Showing posts with label bread. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bread. Show all posts

Friday, 18 March 2016

The food scene in Chennai has witnessed a tremendous growth in both varieties of cuisines and quality of produce being used over the last few years. However, one cuisine that has not scene a great explosion in terms of choice is Italian. Going above the regular pizzas and pastas, there are only a handful of dedicated Italian restaurants in the city and when it comes to fine dine, maybe about three odd restaurants. One that stands out truly amongst them is the one this review is about.


Focaccia @ Hyatt Regency, Chennai – Teynampet, Anna Salai

Focaccia is the first restaurant that you will see as and when you step out of the elevator at Hyatt Regency in Chennai. Being one amongst the few dedicated Italian fine dine restaurants in Chennai, it is always buzzing with culinary action and a reservation is a definite must on most days. 


Focaccia presents itself in a very rustic environment with a wine cellar welcoming you right at the entrance. While you adore the amazing collection of wines the cellar holds you are guaranteed to be hit with the aroma of fresh focaccia breads & pizzas being baked right across the cellar in the wood fired ovens. As you cross and head towards your table you get to witness the hustle bustle of the kitchen thanks to the vast open kitchen concept the restaurant embraces. You are also spoilt with choice of seating with options between next to the open kitchen or closer to the windows with a view over looking the busy Anna Salai.
(The Wine, Cheese & Chocolate section for the evening)

Focaccia is currently hosting an Italian Fair under the able guidance of Chef Alessandro Persico who is the Chef de Cuisine at the award winning Italian restaurant Celine at Grand Hyatt Mumbai. He is here in Chennai to showcase some of his signature dishes over a four course meal. The first thing that struck me on meeting the chef was how closely he resembled Chef Gusteau from one of my all time favourite movies, Ratatouille. I just couldn’t control myself that I went all gaga over it. It was more like meeting a super hero. This raised the expectations big time for the evening. And I must say that I was thoroughly entertained by his creations and his interactions with me. 
(Chef Alessandro Persico)
The evening meal started with ‘Ravioli di Barbabietola’ which was a beetroot ravioli stuffed with truffle goat cheese and served with a parsley salsa verde. This was my first time even hearing about a beetroot ravioli. Being a fan of beetroot I thoroughly enjoyed it as the goat cheese gave a very soothing balance of flavours and textures. The next appetizer was the ‘Anatra in salsa tonnata con cipolline brasate’. This was a duck confit salad with tonnata sauce with the salad being braised with pearl onion. The flavour was very distinct and full of joy but not being a great fan of duck felt the confit a bit over powering. The last of the appetizer was from the sea, the ‘rotolini di salmon affumicato con panna acida e caviale’, a smoked salmon stuffed with braised lettuce and topped with sour cream and caviar. Being a salmon lover, I couldn’t ask for a better combination of ingredients to savour the salmon.
(Ravioli di Barbabietola)
(Anatra in salsa tonnata con cipolline brasate)
(Rotolini di salmon affumicato con panna acida e caviale)
With the appetizers done it was time now for some pastas and risottos. The first pasta that travelled to our table was the ‘Penne Integrali con tonno in salsa puttanesca’ which was a diet conscious diners delight. Some whole wheat penne tossed with a tuna puttanesca sauce and green capers, it provided a great balance of flavour to keep the palate kicking. This was followed by the ‘Risotto con salmone affumicato, zafferano e limone’, a simple looking smoked salmon risotto with saffron and lemon. This was truly delicious and takes a big rank in my all time favourite risottos. This is a definite must have if you visit them. To bring this course to an end was the ‘Linguini con aragosta e rucola’, a very fresh tasting pasta. This refreshed the entire palate once again preparing us for the main courses. The lobster combined with fresh tomatoes elevated this pasta and also sort of acted like a palate cleanser thanks to the arugula that was also present in the pasta.
(Penne Integrali con tonno in salsa puttanesca)
(Risotto con salmone affumicato, zafferano e limone)
(Linguini con aragosta e rucola)
With the pastas and crunchy risottos done, we headed to the mains. The first mains to make to the table was the ‘Cannelloni di spinaci al forno’. The cannelloni was an oven baked spinach and ricotta stuffed cannelloni served over a bed of fresh tomato sauce. It was extremely cheesy and flavourful and along with the tomato sauce gelled well. This was followed by the ‘Tortino di patate e funghicon fonduta di caprino’ which was basically a mash potato flavoured with lemon and dished in the form of a basket loaded with grilled vegetables and forest mushroom. Although the mash was fantastic, felt the dish was slightly dull in comparison to the overall fare. Next up was probably my favourite mains of the evening, the ‘Scaloppine di pollo piccata’. This was an eggs chicken scaloppini with lemon caper sauce and some root vegetables. What made this dish fantastic was the lemon caper sauce over the perfectly baked chicken slices. Yumm!!! 
(Cannelloni di spinaci al forno)

