Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Best seller She Wrote -Book Review

A Book review.

I have been living on a diet of thrillers and murder mysteries for the past month or so. Ruth Rendall and Patricia Cornwell have been keeping my spectacles company, thanks to my friendly neighbourhood librarian. Dr Scarpetta seems to be walking in the ridges of my grey matter. 
More words to wander in.

"The BestSeller She Wrote" arrived in the mail a few days back. 
So I set my part mouldy, part dog eared books aside to make room for an Indian author. Full attention to Mr Ravi Subramanian. 
After all Mr Modi insists that we must Make in India.

First impressions are hard to shake.
So I'll put those down first. 
Not a very reader friendly colour.
"Soon to be a motion picture."
Obviously,next we'll hear of the author being embroiled in a brouhaha about movie rights and script rights etc. Been there,seen that.
What was the big idea of releasing a book if it must be made into a script?
Fame? Money? Vanity?
Ravi Subramanian revealed some secrets of the publishing industry in this book. So all he budding authors, read this book.

Next on, the guy on the cover. You can't pass a 25 something to be 40 years old. 
This is not a Mills and Boon Romance.
It took me a day to get over the cover.
Time was ticking, I had to review the book in 7 days and also be part of two events.
Sleep deprivation and reading in the washroom was so not worth it.

I don't want to be the toxic bitch here, but I'll try to put in some nice words.
The books revolves around a successful author-full time banker, part time family man, part time author, almost Chetan Bhagat like in stature- only this one is supposed to be handsome.

How he manages to write his books and work in a bank that needs all your attention seems to be akin to Hawkeye from The Avengers.
Someone give me that power. 
Or maybe a couple of pairs of invisible arms. 
So much to do and so less time.

Happy family, wife Maya, is the contented IIM lady involved in social work ,working for guess who? Neeta Ambani.  
Young Child ,Aryan, who never finds a mention,except for his name.
Banker and author Aditya Kapoor is a superbly charming guy who is VAIN, Selfie conscious and all that. 
He has the bestest friend a man can have ,Sanjay ,who always has his back.
And who is a voracious reader.
Chance encounter with a young lady Shreya, who is arrogant and rude but converts to his bestest fan overnight when she reads his books.
So ,she joins his bank ,Hindi movie style and then hooks her talons into his helpless (sic) skin.
And Aditya falls hook ,line and sinker.
And then there is seduction ,of the style of the 70's Hindi movies. When two flowers were shown coming together because the censor board did not permit it.
We have a reference to eroticism and Aditya's inability to express a sexual encounter. And EL James is even there. 
So where's the sex? 
Oh yes, we're Indian, we just do sex in erotic bestsellers.

And then the author weaves a sordid tale where he justifies attraction and betrayal .
Then Aditya's wife falls ill. And he realises his mistake and tries to get away from the leech.
But she has other things on her mind.
She needs to ensure blackmailing him to get her book published.
And the book gets published. Before time .
And then becomes a bestseller because of all the sordid interest created by the gutter press.
And the Aditya Kapoor redeems himself by offering the truth to the whole world and ends up painting Shreya with muck.
She was bad, but the entire million odd words had nothing good about Aditya Kapoor. He finally realises that Cheating on his spouse is like throwing away a diamond and picking up fool's gold. So he was greedy. I knew it.

So well, I don't want this post to be a spoiler, because the end is the best part of the book. 
Aditya Kapoor acknowledges that cheating is not a mistake,it's a choice.

But the blatant violation his marriage vows and continuation of the affair was what put me off. That and repeated references to authors like Amish , Chetan Bhagat and Ravi Subramanium himself was another cheesy bit.
The friend was not really a friend,if she went along with that neurotic ,obsessive,possessive tendencies that Shreya possesses. 

The end reinstates that what goes around,comes around. 
And that by vitiating someone's reputation and family life , it's not going to spell something good for you either.
But as a woman, I need to know...
Why did Aditya walk away and Shreya take the brunt of the ill will?

