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Restaurant secrets

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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What exactly is a champagne breakfast?

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It is, well, exactly as luxurious as it sounds: Breakfast served with champagne or sparkling wine and fruit juice, usually orange and/or peach.

This special treat is generally reserved for special occasions such as an Anniversary, Mother’s Day or a holiday. High-end hotels and vacation resorts often serve champagne breakfasts served in three elegant courses: bread, cake and fruit, followed by the main course, and finally, coffee, cheese and biscuits.

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To give you a clearer idea, here’s the romantic champagne breakfast menu at the Governor’s Suite in Hartness House, an Inn in Vermont, USA.

Ice-chilled Champagne in a bucket with two crystal flutes;

Freshly-squeezed Orange or Carrot-Apple Juice;

Freshly baked Crumb-topped Blueberry muffins
and Orange marmalade;

Strawberries with Framboise Creme Parfait;

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Your choice of:
Smoked Salmon and Green Onion Omelet, or
Almond and Graham Crusted French Toast; or
Governor’s Eggs Benedict

French Press Columbian Coffee with Cream

Decorated with a beautiful silk Rosebud in Vase and newspaper

This indulgence for two can be yours for an extra $75 USD!

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!

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!

 

5 Restaurant Secrets you probably didn’t want to know

You may want to be a little careful on your next visit to a restaurant. Here are a few secrets spilled by veteran waiters to Readers Digest magazine, USA.

Soup of the Day

Waiters secrets, soup of the day

The ‘restaurant special’ or ‘soup of the day’ is often special only because they are trying to finish it off before it goes bad.

 

Lemon Slices

lemon slice, waiters secretThat slice of lemon in your drink—looks lovely, but isn’t clean. Everybody touches it, and nobody washes it. Cheers!

 

Same Stock

waiters secrets, vegetable stockIf you ask ‘Is this dish made from vegetable stock?,” many waiters will say ‘Yes,’ which is a lie. The truth is, you cannot tell the difference, so they don’t bother clarifying.

 

Waiter’s Choice

Waiter's secrets, favourite dishIf you ask your waiter ‘how’s this dish,’ and she says, ‘It’s one of our most popular,’ chances are she hates it, but isn’t supposed to tell you that. Ask her to recommend a good dish instead.

 

Kitchen = Loo

Waiter's Secrets, LooIf you’re worried about how clean the kitchen is, visit the restaurant’s loo. If that is dirty, you can be sure the kitchen is much worse.

 

Got a few secrets to spill? 
Write to us at travelsecretsmagazine@gmail.com.

Take me to an Irish cafe that the locals love!

Just a few minutes out of Belfast airport, and you have a fiesta of Irish treats laid out for you. Rhubarb pie with homemade ice-cream, to begin with. At a pretty tucked-away place that overlooks the endless sea, and doubles as a local nursery. Called Harrisons, quite simply. Harrisons-Restaurant-201207280453 DSC00590 That pie. It alone is worth a trip to Northern Ireland. The rhubarb is nice and tart, and the pie crust is perfectly crisp. And the ice-cream, it tastes like the cow was milked a few minutes ago and the hens just laid their eggs and all of it was churned quickly together and frozen swiftly up to create this fresh, fantastic dream in cream. Sorry, it’s easy to get carried away when you’re reminiscing about a treat so delicious. DSC00591 Many days after I arrived back in India and Googled it, I was blown away by the story of Harrison’s! It is owned by a family that lives on 90 lush acres of land. The location is called Ards Peninsula, one of Northern Ireland’s most picturesque locations. (But then, I was there for nearly a week and did not see one spot that would not qualify as that! All of Ireland, Northern or not, is an ode to natural beauty.) And I am not the only one determined to go back for that ice cream. Apparently, 30 per cent of its customers drive more than an hour to come and eat at Harrisons. I suspect that statistic will quickly crawl upward soon. I have to admit I wolfed down the entire pie and ice-cream, and those calories were worth lunch and dinner both. And I was too hungry to take photos of the treat! Shubhra Krishan

A good dhaba in Amritsar, Punjab?

Located a short walk from the Golden Temple, in the Town Hall, is Bharawan da Dhaba, where we ate a hearty meal of chana masala, paneer kulcha, sweet lassi, and have never quite forgotten the taste!

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This divine food is reason enough to go to Amritsar, and no, the dhaba hasn’t paid us to write this for them!

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The name literally means “Restaurant of the brothers,” and whoever they are, they deserve a collective pat on their backs for dishing up such amazing food.

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The dhaba is always crowded, and that is a good sign. It only serves vegetarian food, but even if you are a meat lover, it is hard not to fall in love with the hearty Punjabi flavours here. Those lachcha paranthas topped with big dollops of butter…mmm!

