That’s the Long and Short of a Sunday!

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Don’t you just hate it when Sunday somehow turns out to be the busiest day in the week?

From the mundane laundry pick up, to the ‘un-put-off-able’ parlour visit, to the half-hour-stretched-to-two-hour coffee with an out of towner BFF, to the unavoidable stock-up shopping for the week… Things sometimes just pile up miles high on a Sunday, don’t they? Doesn’t help that it takes you that much longer to get anywhere, with cars moving in lazy Sunday slow-motion, and people out in hordes soaking in the last few showers of the season! And you wonder why you are not them? And how come you are still running around like any other day of the week? And how is it that you are not making the most of that one laidback day to curl up your toes and sink into your comfy bean bag, sipping from a nice, dewy tall glass in your hand?

Tranquil... in the middle of the city!

Tranquil… in the middle of the city!

What lies ahead of you in a long stretchy Sunday afternoon...

What lies ahead of you in a long stretchy Sunday afternoon…

Well, I can’t help with your errands, or console you for your lost Sunday… frankly, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near you when you are in that ‘Why, God, why?’ mood ;) But I CAN nudge you in the right direction so you can make up for all this, and spoil yourself beautifully silly next Sunday… I can nudge you in the direction of one of the coziest brunches in the city at Long And Short, the charming gastro-bar at Intercontinental near Churchgate.

It’s got enough little knick-knacks scattered around to make you feel right at home… a well-loved white bicycle, tall and graceful metal kittens, black-n-white pictures of iconic world figures like Castro, Pacino and Tendulkar, colourful pots and kettles, pretty little bird cages… and an entire wall, tall and wide, housing one of the largest bars I’ve seen!

Bits n bobs that add colour and warmth, and make you put your feet up…

No one would blink an eye if you curled up your toes or giggled and snorted like a teenager here. And no one would give you that knowing, tolerant smile when you sing the whole of ‘500 Miles’ off-key! Cheerful karaoke host Sheish on the mike believes ‘there is a song in everyone’…

There is a song in everyone...

There is a song in everyone…

So when an 8-year old girl chirps out Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’, and an 80-year old Parsi belts out soulful Nat King Cole numbers, you will want to jump right in, throw all caution to the wind, and all your worries out the tall glass windows, through the terrace, over rain-soaked Marine Drive and out to the sea… That’s what effervescent Eric would have you do anyway. And if you haven’t met Eric yet, quite simply, you should!

Eric Lobo and his fascinating stories...

Eric Lobo and his fascinating stories…

Eric Lobo is the guy who is at the helm of things at Long & Short. He is not only a walking encyclopedia of the city’s food, wine and music scene, he knows EXACTLY which cocktail you’ll love… remember Juliette Binoche in the movie Chocolat?

Eric will hold you captive with his fascinating stories from bars and beyond. He will tell you how the city’s first wine bar thrived despite being in a village setting decades ago, and follow it up with some juicy gossip from the golden era of Mumbai’s jazz music, or his take on why crooner Maria at Library Bar had the kind of misty-eyed fan-following just a few years ago. And while getting you your 11th cocktail made just for you, he might just drop a few nuggets on the legends and heroes of the city’s F&B industry, and the almost insurmountable odds they waded through to make Mumbai the gastronomic destination it is today.

Small bites, big flavours…

The Portobello Burger… a true classic!

Engrossed in Eric’s stories, you would have, almost unknowingly, worked your way through some cool pub favourites on the menu like Portobello Burgers, Pulled Pork Pizzas and the signature P-Square Bun. But you are not nearly done until you’ve had two things on offer here… one is the Pineapple Upside Down Cakea drink, not a dessert! And another is the Cappuccino Bruleea dessert, not a drink! These two will top off your afternoon so perfectly, you will want to grab the bicycle and sing and pedal all the way home, even if it is 500 miles away!

Ride home… bcos you’re happy, and bcos u want to!

