SOCIAL MEDIA

Saturday, July 22, 2017

MY A-Z GLOBAL CUISINE PROJECT - LIFE FROM SCRATCH

A few months back, I happened to read this book-Life from Scratch by a food blogger, Sasha Martin.
The book revolved around the mammoth project undertaken by Sasha which involved her cooking from every country of the world i.e. precisely 197 countries. Tackling one country per week, it took her almost 4 years to complete this assignment. She initially commenced this major task with the prime objectives of coaxing her picky husband to experiment with food and exposing her six-month daughter to various global cuisines.
But as she delved deeper into herself, Sasha realized this project was her way of meditation and making peace with her extremely difficult childhood. Sasha was raised by a single mother and they faced serious financial difficulties. However, her mother was a very savvy cook and let no crumb go to waste be it moldy breads or spoilt apples. What she didn't have in resources, she made up for in creativity such as by introducing cranberry juice with cereal just because she could not afford milk.
Cooking and food was Sasha's strongest connection to her mother which kept her going when she lived in a string of foster homes.
Sasha in her book, particularly talks about certain recipes such as the German Tree Cake recipe which consisted of 21 layers made from almond paste that had to be further broiled, layered and frosted. This was a recipe that her mom had saved up for months and took them jointly two days to make. It was her mother's way of teaching Sasha that life is all about resilience and perseverance.
Perhaps cooking her way through 197 countries was the adult version of the German Tree cake recipe through which Sasha managed to make peace with her past, forgive and move on to find happiness in her current life.
Since having read this book, I have been very inspired with this project and have decided to embark one on my own albeit on a smaller scale. I would be cooking and blogging from one country starting from A to Z on a fortnightly/monthly basis. This project would indulge two of my passions, one learning about world cuisines and two, cooking experiments which in turn would widen my repertoire of recipes.
However, I have a couple of disclaimers which I think is important to list out here before I start off:
·       Recipes might not be completely authentic owing to the unavailability of certain ingredients and more importantly because I lack the technical know-how about local cuisines of countries from across the world.
·       Recipes would definitely not include beef/pork. I primarily cook with vegetables, chicken, egg, and occasionally fish and seafood.
·       Recipes would be sourced by foraging the Internet and suggestions would be most welcome to include recipes or even modifications to the ones that I have posted.
·       Although my inspiration is from the book-Life from Scratch. However, I would not be following the recipes listed out on her website.
So, wish me luck and coming soon is the link to country A.
Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why Should Ladies Have All The Fun? @Trader Vic's Doha

Lately there have been several round-ups of Ladies' nights happening across town with fabulous offers of free drinks, complimentary bites and drinks priced as low as QR 5 !
It was not long enough before the Hubby (over)reacted on hearing about these and stated-"What makes you ladies so special and privileged that only you all deserve these?"
I managed to list out a couple of the reasons as below:
  • Men are clearly not the ones bogged down with the feeling of constant guilt for leaving the families behind at home on their one night off perhaps after a year or even a decade !
  • Men are most certainly not the ones worried about being the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect daughter, perfect employee, perfect boss, perfect chef, perfect housekeeper, perfect friend or definitely not the insane being for even hoping to strike a perfect balance between all of the above roles.
  • Even scientific statistics evidence that women were 1.9 times as likely as to suffer as men from anxiety disorders primarily due to juggling work and family life.
So yes Dear Hubby, ladies definitely do need bonus nights and value deals to coax them to get out of the house for "fun". Around the same time, Hilton Doha invited me to their Wednesday Ladies' Night at Trader Vic's.
So, I called up a friend from my university days based in Doha who I hadn't met in over a year inspite of us living 10 minutes apart, gave an ultimatum to meet and soon enough we headed off to Trader Vic's.
The deal and the Menu:
Saturday, June 10, 2017

9 FUN THINGS WE DID IN BALI!

If I have managed to convince you to head to Bali with my previous post, then below are what you could actually do once you are there.

1.Cooking Class
Wherever I travel, I try and register myself for a local cooking class as this not only gives you an excellent insight into the actual local culture and real cuisine but also you always end up meeting an wonderful group of people from across the world. We attended the Lobong Culinary Experience in Ubud which offered a pick/drop facility, a market tour , an insight into the Balinese joint family system and ofcourse, the actual class held in their family compound. We jointly cooked every dish from scratch which went on to enjoy them for lunch. My favourite was the juicy chicken satay served with finger licking peanut sauce.


2.Sight seeing
Most major tourist attractions in Bali are temples (Puras) ranging from those on mountains (Besakih-mother temple), in caves (Goa Gajah), along lakes (Ulun Danu Beratan) to along the coast line (Tanah Lot and Uluwatu). Other famous sights/tours are the terraced rice paddy fields, sunrise trek to mountain tops or waterparks especially if you would be travelling with kids.
Batuan Temple
Mount Batur

Saturday, June 3, 2017

9 REASONS ON WHY YOU SHOULD GO TO BALI ?

I was bitten by the travel bug quite late in life kicking off with our trip to Italy in 2015 and then last year I even went on my first solo trip to Thailand. This year, it continued with my first girls' trip to Bali,Indonesia.