(Scaloppine di pollo piccata)
(Tortino di patate e funghicon fonduta di caprino)
Next had to be the final course of the evening, the mighty desserts. We were served with two desserts with the first being ‘Zabbaoine con composta di fragole e Meringa soffice’ which is basically a champagne sabayon with strawberry compote topped with a soft meringue. Although the sabayon was perfectly dressed I personally felt the dessert to be a bit on the sweeter side. On the other hand, the second dessert was a clear winner with chocolate aficionados. It was a ‘Coppa Caprese’ which in simpler terms is a chocolate brawny sandwiched between layers of vanilla ice cream and a creamy chocolate ganache. To add a bit of crunch we had some chocolate tuiles. This dessert was truly divine and I kept nom-noming so much that I couldn’t believe that my portion was over even before I could realize it. But the ecstasy it left on my taste buds kept me recollecting it all through the night. Was a fantastic dessert. 
(Zabbaoine con composta di fragole e Meringa soffice)
(Coppa Caprese)

Being a limited time fare, this special Italian Fair menu by Chef Alessandro also comes paired with a unique wine for each course resulting in the course being relished in its true essence. This special menu should cost about Rs. 4,500 – 5,500 for two depending on the dishes being selected from the special menu. This is a limited time fest and is available till the 20th of March. So head there quick if you would like to savour the same.


Focaccia is located at Lobby level at Hyatt Regency Chennai. Located on the main arterial road of Chennai, Anna Salai, it is quite easily accessible from all corners of the city. I would strongly recommend a reservation so as to not be disappointed.

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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Over the years Chennai has been seeing a host of Food Festivals being organized by the numerous Food & Beverages outlets located here. Some of these festivals have been very unique while the remaining were often the regular Biryani, Kebabs or Regional cuisines. However, there is one chain of luxury hotels that does things differently, way different than all others. Yes, Park Hyatt part of the Hyatt group of hotels conducts a culinary festival across all their locations globally. Chefs across different Hyatt hotels will take their expertise and culinary wisdom to showcase it other Park Hyatt locations. This culinary festival is aptly titled “Masters of Food and Wine” and is a perfect showcase of brilliance in culinary and beverage experiences.
The Grand Opening of the 2015 edition of the “Masters of Food and Wine” at Park Hyatt Chennai was on the 21st of February with the theme for the current edition being ‘Korean Cuisine’. The participating hotel for the current edition is the Grand Hyatt Incheon in South Korea with Chefs Eunseok Yang and Kyuchon Lee leading the way. Throughout the week they will be serving amazing Korean specialities at the Park Hyatt Chennai’s signature restaurant, “The Flying Elephant”. In addition to the culinary experience, one can also participate on a hands on Masterclass with the Master Chefs themselves.
(Chef Introductions)
The Grand Opening started off with the introduction of the all Chefs who were to take us on this culinary adventure. With the bonhomies done, we were now being geared to face the barrage of exquisite foods that was to be presented. Being the grand opening, the menu for the evening comprised completely of live counters. As there was so much to explore, I kept on hopping from one station to the other wondering where to start and where to end.
(Cured Fish along with some Antipasti)
As I made my way across the room, the first thing that struck me was the enormous variety of food being showcased. I started the evening with some Antipasti comprising of Tomato, Mozzarella along with Basil Pesto. This was followed by ‘Cured Fish’ comprising of a cured Indian Basa wrapped over some orange flesh with acidic green apple and topped with micro greens. The basa was cured to perfection and the marriage of orange made it a lovely pair. Being an ardent fan of cheese, I moved on to make a small cheese platter for myself with some Parmesan, Goat Cheese (Similar to Feta but difference being the composition of goat milk being higher in goat cheese) and some Emmental. Apricots, Figs and some nuts made the perfect accompaniments.
(Kimchi Salad)
(Kimchi Pancake)
(Cinnamon Punch and Bibim Bab)
With the Cold counter done, I next moved on to the Korean speciality counter where a ‘Sweet Pumpkin Porridge’ awaited. I would rate it to be one of the finest porridges to be tasted in a restaurant. This was followed by a ‘Korean Pancake’ made using Kimchi. The next up I was told was a staple road side dish in Korea called the Bibim Bab. A fellow foodie who accompanied me was raving about the same and decided to have a go. The rice along with the veggies and the Chilli sauce made it amazing such that I had a second serving of the same. To soothen our throats, the Korean section had an uber cool drink called the ‘Cinnamon Punch’. It seemed to be a combination of Cinnamon, Sugar and water but the drink was too good that within a span of few minutes I had myself take down a couple of glasses of the same.
(Mexican Counter)
(Taco and Corn Tamales)
(Spiced Plantain and Green Onion Enchiladas)
After trying out the Korean specialities, I ventured into the land of Latin America. We were greeted with some fresh crispy taco filled with the traditional guacamole, red salsa, cheese and sour cream. Also part of the Mexican fare was the ‘Corn Meal and Cheese Tamales’ served with a choice of refried beans or chicken stew. As always the last dish was the best for we got to savour some ravishing ‘Spiced Plantain and Green Onion Enchiladas’.
(Indian Counter)
From Latin America my gaze took me to our very own subcontinent, yes I moved on to check the menu at the Indian counter. From first looks, I could make out an array of different Biryani pots accompanied with equivalent number of clay pots filled with aromatic gravies. The different biryani’s presented were ‘Banajar Biryani’, a take on Hyderabadi biryani made using lamb followed by ‘Kattal Biryani’, comprising of Baby Jackfruit and culminating with ‘Malabar Prawn Biryani’ made using prawns cooked in coconut milk to infuse the Malabar flavours. The starters counter had a very unique tikka being dished out. The ‘Bhatak aur Anjeer ki Tikki’ was a succulent cutlet made using Turkey and dry figs that was served on top of a huge saffron bread topped with some Brown Onion and Tomato curry. 
(Baked Brie)
(Baked Brie)
(Beef Bourguignon)
With the tummy already going on a gastronomical world tour, it was decided to try the French counter before calling it a night. The French counter was manned or rather wo-manned by Chef Megha, the frivolous and outspoken Chef de Cuisine of The Flying Elephant. On platter for us here was the ‘Baked Brie’ which is an all-time personal favourite and a ‘Nicoise salad’ platted with some seared tuna, quail eggs and an anchovy dressing. However, the hero of the evening was this next dish, as it was the softest piece of beef I’ve ever savoured. This was so soft that I definitely didn’t need a fork leave alone a knife. The ‘Beef Bourguignon’ was truly outstanding. It had a piece of beef accompanied with some Jerusalem artichoke foam along with Mandarin zest and confit pearl onions. 
(Park Hyatt Signature Chocolate Cake)
(French Macaroon)
(Chocolate Decadence)
(Bounty Cake)
(Mango Cremeux Coconut Parfait)
(Coffee Pavlova with Seasonal Fruits)
(Mandarin Tart)
With all the savouries sampled, it was time to hit the dessert counter. Having desserts spread across an entire room can make any dessert lover a kid. I was just too excited to try them all and had planned for this right from the beginning of my food adventure that evening. The first up on the platter was the ‘Chocolate Decadence’ followed by a cake which Chef Dinesh and Chef Prabhu revealed was a version of the famous chocolate ‘Bounty’. In between I sneaked a few French Macaroons while heading to the counter stacked with some ‘Mandarin Tart’. This was followed by the ‘Mango Cremeux Coconut Parfait’ which stood out as the best dessert of the evening and a close second by the ‘Coffee Pavlova’ adorned with seasonal fruits.

