31 May 2014

An Afternoon with Kiehl's and Branded Bawi

Kiehl's is synonymous with skincare. Established in New York in 1851, they've been providing skincare solutions to women (and men) all over the world. Ever since they have launched in India, they've fast become a name to reckon with in beauty and skincare. I have been a fan of their products, because they are natural yet scientific in origin. In fact I always have my Kiehl's lip balm on me at all times. 

When Kiehl's called me to organise an 'Afternoon with Kiehl's' at their Malad store, I was elated. Now I had heard of this concept before, and was even invited to one which I was unfortunately unable to attend. The concept is loads of fun. It basically involves bringing together a group of 10-12 women, over an afternoon of skin consultations, product trials, and finger foods.  Invitations were sent out, and the word was spread.

An Afternoon with Kiehl's Invite

I was all set a sunny Sunday afternoon with my girlfriends in tow, to enjoy the pampering. Kudos to the smiling, well informed staff for suggesting us various skin products we could use, and letting us try them on. We had such a fun afternoon, chitchatting and beautifying ourselves. And we went home with some amazing samples and goodies we were sure to use. Look at the pictures below to see what a fun time we had!

Vaishali (@foodie-bevdi) tries on the new Micro-Blur Skin Perfector

Mansi (@Onechilledbiwi) gets her skin analyzed

We pause for a refreshment break

Perzen (@Bawibride) poses with her goodie bag

Prachi (@Prachi_licious) deep in discussion

The newly launched Micro-Blur Skin Perfector 
The new product launch by Kiehl's is the Micro-Blur Skin Protector. It instantly refines skin texture and minimizes the appearance of pores. In four weeks, it claims to improve skin quality. We all tried this product out. It instantly smoothened the face, and minimized appearance of dark spots. It was like an instagram filter for the face! I came home with a sample of this product and I'm keen to try it out. Will update you guys on how it works out for my skin.

Sanam (@angelica_7) and Prachi (prachi_licious) try the 'Blur' out

This little guest gets an early start

We pose with Mr. Bones, the face of Kiehl's

Mom blogger (@Charuamar) trying on some products

I love this display in the store

Masi (@tofarzeen) and I are all smiles

Happy girls and fun times!

You could check out the brand on www.kiehlsindia.com and follow them on twitter at @KiehlsIndia for product information, skincare tips and some interesting giveaways. Also visit their stores at Palladium, Lower Parel; Phoenix MarketCity, Kurla or Inorbit Mall, Malad. The staff is always friendly and helpful in suggesting products, and giving away samples, so that you can 'Try Before you Buy'. 

28 May 2014

A Zen-tastic Evening!

Food and travel go hand in hand. Most of us (me included) plan our vacations around local cuisines or food joints we want to try while we are on a holiday. I think good food completes the experience of a good holiday.  Mumbai Food Lovers were recently invited to attend a travel workshop titled ‘Come, Plan, Go!’ at Zen Café in Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel. My incentive to attend this workshop was twofold. Firstly I had heard wonderful stuff about Ansoo Gupta, who would be conducting the workshop. Her experience and knowledge in the field of travel is unparalleled. And secondly, I wanted to taste the special Mango menu that Zen Café has created especially for the summer. 

The workshop was useful for newbies like me, who haven’t gone around travelling much. My idea of a holiday is a luxury vacation where I don’t push myself mentally or physically. I think listening to Ansoo changed that perspective in me. She spoke about how easy it is to travel on a budget with low fare budget airlines, youth hostels, and good planning done beforehand. I learnt about forums such as ‘Couchsurfers’ (www.couchsurfing.org) and Air BNB (www.airbnb.com) which make finding staying options in ones budget far more feasible. I left the workshop well informed and motivated to get started for planning my next holiday.

We continued our discussion over some mango based food and drink at Zen Café. Zen Café is situated inside a furniture store at Raghuvanshi Mills, and this lends the place so much character and charm, unlike your usual run-of-the-mill cafes. The café is all vegetarian, airy, and spacious. Sit back with a coffee, use their wifi or pick out one of the books they have on display to read. 

