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FOOD

BENJARONG, KOLKATA : EATING OUT IN INDIA


Vacations are what I live by. My savings end up in travelling and eating out while travelling. Diamonds might be a girls best friend, but wanderlust is this lady's middle name. While planing any trip, me and my husband are always on the lookout for local food specialities or unique food joints. I am currently Holidaying in India with my daughter. So when one of my cousins invited us for a Thai dinner to a favorite joint, I jumped the gun. 

(Its also located in Chennai and Bangalore, if you were interested.)

I have been to Benjarong several times, during my trips to India. While I have enjoyed my time almost every time, I never did document the experience. This time, I knew I had to document it. 

Benjarong is a fine dining Thai restaurant, located in the South City Mall, at Prince Anwar Shah Road, in Kolkata. The restaurant came up almost the same time, when the mall was opened. On earlier visits, when you were seated at your table, I remember the small center piece of purple orchids greeted you. The guests were encouraged to take it along, as a token. It wasn't quite the age of selfies then or else I would have shared many a picture of me donning the orchids in my hair as I finished my meal. This time around, there were no orchids to be admired or shared. But when I mentioned it to the manager, he came back with three flowers for the three kids dinning with us : A tween, A Toddler and an Infant. A nice gesture indeed. 


Now for the ambience. As we were a larger group, we were seated in a private space , which was a bit cramped . But i did enjoy the privacy as it was a family meet up. 

Food ! 

As we browsed through the menus, a server brought us a plate of Thai Palate Cleanser. The idea was that you take a leaf, and smear it with the honey sauce. Then you added toppings of your choice. Then fold up your creation and enjoy. Very similar to the Indian Paan. The only difference is that Paan is served after a meal and the Thai version was served before it. 


For appetizer, we ordered GAI HOR BAITEY: Succulent morsels of Chicken wrapped in Pandanus leaves.  I have had this delicacy on every visit to Benjarong. I cant always remember the name , but i can describe it for the servers. rather than being steamed in the leaves, its grilled or pan fried I think. Not too sure I think. the chicken bits were seasoned well and moist. My picky eater polished off 4 in one go. A single serving comes with 6 chicken packets. 


My neice had a tooth extraction the day before, so she needed some rice. We let her decide our Carbs. EGG Covered FRIED RICE. It was a novel presentation I must add. However I feel, the fried rice lacked the body and punch of a typical Thai Fried Rice. Lacked seasoning to a great extent.


For our protein, we opted for Rad Prik(Fish cooked in Chili Basil sauce) . The fish was batter fried with a thin crust and then cooked in a chili basil sauce. As w ehad kids, we had asked for our food to be less spicy.


My problem with the main course is that it missed out on the flavor department. Heat or spice level should not be the only deciding factor in bringing flavor to a dish. Very let down by the fried rice and fish . As much a appetizer was wonderful, the rest were a major let down. It used to have pretty good food across courses, but now I feel its taken a beating where its main course is concerned. If I am paying for fine dinning, I would like all my courses to shine through, and not just one.





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BAKED BRIE WITH HONEY AND NUTS





I was on the look out for an appetizer for a party I was hosting at home. I was thinking of a Cheese Platter, as I was running short on time with the other preps for the party. But the idea of Baked Brie seemed more delicious even in the planning stage. Brie is a French Cheese which pairs really well, both with sweet and savory bits. And it tastes even better when its baked. I had picked up a wheel of brie, from a recent Costco trip and I had some puff pastry in the freezer. Add to it some honey and a handful of nuts and you got yourself a crowd pleaser on your hands.

Baked Brie is quite a favorite at Holiday parties but it pairs pretty well around the year. Who does not love to scoop up warm and gooey cheese encased in some golden puff pastry. Pour yourself some good wine and bite along. You will surely get ab extra HUG form your friends that evening.

The best part of this recipe is that how convenient it is to make it. Even if you very little time on your hands, you can still make it. You can even prep the cheese a day in advance and bake it right before your guests arrive.  Baked Brie can be made with a variety of toppings. You can make it sweet and savory. I have made Baked Brie with caramelized onions and prawns and also with honey and nuts. You can customize the toppings according to your taste buds.

