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Holiday at Varkala, Gateway Taj

Holiday at Varkala, Gateway Taj

Sometimes you don't know what you want in a lazy holiday. You want the holiday, but you don't want the stress. Or the planning. Just to lie down. And then to fight the temptation to go around sight seeing. Especially when going with friends after a really really long time. You know the picture that sort of shows how there are a million people during the planning stage, but you end up alone on a holiday? This wasn't exactly like that. 3 couples planned to do nothing. Our choice was narrowed down to the Gateway Taj at Varkala. Sitting atop a cliff, the rooms give you a fantastic view of both the gardens, the rooms, the cliff and the sea. Since it is on top of a cliff, no two rooms are on the same floor, but a few steps below/above the other. An email to the hotel requesting our rooms to be close to each other was met and off we went. View from my room And did nothing really. The hotel is not an activity centre, which sort of worked for us, but there was the little f

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Chennai

Chennai

*image courtesy The New Indian Express Food is so important. I mean, its always, food, clothing and shelter, right? There is no fine dine there. There is no Facebook there. Chennai was made to realise this a few weeks back. They say when people are pushed to a corner is when you see the worst in them. Chennai was different. When pushed to the corner, we saw the best in them! How amazing is that? To sort of defy a human behaviour. Every community or society will have good, bad and amazing. Thiruvalluvar, in one of this two line genius poetry said that a few good people are enough for the world. Wonder how Chennai got back to its feet? It is history. Good people outdid others. "Chennai floods is the first time I saw more volunteers than victims," said an army officer. I'm proud. People helped in various capacities. Some got their hands downright dirty, while some did work online. Every single bit counts. Even a person who shared one post has done something for this r

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Hoppipola

Hoppipola

When you drunk, would you like to feel like a kid again? I'm not sure, but then how would I know? Then there are those who don't get drunk and want to feel like kids again. Not just anywhere, but especially when they eat out. Like kids running around in a restaurant. I mean....yeah. Having stuff to play with. So imagine a place where you have some adult toys....ok, that did not sound right. Imagine a place where you have some toys. In adult sizes. Much better description. Hoppipola is one such place. As soon as you enter, the giant JENGA catches your eye. If you are not sure what that is, sorry. There are other toys for you to play with. Like a mini golf that is extremely difficult even when you're sober. Actually, the place looks like a little play area and definitely not like a bar or a resto-bar or anything that has bouncers outside. Its almost like proving you're an adult to the guys outside and then becoming kids again! No stags allowed, so

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Jonah meets Chef Willi

Jonah meets Chef Willi

Places to host a little tea party are few and far apart. If there are, then you need to pick a fixed menu that varies between Rs. 400 and the sky and you get the same dish for everyone. Maybe okay for birthday party with 10-20 kids, but with three kids and 15 adults, my friend wasn't happy with a Rs. 650 plus tax for juice, soup, pizza/pasta and dessert type menu. Jonah's came to mind. I've been meaning to write about this place for a while, but never did. What stuck to my mind though was the little 16 seater part of the restaurant that is cut off from the rest and can be the right party place for a small crowd. And being a small place, a-la-carte would be great, we thought. So after discussions, my friend decided to do it. We just blocked off the place for 16 people. Jonah's being Jonah's with their outstanding customer service that I wrote a few times about on social media, had absolutely no qualms about bringing a cake from outside. T

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Yakiniku

Yakiniku

The juices from the pop up dinner at Food Consulate was just settling down in my tummy when I got the call. It was intriguing. I've heard of pop up dinners, but a pop up restaurant? Where does it pop up from? And what happens after the restaurant popped up and then went on to the next place? The whole thing was confusing for me and I actually cancelled an appointment to make it for the launch of this. My confusion was put to rest when I saw that the bistro at Hyatt Regency was converted into this pop up. Ah. So it just didn't pop up in the middle of the lobby like I thought it might. But from a bistro to full Japanese? Nice job nevertheless.  Being the opening day and with the restaurant filled with people, I think the little bistro wasn't prepared to handle the crowd. Waiters were running around, clearly overwhelmed. With the top honcho of Toshiba doing the honours (which I missed), I learnt that there was a Japanese population of about 30k peop

