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What is Rassolnik?

This traditional Russian soup is known to have existed as far back as the 15th century, when it was called ‘kalya’. Today, famous with the name Rassolnik, the authentic Russian dish is prepared mainly with veal and lamb kidneys (or pork and beef kidneys), pearl barley, sorrel leaves and some pickled cucumbers! Yes, you heard it right. A ‘pickle soup’ it is!

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No matter how bizarre it may sound, but this bribing Slavic blend is definitely a bowl of happiness.  Rassolnik or rassoljnik, as it is known, varies from family to family and region to region. Some include barley and potatoes and is so thick, a spoon can stand up in it. Others make it with prime cuts of meat instead of offal.

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Despite of all the variations, the belief behind the recipe stays common, i.e. it is the one of the easiest and surest way of curing hangovers!  This is due to the fact that this savory soup helps the body to hold water and counteract the dehydration produced by over-imbibing, which causes hangovers.

Ever heard of an eatable Margarita?

No, this isn’t your traditional glass of tequila and fruit juice cocktail that you sip casually on a usual Friday evening. Doug Laming’s Margarita is definitely much more interesting than that! As suggested by the name, this cocktail was introduced by Molecular Mixologist, Doug Laming at his experimental lab i.e. Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining, Sydney.

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Laming uses ‘Cointreau Caviar Spherification’ to create spheres of Tequila, Cointreau and syrup, which results in little ‘pearls’ of alcohol that burst in the mouth!  While the glass is only there for decoration, to actually consume this margarita, one has to lift up the salt rimmed lime and eat the pink finger lime and the two types of the caviar pearls. One contains a Souza Gold tequila and sugar syrup and the other contains Cointreau. Basically, you eat these and lick the salted lime. It’s a margarita unlike any other kind that you may have had.

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Which is the most expensive cheese in the World?

Originated from Serbia, Pule cheese is made exclusively from the milk of Balkan donkeys. A characteristic feature of Serbian cuisine, Pule is not only extremely rare but also the most expensive cheese in the world. This exotic delicacy would cost you a whopping $576 for a pound!

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It takes 25 liters of donkey milk to produce just one kilogram of this white & crumbly smoked cheese. These donkeys are given the very best grass to eat and live as free rein as they can, living in the wilds of Serbia, they are farmed, milked and that results in this Serbian food-treasure!

A woman milks a donkey at a farm in Zasavica Resort, west of Belgrade

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Chef’s Secret: An offbeat potato recipe!

In the first edition of  our Chef’s Secret series, Tanveer Kwatra, Executive Chef, Le Meridien Gurgaon, takes us beyond French Fries.

Watch his interpretation of comfort food with this easy-to-make potato dish, in 90-seconds flat!

Bon Appétit!

Food Review: AMBROSIA BLISS, DELHI

L 51 to 54, 2nd Floor, Outer Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi

Reviewed by Ashwin Anand

Cuisine: World cuisine

On the Menu: Twist of Bliss, Khao Suey soup, Mushroom galouti with kesari puff, Tandoori Chicken Roulade, Chicken meat ball in piri piri, Nalli da Korma, Dal Makhani

Ambrosia Bliss - Dining Area (2)

The Experience: Look, I don’t know how to describe this place. Is it a fine-dining restaurant, is it a lounge, is it a bar? Reading this, you would be forgiven for being confused and possibly discouraged. But to be perfectly frank, herein lies the charm of Ambrosia Bliss. The flamboyant fine-dining area, the humbly lit lounge, the laid-back outdoors, the private booths – there is something to fit every mood and it works well.

The first thing that strikes you as you enter the restaurant is the space. Living in Delhi, you are not used to hearing the word “spacious” in Connaught Place. But that’s exactly what you get here. The next thing to hit you in the décor which is dominated by black, white and gold. And there’s a lot of gold! But perhaps surprisingly, it doesn’t seem gaudy. It looks good and suits the place.

Ambrosia Bliss - Dining Area (1)

We happened to eat there on a dry day, and began with their signature mocktail, Twist of Bliss. A mixture of cranberry juice and passion fruit soda, the drink failed to excite. I’m not a big fan of canned juice and that’s what it tasted like. The Mushroom Galouti with Kesari Puff lived up to its meaning—it melted in the mouth and was delicious, though the kesari puffs they were served on were a little tough. The Tandoori Chicken Roulade, a modified version of the popular malai tikka, starred juicy, tender chicken—one of the highlights of the evening. The Khao Suey, a personal favourite, was everything a good Khao Suey should be. Chicken Meat Balls in Piri-Piri featured meat balls and potato wedges slathered in delicious piri-piri sauce—best suited for an evening with friends, over beer. Simple, delicious, comfort food.