The mango menu has three mango based drinks, three savoury items, and two desserts. The Mango Smoothie (Rs. 180/-) was the perfect balance of sweetness and the fruity mango flavour. Not that heavy either, it’s a perfect summer refresher. I just wish it had been a tad bit colder. But it is a perfect accompaniment to wash down what you’re eating.

Mango Smoothie
The Raw Mango Juice with Mint (Rs. 120/-) was nothing but my childhood favourite ‘aam ka panna’. The raw mango juice was not too sour, or not too sweet. It had a nice minty taste to it. I wish I could’ve sprinkled some ‘chaat masala’ on top.  It was a bit too icy for my liking however.

Raw Mango Juice with Mint
My favourite dish of the evening was the Caramelized Mango Fajita (Rs. 230/-). It had a number of fresh vegetables and mango pieces in a fajita wrap. The mango was not too ripe or too raw. It has just the perfect amount of sweetness in the mango to balance the crunch of the vegetables. It went perfectly with the salsa that accompanied this. This fills you up without making you feel too full.

Caramelized Mango Fajita

The Mango Pickled Kathi Roll (Rs. 230/-) had a filling of lovely achaari paneer pieces filled inside a roti. The roti was not too thick or greasy, and let the taste of the paneer stand out. I couldn’t taste too much mango in there however. It had just a slight mango after taste. Nevertheless, it was a lovely snack.

Mango Pickled Kathi Roll
Another favourite was the Baked Ricotta Cheesecake with Fresh Alphonso & Slivers of Almond (Rs. 190/-). Ricotta cheesecake is always lighter and creamier than other cheesecakes, and this was no exception. I wished there was more mango in the cake. The few pieces on top were not enough to satiate. But this was a light, fresh dessert. 

Baked Ricotta Cheesecake with Fresh Mangoes and Slivers of Almond

Go try the ‘Mangoes at Zen’ till the summer lasts. You will enjoy it…if you’re a mango fan. Or even if you’re not. Thank you, Mumbai Food Lovers for giving me the chance to go review this Mango menu.

26 May 2014

May 2014 Fab Bag Review

Okay, so my May Fab Bag arrived before time. Usually this is a reason for excitement, but this months bag had disappointment written all over it. A bunch of products I don't think I'm really going to use. Nevertheless, I'm sharing what I've got this month. 

The theme for the May bag was 'Summer Essentials'. Now if you are putting out a summer themed bag, I would love to see sunscreen in there. But as always, the theme and products in the bag never seem to match. This months bag was a cheery, bright, yellow and black bag. Loved the Taxi hues.

May Fab Bag Haul

1. Votre Microdermabrasion Creme (Rs. 790/- for 30 ml)
The card calls it a creme, but the container says gel. The card prices it at Rs. 790/-, whereas the container says Rs. 810/-. I'm not even sure if I got the correct product. Microdermabrasion is supposed to be the latest in skin care, and claims to reduce dark spots, scars and evens skin texture. I've used the Votre toner before, which I got in one of my previous bags, and it was fairly decent. So I'm okay with using this on my face. Lets see if it does what it claims. 

Votre Microdermabrasion Creme/Gel

2. Cornelia Signature Shine Defining Conditioner (Rs. 300/- for a full size of 50 ml)
This was again a full sized product. I've never heard of this brand before, and I'm a bit skeptical about what I use on my hair, so I'm not too sure about this. Also don't give me a conditioner, and not the corresponding shampoo. What am I supposed to do with only conditioner? That too one which isn't sulphate-free. I have half a dozen conditioner bottles lying around, and this one joins the club. 

Cornelia Signature Shine Defining Conditioner

3. LA Splash Proof Eyeshadow Base (Rs. 895/- for a full size product)
I don't use eyeshadow, forget eyeshadow base. I don't know how you're supposed to use this or what it does. The card says it holds your eyeshadow in place for upto 12 hours. Okay then! I'm going to give it off to someone who will genuinely use and appreciate this, instead of it lying in my make-up pile. 

LA Splash Proof Eyeshadow Base
4. Bonus: Chapstick LipShield 365 (intended product)
               : Brocato Actives Restorative Hair Infusion Serum (Rs. 1275/- for a full size of 25ml)

Brocato Actives Restorative Hair Infusion Serum

So the card says 'Chapstick LipShield', but I got the 'Brocato Actives Restorative Hair Infusion Serum'. This may be an error on their part since I've already received this product before in a previous bag. I'm using the serum currently, and it does control my frizz to some extent. But what am I going to do with two bottles?! This is a sample size of 7ml (MRP: Rs. 375/-). I would've preferred the chapstick, since I actually needed one. 

