Category Archives: Blackberry Boys

>The excellence in customer service award goes to Amore

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This is a tale that had to be told. Was just floored by the service of Amore Gelato at Bandra.

I was craving for ice cream couple of nights back. Last night too. We sat down for dinner. K called Amore. No one picked up. She called up Baskin Robins. No one picked up. Disheartened I sat for dinner.

Suddenly the phone rang. It was someone called Yasin from Amore.He was calling back our number. For the record, this was a new number for them so they didn’t know that we had called up. We usually call from my phone.

Yasin explained that their systems were down and they couldn’t deliver.

Well, nice of them to call back and tell us that.

But he went on. Apparently their head office has asked them to take down the number of those who had called to order but couldn’t get ice creams. They were to be given a complimentary gelato when the systems started working.

Well, we forgot about it. Anyway who was going to order an ice cream the next day to get a free ice cream? Chapter closed.

Tonight K got a call just as she was returning. It was from Amore. Their systems were working. They wanted to know what was the flavour that we wanted. We would get a medium cup on the house to make up for yesterday.

Ten minutes later the bell rang. It was Yasin. With a large cup of Ferrero Rocher flavoured gelato.

No questions asked.

Take a bow Amore.

Note: Amore’s phone number at Bandra is 65208300

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Filed under Bandra Bites, Blackberry Boys, desserts, Mumbai highs

>Ho hum…. California Pizza Kitchen, BKC, Mumbai

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Finally went to the California Pizza Kitchen today. We were at Bandra Kurla during lunch time. I thought that we might as well try the CPK there out. All I had heard about it so far was that it was expensive. No one raved about the food.
We walked in to find the place quite crowded on a weekday afternoon. A mix of the white collar crowd and kids. Well BKC is a bit of a desert with fancy office buildings but hardly any eating places. There was some outdoor seating and the weather was pleasant enough for that. We sat inside though in the largish restaurant with a modern clean decor.
The service was friendly and prompt. There were quite a few smiling and attentive waiters around. And, yes, they did add a service charge for this.
I had a peach ice tea which had character and was not one of those sugar syrupy ones that they often serve at local restaurants.
We followed this with tortilla soups which my lunch mate recommended from her last visit here. It was a thick tomato soup. The menu card described this as having ‘vine fresh tomatoes’ with green chillies. The chillies were not visible but made their presence felt through their heat. There were crisp tacos strips which melted into the thick soup and combined with soft, sweet corn to give an array of interesting textures. This was a good pick.

There were pastas and salads but I wanted to eat a pizza. It was the ‘pizza kitchen’ after all. They didn’t have small portions or slices. So I chose a vegetarian pizza. Now, don’t gasp. My lunch mate is vegetarian and she offered to eat soup and salads while I had a pizza. That didn’t seem fair to me and the pizza sizes seemed to large for one person. She even sportingly suggested adding non vegetarian toppings on half the pizza. There were some interesting vegetarian combinations which I thought were worth trying. Plus I didn’t want to be seen as the boss who bullies his juniors.
I chose a pesto pizza for us. The result was a dish which had a lot of promise and yet disappointed. And that had nothing to do with the lack of meat. The thin crust was phenomenal. Very limber and fresh. Not over crisp at all. Very elegant with a stream of melted mozzarella discreetly flowing through the crust. This was sheer genius.
The pesto was very disappointing though. It didn’t have the zest and spunk of a good pesto. I like pesto because I find it to be raw and fresh and with loads of attitude. The mix of fresh basil, sharp garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan is meant to be a robust and manly combination. The pesto in the California Pizza Kitchen on the other hand was too sweet and dainty. More feminine than masculine. Could have passed of as the sweet version of the Gujarati dish, Undhiyu. The presence of meat wouldn’t have made a difference.
The sun dried tomato added to the saccharine motif. The only respite came from the odd piece of chopped red olive which gave an occasional much needed edge to the dish. So it wasn’t the lack of meat which failed the pizza. It was the very poor pesto which spoilt the effect of the fantastic crust.
The regular version of the pesto pizza came with cottage cheese or paneer which had too neutral a taste to make a difference. In retrospect goat cheese, which was there in other combinations, would have helped. The nomadic salty taste of goat cheese could have salvaged the gulab juman syruped pesto pizza. On asking a waiter I found out that I could have opted for this. Too late.

The pesto was anything but robust

Crust was a work of art though

Just realised what was listed below the pesto pizza. What was I thinking?
So should you go to CPK? Only if you are at BKC. Don’t mind spending Rs 700 – 1000 (18- 20 USD) for two. And are not a very demanding eater.
As for me, maybe I need to visit it again and find some meat.