"Khow suey" by Tizbad2k
“Khow suey” by Tizbad2k

The main course was Dal Makhani and Nalli da Korma with garlic butter naans. Thankfully, Ambrosia Bliss joins a handful of restaurants in Delhi to deliver a delicious dal. It is just what you expect – rich, delectable and sinful! Staying true to the traditional flavours, the saffron-infused nalli da korma delivers with a bang. The gravy is rich and the meat falls off the bone. A highly recommended dish at Ambrosia Bliss. We rounded off the meal with Molten Lava Cake with Vanilla ice-cream. While the dessert wasn’t the best I’ve eaten, you can’t go wrong with oozing chocolate!

The Verdict: The food lives up to the restaurant’s name—ambrosial and blissful. The service is good, but the waiters could be trained better in understanding the food they serve. There is a large variety of starters, but the main course is limited and predominantly Indian. Presentation and finish need some working on.

Meal for two: Rs. 2,000 with Alcohol

3 Point Impression: Spacious. Comfortable. Delicious.

Check out more reviews, photos and the menu here

Ambrosia Bliss on Facebook

How Not to Eat in Florence, Italy

Posted By Travel Secrets Editor Shubhra Krishan

As someone who believes in stumbling upon great places, I decided to ditch the guide books/blogs/local advice, and plunged straight into Florence.

Big mistake.

Stepping out of the magnificent Santa Maria Novella Railway Station…

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I wended my way through the crowded streets of the city…

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asking for directions to  The Gallery Hotel Art

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Along the way, hunger pangs hit. Hard. And since I was in Italy, the fragrance of herbs and the aroma of baked bread was everywhere. Honestly, I could hardly wait to drop my bags at the hotel and get back on the streets for a bite.

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Strung along a pipe-thin lane, I spotted a string of eateries that promised big meals at incredible deals. Smiling restaurant staff stood outside their outlets, handing out colourful pamphlets that promised a free drink with pizza and seemingly endless menus.

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Photo: thepodanys.blogspot.com Used here for representational purposes only

 

I succumbed.

And regretted it minutes later. The pizza was cold and leathery, with about 3 olives that tasted as if they had been glued atop the bread a month ago. Sure, it cost me “just 4 euros” for pizza and coke, but I would rather have spent a few bucks more to get a better bite.

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I am sure the giant plastic chef standing outside the restaurant, holding that huge menu card, giggled a little when I walked in.

Moral of the story: do your research when you are going to Florence. Read helpful advice such as this. And this.

Bon Appetit!

 

Food Review: Kylin Sky Bar, Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi

Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi

Reviewed By Apoorva Mohan

Cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, Thai

On The Menu: Assorted Vegetable Dim Sums, Assorted Chicken Lamb & Prawn Dim Sums, Tiger Prawn with Teriyaki & Egg Roll Yolk Sauce, Mushrooms Yakitori, Claypot Vegetables with Tofu & Rice.

The Experience: Perched on the third floor of Ambience Mall Vasant Kunj, Kylin Sky Bar has an exclusive approach. In accordance with the oriental theme of the restaurant, the interiors exude art and sophistication. With back lit walls and lovely dim lighting, the space makes for a warm and cozy setting.

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My friend and I chose to take our place in the sought-after terrace area of Kylin Sky Bar to figure out what sets it apart from other terraces in the NCR.

We were escorted to a table adjacent to the beautiful gazebo that makes for an exclusive gathering space for a group of friends, family and coworkers. The courteous staff helped us decide a diverse menu for the evening so we could try an assortment of their delicacies.

While we waited for our starters of veg and non veg assorted Dim Sums to be served, the bar in-charge stirred up special drinks for us. The cocktails, a Cucumber Martini and a fruity Cosmopolitan were served with a twist of basil, which made them delectable without being too sweet.

We started our gastronomical trip with the delicately wrapped Dim Sums that were served at the perfect temperature. Veg Dim Sums were carefully steamed with a variety of corn, spinach and black mushroom fillings with ginger lending a subtle flavor to each.

Dimsums, Chicken and Coriander
Dimsums, Chicken and Coriander

The Kylin Siew Mai open Dim Sums are a surprise treat. The non veg Dim Sums were wrapped with stuffing of chicken, lamb and prawns. While the lamb and prawn stuffing was well cooked, the chicken was carefully kept slightly chewy, much to my friend’s liking. Priced at Rs. 575 for veg, Rs. 675 for chicken and Rs. 695 for prawns, the Dim Sums are value for taste and money.

