may have added more oomph ...to an otherwise perfect drink .

                                                

Bubbly Khatta - Imly Puree, sliced ginger with sugar syrup and soda .This was an O.K. drink .Tasted more like sugary soda with very mild hint of the sour .


                                                  
Tulsimalt - Orange nectar ,muddled with Basil leaves and passion fruit syrup , served with ginger ale and ice  .I just did not get this concoction .For one , the name Tulsimalt could put the fear of God into many what with Tulsi being a plant considered Holy by us Hindus and combining Tulsi with alcohol would be like committing  Blasphemy !
Thankfully for the religious souls , it was not the Holy Basil but the regular Basil that was added to Orange Nectar .The Ginger Ale tasted a bit like "Sprite" and I found it just about fine  maybe because I am not very fond of orange juice itself .

Because it was served in three different containers , I was half expecting some kind of a sizzle or froth (read drama ) when I went about mixing the three but I was disappointed as nothing happened .So why take the pain and why not serve them all together and save the customer the extra work !


THE COCKTAILS



                                                           


Cucumber Spitzer - Vodka, diced cucumber ,Basil and mint leaves, soda water ,crushed ice .This was quite similar to a Caprioska or Mint Mojito with the addition of cucumber in Cucumber Spritzer .
Quite good and refreshing and very well presented too .

Only Crib - with the overdose of cucumber and mint and crushed ice , there was very little to drink in the actual cocktail .


                                                           


Sherlock Holmes - White rum , Malibu ,mango juice,lime juice with crushed ice .I do not know why it was called Sherlock holmes ... but this had a refreshing taste of mango juice  and coconutty Malibu .Again a great summer drink to cool off . 


THE STARTERS 
                                                             




Pav Bhaji Fondue- The menu describes it as a desi taste and videshi serving style, served with maska croutons, mint relish and onions .I'd say this was the best starter amongst all the dishes served .Perfectly mashed and soft and full of flavor - this was the best Pav Bhaji I have ever had in my life and believe you me I have had at least hundreds of them so far !

The fondue would make you believe there was something cheesy about it but I guess it just meant dipping sauce or the Bhaji .

                                                          

Red velvet Tikki -These were pan fried beetroot patties,infused with besan,mozzarella and served with pudina raita .The Beetroot patties were well done and melt in your mouth , something your kids should have to change the notion that beets can't be tasty ! The Pudina raita was minty , tangy ,homogeneous and the perfect accompaniment to the tikkis .


                                            

Tawa Bheja Fry - This dish comprised of sauteed brain of lamb served with khamiri roti crisps .It was an average dish and in comparison to the Pav Bhaji , the Pav Bhaji fondue came up as a winner even among the carnivores though they were quite happy with the portion size here .

                                            

Murg Kurchan Tarts- Chicken scrapings served on tarts .The khurchan had slightly raw tomatoes and onions which was a spoiler and the slightly sweet tart base spoiled it further , If the base would have been savory I think that would have added a different dimension in terms of taste .The tarts were slightly burnt too as you can see in the picture above .
                                                
                                                        

PopCorn Shrimps  Dynamites - Pieces of crispy Tempura prawns coated in spicy mayonnaise and topped with thinly sliced onions . My partner was quite happy with the prawns , well done and crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside and packed with flavour .


                                                     

Mac and Cheese Pakora fritters - The crisp outside and slightly gooey inside fritters were served with southwest sauce .Quite good !

                                                         


Cheese Chilli wontons - The hot and crisp wontons were served with chili plum sauce and were quite good though I prefer them hotter .

FINAL VERDICT - I rate it a 3.5 /5 . The menu was in keeping with giving the quality of UCF with a twist , it worked at some levels and failed occasionally .The taste and quality of ingredients was quite  good but the presentation could be worked upon a little more because just serving in a different style does not make fusion cuisine .


Will I go there again ? Yes ,definitely !


United Coffee House Rewind Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Vanitycube Mobile Spa and Salon Service Review

A visit to the beauty salon is a must nowadays regardless of gender or profession to maintain a smart ,neat and presentable exterior .
But with our fast paced lives sometimes taking time out for yourself can be a challenge in itself (read getting up early to make tiffins for kids ,rushing to office, or sometime rushing to pick and drop your kids, homework, housework meals et cetera ... ).

My problem is that I am free mostly in the mornings (before the salon opens ) and in the evening (most salons close by 730 pm ).In fact this was one of the reasons I opted for a Laser Hair Reduction because getting an emergency waxing appointment was so tough what with long waiting despite fixing an appointment with the salon .

Add to that leaving your kids unattended at home or tagging them along ...

