Sunday, June 27, 2010

My love for Maggi

Maggi my dear readers is its own food group. If you disagree I’ll be more than happy to introduce you to the next random person on the street and we’ll gleefully bludgeon some sense into your head.

I met Maggi in school. My earliest recollection of Maggi is not of eating it but of wanting to own it. That’s right. People want to be a lot of things when they grow up, Pilot, Doctor, Policeman, Circus Clown (I have this friend…), but not me. I wanted to own a Maggi factory when I grew up. Owning a factory was the only way my mind could guarantee an endless supply of Maggi that I could eat as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. That and something to do with noodle straps. If it doesn’t make any sense do re-read the part about me having to grow up.

Obviously, I could never have more than two at a time and that too used to give me a preview of my distended belly future. One however was too less and left a craving on my tongue. The same craving I licked off plates and bowls the Maggi was served in. The last drops of liquid masala were manna from heaven and I could not leave a single molecule of it on the utensil. This gave a big inferiority complex to my imaginary pet dog. His name was noodles.

Since then, Maggi has come a long way. You can now get rice and wheat variants while the brand is spread across ketchup, soups, seasoning and other categories.  It's the ultimate comfort food. Most convenient to cook and one of the rarities that provide a full meal on just adding water, cooking in the least time. Mother's around the world keep a packet in the temple, thanking gods for this modern wonder. Everyone has their preference of Maggi making style and recipe. Some like it wet, some like it dry. Some like it in the pot, with veggies and fried. I liked mine poured hot into Tiffin box and during school recess to be found solidified with a jelly like consistency, cut into cake like pieces and then had. My friend’s mom being aware of my Maggi Tiffin stealing ways used to send with him a concoction with tomato ketchup. Needless to say I foiled their attempts and acquired a taste for it as well. Sadly, I could never replicate the experiment at home. Try as I might, I couldn’t steal from myself.

Me and Maggi co-existed in a perfectly hunky-dory world. If you know your bollywood then this is the time a villain makes the entry. Nestle lost the plot. First they took away my favorite flavor of 'Sweet and Sour' closely followed by 'Capsicum'. It probably left a bitter taste in their accountant's mouth but oh what I would give for a Sweet and Sour Maggi right now! They tried to fix what wasn’t broken and gave new meaning to the adage “Hitting axe on your own foot”. So we had a new Maggi that tasted like bird dropping (this is where you think, “how does he know what bird droppings taste like?”) and started being used by Doctors to induce vomiting whenever medically required, e.g. when you voluntarily swallowed bird droppings.

Sales plummeted and no one in Nestle made fresh lime soda because they took a while to recover from the hangover. Lesson learnt, they redeemed themselves by bringing the old Maggi back and all hostelites past, present and from the future breathed a collective sigh of relief. But, it was too late for me. I had already crossed over to the dark side and Top Ramen was my new bed fellow. Tempted with its promises of international appeal, smoother flat noodles and spicier masala, I gave in. I couldn’t resist. I had a collection of digestive juices crying in my belly and I did not have anything to feed them with. Maggi eventually did forgive me as I forgave it, as one must forgive their first love, but the damage was done. Now I spend time alternately with both of them and we are a happy threesome.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cinnabon - Cinna Magic

             Cinnamon. Encounter a spicy stick in your Biryani or sprinkle some powder on a hot Cappuccino. Its unique flavor can elevate the most mundane to an exciting taste fest and if you like them sweet the only name that come to mind is Cinnabon, the world famous Cinnamon roll chain.

Following a successful debut in Delhi they are now sharing the magic in Mumbai. Located at Pali Naka near Cafe Basilico in Bandra, it is a quaint little blink and miss setup. Though to make amends a bigger one is coming up in Juhu as well.

For those not in the know, Cinnabon makes the most indulgant Cinnamon rolls. Here, you can indulge your taste buds with the Classic Cinnabon and revel in its cinnamon and sugar mixture rolled up in warm dough topped with cream frosting, baked fresh every half an hour for your eating pleasure. Want to make it more interesting? Try the Caramel Pecanbon, a Cinnabon topped with pecans (a walnut variant) and smothered with rich caramel. If your sweet tooth is still not satisfied have the Cinnabon Stix, dough brushed with vanilla and margarine, dipped in cinnamon and sugar, twisted and then baked.

If you balked at that thought of all the calories you’ll ingest go for the Minbon, Mini Pecanbon or CinnaBites which are bite sized pieces of the signature cinnamon rolls. Wash it all down with a Cappuccino or their signature MochaLatta Chill, perfect accompaniments to the delectably warm pastries.

My only grouse with this particular store is the exclusively outside and uncomfortable seating. While the kitchen and counter area are indoors and air conditioned once you are out with the order your only option is to find a chair in the limited space and share it with flies attracted by the feast you just bought. Don’t let that dampen your spirits though. It is safe to say that one bite of a roll and you’ll be instantly transported to food heaven conveniently forgetting your immediate surroundings. Better still get a takeaway CinnaPack and have it in the comfort of a private venue. The staff is very friendly and courteous which is more than what I can say for some other international hospitality chains.

Come to think of it, what might be the secret to Cinnabon's international success? Cinnabon claims to use the Makara Cinnamon grown in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra. It is smoother than its Vietnamese and Sri Lankan cousin. Well it's a no brainer, all I know is that the cinnamony after taste post devouring a Cinnabon is amazing, just amazing.