Our trip to Bali just like last year happened all of a sudden post a casual conversation with my sis-in-law. And there we were strolling around the streets in Bali two weeks later. :)

Bali is located in Indonesia and is just 1 of the 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago. So here are my 9 reasons on why you should consider Bali to be your next holiday destination:

1.Bali offers something just about for everyone and is ideal for honeymooners, friends, families, retired couples and even for solo travel. You would end up being spoilt when it comes to choices for accommodation ranging from homestays, budget to midrange hotels to luxurious resorts.

2.There's nothing more appealing than zero visa hassles considering Bali offers free 30 day visas on arrival for citizens of almost 140 countries making it one of the few countries (for atleast Indians), that you can plan spontaneous trips to.

3.You are almost always surrounded by lush greenery, azure blue seas and by tourists. And since everyone is on a holiday, you are amongst such positive and relaxing vibes that you will also end up being the less wound-up version of yourself.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

RESTAURANT REVIEW-CREPA CREPA @ PEARL QATAR

After a longer than intended hiatus from this space of mine, I was more than eager to return. It only seemed coincidental that as I was scouting for some material that an opportunity presented itself in the form of a invite to a newly opened "Creperie" located in the Pearl Qatar.

Hubby being a major crepe lover and a chance to sneak away for a date night was infact icing on the crepe ( Oops cake) !

Crepa Crepa is tucked away in the charming Qanat Quartier district in the Pearl which now houses several new eateries namely The Breakfast Club, Esmer Chef, Waffles and Coffee.



The restaurant painted a pretty picture with both outdoor and indoor seating facing the cobbled streets and quaint street lamps. Infact it is not too difficult to imagine that we were not in Doha but vacationing at a road-side cafe somewhere in Europe.

                                            

I also thought the interiors were done very thoughtfully which gave the whole place a very cozy feel that could be best described as that you were actually sitting in a friend's dining room than at a restaurant.



Service was perfect although it is fair to mention that they were expecting us. What I specially thought was noteworthy was that the owner, a Qatari national not just introduced himelf but also took out the time by very passionately taking us through the concept and the highlights of the menu. He also explained that Crepa Crepa is an international franchise hailing from Greece and their Qatari venture is their 16th outlet worldwide.

Once we glanced through the extensive menus offering more than 20 varieties each of the savoury and sweet crepes with additional options to also create customized crepes,left us only further undecided. Finally with the help of our server, we managed to narrow down our choices to two appetizers and two mains.

                                  

The Appetizer Bites were basically crepes that were rolled and sliced up served with a dipping sauce. We had chosen the traditional Greek Tasty Spinach and Smoked Salmon. The Tasty Spinach had a filling of spinach,onions and dill that was complimented with a nice tanginess from the feta and served with a mustard sauce. Smoked Salmon also contained a filling of spinach, onions, dill however with a base of creamy Philadelphia cheese and ofcourse smoked salmon which was served with sour cream. Had to rely on the hubby to do the scoring for this round given that I am not a fish-eater. His favourite was the Smoked Salmon which he described to be fresh and clean. We both thought that the Tasty Spinach could be served with a different sauce (probably a sweet chili or a spicier sauce) considering that both Feta and Mustard were tangy in nature.

                             

                                  

For the mains, we had chosen the Mexican and BBQ Texas crepes. Again initially had to rely on the hubby since the Mexican contained beef which I am not a fan of. ( And you think why Am I a food blogger ?) After some gentle coaxing by the hubby, I took a bite and I was completely blown away. That one bite contained flavours of the spicy minced beef, creamy guacamole , crunchy peppers describing which makes me salivate now. I ended up polishing half of this crepe and why only half if you may ask is because I had to give up the other half as part of my "wifely love" which as an afterthought now I think was foolish !

                                 

The second crepe- BBQ Texas was nothing to write home about but delivered in terms of its flavours with smoked turkey, mushrooms, peppers, gouda cheese and BBQ sauce.

What also I must highlight about both these crepes were its perfect crispy thin texture that put some of others that we have had in the past to shame. It goes without saying that all crepes are made to order and at a live cooking station.

                                    

For desserts we had the Cheesecake Selections with strawberry jam and the Extreme Chocolate with an addition of bananas.

The Strawberry Cheesecake was a disappointment and tasted nothing like a cheesecake rather than just a strawberry jam interspersed with some cream cheese.

                                      

Extreme chocolate hit the right spots for a dessert with its rich tastes of white, milk, dark chocolate, banana and nutella. Served with whipped  cream, I thought we should have ordered a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.


For a place that technically serves just one dish, this restaurant does a splendid job in bringing countless varieties to your plate that makes you even forget the intrinsic similarity. If you are looking to spend a relaxed time on a date or with friends and family in a serene ambience with fresh and delicious food, look no further and head to Crepa Crepa.
Crepa Crepa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

BANGKOK SERIES #2-THINGS I DID IN BANGKOK

If you had come across my earlier post, you would have known by now that I had travelled to Bangkok-Thailand for my first solo holiday. 

