Day 1- Between two guest houses and enough time to spare

Lush view from the lobby/chill-out space of Jati Home Stay
Lush view from the lobby/cafe of Jati Home Stay
I had read so much about Ubud and had even heard about this little town from a dear friend. And here I am, sitting at the cafe of my guesthouse, Jati Home Stay (Wi-Fi is freely available at most cafés), after a long day of walking around and, of course, the press meet for the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2014.

The ornately carved entrance to my room at Honeymoon Guesthouse
The ornately carved entrance to my room at Honeymoon Guesthouse
I arrived last night and was booked for a night at Honeymoon guesthouse, one of the many properties owned by the festival director Janet De Neefe. Staying in a traditional Balinese villa, although just for a night, was such a treat. I find it a bit daunting to arrive at a new destination in the dark of the night when travelling solo. I took a little walk outside and chanced upon Nick’s Pension, where I devoured a meaty club sandwich after travelling for hours from Mumbai. Yes, the adventurous side in me was dulled. But I knew I had plenty of time to sample Indonesian cuisine at its best.

Each room has a huge, ornately carved patio—something that I only noticed once I woke up. It was here that I thoroughly enjoyed a strong cup of Balinese coffee and felt much better, ready to take on the day. The rooms are clean and the bathrooms rustic, while breakfasts are as perfect as can be. I had to check that day as their rooms were already pre-booked but all went well as I would soon come to see.

I’ve been meeting many new people, mostly writers, many of whom are from Australia given its proximity to Ubud, as well as journalists from Jakarta and Bangkok. The town is a small one, so you can walk around if you have time to spare. But since I’ve to be at festival venues, some of which are over 15 minutes away, I’ve decided to take a ride every morning.

Continue reading “Day 1- Between two guest houses and enough time to spare”

Inside and outside the kitchen with Chef Ritu Dalmia

Ritu Dalmia - Profile shotThis article was first published on India Art n Design.

Those of you, who are familiar with the Ritu Dalmia touch that gives a distinctive flavour to Italian cuisine (she’s known as the Queen of Italian cuisine, after all), will agree with me, when I say that the stately lady has a whole lot of taste!

At her best in a pair of jeans and Rajesh Pratap Singh kurtas, comfort and style run high in her ensemble that is complete with her fetish for shoes – she has brogues in practically every colour!

Grilled Chicken, Corn and Cheese QuesadillaHer deep respect for Chef Manish Mehrotra of Delhi’s Indian Accent and for Italian restaurant La Calendre’s Massimilliano Alajmo for whom, she feels, food is akin to poetry, brings us to realize that the burst of creative energy that Ritu showcases with her culinary skills has an instantaneous connect with her love for all things Italian; and that includes her life philosophy, which can best be summed up in the Italian saying, ‘passerà’ that translates as ‘this too shall pass’.

Click here to read the entire interview with this award-winning chef on India Art n Design.

Beer necessities—How to drink your beer right

Discover the finer points to getting the most out of your beer drinking experience

Beer is an easy drink. Perfect for a summer day or night—or just about any time of the year for many—this frothy beverage produces an alcoholic high that’s not too hard on the senses. As relaxed as that might sound, the entire process of drinking beer—storing the drink, choosing the right glass and pouring it—is more complex than you imagined it to be. Here’s what you need to know if you want to better enjoy that beer you plan to drink this evening. Head over to The Label to read the entire article. 

This piece was first published on The Label, a lifestyle magazine by Louise Philippe. Like their Facebook page if you want to get regular updates on the coolest stuff for men including fashion, gadgets, food, drinks and more. 


Mediterranean Flavours


Photography: David Rodríguez y Carlos Huecas; courtesy Masquespacio

Blending thoughtful design with innovative functionality, KesSalao, a new eatery in Bonn, adds a fresh appeal to the historic German city’s dining scene.

Valencia-based Spanish creative consultancy Masquespacio has worked on the brand image and interior design, conceptualizing elements right down to the restaurant’s name.

