Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Events | Christmas Special

Rock around the Christmas Tree!

'Tis the season to be jolly and this is my way of spreading some Christmas Cheer. Here are a few glimpses into how hotels are decked up for the festive season. I am also sharing details of some scrumptious christmas brunches. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Banter at The Imperial.

Christmas started early for me with The Imperial hosting a delightful Christmas Banter. The outdoor tables at San Gimignano were laden with all the goodies including stollen, plum pudding, mince pie, yule log, sandwiches, quiches and more. You too can indulge in these treats, as they will be available at the French Patisserie, La Baguette, till the end of December. An interesting Christmas Quiz and Chef Prem Kumar Pogakula's demonstration of 2-minute mug cakes were quite the highlight (ping me if you want any of the three recipes - Chocolate Mug Cake, Peanut and Walnut Mug Cake and Coffee and Cashewnut Mug Cake. I'll be happy to share.) And the best part? We all got to take home a delicious gingerbread house filled with cookies, plum pudding and more cake!

Christmas Carnival at the Taj Palace Hotel.

With activities including decorating the Christmas tree, icing cupcakes and gingerbread cookies, colouring cards, coordinated games and sandwiches and desserts in the shape of mini christmas trees, reindeer and santa claus, the Christmas Carnival at the Taj Palace Hotel was a treat for kids. 

Christmas Tree Lighting at Shangri La.

The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Shangri-La's - Eros Hotel, New Delhi was kickstarted with a treasure hunt for tiny tots to look for the switch to turn on the magical lights. Then Santa Claus trudged around distributing goodie bags amidst carol singing. But isn't Christmas incomplete without the joy of giving? The hotel's team took care of that too. Guests were encouraged to adopt the hotel's festive ambassador, Baby Bear for Rs 300 each. The funds collected are being donated to the Noida Deaf Society a partner in Shangri La's - Eros Hotel New Delhi's Care for People Project. 

Le Meridien Gurgaon's pretty poinsettia tree.

The Hub at Le Meridien Gurgaon has donned a festive look with 600 potted Poinsettia plants that have made a stunning Christmas Tree. Executive Housekeeper Bhupinder Rawat decided to use these plants since they are popularly used for Christmas decorations and also to keep up with the hotel's commitment to the environment. There will be a festive dinner buffet and brunch buffet on the 24th and 25th, respectively. Featuring over 200 dishes, these buffets are priced at Rs 2,450 (plus taxes) without alcohol and Rs 3,250 (plus taxes) with alcohol.

Xmas goodies from The Oberoi.

I know the above is not the picture of a fancy tree. But it is the delicious plum cake hamper sent across by The Oberoi New Delhi. I have to confess that I get transported to Christmas heaven having a warm slice of this rich fruit laden cake with homemade mulled wine every other day. ('Tis also the season to indulge!) The Christmas Eve Buffet and the Christmas Day Brunch at threesixty both come at Rs 5,950 (plus taxes) but the hefty price tag will be worth every penny since the five-course set menu prepared by the in-house Italian masterchef comes accompanied with free flowing champagne, wine, mulled wine, eggnog and other festive cocktails.

White Christmas at ITC Maurya.

The ITC Maurya showcases classic elegance with a pristine white decor as the ITC Hotels is celebrating a White Christmas at all their properties. "Marking the end of the darkest night of the year, Christmas celebrates the return of light, hope and fresh beginnings," reads their Christmas poster. Amen to that! For Festive Indulgences, go for chestnut and cranberry roast turkey, oysters, honey mustard minced pies and much more at festive buffets on 24th eve and 25th day, starting at Rs 2,500 at The Pavilion. Or head to WestView where the highlights include roast butterball turkey with chestnut stuffing and side of rosemary roast potatoes, ginger glazed carrots, roast parsnips, bisto gravy and cranberry sauce, starting at Rs 3,450.

These are but a few glimpses that I have been part of. You will be spoilt for choice from many others. For non-5 star options, I would pick between Diva and Elma's. While the former also has a specially curated Christmas spread, the latter has the traditional turkey, beef Wellington, rosemary lamb roulade, salmon fillet, and baked camembert among other delicious fare, starting at Rs 1,700.

So, go, make merry, and indulge in this festive season!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Sunday Brunch | Guppy by ai

Chef Vikram Khatri has crafted a fab brunch menu offering soups, cold appetisers, steamed buns, tempura, sushi, grills, pizza pancakes, mains, rice, noodles and desserts. Some of the dishes are specials from Guppy’s regular menu, and some that are usually not available. So if you like Japanese food, this is a Sunday brunch that you must try. One, unlike most brunches this one is not served buffet style. Everything is served at your table. When I say everything, I mean everything; and it is quite an elaborate menu! So instead of ordering what you like you actually have to tell your server to not serve you what you don’t want. And of course, if you like something you can order a repeat by simply waving the flag kept on your table.