The only word of caution is that you should let the Brie rest for around 50 to 10 minutes after you pull it out of the oven This prevents a hot molten lava of liquid cheese oozing out, which can burn your tongue. This resting time allows the cheese to congeal to just the right consistency. You can serve the baked brie with some dried apricots, croutons and grapes of your cheese. Let your guests have a go at it. They can cut out wedges of their choice and pair with what they like. Keep a Bottle or two of Wine by the side.

BAKED BRIE WITH HONEY AND NUTS :

Ingredients:
Wheel of Brie
Nuts
Egg : 1
Choice of Nuts
Honey
Parchment Paper
Puff Pastry : Thawed ( 1 or 2 sheets, depending on your choice of covering the Brie)

Procedure:
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.

Remove the Brie from its packaging.


With a knife, scrape away the rind of the Brie on both sides. Make sure that you don't damage the wheel in this process.


Lay the Brie on some parchment paper. Smother it with honey .


Smooth out the honey with an off set spatula so that its evenly coated.




Chop your choice of nuts to uniform pieces. I had used unsalted cashews, pine nuts, walnuts and slivered almonds.


Lay the nuts on top of the coated Brie. Drizzle the nuts with more honey. 


Roll out the thawed puff pastry. 


There are two ways of doing this step.
First : Lay the rolled out puff pastry on top of the brie and tuck the rest inside and seal in as you go. Trim off the excess.

Secondly: Use two sheets of Puff Pastry. Roll out both. Lay the Brie on the first sheet and cover with the second. Cut along the perimeter leaving around an inch of dough along the sides. Crimp with a fork.


I cut out some leaves from the excess dough and laid them in a circular pattern on top of the covered Brie.


Brush the pastry with egg wash carefully so as to not snag at the pastry while you do it.


Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400F for around 15 minutes or till the dough is golden brown.


Make sure you let the Brie rest for around 5 to 10 minutes to prevent a hot lava of molten cheese bursting out.


Enjoy ! Bon Appetit !

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KOGI FOOD TRUCK - LA : EATING OUT


I mentioned in my last Los Angeles Eating Out Post, that I would be doing a Series on our culinary adventures in LA. Here comes the second installment of the series. From the swankiest restaurant in Beverly Hills(NOBU, LOS ANGELES), let me take you to a Food Experience, which  has tourists and locals flocking like crazy. It has the capacity to shut down social media with their mentions. Yes, you guessed it right. KOGI FOOD TRUCK .

Me and my Husband are foodies, thahts a known fact. The blog probably just has 1/100th of our culinary experiences documented in it, but I am trying to keep up. In our quest for trying out avenues of food which we havent, we kept hearing  the name of Kogi Barbecue, in many a television programs and social media mentions. We had missed it during our last trip to Los Angeles, so this time around we knew we had to squeeze it in.

For those of you , not familiar with the phenomenon called Kogi Barbecue, let me chat up a bit. Kogi Food Truck is a fleet of five food trucks, which ply the roads of Los Angeles. Social Media is how the word gets out, where the trucks would be parked that evening. Its no ordinary food truck, whipping up your regular food truck favorites. The brainchild of Chef Roy Choi, who created a Fusion of Korean Barbecue and Mexican food. Its almost received an iconic status, where the LA food scene is concerned.


Our flight from Kansas City to Los Angeles reached on time, and by the time we had picked up our luggage and taken our rental car, we were super hungry. Not to mention it was a bit late than our usual weekday dinner time. We had looked up the locations of the Kogi Trucks for the Night, on Twitter and decided on which one to head to. The problem was that the trucks only stayed at a location for around an hour every night. So if you didn't make it within a certain time frame, then you were clearly not in luck.

But we did make it in good time. It was time to EAT !


Our daughter had woken up from her nap by then , we were ready to tuck in. We might have ordered a bit more for 2 1/2 people. Why do we always over order when we see an interesting menu.