Read the complete review of the restaurant’s interior design and brand image in a piece that I had written for India Art n Design.

Long Weekend Alert: 8 Fun Activities in Mumbai And Pune

By Brooklyn Morgan for Unsplash
By Brooklyn Morgan for Unsplash

Your weekend has just gotten longer thanks to the two public holidays – Independence Day and Janmashtami. You can expect the city to be a tad less crowded since everyone will be taking off on a mini vacation. If you haven’t had the time to plan, worry not. There’s a destination for all kinds of travellers – from the luxury wine-sipper and spa junkie, to adventure enthusiasts and trekkers. There are even ideas for those of us who plan to stay back in Mumbai and enjoy the peace and quiet we don’t usually experience in the city.

Click here to read about these fun activities in a piece that I had written for a lovely little website called Polka Cafe. Have a fantastic weekend ahead!

In Conversation with Gaggan Anand

Gaggan Anand working his culinary magic Photo Credit - Varavudh Lattanand: Town Country Thailand
Gaggan Anand working his culinary magic
Photo Credit – Varavudh Lattanand: Town Country Thailand

Gaggan Anand of the Bangkok restaurant Gaggan, known for its progressive Indian cuisine, talks about his trips to India, rock ’n roll and global culinary revolutions.

Before Gaggan Anand opened his restaurant in Bangkok in 2011, the chef, then 22, was already tickling the taste buds of presidents, celebrities and royal families. He began his career at the Taj Group’s Orient Express and Zodiac Grill, and then landed on Thai shores to work his charm at contemporary Indian restaurant Red Bangkok and later, as chef de cuisine at Bangkok’s Lebua Hotels. By this time, he was already being heralded as the pioneer of progressive Indian cuisine. As experienced as he was, he yearned to learn from the world’s best. And, so he became the first Indian to have spent time in the famed Michelin-starred elBulli kitchen during an internship in the Catalonia restaurant. This year, his restaurant Gaggan, in Bangkok, featured on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list at number 17 and on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant list at number 3. Easygoing to talk to, yet meticulous when it comes to preparing food, Gaggan Anand is as passionate about cooking for his star guests as much as he is for the everyday epicurean.

Chef at work
Chef at work

Tell us more about the food lab that you plan to introduce at Gaggan.
We already have a viewing lab, where a set of guests can view our chefs at work through a glass during dinner, but the food lab is more intimate, much like a chef’s dining space with a few tables arranged inside the kitchen itself. Guests will be able to listen to everything we say; even the music we play. They can get an insight into what goes into the making of a meal at Gaggan.

Do your travels to India inspire you to experiment with your dishes at Gaggan? 
Absolutely. I make it a point to visit India every three months. It’s like a trip that revives my taste buds. I’m afraid that if I stay away from my country for too long, I might forget certain things! I’ve discovered some of the most amazing food in Kerala, Varanasi and Amritsar, among others places. If I’m in Calcutta, I must have typical Calcutta-Chinese dishes as well as Bengali food at U.P. I am a diabetic, but I go berserk when I see Bengali sweets. I love Britannia, Gajalee and Swati Snacks when I visit Mumbai. 

Free-range lamb chops, sous-vide, grilled and finished with green herbs oil; Photo credit - Sansith Koraviyotin
Free-range lamb chops, sous-vide, grilled and finished with green herbs oil; Photo credit – Sansith Koraviyotin

Which country, according to you, is one that has always been bringing about culinary revolutions?
Spain is ranks high for its consistent culinary innovations over the last twenty years. Then there’s Japan. Chefs travel to Japan to learn how to use new ingredients, while Spain tops the list for its techniques. It’s interesting to know that Japan will host a pop-up by Noma next year using Japanese ingredients. Of late, South America is coming up in a big way. We’ll be seeing a lot more of Peruvian, Brazilian, Chilean and Amazonian cuisine fused with other cuisines including Japanese. 

Read the complete interview with this amazing Indian chef on The Label.

This post was first published on The Label, a luxury lifestyle magazine By Louis Philippe.