Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pizzas at White House

I hadn't ever been to the White House before, neither of them, our Begumpet one nor its more famous namesake in the US, that is :)
Well, egged on by a  review of Pizzas there, we decided to visit one of these outlets.
For people like me who haven't been to the eateries at the White House, let me tell you that it looks more like a  bazaar set up at one of our Hyderabadi exhibitions, only with far fewer people at each of these stalls. Starting from the entrance to the exit, you have these mini outlets going all around the ground floor. Most of them stand- and-eat types or those which encourage a take-away. Now that you have the ambience visualized, here's the rest of the story.

I had read about a 'Viva Italia' here, a place supposed to dish out Italian stuff. But if you assume that the fare is as grandiose as the name, there is nothing far from truth. It isn't. A tastier and more interesting Italian food was found in the more honestly named 'Grabz.' . The name of the restaurant doesn't really have your expectations soaring, yet dishing out some awesome vegetarian Italian stuff.
Well, Viva Italia serves both, veg and non-veg. It has only one selection in veg pizza and one each in pasta (red and white sauce). They also have sandwiches and toast. There are also the ice creams and shakes which are actually no great shakes :)
So, why do I write about this tiny eatery? One, their thin crust pizzas are truly enjoyable. Very thinly rolled out, right in front of you and crisply baked. Two, there is a lot of sincerity of effort to make this newly started outlet work and to adhere to a standard. When the owner is not around, though, the workmen there are at sea and need to be asked several questions before you can place an order.
The fare for the two of us was Rs. 275/- for a shared Pizza, a Bread Toast, a soft drink and one dessert each.
Go here if you are in a quick-snack mood and not for a sit-in leisurely dining experience. The pizzas are a must-try and hopefully the rest of the fare does pick up fast.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A goat, a dog or...actually a bull!

Yesterday was a wonderful day as, coincidentally many of my acquaintances, some with whom I haven't been in regular touch, had called and we talked for quite a while.
Towards the evening one of them called to wish me on my birthday. I thanked him but told him it isn't today. Later in the evening, I had a call from an US number. This call I expect on my birthday, as an ex-student of mine who is currently in the US, calls every year to wish. The same kid had called and, yet again a correction. I told him it isn't today.
When I logged on to my mail, there was a mail from JobsStreet site wishing me. When I turned to my  Gmail, there was another message from another job site! I was as confused as the brahmin who was bewildered when thugs kept calling the goat that he was carrying on his shoulders, a dog. I started thinking that perhaps it was I who was wrong about my birthday, and actually clicked on the calender to check!
I wasn't. I grinned thinking of the double greetings that I'd get now.

In reality, I am not a goat or a dog but actually a bull...well, all Taureans are :) And like the well-known adage of a bull in a china shop, for my birthday, I wish I was actually left in a China shop and give vent to all pent-up feelings and break every item within. The bull does need to really give in to what he has been holding in for so long.
Once done, lie down  in a mud pool for a long time, in a lazy stupor, flicking an imaginary tail this way and that and once the body has cooled, be served a delicious meal after a clean bath and finally get presented with a spacious home with my own cozy corner to retire to...
Just the basic necessities of a Taurean, you see  :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Roti Shhoti

At last! Been viewing this restaurant since it started about two years back. That it is a vegetarian restaurant was an incentive to visit, yet I hadn't been to it. The narrow entrance to the restaurant as viewed from outside had me feeling that there may not be anything really special about it. Second, we Hyderabadis know that every area in Hyderabad has its own style of cooking and the Ranigunj/Paradise/ MG Road areas are known more for their really oily and spicy food. With all these factors in mind, I gave it a go-by. But then goaded by quite a few good reviews, we finally visited this restaurant.
Let me admit outright, our mistake of visiting it at 2:50 pm. My restaurant reviews had led me to interacting with the restaurant personnel and knew that all main chefs leave the kitchens by 3 pm and again are back at 7 pm. In the meantime, there are no cooks or just the trainee cooks.
While entering the restaurant we were assured that food is available till 3:30pm. Available, yes. Quality, no guarantee!