You'll need to read this to know the way out.
My verdict.
I'm all about Love ,sex and dhoka.  
And blood and murders and complicated relationships. 
And loneliness.
And bad childhood memories.
And good books.
If I had to buy this book to read it.... I wouldn't have been really happy.

I'll give this book 2 stars out of 5.

I am reviewing  ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Bombay Canteen and Burrp

My first restaurant review with the FBAI and Burrp at The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai.
Super excited.
My boys and I eat out often ,but its generally Mughlai ,Punjabi , Chinese, Mangalorean ,the usual same old ,same old.
And we generally just move around a radius of 5 km.
But as they say Nothing Ventured , Nothing Gained.
This was just one of those experiences.

So this lunch was just about that .
An introduction to a curated menu, with the comfort of familiar desi Indian food and the zing of the unfamiliar, different tadka.
And the chef behind this global desi fusion restaurant is Top Chef Masters Winner Floyd Cardoz.

I was super enthusiastic,primarily because I generally don't indulge in Fusion with Indian.
But the mustard oil worked well.Yes ,there was a lot of mustard. at  is a relaunched player into a market that is already full of apps offering similar facilities. Well ,what I found different was the What to Eat ,Where feature In this app. That's a feature designed to review the best dishes of the restaurants. So when you go through the list, you'll know that the toffee and candied Carrot was the most amazing at the Bombay Canteen.
Just saying.
When you see this at the entrance of a restaurant,with a lot of kitschy colourful stuff placed around,you know someone has done something good.

A lot of attention to detail has been paid to set up a happy ambiance, the servers are enthusiastic,quite- they never wanted to wait when the first round of drinks was over. "Another? " sounds like music to the ears when you aren't driving.

This was a specially curated menu for the 15 food bloggers and once the basic intros were done... All were most interested in the drinks. And photographs.
So there was a list of Fancy Drinks for the Winter like Season.
Mine was the GANGA JAMUNA MARGARITA,fresh orange and mosambi and lemon juice with tequila and with a cactus leaf stirrer. Cute! 
Fresh and mildly sweet and citrusy with just the right amount of tequila . 
Something you can keep drinking. The other was an WINTER APPLE CIDER SANGRIA. White wine and apples and strawberries and a hint of brandy. That tasted of  cold ,almost mulled wine with a kick of fresh fruit flavour. I never got the brandy. And I can smell brandy. Anyone can,right?

So there was a MASALA COKE with desi flavours and a CINNAMON & CURRY LEAF ICED TEA. 
I have a very simple philosophy when I'm eating out. I'm a non vegetarian and I avoid mocktails and Coke. I mean if you have to take the calories,you might as well get the best deal.
So I skipped.
The food started with the CHHOTA :the small eats or the appetisers or the bite sized bytes.
We started with KEJRIWAL TOAST.
Its a standard in most clubs in Mumbai and on my blog too. And like the versions...
Well this one was a wee bit different.
The egg was perfectly fried and the cheese was done beautifully. But the difference was in the coconut and coriander chutney that accompanied the toast.
The first bite was yolk, same old, same old...then came the kick of the chutney.
Mildly spiced, it was a smooth combination with the mozarella cheese.
Since we are so used to the salsa type cheesy topping on Eggs Kejriwal, this was a definite plus.
The best part was that the coconut was just there. not clashing with the bread. So we started well.