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Supper Club at Food Consulate

Supper Club at Food Consulate

I've written about supper club a few times. Few because every time one starts, it doesn't last. I've been a part of at least three of four such clubs that never saw anything beyond the second chapter. So, I would not agree to the ad that said, it was the first time something like this was being done in Chennai, but that in no way takes away the beauty of a supper club. First things first - the food cost. So,  if you pay Rs. 1500 to a restaurant, about Rs 600-750 goes towards the cost of food. Not the KFC or other QSR, fast food types where it could be a lot lower, but I'm talking about a restaurant. In a supper club/pop up dinners etc, about 70-80% normally goes into the food costs, so there is a real value for money there. Its done by people absolutely passionate about the food, so no chef-by-mistake risks. But there are other risks - unlike a restaurant, if something goes wrong, they are not in a great position to correct stuff, but then anything has risks. Like f

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Telangana Food Fest at ITC, Grand Chola

Telangana Food Fest at ITC, Grand Chola

Its raining food fests in Chennai and looks like at any given point of time, there will be something going on somewhere! Not all of them may be good, but definitely something going on somewhere. Coming back from Bangalore where I just stepped into heaven and back at a Telugu Cuisine restaurant, ITC Grand Chola as part of the Kitchens of India, Unique Taste series, set up the Cuisine of Telangana at the Madras Pavilion. Having had a fabulous time at the Arcot Nawab's food, I was looking forward to this!!! Started off with panagam and ended up having four of five glasses. Actually, mini glasses. Food kicked off with the fantastic stuffed chillies!!!! It was nice and hot in a nice way, not the tongue-on-fire kind of hot!!!! For non veg, we had a superb chicken roast Andhra style!!!! But the best part was the next set - rice, podi, ghee and chillies. Oh, and pappads. So, this podi looks blood red. I fear. My love for rice, podi n ghee was based on the not so ho

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Coco Jaunt

Coco Jaunt

Discovering a new short cut (after 4 years of it being there) has its own advantages. Anna Nagar 3rd Main Road is much closer!!! And that opens up a new range of restaurants for me when I am lazy to drive to the city!!! Suddenly that night we thought we had a battalion of options!!! After wasting the driving time we saved on deciding where to eat, we just decided it was Coco Jaunt!!!! Small, neat and with a bakery attached, Coco Jaunt is a simple eatery with a nice menu!!! With my camera not in hand, I so wish I could go back to get a few shots at the food!! The best of which was the Bunny Chow! A South African favourite, its a nice big bowl of bread with gravy, Butter Chicken Masala in our case!!! The gravy tasted nothing like a butter chicken masala, but it tasted great with the bread, so we really did not care about the name!!! We started off with fries! Why? Because reading it off the menu, I thought it was going to be a nice cheesy liquid on top of the fries. Not! I

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Awadhi Food Festival, Vivanta by Taj Connemara

Awadhi Food Festival, Vivanta by Taj Connemara

Supposed to be a food lover's paradise, Lucknow has been on my wish list. Not because anything else, but just the Awadhi Biriyani and the Gulouti Kebab. Taj invited us over and here goes.... Now that a Awadhi chef landed here from Lucknow, I was dying to try the galouti kebab. Starter: Nice. Check Main Course. Nice. Check. No galouti in main course. Grrr...... Dessert: Nice. Check. If I am going to spend anytime on writing about it, it will be about the fantastic Awadhi Biriyani. Loved it. Okay. review over. Okay, particularly, the fish kebab was very good and in the main course, the dhal was stunning. Surprisingly for me, the vegetarian dishes were quite excellent, coming from a cuisine that is predominantly, meat based. Okay. Review over. But having a Lucknow Chef in Chennai and not eating Galouti was nagging me. It was like we missed gold. So, three foodies, decided to go back by ourselves on Monday and eat the Galouti Kebab. We hatched a plan and landed

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