Address: Hall Bazar, Golden Temple Out Road, Town Hall, Katra Ahluwalia, Amritsar, Punjab 143001

Phone:0183 253 2575

 

The best pizza in Toronto?

Honest answer: we can’t say. Our team has toured Toronto twice and enjoyed some good slices of pizza, but a few days in a city cannot make you an authority on its best eats.

Having said that…

…We know the best resource where you can learn not only about Toronto’s best pizza, but also its best bars, bakeries, bistros, bubble tea and more!

Here it is.

BlogTo, in their own words, are: ” Toronto’s most-visited web site for local news and culture, best of lists, restaurant reviews and events. Founded in 2004, we’re a growing and diverse team of artists, baristas, bakers, tech geeks, DJs, fashionistas, comedians and people who take daily multi-vitamins. ”

About the best pizza: check out their list, and you will know where to go.

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I love Punjabi cuisine. Can you suggest a good Dhaba-style restaurant in Delhi?

You should check out Dhaba by Claridges at the DLF Place Mall, Saket. Read on to find out what TS writer Harshvardhan thought about the place and its food.

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The zesty ‘Dhaba’ by the iconic Claridges is a welcome addition to the ‘Punjabi restaurant’ family in Delhi, which I always think is surprisingly small. (Besides Punjabi By Nature, Pind Baluchi and Pandara Road, it takes a bit of head scratching to think of other ‘good’ places to go to for a hearty North Indian meal, no?)

I was pleased to see the redoubtable Ravi Saxena heading the Dhaba kitchen—a good chef guarantees good food. Make that great. Once you have feasted your eyes on the very colourful decor of this eatery, focus on the delicacies that arrive, and let your taste buds feel pampered. The black dal rivals the best in the city, and I liked that it had a bit of fire in the form of red chillies. The only mild disappointment was the Kadhi, which felt a bit bland. But then as my companion pointed out, kadhi really is a matter of individual taste, and it’s hard to agree on the ‘right’ flavour. But the rest of the fare from lassi to kababs and everything after—was undoubtedly luscious, filling and satisfying.

Dhaba

The bar is alluringly named ‘Theka’ but alas, the restaurant was still awaiting its liquor license when I went. If you haven’t been to the Dhaba yet, now is the time. I am sure they are serving Makka ki Roti and Sarson ka Saag these days. You make your booking, while I make mine!

Meal for two: Rs.1400 plus taxes

They are also at DLF Cyber Hub, Gurgaon and The Claridges on Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi

www.dhababyclaridges.com

Read more reviews here

This review was first published in the January-February 2014 issue of Travel Secrets Magazine.
Digital copies available online at Magzter.com

What is a typical day in the life of a Parisian like?

Well guess what: we have a fairly good idea!

TS Editor Shubhra Krishan met the lovely, lively Laurie Trognon, PR head at the iconic Printemps in Paris. The young lady wrote a beautiful ode to her home city, spilling lots of local secrets along the way!

 Over to her:

I am 23, and have lived in Paris all my life. I live in the 17th arondissement in a quiet residential neighbourhood called Villiers, which is sprinkled with parks and French brasseries.

Every morning, I wake up in my apartment and feel lucky to live in Paris. I open the window and look out to a beautiful old Haussmannian building. In the very early hours, we can hear birds, wind, or rain.

Like any other big city, Paris gives you the feeling of being on your own—in a nice way! I start my day with a typical Parisian breakfast of croissant or a chocolate roll with fresh orange juice or a tea. Sometimes, I keep it simple with just bread and butter.

It takes me 20 minutes by Metro to reach my workplace, which is PRINTEMPS (the departement store) in the nine area (75009).

In summer, I like to wear colourful long dresses to work. Parisian women are very fashion-conscious, and enjoy sporting avant garde fashion.

I enjoy going out with my friends in the evenings. My favourite hangouts in the city are as follows:

Local paris secrets       

Best pizza: Paparazzi restaurant (75009)

paris local secrets     

     Best cup of coffee: Kooka Boora (75009) / Angelina (75001)

paris local secrets

Best French cuisine: La petite Cour (75006)

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Best bar: O Chateau (Wine bar)

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Best bakery: Ladurée

Some of the restaurants, pubs and bars that the people of Paris love, and you won’t find in most guidebooks are :

HOTE-DE-LA-FELICITE-5

La Félicité (75010)

Pershing Hall

Pershing Hall (75008)

Le Club des 5

Le Club des 5 (75017)

Candelaria

Candelaria (75003)

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Razowski (75001)

Lefty

Lefty (75002)

Paris looks most beautiful during summer time, when everybody is on vacation. All people are very open-minded, the weather is great and you can enjoy parks, terrace, swimming pools.You can really appreciate space at Rosa Bonheur which is a restaurant in the Buttes Chaumont park.

