Thursday, January 28, 2016

CIBO House

Happened to be around Hi-tech city last week and while pondering about where to have lunch, my eyes fell on CIBO House. Though I had been wanting to eat here for some time, I hesitated because of some not-so great reviews.
Still, love for Italian food drew me to this place. And am I glad I did. Though the place is small, the ambiance was great, and the food greater still.
I opted for their vegetarian buffet which cost me 610/- including taxes.
The meal started with pumpkin soup. Very tasty, rightly spiced and served piping hot.

Pumpkin Soup

In the vegetarian section, there were four starters served with three accompaniments, the salsa, honey mustard and coriander-jalapeno sauce.
The salsa was fresh and tasty, though it could do with some more spiciness, the honey mustard was great (don't know if it was made in-house though) but the coriander sauce was rather tepid.

Dipping sauces
Four starters were served: baby corn in spinach paste, grilled cottage cheese, potato fritters and stuffed mushroom.
The baby corn was not well-cooked, neither was it appropriately seasoned. The cottage cheese was good. The potato fritters were awesome, very crisp and light. But what surprised me was my liking for the stuffed mushroom. I normally keep away from mushroom but this was so delightful in taste, I asked for a second helping. When you split the mushroom open, you find creamy sauces oozing out. 

Vegetarian starters
Also on offer was a bottomless glass of Virgin Mojito. This was okay but was rather a diluted version of the original. It could definitely use a little more punch.

Virgin Mojito

Coming to the main course, it far surpassed anything on offer so far.  Of the three sauce options, we chose pasta in Alfredo sauce. The pasta was cooked just right. You would be right in saying, 'this is how a pasta should taste.' Amazingly flavored!

Pasta in Alfredo sauce

This was followed by Butter Rice with three accompaniments, veg ratatouille, potato en carozza and Au gratin.
The butter rice itself was mildly flavored but each of these accompaniments complemented its taste nicely.
The most beautiful part of the dishes was that each one carried a distinct taste by itself. The veg ratatouille had large chunks of various vegetables cooked in tomato sauce. The crunch of the vegetables and its freshness was delectable!
The potato en carozza had boiled and thickly sliced potatoes cooked in a cheese-tomato base and was equally great in taste. The au gratin was also served hot in a cheese gravy with fresh and crunchy vegetables. Words will not suffice to describe this wonderful main course.

Next we had the lasagna which was quite tasty too. Though I am not a big fan of lasagna, I loved the way this was cooked with right amount of cheese covering the tomato sauce and layers of lasagna beneath.

I usually go light on desserts. But for the first time in a buffet experience, I took a second helping of the desserts. For a person with a sweet tooth, this is heaven on earth. I tasted five of them though there were a few more.
What literally took the cake was the Tres leches cake. Cooked in three types of milk, (evaporated milk, cream and condensed milk), this is a not-to-be-missed one at all.
All others, though good in taste stood only second to this. In order of taste, the next was the strawberry cheese cake, truly lovely, third was the caramel custard, again perfect in its caramelization, next was the kiwi pannacotta, a little dense and the last was the custard which was just about okay.

The excellent freshness of the dishes, the exact flavors, the ambiance...the super clean plates on one hand and the washrooms on the other, the well-informed waiters who bend backwards to bring a great service... all these made a great impression.
Rs.610/- for this fare is a good value for money.
They can work a little on the starters to match the tastes of the wonderful main course and desserts.

This fare may not appeal to the spice-lovers' palate.The dishes all have the right condiments in a great balance but are definitely not spicy.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Watched 'cinema' after a long time (and not merely an exorbitant indulgence in a PR exercise).

To confess, I haven't watched any of Akshay Kumar movies in the theater apart from 'Special 26'. This, plus his 'Baby,' made me want to watch more of his movies. And, 'Airlift' didn't disappoint at all.
Airlift, without wasting much time in the preliminaries, quickly gets into the thick of the action. 
Airlift is about a successful business man (Akshay Kumar) in Kuwait, who considers himself a Kuwaiti and not an Indian, though he originates from India. He leads a perfect life, comfortable and cushy with a small family. 
One night he awakens to sounds of Iraqi attacks on the city. He convinces himself and his wife (Nimrat Kaur) that this is just a freak attack and everything would be back to normal in a week's time. 
The next day when he sets out in his car, he is devastated to find the town ravaged. His driver is killed and he is captured and taken to meet an Iraqi Major, who was in charge of Akshay's security on his previous visit to Iraq. He guarantees a safe passage to Akshay and his family in exchange of certain favors. He is an example of how mice become tigers when circumstances are in their favor. Subsequently, he tries to milk the situation many a time but is ultimately defeated by Akshay's superior negotiation skills. 
The first thing Akshay does after meeting the major, is ensure the safety of the driver's family. This random act of his kindness triggers hope in the other Indians. The initial 500 throng quickly turns to 1.5 lakh. Akshay  takes upon himself to take care of all these people who look up to him with hope.
He relentlessly seeks support of the Iraqi government, his contacts in Iraq and the Indian government respectively to help the Indians get evacuated. 
The plot is about the travails he faces when some things work and some don't. We also get to view the politics behind the Indian External Affairs Ministry's very apathetic attitude to the gravity of the situation. 
It is only a conscientious 'babu' and his dogged pursuit that helps set up the Air India flights to get them all back safely to the Indian shores. Watching the Air India logo as the planes take off, is such a goose-bumps experience!
Though the movie, in one line, is all about getting the Indians safely back, its twists keep you engaged throughout. Not for a moment does the movie allow your thoughts to wander. 
Akshay brings a great honesty to the role. This movie seems reflective of his hard work and discipline in his real of those rare times when we get to watch Akshay underplay his role to portray a character so well.
Nimarat Kaur supports him by standing by him through all his decisions though she was initially opposed to his staying back to help people not related to him. 

The movie deserves awards for:

1. Great acting by many of the characters
2. Casting: every character fits the role so well! 
3. Beautiful and authentic-looking sets
4. Very, very crisp editing. 
5. Excellent direction by Raja Menon in his first big venture
6. Some great lines (unlike the cheesy ones in the movies by the big stars). Sample this, "Lekin jab chot lagthi hain, tho Maa ko hi yaad karthe hain na" : Akshay Kumar on being questioned about why he has started calling himself an Indian now.
To really nit-pick, perhaps the songs could be done away with, though thankfully, they don't distract you from the plot.
The movie must be watched till the end credits roll, as we get to see photographs of this real-life incident that took place in the year 1990. 
After the recent happenings in India, the dialog at  end of the movie by Akshay Kumar will draw seeti-maars as he speaks about staying back in India despite all its problems.
For me, a near 5 on 5 experience.