 Our order for two was:

One Manchow Soup
One Aloo Corn ke Kabab from kabab/tandoor section
(spicy preparation of shallow-fried aloo and corn)
One Khazane-e-Lazzat
(the description given for this curry was "stuffed kofta with dry fruits cooked in rich tomato and cashew gravy")
Two Kulchas
One mock-tail of strawberry and mango

Manchow soup was quite tasty with the noodles within nice and crunchy. Aloo kebab was, as mentioned in the menu, a little spicy. The plate containing six pieces of kebabs about an inch and half in diameter served with mint chutney was also equally awesome in taste.
In the main course we had ordered kulchas and curry. We didn't dwell too much on the selection of curry as it was mentioned as 'Roti-Shhoti special'. The taste was awful! I then turned to the menu for the description and saw that it neither had the dry fruits mentioned nor did it seem to be cooked in a cashew gravy. There was gravy and plenty of it with three puny kofta-like creatures afloat. And the gravy? was nothing but lots and lots of ketchup and nothing but that.
When we met with the restaurant manager, he attributed our not liking it to the possibility that it wasn't spicy! I wanted to tell him that we aren't the chicken biryani eating types. We want a distinguishing taste in everything we eat. You can't dump koftas in sweet tomato ketchup and pass it off as your restaurant special!
 We ordered one paneer kulcha and one masala kulcha. Paneer kulcha was awesome! I have never eaten kulchas so soft and so well cooked. Masala kuchas were also quite decent. I may re visit this restaurant only for their paneer kulchas. So tantalizingly tasty!
The last order of mocktail was truly Yuck! Horrible. Given that quality, I am sure the rest of the mocktails are equally yucky!
Many reviews mention this place as being light on the pocket. The above order cost us 650 rupees. It may not come under expensive restaurants but cheap, it is not.
For a restaurant in Ranigunj area, it is a blessing to find preparations not too oily. 
The location is opposite Heritage in Sindhi colony. The restaurant isn't as small as it appears from outside. Though not really big, it is spread across three floors and can seat a decent number of diners. The ambiance is comfortable, though not really great.
The restaurant warrants a second visit. I give it the benefit of doubt as I had visited it in its downtime and also the fact that some of its dishes were quite decent in taste.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Towards the cooler climes

I looked with trepidation towards a trip to Kerala the last week for a celebration in the family at Trivandrum.
The notorious humid weather of Kerala didn't really encourage me to pack my Kanjeevarams. Packed some  heavy-duty cotton stuff instead. Two days at Trivandrum saw me having a nondescript meal at the South Park on the first day; the second day when we had the actual function at home, we were in for a surprise traditional Kerala food which was truly awesome with its four chutneys, kootus, butter milk preparations and the awesome payasams.
After a packed 2 days' schedule, we left for Munnar. As I stepped into our hotel, I was dismayed to see the absence of an AC in the room. Later, we realized that the temperature of around 23° didn't really warrant one. On top of this, rain the next day brought down the temperature by several more degrees. So, there I was enjoying a pleasant weather while back home Hyderabad was blistering under the scorching sun .

Early morning view from our room at Munnar

View from Munnar Dam

We drank in all the greenery that we could and headed to Tekkady. All the breath-taking scenery in the world seems to be showering its blessing on the Munnar-Tekkady route. Greenery, greenery and more greenery! A day at Tekkady, which again had quite a decent weather, and then back to Cochin.

Tea plantations on Munnar-Tekkady route
 Got addicted to the 'Kutten chai' in the four days there. Don't know whether it is supposed to mean 'cutting chai'. It is a weak black tea preparation and was great to taste. Not to be had at the restaurants but at the little road side outlets (for Rs. 5/-).
Brought home the exotic spices, teas, the famous kerala eats like chips, halwas, and the amla preparations.
Only four days away at the cool hill sides, but was it worth it?!