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Filed under Bandra Bites, Blackberry Boys, vegetarian stuff

>Adhunik bhaapa ilish or ‘modern microwaved steamed Hilsa’ recipe

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I met Scarlett after ages for lunch. That’s when Bunkin Banu called me for instructions on what to cook. She seems programmed to call me when I sit to eat.
Scarlett couldn’t stop giggling as I instructed  Banu to make baigan ka bharta, which we recently learnt she knows how to make, cabbage, daal and roti. Scarlett was surprised to find out that we eat simple vegetarian food too. Plus she said that she thought that I cooked every day. I tried to tell her that it wasn’t so. She refused to believe me. And guess what, I did end up ‘cooking’ today. If you can call pressing two switches that.
I had some time to kill this evening as I returned early from work. So I decided to make a microwave steamed Hilsa inspired by a post Pree wrote recently.  I wasn’t too sure of putting curd in the beginning. Pree explained that this would be ok. Apparently curd curdles if you add it mid way. You should add it in the beginning of cooking or at the end when the dish cools down. She was, as I knew she would be, right.
It hardly required any work and I managed to fit in a low intensity gym session in between the marinating and cooking. It was a no oil dish. Turned out to be a tad dry. A bit of oil drizzled in the beginning might have helped. Pree’s recipe involved mustard oil Some more curd might have helped too.
So here’s the recipe for the adhunik bhaapa ilish or modern steamed hilsa.
Recipe
Marinate
  • Put a teaspoon of mustard seeds in a grinder and grind (Bengali tradition calls for more mustard but K can’t handle the pungency)
  •  Add 1.5 teaspoons of poppy/ posto/ khus khus seeds to this and grind
  •  Add 3 geen chillies, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon turmeric to this and grind
  • Add 4 tablespoons of curd to this and whip

 

Cook:
           
  • Pour marinate over 4 pieces of Hilsa
  •  Marinate for at least an hour. I went and did a mild leg routine at the gym and returned in  1.5 hours
  • Put the dish into the micro and cover with a micro dish, cling film. This helps the fish retain the moisture. I didn’t. Which explains the dryness. Though, as K came and told me right now, the taste was very good
  • Switch on the micro for five minutes
  • Switch off the micro and take out the dish. Gently turn the fish. Add a bit more curd to blend in the masala in case it seems a bit dry
  • Put it in and switch on the micro for 3 more minutes. Total of 8 minutes
  • The dish is ready. Best had with steamed rice
I was a bit lazy today too and took the pictures with the Blackberry. The idea of taking out the camera and clicking would have against the grain of quick and easy cooking after all.

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Filed under Bengali food, Blackberry Boys, pisces, Recipes

>Just another night in the kitchen

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Valentine’s night dinner. Special? Well we enjoyed it
 
Come Valentine’s and newspapers would be full of ads on expensive restaurant meals. You need time and/ or money for that. Difficult to have both in the expensive and frenetically paced city of Mumbai.
Then there would be articles on how guys can please their women. ‘Surprise her by entering the kitchen and cooking a dish’, is a favoured option. Fry an egg. It’s not that difficult. Toast bread, make her a cup of coffee. Buy a ready-made curry mix and make chicken. Assemble a pizza. 
Problem is that some of us don’t have it that easy. Cooking dinner is not that a big deal in our worlds. Nor is it rare. We have to think of other gifts.
I came home from work and went to the gym. Seemed like folks like John A and I were working out this Valentine’s night while the restaurants at Bandra were filling up and candles were being lit. I caught a bit of Master Chef USA while on the treadmill. It was almost as melodramatic as Master Chef Akshay Kumar. A damp squib after Master Chef Australia at this point.
I came back and hit the kitchen. I looked at the gifts which folks like Soma, Ranjit and Manisha gave me. Gifts which made me feel like Julie in the movie Julie & Julia. Her friends and readers used to send her ingredients too.
Sauces from Ranjit’s hamper
The third of Soma’s assortment of meats. Michigan to Calcutta to Mumbai

Cookies from K after much nagging on my part

I chose the last of the three meats that Soma, Arijit and their cat Ms Moota sent for us from Michigan via Calcutta. American salami. The best of a bouquet of great meats according to Kainaz. Tasted two of the sauces that Ranjit gave me in the birthday hamper. Chilli Oil & Teriyaki Barbecue. K and I chatted as I peeled and sliced carrots, spring onions, chillies and ginger. Pounded some garlic in the mortar and pestle. Took pictures with my Blackberry. K said I should start a section called Blackberry Boys for this. Then I fired up my new Chinese wok and another sauce pan simultaneously.
Dinner? Squids tossed in teriyaki barbecue sauce, seasoned with fresh ginger, red chillies and spring onions. American salami hakka noodles, with crunchy vegetables, seasoned with crushed garlic, a squeeze of lime  and oodles of chilli oil. Nothing elaborate.Pu together in fifteen minutes or so.
Finished off with a shared cookie from the box of Pepperidge Cookies that K got for me.

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Filed under Anniversaries, Blackberry Boys, customs, Finely Chopped Knights, Oriental