The Long and Short of a Sunday Karaoke brunch

The Long and Short of a Sunday Karaoke brunch

So… is that enough pampering to make up for your missed Sunday? :D

Indulgence is a good thing!

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‘Waiting only makes it sweeter’

I remember my Mom telling me something along these lines quite often, in a desperate attempt at instilling some grace, dignity and patience in a rebellious teenager. I’m sure you too would have been at the receiving end of this wisdom many a times. But the context would have been slightly different from this poor girl’s predicament in the 2011 Haagen Dazs commercial that raised a few million eyebrows – and desires! – around the world…

For a brand that pushes the boundaries of ‘luxurious indulgence’ to wicked limits globally, Haagen Dazs in India is much more toned-down in its messaging, to cater to the Indian sensibilities. Now, at Rs. 180 for a single scoop of ice-cream, whether it’s ‘affordable luxury’ or not is a debate for another day. But it definitely delivers on the luxury of taste! Little wonder then that people flock to the Haagen Dazs lounges across the country, to indulge in the creamy, oh-so-smooth and ultra-rich flavours of its icecreams and desserts. Although I have been told that there are others like me who just go to gawk at a very large wall splayed with brand ambassador Bradley Cooper’s very handsome face… After all, it’s all about indulgence, right? ;)

The captivating Mr. Bradley Cooper

Chef Anthony, Bradley and me…

So last week, when the Haagen Dazs Cafe in Bandra transformed into a cosy, private tea lounge, I was there with a few other dessert-lovers, and so was Bradley! Why a tea lounge? Because Tea Sommelier Radhika Batra was pairing up some beautiful, fragrant teas with the newly-launched range of Haagen Dazs patisserie, thanks to the brilliant innovations, and unparalelled enthusiasm of the young Country Chef Anthony David.Tea Sommelier Radhika Batra

My perfect cuppa tea!

While it rained copiously outside and created the perfect mood for us, Radhika took us through a journey of teas from dawn till dusk, from mellow to full-bodied, connecting the flavours of the teas to the different moods that we slip in and out of through the day. And along with the teas came some very pretty desserts… A poppy red Strawberry Panna Cotta paired with a blood-red orange mango cinnamon tea, an Earl-Grey infused Chocolate Mousse topped with a crunchy Macaroon, a gooey White Chocolate Berry Tart, a soft-as-clouds Baked Cheesecake and a Blueberry Muffin were on the pairing menu. But TEDDY got his usual special treatment and quietly polished off a tall mug of creamy Tiramisu as well!

Panna Cotta, Baked Cheesecake, Blueberry Muffin and White Chocolate TartAlthough a couple of desserts could do with a little tweaking in terms of texture and taste (thinner tart base, lighter muffin?), the Macaroons were amazing, and the Baked Cheesecake was absolutely the best I have had so far… EVER! Chef Anthony sure is a patient man, ‘cos this baby takes hours to bake, and according to him, needed many iterations to perfect. And perfect it is, even more than that popular Japanese Light Cheesecake from Breadtalk! And with a little drizzle of Salted Caramel on top, it completes the whole ‘spoil-yourself’ experience!The lightest, moistest Baked Cheescake ever!

So… if you didn’t already have a tough time at Haagen Dazs deciding whether to have scoops of Dulce de Leche or Cappucino Truffle, or to jump headlong into the decadent goodness of the European Fondue or the Eiffel Tower… now you have more, much more to indulge in! And you’ll have Bradley for company through it all :D

Ode to Julia and Julia… and the Benediction of Eggs!

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When you wake up with the thought ‘Today is as good a day to go crazy as any other day’, you know something pretty crazy is about to happen!

Today is the day I get out of my ‘wool-gathering phase’, or, to use a fitting Spanish saying, ‘stop thinking about the immortality of the crab:) A too-long, too-good vacation will definitely do that you! And yes, there IS such a thing as a ‘too-long vacation’! But more about the Great Alaskan Cruise in my upcoming posts…

So back to today… Despite waking up with a blazing hunger, I decided to do something I have been putting off for a very, very long time… ever since I watched ‘Runaway Bride’ for the first time, and every time thereafter! Remember how Julia RobertsMaggie Carpenter did not know what her favourite eggs preparation was, and liked whatever her boyfriends liked, right up until the end when she finds herself? So, today I decided to make Eggs Benedict!