Day 1
Post the visa processing and baggage collection, I strode across the expansive Suvarnabhumi airport to the meet-up point for my hotel transfer.


Was pleasantly surprised on being met by a uniform attired chauffeur and his BMW. (Woo hoo…Jumping on the inside !) My journey of approx 45-50 minutes was every bit smooth, luxurious and wi-fi enabled, a perfect welcome to the city of angels and the tropical heat.



Once I reached my hotel- Chatrium Riverside Bangkok located in the Sathon district, I was escorted immediately to my room on the 17th floor facing the Chao Phraya river.  The room was large with a splendid view and even a private balcony. But more about my hotel experience later.


Exhausted after my long flight and lack of much sleep, I decided to stay in on my first night in the city enjoying endless room service and the river view.


Day 1
Following morning, I felt relaxed and charged up for my city tour spanning the entire day. I was promptly met by my tour guide- Tui from the company- Tour With Tong. Since I opted for the private tour due to the humid climate and for comfort, she was also accompanied by a driver and an air conditioned car. Tui immediately made me feel at ease and within minutes, I almost felt as if I was reconnecting with an old friend.

My first stop for the day was the most popular place of attraction and must do in the city -The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew –Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Grand Palace complex consists of several buildings and sprawled an area of more than 50 acres and was only partially open to public. The architecture was magnificent and its work could be noticed to be extremely intricate with the multi-coloured tiles. I particularly loved the colourful architecture with the sun sparkling off the red, blue, green tiles. 











Unfortunately due to the Buddhist occasion of Vichaka Bucha the following day, the entrance to the actual Temple of Emerald Buddha was closed to public for preparations. This day is celebrated to be the day Lord Buddha was born, died and got his enlightenment. Due to this I ended up witnessing jam-packed crowds as the entire complex would also be closed the next day.



But the royal family currently does not live in the Grand Palace. However another local fact I read and quickly understood was that the Thais love their royalty and treat them with immense respect and devotion. It’s a big faux pas and even illegal to talk negative about the royalty.

Infact it is evident from the fact that the National Father’s Day is celebrated on the King’s birthday. Almost all of the major sights are decorated with Blue and Yellow flags symbolizing the King and the Queen respectively depicting the days they were born on. I was told that in Thailand, each day of the week had a colour associated with it.

Post the tour once I stepped outside the complex, spotted several street side stalls from where I tasted some of the most delicious ripe mangoes sprinkled with some chilli salt which was extremely refreshing.


We then travelled to the next sight, which was Wat Pho – Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

After Grand Palace, I just did not want to get out of my air-conditioned vehicle but this sight was such a welcome relief because it was hardly crowded and found it to be airy and breezy. I found out later it was majorly so because the Chinese tourists didn’t have this sight on their itinerary!
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

BANGKOK SERIES #1-STEP WISE APPROACH TO THE THAILAND VISA ON ARRIVAL ONLINE APPLICATION PROCESS



I was all set and ready to hit the city of Angels- Bangkok for my first solo holiday

However, I heard several not-so-great experiences about the delay faced at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport for the visa on arrival process from family and friends. Nevertheless was completely prepared to wait a good 2-3 hours in the immigration queue.

But that’s when during my research, that I read about the recently launched process for the Online Application for Visa on Arrival through the official Thai government website. Read about other blogger experiences, and guess what it worked ! I would have hardly spend 30 minutes end to end to get my visa stamped and out of passport control.

I thought my penning down my experience could benefit other fellow travellers and couldn't recommend the online procedure enough considering you only need to spend less than 10 minutes in advance and you end up saving a good 1-2 hours of waiting time at the minimum.

However, I would like to clarify that this is not an actual pre-approved visa being issued online rather just a system to enter your personal details directly into the Thai immigration system thereby saving time at their end and hence giving you a skip-the-line option at the airport.

I have enlisted my experiences step wise below:

2.   Click on Tourist -->Apply For Visa on Arrival
3.   You get 30 minutes to fill up the online application with your passport/flight/hotel   
      booking details.
4.   Once done, you are taken to review page before proceeding to accept.
5.   Once accepted, you get a bar code and a reference number with an option to Print 
      VOA Application form.
6.   You would receive a PDF of the form which you can save/print. Ensure to sign off 
      the physical form.
7.   Additionally ensure you carry:
    • Passport (Belonging to the list of eligible countries for Visa on Arrival) with a                validity of more than a month and with atleast 1 complete blank page.
    • 1 passport size photo
    • Return Ticket within 15 days
    • Hotel reservation copy
    • Filled up Arrival/Departure card (I got this from the flight) and Boarding Pass
    • Requirement also indicates for proof of living as 10,000 Baht/person or 20,000 Baht/family. (I was not asked for anything regarding this. If I was, planned to show my debit/credit cards.
    • Visa fee of 1000 Thai Baht in local currency as cash