Rosa Bonheur
Rosa Bonheur

When I am unhappy and need some peace, Paris comforts me with wine! I sit with a glass of wine and a friend at Bertie or Vert Tulipe; very affordable, great wine, and perfect for forgetting your woes!

Vert Tulipe

Plus, I like to practice sport and more particularly Aquabiking; sport is something very important when you live in a big city. It’s a great way to decompress.

When I’m looking for a moment of rest, I go to the NUXE Spa at Printemps Haussmann and get a manicure.

NUXE Spa
NUXE Spa

The city’s loveliest street is Rue des Francs Bourgeois, a typical Parisian street with trendy but not-too-expensive shops such as Zadig & Voltaire, Isabel Marant. For bargain shopping, I would recommend the area of Chatelet – Les Halles. For high-end purchases, you should head to Printemps Haussmann or Rue Saint Honoré.

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In the evening, Paris looks an old city which is waking up; all brasseries and terrace are full, even during the winter and my apartment fills up with the sights/sounds of my neighbours who invite their friends for the cocktail hour.

I don’t have the time to cook, so I usually order food from a website named AlloResto. One of my favourite foods when I can’t cook is Japanese.

A typical Paris weekend is never complete without a brunch on Sunday morning.

All in all, I love my city because this is a city with a real history. The typical Haussmannian buildings are majestic, and I can’t get enough of admiring them!

(This story was first published in May June 2013 issue of Travel Secrets Magazine)

Q: I love discovering roadside eateries. Is there a good one close to Delhi?

If you enjoy a long and leisurely drive, we know just the place. And a five-star chef, no less, tipped us off on this one:  it’s called Sharma Dhaba, and it is located on the fringe of   Jaipur city. Wind your way to Sikar Road and almost anyone will be able to point you to it.

Dhabas near jaipur

Order the aloo paratha, and you’ll thank us for recommending the place. Sizzling hot and oozing filling, the paratha comes with a terrific pickle, yoghurt and subzi. The Sharma brothers have run this place for over two decades now, and the sheer number of moodhas and tables in front and at the much cleaner back section are testimony to its thumping success.

sharma dhaba
Image: http://www.bcmtouring.com

The brothers said their best-seller is the Mawa Paratha, which comes filled with khoya and dry fruit. We didn’t particularly enjoy the idea of a sweet filling, but maybe you will.

A meal for two here will cost you about Rs. 350. And the fare is all vegetarian.

Read more about Sharma Dhaba:

www.zomato.com/jaipur/sharma-dhaba

 

Truth or rumour? A Las Vegas nightclub serves a $10,000 cocktail.

One hundred per cent true! The tipple that’s making ripples has a deceptively simple name: Ono. It is served at the Wynn’s XS Nightclub, and one $10,000 portion serves two.

Photo: www.therichest.com
Photo: http://www.therichest.com

While you gulp that down, here’s why it costs so much: there’s a rare cognac in this cocktail, which costs a whopping $2000 per shot. As XS GM Yannick Mugnier puts it, “This cocktail is not about making money–it’s about extravagance.” Rather unnecessarily, he goes on to add that Ono is a big hit with big winners at the casinos. Well, duh.

Thirsty for more? Here’s where you can get all the mindblowing details. Hic!

Why you shouldn’t order the ‘soup of the day.’ 5 Dirty restaurant secrets: spilled!

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  • The ‘restaurant special’ or ‘soup of the day’ is often special only because they are trying to finish it off before it goes bad.
  • That slice of lemon in your drink—looks lovely, but isn’t clean. Everybody touches it, and nobody washes it. Cheers!
  • If you ask ‘Is this dish made from vegetable stock?,” many waiters will say ‘Yes,’ which is a lie. The truth is, you cannot tell the difference, so they don’t bother clarifying.
  • If you ask your waiter ‘how’s this dish,’ and she says, ‘It’s one of our most popular,’ chances are she hates it, but isn’t supposed to tell you that. Ask her to recommend a good dish instead.
  • If you’re worried about how clean the kitchen is, visit the restaurant’s loo. If that is dirty, you can be sure the kitchen is much worse.

(Secrets spilled by veteran waiters to Readers Digest magazine, USA )

A few years back, a restaurant in Tampa had a major roach problem. We don’t want anything like this happening to you.

For more nasty secrets, take a look here.

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