The Runaway Bride Julia Roberts making her getaway on horseback…

Now, for all those who have already perfected the art, I’m sure this sounds like a walk in the park. And for those who haven’t, it probably sounds like the craziest thing to do first thing in the morning, in the middle of the week, on an empty stomach! But that wacky, waking-up thought egged me on! ;)

The seed of the idea was planted by my friend and fellow foodie Kalyan Karmakar of Finely Chopped fame, who was binging on Eggs Benedict and Kenyan coffee for breakfast yesterday, and making us all go green and purple with envy. Normally, the Kenyan coffee would have been the trigger, but the force was with the Julias (Roberts and Child) this time. Why Julia Child, you say? Well, read this little excerpt on what she has to say about the Hollandaise Sauce…

The lovely and lovable Julia Child!

 

“Like mayonnaise, it is a classic “emulsion” sauce, which depends on the marvelous capacity of an egg yolk to hold in suspension a much greater volume of butter (or oil, in the case of mayonnaise). But in a hollandaise, careful heating and constant whisking bring the butter and yolks together in an even more delicate alliance, with rich flavor and a thick, smooth texture.”

 

 

‘Marvelous capacity of an egg yolk’? ‘Delicate alliance’? Who can resist the lure of the Hollandaise after such beautiful words? I couldn’t!

Out came the egg yolks and the white wine vinegar, and I was off to a whisking frenzy, clanging away with the bowl on a hot water bath till my fingers hurt and my arms protested. The mix thickened slowly, but it was not over. Now it was time to combine the butter. Chunks of Parsi Dairy Farm white butter melted into a gorgeous cream liquid, and I skimmed off the little white flotsam. Little by little, the melted butter drowned into the mix, as I whisked the sauce into a shiny, thick and rich goodness. A dash of lemon juice and a light sprinkling of Cayenne Pepper and…. Done! Slam Dunk Hollandaise!

I had sourced little buttery Brioche buns from The Bakers’ Dozen last night, where Sneh Jain, one half of the bread couple that has taken Mumbai by storm, helpfully fished out the freshest bag for me. These now went on the pan to toast lightly, while the water bubbled up for the eggs to poach. Not a fan of the bland whites that you get from water poached eggs, I added a bit of salt and White Wine Vinegar to the water, cracked the egg into a large ladle and then carefully lowered it into the stirred vortex of the simmering water. While that cooked for a minute, the smoked bacon strips sizzled up in a pan, just crisp enough for a crunchy bite. As I waited for the poached egg to drain off on a slotted spoon, the first inspired idea hit me and I fished out the little jar of White Truffle Butter that I had picked up at Carluccio’s and lightly coated the buns with it. Then came the bacon strips, with their excess fat shaken off. The slippery egg settled cozily on top of the bacon, as if settling into a nest. The fresh Hollandaise then got lovingly drizzled on the top, glistening as it overflowed along the side of the bun and spread out in thick fronds on the plate. But the plate needed something more… something on top to lift it up and add some colour. Olive oil? Nope, colourless. Oregano? Predictable. Chilli Flakes? Ummmm… And then the other inspired idea hit me… my special Rocket Pesto Sauce, made just yesterday for a quick pasta, leftovers of which sat invitingly in the fridge. I added a small dollop of it on top to give the plate a rich, verdant lift! And there it was… My perfect, gooey, shiny, smoky, crunchy, sweet-tarty, buttery and very definitely heavenly Eggs Benedict.

My Eggs Benedict in all it's glistening glory!

My Eggs Benedict in all it’s glistening glory!

Thank you, Julia and Julia, for the continuous inspiration and the courage to go crazy!

 

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