The second appetiser was the CHEESLING BHEL. It had cheesling, which are small squares of fried four and cheese dough along with some green apples and Kohl Rabi. Now, I've been missing the kohl Rabi here in Mumbai,and I guess I missed it here too. The mustard oil was a little too much for my overloaded senses. For a Bengali, this comes across as a version of Jhol Murri(Bhel made Kolkata style with extra virgin Mustard Oil) . We in north India smoke the oil. So,I couldn't really get what I was looking for in this.
But here, the smoking stuff was ,well ,smoking .
Very well made, not pasty at  all, as most vegetarian seekhs are.
Not doughy at all. Just light and gently held together.
Just like a melting the mouth mutton seekh kebab. The smokiness of the mushrooms was complementing the salsa-Kachumber salad. And you could make out that these were not just button mushrooms. Definitely worth tasting. And ordering again.
Next on the SPICY CHETTINAD CHICKEN DESI TACOS on  methi theplas.
OK ,very pretty and yum.
I loved the combination of the gujarati theplas and the south Indian Chettinad chicken. With a tiny bit of briney purple cabbage.
Only, it wasn't spicy enough for me. I love smoking hot ,spicy. 
But that not withstanding, definitely one plus on the menu.

So starting with the BADA section of the menu. Or the mains...
The icing on the cake.
Goan pork sausage ,cooked to mushy goodness with some herbs I never bothered with and a soft egg (the eedu for the non mumbaikars).
It was just one complete dish. And served with Buttered Pao bread.
With a bowl of this you don't really need anything else. I wish it were cooler here, would totally justify this heavenly pool of cholesterol and fat.
Awesome! Did I say that already?
The pork was perfectly cooked and the egg took on the taste of the choriz and then there was butter and peppered mashed potatoes within or something. It was so fabulously done that the flavours married with each other. I didn't really need the bread. And I could definitely have had more.
With or without the salli.
And then came what I was waiting for. The SARSON KA SAAG with corn bread , jaggery and white butter.
And some radish sticks.
The saag was good. I have to say that. After having made saag for almost 20 years , I know a good saag when I taste one.
Caramelised onions and a little jaggery syrup floating on melted white butter.
Good job!
The totally American tasting corn bread felt a little alien to my taste buds accompanying the saag. But that's only because I have a thing against sweets in the main course. The bread was well made and standing alone was perfect, but the Saag takes the cake! So the next time you crave a good sarson ka saag, come to Bombay Canteen. 
It is a difficult job to cook saag,the pureed mustard ,spinach and bathua greens must just come together without clumping or leaving a watery edge. And this was just right.
So kudos to the chef.

finely sliced aubergines or Baingans baked and served with a light mustard dahi and spicy tamatar chutney and peanut masala.
For me, I don't like Aubergines at all. Period.
And I did taste a bit , but I could not be converted. But the mustard dahi was great. Very light, tangy and mustard ey. And the tamatar chutney with peanut masala was fabulous.
The accompanying sauce and peanut chutney was fantastic. And I  loved the flavour of the mustard dahi. Where the Cheesling bhel was like a bowlful of Dijon mustard, this was a perfect marriage of the delicate tang of the yogurt and the perfect mustard sauce. 
Even the colour was so pretty.
I would've had some more.

And he saved the best for last.
That's why I have dessert first.
So this was GAJAR HALWA TOFFEE PUDDING. With candied dilli carrots, roasted cashews and tamarind toffee sauce.
OK, simple put ...
Carrot cake, topped with chopped gajar ka murabba. That was where ordinary ended and spectacular began.
I am not a nuts person and cashew nuts figure way too low on my list to bother with then.
But these were so well toasted or roasted, I had em all.
And then I touched the Tamarind Toffee Sauce. 
I could have just died.
Toffee sauce is cloyingly sweet. Well this one was not. It was just sweet and just tangy, tamarind fragrance was still there. And you could taste the butter or the ghee used to make the sauce.
I scraped the bowl and went all Oliver Twist out here. I just had to have some more.
OK, there was a dollop ,rather a quinelle of cream too. It went well with the gajar ka murrabba. The candied carrots tasted different from the regular stuff too. Maybe they were candied in house. they were just mildly sweetened so went well with the cream .
The cake, well...that would've been better. But the toffee sauce was something you can drown in.
And if the calories were lost in the Realm of Chaos, I would have made my dinner of a bucket full of that sauce.

Now if I have to ever grovel to learn how to make that sauce(I tried making it at home...but it was either too gooey, to sour or too whatever:not even close to that bowl)I will.

