Iberico Salchichon (Sausage) – Delightful memories of Spain. 

Are you a fan of Cured Meats ? 

I surely am !  I absolutely love the intense flavour of cured meats like Chorizo and Jamon ( -salt cured Ham- pronounced as ‘Hah-mon’)

Just a tiny bit goes a long way in jazzing up your meal instantly. 

For those who are new to the technique and art of Curing meats, here’s a little info about the process of curing – 

To put it very simply, ‘Curing’ is a technique of flavouring & preserving foods, such as meats, fish, vegetables & fruits. 

The aim of curing is to draw out moisture from the food by adding Salt, Sugar, Seasoning and such other natural preservatives, to increase the shelf life of the food, and store it year round, for consumption when certain fish/fresh produce or not available or in season. 

Dehydration is the earliest form of food curing, which also includes processes like spicing, pickling, cooking, or smoking. 

Curing decreases / completely draws out the water content from foods, thus making it inhospitable for the growth of microbes that cause food spoilage. 

On my recent visit to Spain, I got a chance to sample various types of cured meats, be it in their original form as a quick nibble between meals, or in Sandwiches, Rice dishes, as a flavour enhancer in Salads, and very prominently as Tapas and on Cheese platters, served with Drinks. 

There are literally thousands of types of cured meats, all over the world. 

Some are made using a single meat such as Pork, some with a combination of 2-3 different meats (eg- pork, beef, deer, wild boar etc) or even offal. 

Some sausages also use a combination of spices like Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Pepper, Coriander etc, if the meat is to ‘Gamey’.

The one that I particularly liked, & bought in huge quantities to take back home, was the ‘Iberico Salchichon’. 

(Iberian/) Iberico Salchichon/Sausages are made from the famed Black Hoofed Iberico (Iberian) Pigs, native to Spain.

 They roam free, and feed on leaves and acorns. Extremely flavourful (& needless to say, quite expensive !) these are quite the delicacy in Spain. 

The pork is dark red and marbled with delicate fat, creating an intense flavour and melt in the mouth texture. 

Unlike Spanish Chorizo, which is infused with a lot of garlic, smoked paprika & other spices, (which btw, is also Truly delicious! ) this Salchichon uses only Salt & Pepper (sometimes Oregano) for curing. With a simple curing solution of Salt & Pepper, these sausages are filled in natural casing (read- beef/pig intestines) & are hung to cure in the cool mountain air for several weeks/months. 

Sliced thinly, this delicious treat can be served with a crisp white wine, some cheese & crusty sourdough bread. 

Makes for a perfect gift for someone who loves cured meats & wines, & even to bring back home, and stash it for the days when you want to sit back and enjoy these, while reminiscing about your beautiful Spanish vacation. 😊

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World Tapas Day ! 3rd Thursday of June. 


Its World Tapas Day today !

Which reminded me of this amazing meal I had in Madrid on my birthday last year. 

I went bar hopping ALL DAY….every day 🙈😂 & totally fell in love with the tapas bars in Spain. 

The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish/Portuguese verb tapar, “to cover”. Before the 19th century, European roads were in bad condition. Travelling was slow and exhausting. Most people could not read or write, and Spain was no exception. 

Inns, called posadas, or bodegas, grew along the roads, offering meals and rooms, for travellers. Since few innkeepers could write and few travellers read, inns offered their guests a sample of the dishes available, on a “tapa” (the word for pot cover in Spanish). 

In fact, a “tapa” was (and still is) a small portion of any kind of Spanish cuisine. What we commonly refer to as ‘small plates’ in restaurant. 

A tapa in Spanish cuisine, is an appetizer, or snack. It may be cold such as mixed olives and cheese or hot such as chopitos, which are batter fried squid. In Spain, patrons of tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal. 

There are literally thousands of types of tapas, and they very from region to region, depending on the produce and climate. 

Party Platters 

​Nothing brings people together like good food ! 

I always follow the golden rule –

*Keep things Simple* 

Party Platters are my favourite. I always create  generous platters of nibbles, ahead of time – A stressed host is never fun ! 

These platters are easy to assemble. Easy to serve. Require little cooking time. And there’s always something for everyone. 

You can have a mix of different cheeses, crackers, olives, fresh/dry fruits, chorizo, cold cuts, vegetable crudites, variety of dips, finger sandwiches, sliders…the options are endless! 

