Showing posts with label milkshakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label milkshakes. Show all posts

Thursday 17 July 2014

The last year or so has seen a rising number of coffee shops opening up in Chennai. A good majority of them International chains. While most of these international coffee shops were located in stand-alone locations, most mall goers had no options but to settle for either CCD or Barista. But one international brand did their homework correctly and saw the perfect opportunity of the mall going population and opened up their first outlet in a swanky mall. Known throughout the world for some of the best accompaniments served along with their Coffee & Tea, this was the need of the hour for most mall shoppers.

So when ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ opened up their outlet at Phoenix Mall, it proved to be a game changer for all those who frequented malls for shopping and were looking for a good place to relax along with some fine beverages. Unlike other places which serve different varieties of Coffee and a limited selection of Tea, ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ has numerous options in either category. Also part of their menu are sandwiches, short eats, breads, all-day breakfast menu and also good options of mains. With such a vast menu, it makes for the perfect ending to a shopping spree.

Coming to the dishes that I savoured that evening, wanting something chill to beat the summer heat, I went in for their speciality ice coffee which is called as ‘Ice Blended’. Curious to know what was so special in them, I enquired with a member of their staff who informed me that the Ice Blended coffees have no Ice Cream whatsoever in them. Thoughts started to run in my mind as to how good it was going to be and still decided to take the plunge. Being accompanied with another friend, we ordered for the ‘Dark Chocolate Ice Blended’ & ‘Hazelnut Ice Blended’. Usually not a big fan of dark chocolate but was just a bit curious as it was their flavour of the month. 
(Dark Chocolate Ice Blended)
(Hazelnut Ice Blended)
When the coffees were brought to our table, they looked ravishing. Was very impressed with the way the glass had a paper handle to ensure it wasn’t too cold to hold similar to the ones that is usually served with hot drinks. First sip of the dark chocolate and I was stunned. Had I not been informed that there weren’t any ice cream in it, I would have mistook it for being loaded with the same. The coffee was very rich and had a perfect balance of the bitterness of the dark chocolate and the creaminess of the milk. The hazelnut variant was also top notch with the right amount of flavouring, again extremely voluminous. On further enquiry, I was told that they use a special type of Ice that is patented by ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ which enables them to produce this creamy texture. The manager was courteous enough to show me a sample of the ice that is being used. The texture was so soft and fluffy unlike the ice that we all know.
(Oreo Mocha Cheesecake)
(Almond Biscotti)
(Blueberry Muffin)
To go along with the beverages, we had ordered for an ‘Oreo Mocha Cheesecake’, ‘Blueberry Muffin’ & an ‘Almond Biscotti’. Being a major dessert fan, I dived into the cheesecake while sipping onto my ice blended. The cheesecake amazed me as it was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve had in Chennai. Just like the popular saying, “First impression is the best impression”, the moment my cutlery sliced into the cake, and the result was out. The cake was perfect in texture, softness and the flavour above all. With the strong flavour of mocha complementing the cream cheese, it was part of heaven. I truly declare their cheesecake to be the best as of now in Chennai. I’ve heard about another of their cheesecake which is be renowned worldwide to be the best in their menu and it’s called the ‘Philadelphia Cheese Cake’. Unfortunately it was out of shelf the day I visited and just can’t wait to try it soon. Coming to the ‘Almond Biscotti’, this again was a clear winner. The texture provided the rugged look a biscotti deserves but once you take a bite you will realize that it isn’t that hard as you had imagined from the looks. The ‘Blueberry Muffin’ was gigantic and brings to memories all the muffins that we see on international culinary shows. These kind of muffins are the perfect accompaniments for hot teas and as we had ordered iced coffees that evening, we felt that the muffin was slightly out of place. But coming to the muffin itself, the blueberry filling was generous and the muffin screamed blueberry with every mouthful.
(Ice for the Ice Blended Beverages)
The accompaniments along with one beverage for each of us by itself were so filling that we realized that what started out as a casual visit to the coffee shop turned into a sort meal for the evening. The quality of the fare was outstanding and can’t wait to head back again to try the other dishes on the menu. While the Ice Blended coffee was priced around ₹ 180 each, the cheese cake was ₹ 175 and the biscotti & the muffin was priced about ₹ 80 each.

‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ is located at the First Floor of the Phoenix Market City in Velachery and will cost about ₹ 350 per person for a fulfilling beverage and a sumptuous accompaniment.

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Thursday 6 December 2012

With a short break of one week, it was time for yet another CFG Showcase. The move by many restaurateurs to invite CFG members to their restaurant for a Showcase seems to be improving as the months go by. I am sure this is because they can clearly see the advantage of having a CFG Showcase both from a culinary perspective as well as from a PR perspective. 
(Inside Seating Area)
Coming to this week's showcase, Ashvita, a very cosy, niche and quite restaurant tucked inside a small lane off RK Salai had invited fellow CFG bloggers and photographers to showcase their newly revamped menu. Having been to Ashvita a couple of times more than 2 years ago, was intrigued to find out what has changed over the years and if this change still retained the atmosphere Ashvita was then known for.

Owing to sudden plans for the CFG admins, a fellow CFGian and myself were delegated with the responsibility for the showcase. This resulted in me reaching Ashvita well ahead of the others as this enabled me to have an interaction about how the evening was to unfold with Munira, the PR Co-ordinator for Ashvita and Ashwin, who owns Ashvita.
(Lounge Non Alcoholic Drink)
The CFGians slowly trickled in as the clock kept nearing the beginning time of 7:30 PM. Once all the customary introductions and camera light adjustments were made by the members, the Showcase had begun.  On behalf of CFG, I thanked Ashwin for having invited us over for the CFG Showcase and that we are eagerly looking forward to sampling his new menu. Ashwin then took over the proceedings by giving us all a brief history of Ashvita, how it started and what their core beliefs are. Ashwin also introduced the lot to a new canned drink that was on the block. A brand of Non-Alcoholic drinks called "Lounge". They were being launched at Ashvita first and will roll out in retail stores shortly. Three flavors are currently available viz., Mojito, Tonic Water and Margarita. A couple of other things that Ashwin told us was not to expect any healthy food on the menu as he believed in indulgence of taste more than health and also that they do not serve seafood, pork or beef at Ashvita.