The vibrant decor makes for a happy brunch.

We start with the duo of soups - Miso Soup and Mushroom Suimono. While both the soups are very good, I have to say that this is one of the best miso soups I have had. At many places I find the miso paste overpowering other flavours, but not in this one. Chef Khatri and his team have struck a wonderful balance here. Then comes a platter of cold appetisers including Salmon Tataki, Tofu Sashimi, Potato Salada, Tomago Yaki and Spinach Goma ae. Find some of the names mind boggling? Just sit back and tuck in the fresh ingredients ensconced in wonderful flavours. The marinated spinach is dressed with sesame and coconut milk, and tofu drizzled with a dressing made of ooba leaves, walnuts and goma ponzu. The Scottish salmon is quick seared and served with leeks, pickled onions and fresh daikon threads in citrus soy. Don’t worry about the small servings on the platter. Remember that you can order more of anything that you like.

Top: Cold Appetisers - Potato Salada, Tofu Sashimi, Spinach Goma ae,
Salmon Tataki, Tamago Yaki.
Bottom: Miso Soup and Mushroom Suimono; Fan to be waved when
you want to order more of something. 

I move on to the steamed buns and try the mushroom one. I was never a fan of baos, but lately have developed a liking for them if they are stuffed well and are not too doughy. While this bun is perfect, I would prefer more of the mushroom stuffing to make every mouthful burst with the wonderful flavour of the filling. The Pork Sumai is very succulent and very well stuffed with the said meat.

Then comes the course that I have eagerly been looking forward to. The Sushi platter includes the California Roll, the Spicy Salmon Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll. With these in front of me, I gladly stay away from the vegetarian options that include avocado, takuwan and cucumber. The sushi is well rolled and simply great. The fish tempura on the other had is quite a let down. It is not crunchy and I can almost taste the uncooked batter. I’m sure if I had voiced my concern it would have come back perfectly done, but honestly when everything else is as good as it is, one can quietly let it pass and enjoy other stuff.

Top: Sushi Platter
Bottom: Fish Tempura; Pork Sumai.

The grills include Tofu Skewers, Marinated Mushrooms, Sweet Potato Teriyaki Skewers, Chicken Tasukane and Fish Slewer in Spicy Sauce. In this round I do the opposite of the previous one – I stick to the vegetarian options and they are fab; especially the sweet potato teriyaki skewers. I don’t know if it’s just because sweet potatoes are in season currently, but these skewers are just brilliant. Then there’s the Okonomiyaki or the Japanese pancake pizza. It is a pancake made with lots of vegetables and then topped with the meat of your choice and drizzled with a spicy mayo and some hot sauce. I try the pork one and would recommend that you try it too especially because it is a Sunday special and not available in the daily menu. 

Vegetarian Grills: Cottage Cheese Skewers; Sweet Potato Teriyaki Skewers;
Marinated Mushrooms.

After all this food one really doesn’t need mains, but you’ll appreciate the Karashi Vegetable/Chicken Casserole. The succulent chicken leg and bacon stew is cooked slowly in karashi mustard sauce and is a comforting broth and ideal for a cold winter afternoon. It is served with Udon Noodles with Exotic Mushrooms in tonkatsu sauce and Garlic Fried Sticky Rice. If you do want mains this selection hits the spot. And even if you don't, I would suggest that you at least try the casserole for its wonderful rich flavour.

Mains: Chicken Casserole
Garlic Fried Rice; Udon Noodles with Exotic Mushrooms. 

Finally comes the dessert platter including Green Tea and Chocolate Cake, Fruit Yakitori, Chocolate Fondant and ice cream, providing a befitting end to a wonderful brunch.

Dessert Platter; Chocolate Fondant;
Green Tea and Chocolate Cake.

But before I sign off, I have to tell you that there are two ways to enjoy this Sunday Table Brunch – one is with unlimited non-alcoholic drinks and the other is with unlimited alcoholic drinks. And the cocktails are super – refreshing, well mixed and include special Japanese style beer cocktails and mocktails. So if you’re looking for good Sunday brunch options, please mark Guppy by ai on top of the list, because there are hardly any Japanese brunches in the city (the mutli-cuisine ones don’t count), the food is fresh and delicious and I think it is very well priced for the quality of spread that is offered.

Cocktails: Green Apple Mojito; TsingTao Beer;
Berry Beer Cooler; Sangria.
Guppy by ai, 28, Main Market, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi – 110003.
Ph: 011 24690005/6, 9650185005
Timings: 12pm - 3:30pm, Sundays Only.

Prices: Rs 1475 for unlimited food and non alcoholic beverages; Rs 1950 for unlimited food and alcohol.