Beer and 'Touchings' with Geistronomy Edition II at The Local

In their second edition of Geistronomy, the team at Geist brewing have chosen to celebrate local Bengaluru dishes, or ‘touchings’ as it is sometimes referred to colloquially, by tying up with The Local in Kammanhalli, Bengaluru. I was invited for a preview of the specially curated menu, earlier this week.

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The dishes are simple, yet scrumptious, and will instantly bring back a comfortable sense of nostalgia to any old-school Bangalorean. (Are we now Bengalureans?) Some of my favourites from the evening included Uncle Naidu’s Mutton Chops, a delightful peppery mutton that pairs wonderfully with both the Weiss Guy and the Kamacitra. The Classic Prawn Ghee Roast hit the spot and is balanced out wonderfully with the sweet flavours of the Uncle Dunkel, also fabulous with the Kamacitra.

Uncle Naidu’s Mutton Chops

Uncle Naidu’s Mutton Chops

Prawn Ghee Roast

Prawn Ghee Roast

Both variations of the bovine delicacy (I do not use the other B word any more… tis mother and all no), the teriyaki and the chilli were tender, delicious and had everyone at the table falling in love almost instantly. The former is wonderfully accentuated by the Uncle Dunkel while the latter goes great with both the Weiss and the Kamacitra. The beer battered squid was classic, uncomplicated and easily pairs with the Witty Wit.

Chilli Moo

Chilli Moo

Geist Golden Ale

Geist Golden Ale

My favourite from the evening though was the Crispy Bitter Gourd Rings. The batter was light, and mildly coated the karela. I’d gladly replace my regular bowl of chips for this. In terms of pairing, the Weiss was an ideal fit. Other dishes included the Kentucky Fried Paneer (#NoPaneer), Tawa Fried Chicken, Pork Sausages and Spare Ribs, and Apple Pie and Brownie for dessert!

Crispy Bitter Gourd Rings

Crispy Bitter Gourd Rings

Geist Kamacitra

Geist Kamacitra

The Geistronomy festival at the Local is on till December 6th.  For INR 499, you get a pint of Geist beer and a Geistronomy dish. Not a bad deal at all! Now, I only wish either The Local were located closer to home so that I could either walk down or have the food delivered over.

A little bit of France - The Tres Magnifique at the Raj Pavilion, ITC Windsor

For those of you who've been following the blog, and not just all the delightful pictures on Instagram, I'd like to re-assure you that I've not gone rogue and become a 'social media influencer' type person. I still love good old-fashioned writing. I've just been on a break from writing for the last few months, mostly thanks to absolute fatigue from writing and reviewing restaurants. I've been spending my time travelling, sorting things out at the new job and most importantly re-evaluating where I want to go with this blog considering how these days it's more about fake numbers than about engaging content or even an understanding of it all. Anyway, I'm back now and what better place to get back into the writing groove than with the Raj Pavilion at ITC Windsor.  

I'm going to be honest and admit that I still don't completely understand the world's fascination with French food. Even copious amounts of Chef's Table and MasterChef hasn't quite helped me understand the appeal. That being said, it was one of the primary drivers for me to accept an invitation from ITC Windsor to come over and sample the fare that will be part of their recently launched French food festival at the Raj Pavilion titled 'Tres Magnifique'. Given the reputation of the Raj Pavilion, expectations were high. Dinner began with the Vichyssoise, a creamy soup made from potatoes and leek. Traditionally served cold, the soup we were served went for a modern twist and was served hot. I'm not a very big fan of the Vichyssoise in general owing to my dislike of potatoes. But given the slight cold that's setting into Bengaluru, anything warm was good for me.  

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The next course comprised of a savoury souffle, served with a creamy paprika sauce, and a Vol-au-vent aux champignon. Maybe back-to-back creamy dishes was the problem, hence the souffle didn’t quite pique my interest. The Vol-au-vent aux champignons on the other hand was wonderfully done. A perfectly light pastry puff with delightfully cooked mushrooms whose earthy flavour was balanced out by the bitterness of the mesclun salad and the citrus from the orange vinaigrette. I'd have happily had another helping of the same. 