Post Ashwin's introduction on Ashvita, the culinary magic begun. One thing that I was thoroughly impressed at this particular Showcase was that we were not huge portions on a single plate. Instead they served small sample size portions to everyone and some dishes were prepared to be shared by 2. This helps a lot in a Showcase as the photographers can be at peace taking their own time to capture the smiles on the food.
(Asian style Tomato soup with Pasta and Egg)
(Garlic and Mushroom Cream Soup)
(Chicken Shorba with Caramelized Onion and Egg)
(Peas and Spinach Cream Soup)
(Pumpkin Coriander Soup)
The showcase began with a tasting session for the soups. We were served with not one or two but with five different soups. First on the table was "Asian style Tomato soup with Pasta and Egg". The soup was light and had good flavors but was a little too peppery for my liking. The pasta and the egg complimented the textures of the soup. Next was "Garlic and Mushroom Cream soup". This was a favourite with many. The garlic were roasted perfectly and mushroom well cooked and gave the right amount of crunch that was needed in the soup. The third entrant was "A Chicken Shorba with Caramelized Onion and Egg". Yes the inspiration for Ashwin was the French Onion Soup but it funneled down into this soup. As it is a Shorba, it had strong flavorings of Chicken along with caramelized onion that were not too strong and the usual egg floats. Next came the "Peas and Spinach Cream soup". This one definitely had some tweaking to do. To start with the texture was coarse and tasted a little too bland. Amongst all the soups, this was the only one that most of us used additional seasonings to bring the flavor. Last but not the least of the dishes we were to sample was the "Pumpkin Coriander Soup". A pumpkin soup was a first to me. Felt the textures of the pumpkin were well balanced with the tinge from the coriander. This was a normal clear soup sans the pumpkin and coriander flavoring. Some had suggested that the pumpkin be julienne'd rather than being used as chunks. The soup tasting session was filled with fun n frolic. I would rate the soups in the following order of awesomeness,
  1. Garlic and Mushroom Cream soup
  2. A Chicken Shorba with Caramelized Onion and Egg
  3. Asian style Tomato soup with Pasta and Egg
  4. Pumpkin Coriander Soup
  5. Peas and Spinach Cream soup
(Crispy Spinach and Sprouts)
(Inverted Masala Papad)
(Grilled Chicken and Cheese)
Once the soup tasting ended, we were immediately flooded with the starters. The starters were rushing from the kitchen at such a pace that we had to ask Ashwin and Munira to slow down the pace. The first starter to reach the table was the "Crispy Spinach and Sprouts". This was true to its name, Crispy. But for those of you who immediately associated Spinach and Sprouts with being a healthy food, you are absolutely to be mistaken. Like Ashwin had informed earlier, their is no diet/healthy food. The Sprouts and Spinach were perfectly fried and that gave them the amazing crunchiness. Next was another innovative dish, the "Inverted Masala Papad". This was nothing more but a regular papad rolled like a cone having the only healthy filling of the evening, mixed chat masala. The next starter was from the continental kitchen, "Grilled Chicken and Cheese". This was an instant favorite with the poultry lovers. The chicken juicy and was perfectly grilled with the right amount of cheese. In fact the cheese was not too strong to take away the flavors from the chicken by being too cheesy rather was of the right amount to complement the grilled chicken.
(Kakori Kebab)
(Onion Rings Salt Pepper)
(Punjabi Breakfast)
(Fried Rice Corn Tikki)
Following the grilled chicken, we were served upon with a dish I think known as "Kakori Kebab". But this was with a different take on it. Instead of the traditional kebab, this had minced lamb rolled in a thin wrap of egg. With the right amount of spices incorporated into the kebab, they were delicious. After the continual attack of meat, we were served a very simple dish with a twist. "Onion Rings Salt Pepper" as they named it. Being a major fan of onion rings, like the experimentation that was done in this dish. The dish that followed had its share of questions and answers. Called "Punjabi Breakfast", we were served a dish that consisted of boiled eggs, veggies and a sweet roti. Though Ashwin called it a Punjabi Breakfast, a fellow CFGian who happens to be a Punjabi was giving his insight that Punjabi's do not eat Sweet Roti's for breakfast. This ought to be more of the Gujarati/Maharashtrian type. The feedback was well received by Ashwin and he guaranteed that the origins will be researched upon once again. What followed next was yet another dish that was sweet. The "Fried Rice Corn Tikki" wasa tad bit sweet but they were deliciously crispy and light on the palate.
(Sesame Chicken)
(Fried Momos)
(Steamed Chicken Momos)
(Chicken Lipta)
Following the string of vegetarian dishes, came the winner dish of the evening. The "Sesame Chicken", as it was called was a clear notch above rest of the dishes that were served during the course of the evening. The dish was a chicken kebab with sesame flavorings. The chicken was succulent and cooked to perfection with the flavoring of sesame felt floating above the chicken. Just as quickly the dish arrived it disappeared in a jiffy. Following this we were presented with two different types of "Momos". The first one was a fried variant while the latter was steamed momos with chicken. They tasted pretty much the same barring the crunchiness felt in the fried one. The last of the non-vegetarian starters was a dish called "Chicken Lipta". Although looks similar to the crispy chicken dishes available at Chinese restaurants, this was a completely Indian dish. Though wasn't as crispy as expected it was certainly packed with strong flavors.
(Paneer Mushroom Jariyawala)
(Potato Chat)
(Mushroom Gotiya)
The last few dishes that arrived brought back the delight on our vegetable loving friends. The "Paneer Mushroom Jariyawala" was a typical Indian tandoori dish. The paneer was soft but the mushroom was a bit too slimy to my liking. This was followed by the "Potato Chat" and "Mushroom Gotiya". The Potato Chat was more of diced baked potatoes along with some veggies and a dressing. As the dish was placed away from us, the carnivores, I decided to skip it. The Mushroom Gotiya was another tandoori dish but the mushrooms in this were more palatable.
(Big Boss - Chicken)
(Big Boss - Paneer Tikka)
(Big Boss - Kashmiri)
Following the starters, came a completely surprising dish. Called the "Big Boss", it was indeed the big boss of all dishes at Ashvita. Customizable to suit your needs, we were served with three variants of Big Boss viz., Chicken, Panner Tikka and Kashmiri. Well the Big Boss is more like a take on pizzas. The base is replaced by a thick roti on top of which are the toppings and dressings as per your preference.  The Chicken Big Boss was my favorite among the lot. With chunks of chicken and potato with a dressing of mayonnaise, the big boss was just yummy. The Panner Tikka was similar to the Chicken variant except that it had more cheese and a lot more vegetables. The Kashmiri Big Boss was quite different from the previous two. It was in fact packed with wonderful flavours of dry fruits and nuts that it tasted like a mix n match of sweet and savoury dish.
(Assorted Indian Breads)
Once all the big boss's were eliminated by us, Ashwin threw a much bigger task for us. The Buffet was now open for us to sample. CFGians who always are excited to taste food practically gave up this evening. After a stomach filling sampling of 5 soups and 17 starters, none had the capacity to have a buffet dinner. Some totally skipped it while others decided to take small servings to sample. The main course on the offering were