Next we tried Tiger Prawn with Teriyaki & Egg Roll Yolk Sauce and Mushrooms Yakitori as recommended by the chef himself. The well grilled and seasoned prawns dominated the meal with a strong flavour of the Teriyaki sauce that makes it a must try for seafood lovers. The mushrooms on the other hand were grilled tender and juicy. At Rs. 695 for prawns and Rs. 345 for veg, the Yakitori range is a mouth watering delight that cannot be missed.

Bang Bang Style Angry Chicken
Bang Bang Style Angry Chicken

The main course ended with a serving each of a bowl meal of Bang Bang Angry Chicken and vegetables with tofu and rice that are cooked and served in a claypot. The chicken is tender and just as spicy as the menu describes it; definitely not for the faint-hearted. For Rs. 795 it is a fulfilling meal in itself. The vegetables and rice on the other hand are infused with oriental herbs and the subtle influence of the clay. Priced at Rs. 795, it is a gastronomical treat.

Kylin boasts of innovative tongue-tantalising desserts such as Fried Chocolate and Fried Ice Cream along with the traditional Chocolate Fondue that delightfully satiates the sweet tooth.

The Verdict: The soothing ambience, classic meets commercial mash ups, smiling and efficient staff and service make Kylin a worthwhile experience. Exuding warmth, it is an apt choice for a romantic meal or a family get together alike.

Address: T-302, 3rd Floor, Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi -70.

Phone: 098717 57744

Timings: 12:00 PM – 12:30 AM

Meal For Two : Rs. 3000 ++

3 Point Impression: Gracious, Relaxing, Indulgent

Food Review: Zu Tisch, Greater Kailash Part 1, New Delhi

GK 1, New Delhi

Reviewed By Srishti Bhatia

Cuisine: German (and European)

On the Menu: Frikadelle Mit Pommes Frites (Pork Meatballs with Potato Wedges), Zwiebel Ringe (Onion Rings), BBQ Spare Ribs, Bayrische Bier Kase (Bavarian Beer cheese soup), Kartoffel Salat (German Potato salad), Wiener Schnitzel Mit Pommes Frites Salat (Pork Schnitzel with Potato Wedges and salad), Asparago Pizza, Eisbein (Lamb Shank – with mashed potato and braised cabbage), Pasta in white sauce

Photo: www.resturantindia.in
Photo: http://www.resturantindia.in

The Experience:When I entered Zu Tisch, I instantly got transported to a German tavern. Dim lit wooden interiors, a wall with an outline of the Germany map. I was charmed until I saw the couple on the next table sip their drinks from a tall laboratory test-tube and a fishbowl. Well, a popular bar in Delhi has just this theme. Minus 10 points for the originality. I hoped the flavours would be authentic German—I would know because I have travelled there a few times and am an avid foodie.

The good stuff: The menu has a great variety, focusing on German, but popular international food is served too. The Bavarian Beer Cheese Soup with lamb was delightful, and nothing like anything I’ve had before. The hint of beer made all the difference. The chef nailed the BBQ spare ribs! They were soft, oozing with taste. I was extremely contented with the Eisbein. The lamb shank was cooked to perfection and the mashed potato was delightful. This meal is sufficient as a main course for one person, and a highly recommended one. The asparagus pizza is a good option for vegetarians.

Lamb Shank - Eisbein
Lamb Shank – Eisbein

My pick among the drinks: the Thai Mama. The distinct flavour of kaffir lime leaves along with fresh oranges, pineapple and rum is wonderful.

The not-so-good stuff: The dishes I was most excited for, turned out to be the most disappointing. This includes the Traditional German Potato Salad, Weiner Schnitzel, and sauerkraut. All I can say is, the look and taste is far from authentic. The potato salad was not German and the Schnitzel was tiny, very thin and chewy. The National dish of Austria deserves more respect, so does the traditional German Potato Salad. You might think why I’m not talking about German sausages? Oh, that’s because they weren’t even available.

Sausage Platter
Sausage Platter

My verdict (and suggestion): This place does not do justice to the main cuisine they are offering. It’s unfair to those who haven’t tasted authentic German cuisine before, because they will end up with a completely different (and a not-so-good) opinion on the food. Chef needs to be trained, along with the staff, who were not the most attentive. The owner/s should travel to Germany to try the food, and try bringing the same quality back for us. Taking inspiration from the bar concept of someplace popular is not a recipe for success. It all comes down to the food. A little effort should be put into serving something close to authentic. Ditch those beakers and tubes and get the beer mugs out!

Address: 2nd Floor, M 18, M Block Market, Greater Kailash (GK) 1, New Delhi

Timings: 11 AM to 1 AM

Meal for two: Approx. Rs. 1200 for two (with Alcohol)

3 Point Impression: Comfortable. Not genuine. Confused.

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