Except for frying up some chicken nuggets, making some dips and sandwiches, all other snacks are pretty much just assembly/arrangement work, that takes a few minutes. 

Simple Cucumber Sandwiches, Chicken and Cole Slaw Sandwiches, are great for warm summer evenings. Ham sandwiches, cut in bite sized pieces, or mini pulled pork sliders are a great snack with your drinks. 

 Have an assortment of cheeses, some soft enough to spread on crackers, some hard, some mild and some sharp. 

Plenty of Fruits like Strawberries,  Grapes, Pears or Apple, to cut through the saltiness and richness of the Cheese. 

Cold Cuts are always a good idea. Some spicy Chorizo works well too, and Olives ofcourse. 

Add few munchies like assorted Nuts , Chips, and Vegetable Crudites with a variety of Dips. You could either make these dips, if you have the time, or you could even buy a couple of good store bought dips. 

The main aim is to have a variety of food, so that there’s something interesting for every guest. 

Just a little planning, a proper shopping list, and 1 trip to the grocery store is all it takes to make a perfect, stress free party platter which you can enjoy with your friends, without spending hours in the kitchen ! 

Bar Bar – Phoenix Marketcity Pune.

Looking for a fun place, which offers great drinks, delicious food, and is also wallet friendly? Well then this place will make sure you visit them Bar Bar !

Bellona Hospitality which gave us great eating options like 212 and Shizusan, are here with their 3rd offering – Bar Bar.

The concept is basically, Happy Hours – Always ! Now you wont have to plan your outings depending on the time or day of tye week. Be it a weekday, weekend, afternoon or late evening, rates remain the same. And thats not all, the More you Order, Lesser you Pay !
Now how cool is that ?!

Cocktails (LIIT) are served in 250ml, 500ml, and 1lt options, and bigger your order more economical it is. Its really that simple.
Drinks are divided into 3 categories – Popular, Premium and Luxury, and are priced accordingly.
Since the place aims at accommodating larger groups, the indoor seating is designed with a mix of comfy seating options, bar stools, funky lights, and great lounge music.
Smaller groups who would prefer a quieter evening overlooking the Phoenix courtyard can opt for the alfresco section.

Chef Paul Kinny as usual has done a fantastic job designing the menu.
There’s everything that a bar should have.
Crispy, crunchy, fried, finger foods, comfort food…everything.
A variety of veg, chicken, shrimp, pork popcorn, that go very well with any drink you order.
My favourite was the Pork Cuchifrito. Crispy batter fried cubes of Pork served with a sweet n spicy apple sauce.
The vegetarians need not worry, as they some of the most interesting and innovative bar food to choose from.
The Mysore Wadas which are crisp on the outside, and oh so fluffy inside, bite sized wadas sprinkled with a spicy Podi chutney were lovely.
Everyone’s favourite snack, the Wada Pav literally made me go “Awww”….with its cute bite sized “pav” and those mini wadas that you cant stop eating once you have a bite.
For those who would loke to have something more sumptious and filling, there are Tandoori Chicken Toasties, Ham and Cheese Toasties, Seekh Kabab Wraps, and also the meal Tiffins.
Thats right, no plates, no bowls…. Eat straight out of a Tiffin!
These tiffins include options like –
Lucy Liu (kungpao chicken with rice and wantons)
Stanley ka Dabba (Goan Prawn Curry and Rice)
Lovely Singh ka Dhaba (Butter chicken and Roti)
I think I’ve given you enough reasons to check this place out … So make plans with your friends for this weekend, and check this place out. I’m sure you’ll want to go, Bar Bar 😀

