Yes, as usual, I am late to the party that is Olive. But, as they say, better late than never!
When mom decided to come to Delhi, I was all in a tizzy planning fun things to do with her over the weekend, on the days I could manage to take off from work, and in the evenings after office. One place that was at the top of my list was Olive.
So on a Friday afternoon, dressed to the nines, we hit the road and made our way there. And boy, were we in for a treat!
Olive is an Italian restaurant, part open part indoors. We chose to sit outside, under the shade of an ancient banyan tree on a cool winter afternoon. The seating is spread apart, so you have a bit of privacy at your table and room to let your eyes wander. From the huge banyan tree to the open kitchen to catching glimpses of the interior of the restaurant, from where a blue shelf was winking out at us.
One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story
This simple pleasure has become such a huge minefield in recent years, with the media telling you that almost everything that tastes good is actually bad for you. If you were to believe all that’s thrown at you, you would have to eliminate from your life red meat, bread, chocolates, pastries…everything that tastes so divine that it gives you a little glimpse of heaven each time you bite into it. (You might want to read why I think the Twinkie diet is a breakthrough for dieters.)
Large, naked raw carrots are acceptable as food only to those who lie in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter. ~Fran Lebowitz
I think that’s enough of a pre-amble to establish the fact that I am a foodie! I love, love, love food! I constantly try out new restaurants and different cuisines, experiment with new dishes at my favorite hangouts, and enjoy collecting and keeping recipes – it’s a different matter that I’m an extremely reluctant cook, but, oh well!
10 of my favorite meals and drinks in 2010 would have to be…
Fez Dining, Malcha Marg, New Delhi – This Eastern Mediterrean bar is one of my favorite places to hang out. I love their ambience, and their food is to die for! You can close your eyes, flip through the menu, place your finger on an item and order it, and you wouldn’t go wrong.
Recommended: To eat: Shish Taouk (succulent pieces of charcoal grilled garlic and saffron flavored chicken served with hummus and a divine gralic dip), Tas Kebap (braised lamb cooked in Turkish spices served with rice – yummy!). To drink: Pasha (orange juice, cherry liqueur topped with champagne), Moroccan martini (saffron infused vodka, vermounth and orange juice)
Brazilian chicken, made by a good friend for a farewell party she hosted for me recently. Surrounded by friends, music, laughter and lots of alcohol, this was one party that turned out to be surprisingly fun!
Basil Leaf, Gurgaon – This small little eatery in a sleepy market is a hidden treasure. It offers Pan Asian and Italian cuisine, as well as delectable deserts. Each item on the menu has a blend of flavors that will explode in your mouth, sending you to orgasmic highs! 😉
Recommended: Oriental sea food soup, Basil chili stir-fried shrimps, ravioli in tomato sauce, grilled vegetable pizza, blueberry cheesecake
I never realized how much I enjoy hosting parties until we hosted a card party at home this Diwali. First, hosting parties is the best way to clean up the house. Second, it’s fun to have friends over, laughing and enjoying themselves in your house. Most times my friends just invite themselves over home, we never get around to inviting people, but in 2011, I hope to change that!
La Pizzeria, Bund Garden Road, Pune – Excellent Italian (vegetarian) food at really reasonable rates. My entire family (parents, the husband and the little sis) had a 3-course meal for Rs. 1,500 — in Gurgaon, you’d pay that much for two people, main course only!
Recommended: Spinaci Salsa (spinach and cream dip with crisp bread), Ravioli in tomato sauce, Gnocco (pasta stuffed with three types of cheese, spinach, Italian herbs and tomato sauce sprinkled with parmesan), Tiramisu
My ultimate soul food, apart from chocolate truffle pastries,m has to be prawn rice. The flavors and the warmth of this dish fill me with joy.
Monk, Galaxy hotel, Gurgaon – Serving up Chinese cuisine with a twist, this is the place to head to if you’re tired of “chinjabi” Chinese food. Their sticky rice bowls and udon noodles are to die for!
Recommended: Five-spice chicken dimsums, seafood sticky rice bowl in celery sauce, sticky rice bowl with prawns and greens in XO sauce
When I was home ill sometime in the middle of this year, I was overtaken by a sudden, over-whelming craving for chocolate cake. I was not too well to drive out to the market to indulge, so I did the next best thing – made a 5 minute chocolate mug cake! Yummy!!
Swiss Cheese Garden Restaurant, ABC Farms, Koregaon Park, Pune – I went to the restaurant the last time I was home. Done up in wooden logs with dim lighting, the restaurant has an excellent ambiance, whether you’re with family, friends, or someone special. Recommended: Cheese fondue! That’s what they’re most famous for
Some of my best weekends this year have been spent with friends. Be it an impromptu visit or a planned one, I’ve had great times with P at her house, eating, talking, standing out on the terrace capturing pictures of the sky; and with J, experimenting with new restaurants or getting together for drinks and dinner.
Great food is like great sex. The more you have the more you want. ~Gael Greene