To cut a long story short , I tried the beauty services of VanityCube at home a few days back .A little bit about VanityCube first .

                                    

VanityCube is a upcoming mobile spa and salon company which helps time-constrained people look and feel good whenever & wherever they need it by providing beauty salon and spa services at their doorstep within 90 Min of booking the service using a mobile platform and making getting ready much easier without having to spend a fortune. They have more than 150 mobile beauticians and makeup experts on ground offering services currently  in Delhi NCR & Mumbai. 

They have a vast number of services offered from simple threading to bridal make ups and I was surprised that they were offering it at very competitive prices .

You can check their services and charges  here

THE PROCEDURE 

I booked the following beauty services for myself - Rica waxing ,Lotus Crystal Spa Pedicure ,Lotus Crystal Spa Manicure and L'Oreal Hair Spa  .

I booked an appointment for 2 pm and the beautician , Ms Sarita was at my doorstep at 1.30 pm . I was also happy to know that the beauticians were offered cab services by their company .My respect for them grew - a company that cares for its employees will surely care more for their customers too .
                                               
The setting up of my Home salon 


Ms Sarita first confirmed my booking and the requested services and then immediately got down to the task of setting up her mini salon inside my home .


                                  PROS of VANITYCUBE Mobile Spa and Salon service 

1. You can book an appointment even at short notice - at least 90 minutes before you require the          service .

L'Oreal Hair Spa in progress -very soothing and relaxing
                                                 
2. The staff is punctual ,polite ,experienced and well trained .

3. Attention to hygiene was good with the Beautician taking care to wash her hands regularly in between procedures .I was provided with a disposable gown before the procedure was started and also she took care to cover the surfaces with fresh , disposable sterile covers before  every new procedure .

Lotus Crystal Spa Manicure 
                                                      
4.Attention to comfort and quality - My beautician kept on asking about my comfort levels while waxing ,taking care to prop me up with more pillows if she felt I was not comfortable .She kept on asking if I was feeling any pain and insisted that she would move on to the next procedure only when I was fully satisfied by the outcome of the current service , even if she had to redo the procedure .

Lotus Crystal Spa Pedicure did wonders for my tired feet
                                               
                                            CONS of VANITYCUBE Mobile Spa and Salon service 


1. They accept online payments and Paytm payments .If you want to add a last minute service , you will need to pay by cash or paytm ,debit /credit cards are not accepted .

2. A salon is better equipped than my home for certain procedures which I found out while getting the Hair spa done .After the head massage , my hair was treated to steam but because there was no steamer , we had to make do with hot water and towels .
                                                           
A rejuvenated me with VanityCube beautican Sarita

FINAL VERDICT - I would rate it a 4/5 for the ease of booking, the very competitive pricing and the quality of services offered in the privacy of my home giving me much more flexibility and control.

As a token of goodwill , they have extended a Flat 20% discount across all services ( minimum Rs 800/- worth of services ) ,all you have to do is use the referral code "PREETI20 " while booking the service.
(Valid only for Delhi,Noida,Gurgaon and Mumbai )

Moreover there is a Maybelline hamper worth Rs 1000 to be won daily on registration at their website .

You can book an appointment by clicking here or download the VanityCube App on your phone .

Working hours 9 am - 9pm

Phone  - 8010801091



Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Une Soiree Inoubliable (An Evening to remember ) - Book launch and review of #Harp by #Nidhi Dalmia at the French Embassy

I had the pleasure of enjoying French hospitality and rubbing shoulders with some very well known authors in the literary world when I was invited to attend the book launch of the romantic fiction novel ‘Harp’ by entrepreneur Mr. Nidhi Dalmia by The French Ambassador to India, H.E. Alexandre Ziegler at his residence on Nyaya Marg on  28th March 2017 .         

                                             

                                                                 

  As Mr.Ziegler after launching the book ,commended Mr Nidhi Dalmia on literary effort and the evocative impressions of Paris in the book which highlighted the friendship between India and France as well as the affection and admiration of the two peoples for each other. He hoped that efforts like this will encourage more Indian students to study in France .
                               


  
            
Speaking about the launch, Mr. Dalmia said, "It is truly an honor to be here and to have my book launched by H.E. Alexandre Ziegler.  Harp is a romantic novel which speaks a lot about travel, music and culture. The book is partly set in France especially Paris - The City of Love. It is fitting that it is being launched at the French Embassy Residence.”