Mere do- do Serum

Read about my previous Fab Bags:
April Fab Bag Review
March Fab Bag Review
February Fab Bag Review

All in all, this months bag was pretty useless. If any of you'll want any of these products, leave me a comment, tweet, or kabootar. And let me know what you'll get in your Fab Bags, okay?

14 May 2014

A Real Good Mothers Day

Ours has always been a foodie family. For me family celebrations and good food have been inseparable. Food and family are synonymous for us. I have distinct childhood memories of shelling peas and watching television with mom. Or cutting out interesting recipes for mom from newspapers and magazines. I would then write down these recipes for her in a brown notebook, which we still have preserved.

When my mother and I were invited for a Mothers Day special event hosted by Real Good Yummiez to spend a Sunday morning cooking and eating together, we both jumped. It was an event to honour 'Maa ke Haath ka Khaana', where mother-child duos would cook together and whip up signature creations. I was excited because one of my favourite celebrity chefs, Vicky Ratnani would be judging us. 

We were at Palate Culinary Studio (www.palateculinarystudio.com) that Sunday morning to try our hand at cooking some yummy dishes. We were given a fixed number of ingredients, sort of like the Mystery Box in Masterchef, and we had to come up with something. Capsicum, curd, raw mango, and Real Good Yummiez products: Hariyali Bites and Chicken Sausages. Check out their products here

We were five teams competing for some droolworthy prizes from Real Good Yummiez. We decided to cook a Sausage Paatiyo. A paatiyo is a traditional Parsi dish which is made with shrimp, and tomatoes. It goes well with traditional Dal rice. The shrimp were replaced with sausages. We also made a yogurt and raw mango dip, which we paired with the Hariyali kababs. Check out the pictures below to see what a fun time we had.

Mom peels the onions.....
.....while I cut up sausages

All the ingredients in a pan

@PratishthaKhan and her beautiful Mom-in law hard at work
@purabinaha is all smiles!

Chef @mohitsurfs with the delicious stuffed sausage balls

Mom and I pose with our final dish

Sausage paatiyo

Hariyali bites, yogurt dip and my mom's lovely message

First prize winner. Amazing dish by @purabinaha

All smiles with Chef Vicky

The final outcome

All the lovely creations

All of us pose with our judge

We were pleasantly surprised to receive positive feedback from Chef Vicky. Getting second place was the highlight of our day.
So grateful for Food Bloggers Association of India (FBAI) and Real Good Yummiez to organize an event to celebrate the awesomeness that is a mothers cooking. And give my mom and me quality time together in the kitchen. It was lovely bonding with other mother-child duos over what we all love best- food. My mom said it was one of the best Mothers Day she had. What more could I have asked for?!

11 May 2014

An Evening Of Pizzas and Acrobatics

'There is no better feeling in this world than a warm pizza box on your lap'

Pizza is comfort food. Pizza is happiness. I don't know anyone who doesn't like eating a pizza. It's the most versatile dish. The pizza base acts like a canvas allowing the chef to create whatever he wants on the top. I've eaten pizza with the most random toppings: crab meat, chocolate, marshmallows, caviar, nachos and even something called a dhokla pizza. Each one just as unique. Each one just as delicious. 

We were a lucky bunch of bloggers to be invited to share a special Media Table with world renowned ace acrobatic pizza chef Pasqualino Barbasso at Mezzo Mezzo, J.W.Marriott. Now we've all eaten a fare share of pizzas in our lives. Right from the ketcchup-grated cheese Udipi restaurant pizzas to the high end Italian style pizzas. But what I was about to experience was a whole different ball game. Not just pizzas but  acrobatic stunts with pizza dough. Kind of like acrobatic, flair bartending...but with pizza dough instead.

About Chef Pasqualino Barbasso: He is known for making high end Italian Pizzas, in the most skillful and entertaining way; with acrobatics. He is a master in acrobatic pizza making and has traveled the world with his skill. He has not one, but two awards to his credit at Sicily's Acrobatic Pizza Championship. His pizzas are a treat visually as well as for the taste buds. 