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Syrakko , Mundhwa

Looking for a lovely fine dine, with a beautiful ambiance, delicious food and excellent cocktails, to impress that special someone? ‘Syrakko’ is The place.
Perfect for a quiet cozy date night, or even for a meal with your family.
They have a long list of cocktails and I strongly recommend, you try some of them.
My pick for a light refreshing summer drink is the ‘Fresh Mowed Lawn’
A refreshing blend of chilled cucumber juice and Vodka.
But if you are a coffee lover like me, then the Espresso Martini is a must have !
I twisted mine with Bourbon instead of Vodka…and boyyy the combination of that strong espresso with bourbon was an absolute delight !
Moving on to Soups- I tried Chicken and Almond Shorba.
Its one of those subtle, creamy soups that you could just go on having on a cold rainy night. So warm and comforting. The garlic melba served on the side deserves a special mention. I loved it.
I chose Malai Prawn Tartlets for starters. True to its name, the prawns were indeed very creamy and delicately flavoured. The flaky, buttery shortcrust base was done nicely and the garnish of microgreens gave the dish a fresh crisp edge.
I was keen on trying the Prawn and Chorizo Risotto from the mains.
I love the strong, almost pungent aroma of spicy chorizo sausages. But it can be overpowering if used excessively.
Happy to say, the rissotto was flavourful with just the right quantity of chorizo used in it. The chef was careful enough not to overpower the dish with too much chorizo, while still infusing the perfect amount of flavour required.
The tender, succulent prawns added the delicate balance to this dish. Quite impressive!

In a fine dining restaurant we are generally used to seeing tiny portions on the plate, which leave you wanting more. (or maybe I’m just the greedy one…lol)
But at Syrakko the portions are pretty generous…so much, that I found it difficult to finish my rissotto!

There’s always room for a little dessert no matter how full you are…and at Syrakko, you definetly have so much to choose from !

‘Paan’ pannacota….Yes you read it correctly. Paan infused panacota is definitely worth a try. A bit too sweet for my liking, but a nice dessert for all those with a sweet tooth.

But my pick is definitely the ‘Espresso Phirni with Tiramisu Granita and Chocolate Soil.’ Honestly, the idea of ‘Espresso Phirni’ didn’t quite appeal to me when I first read it on the menu.
But it was so flavourful, and the tiramisu granita with the crunchy chocolate soil was a medley of different tastes and textures on my tongue.

The massive coffee lover that I am, having coffee in my drinks, and in my dessert was like being in coffee heaven !

Syrakko opens this week, so next time you want to plan a family dinner, or want to impress that special someone, you know where to go !

Bon Appetit 🙂

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Effingut Brewerkz launches HOPS Effin गुड़ (Gud)

Effingut Brewerkz, situated in the 6th lane of Koregaon Park is already a favourite among beer enthusiasts.
Last week a few Beer Enthusiasts from Pune, that go by the name HOPS, came together with Effingut Brewerkz, to launch a unique blend, a new craft beer.

With all the enthusiasts suggesting various options like using jaggery, lemon grass or kafir lime etc…Also someone suggesed the idea of using barrel aged/oak chips, to give woody notes, along with jaggery.
It was finally time to cast a vote and choose a unique brew from the shortlisted contenders, namely –

* Dark Oak Aged Ale
* Lemongrass Belgian Wit
* Cream Blonde
* Ratnagiri Mango Amber
* Baker Brown Ale
* Mocha Brown Ale

Each member had to cast a vote including Mr Manu Gulati, the man behind Effingut Brewerkz. Considering availability of ingredients, the demand, and the pallete of the Indian beer drinkers, they zeroed in on the Dark Ale.
And thus was launched the ‘HOPS Effin गुड़’ (गुड़ which is ‘Jaggery’) which is now available at Effingut Brewerkz, and I suggest you check it out soon. This one’s definetly on my list of favourites.
Cheers!

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Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad

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Nothing says summer like fresh watermelon and feta !
Surprising yet delicious combination of ingredients, that can be had as a starter salad, healthy snack or a light meal.

I love feta. The salty crumbly cheese is a perfect complement to the cold sweetness of watermelon.
Fresh mint leaves add more freshness and flavour to this lovely salad. You can also add fresh Basil leaves instead of Mint, if you like.

The salt, draws out the juice from watermelon and makes it soggy, so this salad is best made just prior to serving.

You will need –

– Watermelon cubes (or scoop out balls) try to take out as many seeds as possible.
– Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– Lime Juice
– Salt and Pepper to taste
– Feta
– Fresh Mint Leaves
– Onion (optional)

# In a bowl whisk together Extra Virgin Olive oil, Lime Juice and Salt and Pepper to make a dressing for the salad.
# Mix watermelon cubes, torn fresh mint leaves, finely sliced onion (optional) and crumble over the feta cheese.
# Drizzle salad dressing over watermelon and toss the salad lightly.
# Serve immediately.