I need to go drown my senses in that sauce again.

So once you check out the Burrp App, you  can check out what I recommend. I recommend the GAJAR HALWA TOFFEE PUDDING : you must!
In whichever order your heart desires.
And by the end of the meal you'll realise why the man was one of the Top Chef Masters.

So go on try a fusion meal at Bombay Canteen. You certainly won't be disappointed.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Royal Selangor Pewter Factory, Kuala Lumpur

The Royal Selangor Pewter Factory is a must visit museum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It is one of the best known Pewter brands in the world. 
Even Harry Potter bought a pewter cauldron ,standard size 2 and I'll bet my book case,that that cauldron came from here.
A dull grey alloy, that can be shaped to make durable objects and some objets d'art. 
 A guided tour of the factory reveals its colonial history and how one family and some royal patronage has gone on to shape such  widely exported products.
They export to India too BTW. We were informed by the almost invisible employees of the museum.
Such concentration...
Had i ever toiled with such concentration, i would have cracked the exams of the entire world. All I can garner at the moment -scant scenes from  my English lit class...

Double,double toil and trouble
Fire burn and caldron bubble...

OK, the lady was making beakers...
Passing them on to her neighbor who hammered them so...I so wonder who she was thinking of, when she hammered those even wedges onto the glass?
 We tried the same at the School of Hard Knocks. Just after the museum tour finished.
First the name is hammered onto the pewter disc...I hammered the boys names too. I was missing them.
And you try your best not to hammer your fingers...
Like Sneha here...
While posing for a group  pic. 
 These were stationed at every table...they assume you know how to spell and hammer. These are slim metal rods with letters in reverse. Just like the type writer keys of yore.                                                                                                                           

 Now that very disc is placed on that hole in the wooden block and you hammer away. I will never reveal whose head I was imagining under that pewter disc.

 And finally Smiles.
Shonita found the right use for her pewter disc.
Only it was too small.
We really needed this...
The largest  beer tankard in the world.2796 litres weighing almost 1600kilos. Imagine the size of the hand that will be able to lift such a tankard. Maybe Orion?
That was the complete knock.

Collections and souvenirs and objects you can buy here are many. I loved this chess set...but it was way out of my budget.
This chess set is limited edition, from the Lord of The Rings series. Recognise the chess men? There are Hobbit glasses you can drink from and even Smegul/Golum shot glasses to drink from. 
And you pay for them with INR. Check out the Lord Of The Rings Collections at the Royal Selangor.    

This museum was time and money well spent.
Steeped in history, one will never know how many men have given their lives  to mine this dull grey Malaysian treasure.

So what are you visiting today???                                                          

Some Shopping at the Mega Shopping Festival, KL and Penang

#MalaysiaJao and Shopping. That's what we were here for.
So agenda on course.

This is the Mitsui Outlet Park,KLIA Sepang. Yes,the Japanese Mitsui.

So close to the KLIA ,that you can shop between flights. This outlet park has just a season old stuff.
On Sale.
And the deals are great. So its a fab way to spend time if you are waiting for a connecting flight.
The Mitsui Brand Outlet is Swanky and has discounts galore , I found a bag at an amazing price.
Le Creuset also had an outlet at almost 50% discount.  But I had a lot to shop for before buying cast iron pans.
Yes ,I know ... make decisions in haste and cry every time you fry an egg later.
I cant believe that I chose a handbag over a cast iron pan.
Vanity !

I had an agenda.
An emotionally expensive agenda.
A story that deserves its own place in this blog post.
There was another bag too...
A backpack.