Right to left - Industrialist V.N.Dalmia ,
H.E.Mr. Alexandre Ziegler and the Author Nidhi Dalmia

Among those present for the launch were Manju Kapur, renowned novelist and wife of the author ,V.N. Dalmia, entrepreneur and brother of the author ,Yashodhara Dalmia, renowned art historian and sister of the author, with husband Maseeh Rahman , Upamanyu Chatterjee, renowned writer, with wife Anne Chatterjee ,Sunit Tandon, Theatre-person & ex-Director General, Indian Institute of Mass Communication and the whole Dalmia clan was in full attendance to cheer the new author .


After the introduction by the French Ambassador , it was Mr Nidhi Dalmia's turn to read out some excerpts from his book and then there was the small tete-a tete with the author and Ms Vaiju Naravane .

Vaiju Naravane was The Hindu’s Senior Europe Correspondent based in Paris for 20 years. Ms Navarane is also the Foreign Fiction Editor with the French publishing house Albin Michel, where she has published authors like Vikram Seth, Anita Nair and Anita Brookner, among others.She currently teaches journalism and media studies at Ashoka University in Haryana .

In conversation with Vaiju Naravane , Mr. Nidhi Dalmia said he had always been ardently inclined towards writing, but his professional commitments did not earlier allow him to indulge his passion.His love for Paris was effusive as he broke into one of his favourite favourite French songs after being asked about his experience in Paris .

The Lawns at the French Embassy, beautifully lit for the soiree 
                                           
Some of the delicious Canapes at the Cocktail reception
                                       
                                               
The launch was followed by a cocktail reception in the bedecked lawns.  As glasses clinked and people celebrated the launch with champagne and Bordeaux wine, French and Indian snacks, discussions revolved around the book, Indo-French relations, the upcoming elections in France and Delhi’s last few days of Spring.

The humble Moi in the company of the author -
I was charmed and surprised with his warm demeanour !
                                   
                                                           The Book Review of "Harp "        

Price- Rs 295/- , 401 pages 

Harp is the story of love and longing .The hero of the story is a young man  Ashok, who belongs to an industrialist family background, he embarks on a journey wanting to learn more about dairy production , their field of business . His quest takes him  through India, Europe and USA  where he meets an attractive and lively musician Lauren and falls in love with her.

Lauren is a young Polish woman who has a calling to music and the Harp .She is in love with Ashok and yet deeply rooted to her European heritage and torn between Ashok and her love for music .Meanwhile Ashok too is torn between his duty to his family but the oppressive Indian bureaucracy and his desire for Lauren keeps egging him to leave Indian shores and settle with Lauren .Lauren wants to move out of her oppressive communist country and chart a future in Europe .Of course there is the huge cultural difference too , they cannot make a commitment to each other as they are still unsure of their future together but keep in touch nevertheless .Meanwhile the attractive Lauren finds many suitors who try to sweep her off her feet and her parents too want her to settle with a European rather than an Indian boy .


                                                           


As the story progresses,Lauren and Ashok find it difficult to keep this long distance undeclared love alive and an Indian girl named Aparna - smart , attractive and independent enters Ashok's life .

While Ashok was a well read and a lover of art ,dance ,theatre and all things fine which were resonated in Lauren's personality too , Aparna was attractive but did not share Ashok's love for the performing arts and books .Ashok's family meanwhile found it easier to accept Aparna,an Indian as their future daughter -in -law rather than a foreigner .

It does not help that Aparna too is based in California and here again distance plays a spoiler .

Matters are further complicated when a determined red blooded Italian painter Carlo starts to court Lauren .

The book has an interesting twist at the end .

What I liked about the Book - Harp

Though the description of the book says that it is a romantic friction , I appreciated it far more as a travelogue with beautiful insights and glimpses into political state , bureaucracy and culture of the Scandinavian countries .

Our generation that has an easy access to internet and mobiles will find it very sad that in the sixties just to be able to talk to someone in another country , you had to book a trunk call and an operator would be listening in to your conversation .Phones calls did not come cheap not there was a possibility of calling someone immediately.One had to wait for hours to get connected sometimes.

The author paints such a vivid picture of the scenery of various country as Ashok sets out for his travails in foreign lands, meeting all sorts of people .

I immensely enjoyed that part of the book that described the music and culture of various european countries from Paris to Amsterdam to Warsaw etc.

The romance in the story holds the interest till the end ,you empathise with the characters and their strives .Most characters are well etched out .


What I did not like about the Book - Harp 

The writer uses a lot of sanskrit ,Hindi ,French and Polish words in this and so the book has a glossary at the end to help the reader .I think those words could have been added as a footnote so that the reader is not compelled to move back and forth to look up words .

The love scenes left a lot to be desired but then we are talking of a completely different generation so I shall not bear much grudge on that count.

Otherwise a good book , wholesome and very illuminating vis-a-vis the European and Indian politics and cultural scenes in the sixties .