Main Items Price List in Rs.
Cinnabon Classic – 100
Minibon Classic – 65
Caramel Pecanbon – 135
Mini Pecanbon – 85
CinnaBites – 4pc – 65
Cinnabon Stix – 4pc – 65
Cappuccino – 70
MochaLatta Chill – 85

Visit them at for updated product news and discount coupons.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Global Fusion - Bandra, Mumbai. A Foodie Adventure!

If there were Foodie adventure trips to be signed up for, the restaurant in question today would be leading the pack.

Global Fusion is a Specialty Asian/South East Asian restaurant located bang on a Linking Road corner in Link Square Mall opposite KFC. The Restaurant is buffet only and though I found it strange for a restaurant not to offer an a la carte menu, it all made sense once the evening was over.

The first thing you notice while entering are the buffet prices mentioned above the reservation desk. Depending upon which day you are there at and whether for lunch or dinner will decide how much you are going to fork out for this gastronomic experience. The Weekday Lunch is priced lowest at Rs. 570/-, followed by the Mon-Thu dinner at Rs. 720/- and Fri Dinner + Weekends raking it in at Rs. 850/-, all exclusive of taxes. This includes unlimited mineral water, iced tea and soft drinks while liquor can be ordered separately. Though at first glance the pricing looks prohibitive, for those who are patient it all falls into place around mid way through the meal.

As you are led to your table, first thing you notice is the cavernous space that suddenly opens up to you. High roofs, an art deco Chinese pavilion, running water channels and multiple sections add an element of space and relaxation.

Soon it’s time to get up and check out the exotic spread laid out for your benefit. I suggest taking a walking tour along the tables looking at all the options before grabbing a plate. You would need to pace your meal and it’s practically impossible for a normal person to try everything on offer.

You can choose from multiple soups, sashimi’s, dumplings, tempura, Fritters, raw papaya salad and Spring Rolls. Made to order Stir fried starters, sticky rice and the star at every sitting, Sushi.  Believe me when I say am just scratching the surface here when it comes to variety. I also loved the fact that it was extremely vegetarian friendly with every dish including sushi having equal number of vegetarian items and variants. While most of the items are self service, some of them will be made fresh and brought to your table. The main course served in the adjoining section is another delectable affair with Thai curry, rice, noodles and other meat, sea food items. Though definitely at above average levels I would still prefer to stuff myself on the starters and jump straight to desserts.

The Dessert corner is a variety of unlimited cakes and pastries with believe it or not an unlimited Baskin Robbins Ice Cream corner. Forget those miniature tasting spoons, here you can indulge your taste buds with unlimited cups of every flavor but only if you still have space left in your stomach that is. Though the dessert counter lacks in variety the unlimited Ice Cream more than makes up for it.

In my mind what really works for the restaurant is that they take away the question of money right at the beginning. With the still experimenting and testing Indian crowd there are times when ordering from a menu makes one wonder if what one is ordering is going to be good or not, hope it doesn’t get wasted, etc. This turns off most of the people from venturing out and trying new stuff especially at specialty restaurants and they end up ordering the tried and tested stuff. Since money is taken out of the equation right at offset, you can try every exotic item as many times as you like and if not to your liking move on to the next one. Consequently, it was quite entertaining to see my companion experiment with wasabi and its surprising bite. Once you realize the exclusivity of dishes that the restaurant is offering and think about what they would cost had you ordered them individually the buffet price suddenly seems very reasonable or for that matter even cheap. Whatever it is worth, it is definitely value for money.

It’s very rare that an establishment blows you away with what it has to offer and everyone I have talked to who has been there shares the same opinion. I definitely would be visiting them again and I hope that this review makes you do that at least once.

P.S. Please excuse the quality of pictures as I had to rely on my meager 2 MP Phone Camera to take them in low lighting.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A KISS synopsis of the new Apple iPhone 4

To cut the long story short and "Keeping it simple stupid", am gonna layout what the new iPhone 4 as revealed at WWDC yesterday has in store for you:

1) The most exciting feature is the new 5mp camera with led flash. A departure from Apple's usual stingy ways in the lens department.

2) FaceTime Video calling - Video calls using the new front facing camera with no setup required working over wi-fi and both devices being iPhone 4. You can switch between the front and back camera's along with Portrait and Landscape mode in between calls.

3) 720p HD video recording at 30fps. This is how Apple will take over YouTube. Funnily enough, AT&T cancelled all it's unlimited data plans a few days before this launch. I guess they couldn't suffer the thought of users uploading 720p videos over the ever stricken network.

4) Bigger battery meaning better battery life. Around 2 hours more than what the 3gs gave.

5) Retina Display: That's a display of 326 pixels per inch with 800 to 1 contrast ratio! Closest to a book reading experience now that iBooks too will be available for iPhone.

6) An added Gyroscope for six-axis motion sensing. Game developers are drooling already.

7) For trivia fans, the stainless steel band around the phone holds the structure together but is also part of the antennae system.

8) New platform software iPhone OS 4 now rechristened iOS 4 which will roll at as a free upgrade for all 'i' devices starting June 21st 2010.

9) Multitasking.

10) Unified inbox similar to Blackberry with e-mail threading.

11) On the App front, they now have iMovie for iPhone which will debut on the App Store for 4.99$.

So that's it folks, a roundup of the most compelling features that take the iPhone beyond it's competitors who are still busy playing catch up to the previous generation models.

Though not all the added features are revolutionary, it is about how the iPhone is now a complete package building on its existing strengths. As with Copy Paste and now Multitasking, Apple might come late for the party but sure does know how to rock it.

Pricing would be similar to what it has been in the past, i.e. 199$ for the 16 GB and 299$ for the 32 GB. The 8 GB iPhone 3GS can still be had for 99$. If ever I've been tempted to go the Apple way it is now.

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