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The main course featured three dishes that we could choose from, each a classic of French cuisine. The first was the Sole meunière, a classic with two whole fillets of fish, served with a caper butter sauce. Personally, the flavour of capers is something that doesn’t quite go with everything. It didn't quite work in this dish for me. The second dish was the classic chicken dish of Coq au vin - perfectly cooked soft braised chicken served with fondant potatoes and a delightful red wine jus. It's always a hit or a miss when it comes to chicken in India where most places over cook and dry out the meat; that's where the class and skill of the Chefs at ITC Windsor makes them stand out. This dish would have been my favourite for the evening had it not been for the hearty and modern interpretation of the classic French dish, the Ratatouille de legumes. I remember the first time I had ratatouille when I was travelling abroad, and this dish would rank a close second. I'm overly critical when it comes to vegetarian dishes in general, but this dish was a clear winner for me.  

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Dessert was the classic Tarte Tatin Aux Pommes, a pretty looking plate that consisted of an apple tart with berry sauce, cocoa streusel, mascarpone cream and caramel sauce. Personally, I was hoping for a more delicate affair when it came to dessert because the previous course was quite filling. Each of the courses was accompanied by wine that complemented the dishes being served. (Wine remains a mystery to me... maybe, look at some beers from France?) 

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The Tres Magnifique menu will feature dishes as a part of the regular dinner buffet at the Raj Pavilion, priced at INR 1995++. The plates you see in the pictures were created only for the preview dinner. The festival is on till the 15th of December. I can't say that I'm convinced about all the hype of around French food, but I'll gladly go back just for that ratatouille!

Church Street Social : Of Fresh Fruit Cocktails and Fine Art

A little over a month ago, Church Street Social introduced their new avatar to the patrons of Bengaluru. Taking a step in a new direction, Church Street Social 2.0 have moved away from the ‘still’ popular industrial finish with exposed brick wall to a venue that embraces art. The ARTlet, as it has been christened will now be a venue that also curates monthly exhibitions and workshops that promote upcoming artists in the field of fine arts, visual art, sculpture and more. I’m going to quite honest here and say that while I love the vibe of the new place, there’s a lot more colour and that cheers me up a lot more than exposed brick wall, I’m still quite the philistine when it comes to modern art. I tend to leave my opinions to simpler binary choices of ‘ I like this’ or ‘ I don’ t know what this is’.

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Nevertheless, the vibrancy of the venue with more colour and art gives Church Street Social a vibe not seen at other locations. Installations from artists like Shilo Shiv Suleman, Siddhartha Karawal, Lekha Washington, Hanisha Tiralumalashetty, Laila Vaziralli, Dead The Duck, Sagarika Sundaram ( I know two names amongst this… not too bad for a fine arts philistine eh?) are currently on display. You can’t miss the rather larger dervish dancer piece as you enter. It freaks me out just a tad bit, but then, don’t take my word when it comes to fine art.

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Accompanying the new artwork, Church Street Social introduced a new range of cocktails that focus on fruit. Targeted at the ‘elder millennial’, these cocktails focus on blending the flavour of natural fruits with liquor, as opposed to being a potent mix that ensures the rest of the evening is a blur. However, even for those looking to pretty much make that ‘one drink for the evening’ count, the offer the Bamboozle Yourself (a combination of dark and white rum with freshly squeezed orange juice, served in a bamboo shell) which packs quite the punch.

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My favourite however was the Jack(son) Juice. This drink combines whisky with the seasonal jackfruit, a combination I have never quite tasted before. While one might find this to be a bit higher on the sweet quotient, I thoroughly enjoyed this drink. Your opinion on this will be completely based on whether you like jackfruit or not. While this won’t be retained in the permanent menu, another favourite of mine that will remain is the Vantablack. Made using Black Grapes and Mint Leaves, this cocktail is for those who enjoy grapes as a flavor which balances out perfectly with the booze.

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The slightly more elaborate and ambitious cocktail was the ‘Pine So Fine’. Served in a large chunk of pineapple, this dark-rum based cream on top is the highlight of the drink. More like a dinner cocktail to me, I’d hapilly polish off just the cream with a simple chocolate brownie. The Vitamin G(in) is a slightly more elaborate cocktail that’s served in jar that’s escaped the bars of a chemistry lab. I’m not a big fan of overly sweet cocktails hence this drink with strong flavours of coconut and lemon isn’t something that would make me go back for more. The CAMatka, a custard apple Margarita served in a matka, which will also feature on the regular menu is something I’m yet to make up my mind about.

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Put together by Jones Elish J, the main man behind Social’s bars in Bengaluru, and awarded ‘Best Bartender of the Year, South, 2017’ by India Nightlife Convention Awards, the festival with all these fruit-based cocktails is on till 30th August at Church Street Social only. The cocktails begin at INR 300.