We started off with SHORT RIB TACOS. Marinated and succulent Korean Barbecue Short Rib, served in griddled corn toritllas , caramelized Korean Barbecue, chopped up Romaine, onion lime relish and salsa roja. Every bite was such an explosion of flavors, I kid you not. Its not wonder how fast it vanished from our paper tray.


Next in line, were the SWEET CHILI CHICKEN QUESADILLAS. I know, I should have gone for the KIMCHI QUESSADILLAS, but we had to look in to the taste buds of our soon to be 3 year old daughter. What a lovely contrast of tastes the slices of quessadillas presented. And that sauce with which it was slathered, should be sold by the bottle by Chef Roy Choi, and people would be queueing up for that too. I am not a person who likes their protein sweet. But it was a great balance of introducing just a ask of sweet into the savory.



 Of the three things we ordered that night, my least favorite had to be the SHORT RIB BURRITO. One reason could be that by this time, we were already stuffed with the food and the accompanying pop that we had ordered.It was interesting to have short ribs, breakfast eggs  in a burrito, but somehow the size was a bit too big after all that we had stuffed in. Somehow the short ribs paired better in the Tacos, if you take my word.




I dont know when I am going back to Los Angeles next, but whenever I go, I shall  be at the  Kogi Food Truck, stuffing my face with Short Rib Tacos, till I am at that all familiar food coma stage.

Bon Appetit !


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ALASKA ADVENTURES DAY 4 : GLACIER CALVING & WILDLIFE CRUISE AT KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK


Hope all of you had a wonderful Father's Day yesterday. Sunday's post comes a day late, as I decided to take a day off from work. To celebrate the Day with my Dad, my Baby's Dad and my Brother, who celebrated his First Father's Day yesterday. It was 'Precious,' to say the least.

Coming back to Business. Travel Posts continue on the blog with the last installment of our Alaska Adventures. I hope you have enjoyed our travelogues. If you haven't yet read any of the previous posts, then I shall be linking them all below.



We drove down from our hotel in downtown Anchorage to Seward on the last day. We had our reservations for the Glacier Calving and Wildlife Cruise with the Kenai Fjords Tours. Boats depart everyday during the Tourist season(Summer) and its advised to make reservations.

 If you thought Ice Age only lingers at the Columbia Ice Field in Canada, then you need to visit Harding Ice Field at the Kenai Fjords. As their official website aptly describes, "Where Mountains, Ice and Oceans Meet."


We grabbed a quick breakfast of some Caribou Patty Burgers before heading to the small boat harbour at Seward. It was such a juicy burger, but in the haste to eat and not miss the boat(well, literally), I forgot to take pictures.

I had taken my motion sickness medication and was all set. The cruise offers you a small meal on board along with complimentary beverages. I was clearly ODing on my Ginger Ale to get my sea feet on. The tours venture along the Park's Tidewater Glaciers and offered a 6-7 hour tour. Whenever any of the crew members sight any wildlife, they stop the boat for your viewing pleasure. But with wildlife there can never e any guarantee. And our 18-55 is no match for teh fancy zoom lenses being used on board to capture the wildlife. We met a pair of Fin Whales and Mommy -Baby Humpback Whale, a school of Porpoises, sea lions and sea otters. Not all pictures are that glamorous.




Now for the piece de resistance : Aialik Glacier and Harding Ice Field. The boats take you as close as possible to where the Glacier Calving takes place . Humongous blocks of glacier ice break off from the Aialik Glacier and fall into the ocean. Yes, into the ocean. The sound when the ice breaks off from the glacier, is comparable to that of a hundred thunders together, if that makes sense. Its just unbelievable.









The boats manouver through floating blocks of ice across the tidewater glacier.

Time flies and it had flown swift and fast as the trip had finally drawn to a close. Our date with the Midnight Sun were almost over.  The time had come to head to the Airport. With some great memories, we flew back home to the Midwest from the Last Frontier.



You might also want to read :
Alaska Adventures Day 1: Anchorage, Portage Glacier, Chugach, Whittier
Alaska Adventures Day 2: Eagle River, Elkutna, Matanuska Glacier
Alaska Adventures Day 3 : Denali National Park and Anchorage
Alaska on my tastebuds
The Alaskan Comedy



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