The goddess of Victory.
Which I finally found at the Gurney Plaza Shopping Mall, under the moonlight ,by the sea.
The shopping mall at a hopping distance from the g hotel Kelawai where we were staying.
And when I actually found and bought what I was made was that elusive feeling of having climber Mt Olympus.
The back packs ...were the subject of many calls and whatsapp messages. Let me just say that Calling and Internet services in Malaysia are just great.
And then the AirMax.
Even though these are the third on his shelf...
Which one do you think I bought? Ah the second...
Yes, the second. By virtue of the fact that EU size 45 is not available in black. Mine would have had heels BTW.
And after all the scouting in Bukit Bintang, KL( Pavilion, Berjaya Times Square, Fahrenheit 88, Starhill Gallery, Sephora,Lot 10  and Mitsui Brand Outlet Park), I finally found the AirMax2015 in Queensbay Mall, Penang .
One of the largest malls in Penang,here I also found what I had been looking for.


And Tea.
 And some tea pots...
 Oolong tea...Somewhere in here,but my box definitely had Oolong.
 And a lesson on how to brew and pour tea at the Purple cane Tea house, Queensbay Mall.
And some Korean sheet face masks and also some local perfumes in pretty recycled bottles that are painted.
 The bottles are brought back by the customers for a discount of RM 5 .
 And some employees paint them.
The perfumes were all for about RM 79.00. Not a bad deal at all.
After dinner at The Bayview Hotel Three Sixty° Revolving Restaurant and Sky Bar we went to visit Batu Ferrenghi, the night market in Penang.
Of course, some more shopping...

But my owls deserve another blog post.

So what are you shopping for today???

360° View- As High As You Can Get- Malaysian Holiday-Atmosphere 360°

The climb may be tough ,but the view from the top is always worth it.

Our last evening in Kuala Lumpur ended in a truly spectacular place. The revolving restaurant @KL Tower,Atmosphere 360°.
The restaurant is atop a tower with an observation deck and the revolving restaurant on top. With probably the fastest elevator around(any lift is fast if you compare them to our lifts in Mumbai), the ride to the observation deck takes less than 40 secs.
The Menara Kuala Lumpur is the 7th tallest free standing tower in the world. 

The entrance lobby is decorated breath takingly with the Muqarnas pattern with  beautifully inlaid diamante crystals.

 It was a little difficult to capture the image of the geometric patterns, primarily because of the lights and flashes going off everywhere. The pattern is based on a millennia old geometric pattern that is specifically done by the  Iranian craftsmen from Isfahan.
The observation deck was full of families beautifully dressed in the Baju Melayu and Baju Kurung, patiently waiting for Iftaar.
This group of kids thought I was positively nuts, when I asked if they would smile for me for a picture...
You can see the Petronas Towers from here. Also visible was the shopping district , the Golden Triangle and Bukit Bintang ,and the Pavilion Shopping Mall  and the Royale Chulan Hotel that we had just visited.
That is why its called the observation Deck.
Close to Iftaar time, we moved to the restaurant.
What struck me first was the view.
And then the food was another visual treat.
We had been introduced to the best of Malaysian Cuisines already, but this was a spread.
I only wish I had been 10 years younger, I would have eaten so much more.
Always start with desserts first.
But here, that is not a good idea. All these desserts and more you can eat again, but the fish...
OK ,this is where I tried the tuna carpaccio and the mussels and the scallops and there were oysters too.
The trick with raw fish is COLD and lots of lemon juice.
And if your nostrils can take it...wasabi.
OK, this was not my plate, just the other food blogger with us,this crab leg was what I really wanted to try, and it was fabulous.
That was my plate with the chicken satay and peanut sauce and the Roti Jala and Chicken Murtabak, the roti similar to our Baida Roti and the relish was pulled meat Serunding Daging.
The satays were super fast moving...
especially the Chicken satay.
And that was cooked shell fish.
And some fabulous Gado-Gado salad.
The company was good, the view fantastic and the food ,even better.Now that the palette had gotten used to the flavors of the region, the food was just WOW!
I only rue the fact that I couldn't eat any more of the crab.
The only thing I wouldn't have tried was the custard made with Durian. Was I grateful that my Allergic Rhinitis had played up exactly then allowing me to not smell the Durian.

So when are you going to Atmosphere 360°???

Until the next

Until the next


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