With the desserts coming to a close, we called end to the sumptuous conclusion of the Grand Opening of the “Masters of Food and Wine” at the Park Hyatt Chennai. For those who are intrigued by this magnanimous experience and are awaiting to taste some fine Korean specialities, head straight to ‘The Flying Elephant’ to have an experience of a lifetime.

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Sunday, 26 October 2014

One of the most divine pairing of ingredients has to be that of Chocolate & Banana. It gets more better when the chocolate is in the form of Nutella. There is no way a dish can go wrong with these two ingredients and it also becomes difficult to highlight who is the hero when they both are present. 

In the mood to get into some indulgence, I was scouring the internet for some yummylicious combination as I had plenty of time this Sunday afternoon. After several recipes, this recipe struck me as the best of the lot and knew that this was exactly what I needed to change the boring Sunday into an exciting one

Serves: 1 Loaf
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Oven time: 60 minutes
Resting time: 15 minutes

  • 2 cups of Maida/All Purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup Ripened Bananas - Mashed
  • 1/3 cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 3/4 cup Nutella
  1. Set the oven to pre-heat at 175 C.
  2. In a bowl, add the flour, baking soda and salt and whisk well to ensure they are mixed.
  3. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter with a electric mixer at medium speed.
  4. Once it resembles a creamy consistency, add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
  5. Now add the bananas, milk and vanilla to the large bowl and blend until all the ingredients are blended.
  6. Add the flour mixture slowly into the large bowl beating at slow speed until flour mixture is well incorporated.
  7. Heat the Nutella in a microwave for 15 seconds. Add 1 cup of the bread batter to the nutella and stir until blended.
  8. Butter the insides of bread loaf tin and then spoon the plain bread batter and the nutella batter alternatively.  
  9. Using a knife, gently swirl the layers to get add texture to the bread.
  10. Bake for 50 - 60 mins and then allow it too cool for a further 15 mins.
  11. Now remove the loaf from the pan and allow it cool completely.
Recipe adapted from Chef In Training