We spent the evening chatting with him about his journey so far, and the innovation that is acrobatic pizza making. We were lucky to get a ring side view of his wonderful act, and then taste the pizzas that are on the menu at Mezzo Mezzo till the 17th of May.

We started the evening with some delicious traditional breads, focaccino, cheese platter and cold cuts. The evening progressed over free flowing Peroni beer, wines and cocktails.

Peroni paired with traditional breads

Assorted cold cuts

Tomato Focaccino

Cheese Platter

The performance began, and we were all left truly spell bound. I apologise for the horrible pictures, chef moved just too fast for us to capture him in a single shot. He whipped, flung, tossed, juggled the pizza dough all over the place. He made it look so effortless and easy, which is not the reality. My favourite was him juggling three pizza doughs at one go. An experience of a lifetime, to see what he could do with the pizza base. 

Whirling the pizza dough

Chef at work

This reminds me of a Matador pose

Lucky me. Got a picture with him.
You can see a quick video of his performance below. I have way too many to upload here, but, this should suffice.

We were all looking forward to tasting Chef's signature creations which he specially created for J.W.Marriott. The pizza dough used for cooking and for the stunts are different, however. This is because different levels of elasticity and thickness are required.

The first pizzas to arrive looked nothing like conventional pizzas. But they tasted just like one. They were rolled up pizzas stuffed with cheese and topped with ham. The ham contrasted the cheese beautifully which bursts in your mouth. They also did a vegetarian version of this for us, skipping the ham. 

Special mention to the pizza dough on all the pizzas. The taste was not over bearing one bit. The toppings stood out completely, whereas the crust simply acts as a base for the toppings. Unlike many Indian pizzas where the crust is all you can taste.

Rolled Up Pizza with Ham

Rolled up Vegatarian Pizza
The Sapori di Bosco was next to arrive. It had tomato, mozzarella, porcini mushroom, pork sausage and pepperoni. This is definitely a popular pizza. The meat and the sauce complimented each other perfectly. The flavor of the smokey porcini mushrooms came out in each bite. Absolute crowd favorite this!

Sapori di Bosco
The Lilly was my favorite. Mozzarella, shrimp, artichoke and caviar on this pizza. A visual treat to begin with, followed by a treat for your palate. Each bite into this pizza was a surprise, artichokes in one, caviar in another, shrimp in the next. The caviar added some crunch and flavour to the blandness of the shrimp. 

The Asparagi e Salmon is the Chef's favorite. It contains asparagus puree, asparagus, mozzarella, smoked salmon and herbs ricotta. The salmon was perfectly complimented with the flavor of the ricotta cheese. Must have if you're a salmon fan.

Asparagi e Salmon

Limited options for vegetarians on the menu. The Veggy had tomato, mozzarella, assorted grilled vegetables, and a balsamic reduction. The vegetarians themselves did not enjoy the pizza much. I was busy digging into the Lilly to even taste this.

The special pizza that was created by chef for Indian audiences, was the Mezzo Mezzo. This was inspired by his favorite Indian dish, the Palak Paneer. It has cream of spinach, mozzarella, yellow zucchini, and grilled paneer. This usually comes wrapped in Italian ham, but we opted for the vegetarian, ham-free version. This was a brilliant concept, brilliantly executed. Palak with a creamy consistency, topped with soft paneer pieces, this pizza was delicious.

Mezzo Mezzo
 We ended the meal with some Tiramisu specially made for us by Chef Davide Cananzi of Mezzo Mezzo. Unanimously this was one of the best Tiramisus we had eaten. Special mention to the Sicilian Chilli oil chef made us try. We couldn't stop dipping our bread into it and polishing it off. 

If I could eat only one meal for the rest of my life, pizza it would be. And chef Pasqualino Barbasso's pizzas were stunning enough to be eaten in the after life. Do experience what we did that evening, an amazing acrobatic act and some delectable pizzas. 

Chef Pasqualino Barbasso with the food bloggers

Remember, Mezzo Mezzo at J.W. Marriott, Juhu. Only upto the 17th of May!