  • Vegetable Jalfrezi
  • Badami Chicken
  • Bhuna Gosht
  • Roasted Lamb in Mint & Coriander sauce
  • Dal Makhni
  • Mushroom & Tomato Rice
  • Coloured Plain Saffron Rice
  • Pan Fried Noodles
  • Indian Breads - Egg Paratha, Gobi Paratha & Bajra Roti
After tasting so many dishes, I had by now lost the sense of taste. But one dish that really impressed me was the Badami Chicken. It had a rich taste of badam in which the chicken was cooked as a gravy. The rest of the dishes were palatable excepting the Mushroom & Tomato rice which many felt didn't pack much flavor. The Egg paratha though tasty lacked some seasoning. It was also a bit heavy on the palate.
(Oreo Milkshake)
(Mocha Milkshake)
(Kit Kat Milkshake)
Once we had settled down and relaxed after the short main course, we were all excited for the samples that were to arrive next. Yes the ever wonderful desserts. To the excitement of all of us, Ashwin again revealed that we will be sampling 6 desserts. The desserts round started with the arrival of "Oreo Milkshake". It was very appetizing to have the Oreo Milkshake after such indulgence in the starters that one full glass was empty in a single gulp. The next on the table was the "Mocha Milkshake", which as the name suggests was a little heavy on the coffee and a bit too liquidy for a milkshake. The final milkshake was made up of one of my all time favorite chocolate, the "Kit Kat Milkshake". Being my favorite flavoring, I had absolutely no complains on this. 
(Beetroot Halwa)
(Vanilla Cake)
(Citrus Cake)
Following this attack of milkshakes came the desi "Beetroot Halwa". I would rate the Beetroot Halwa at Ashvita as one of the best I've tasted anywhere. It was perfectly cooked, with the required amount of crispiness while at the same time retaining the juicy content of the beetroot infused with milk and sugar. It was so yum that I requested for another serving of the same. The last desserts to be served were "Citrus Cake" and "Vanilla Cake". Nothing extraordinary about the cakes as they were basic sponge cakes with a flavored icing on the top. The flavoring seemed perfect in both the cakes.

With this marathon tasting session, came the end of the CFG Showcase at Ashvita. The owner, Ashwin, was kind enough to be with us the entire time and clearing our doubts while taking feedback on how the dishes fared. As it was well past 10 PM, all of us were in a hurry to get going and I made an impromptu vote of thanks to Ashwin for providing us with the opportunity to have such a wonderful evening and for taking our feedback in the right spirit. 

In terms of pricing, they seem to have mastered this art as usual. Just like the earlier times, they have been able to find a good balance between what is a affordable price with that of an exorbitant price. I'm sure those who visit Ashvita will agree that it is wallet friendly for the ambience and the food that you get here.

Ashvita is located in RK Salai after Hotel President (opp. to Dominos Pizza). You will find a big board that says Ashvita at the entrance of a small lane. Enter that lane and you will have Ashvita on your right. They have Valet Parking too.

P.S: This seems to be my longest post so far. At last count was 2k plus. Kudos to Ashvita for setting an example for a Showcase.

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Saturday 1 December 2012

Talk about chocolates and tell me who doesn't love them. Gone are the days when chocolates were associated only with children. It is very common now for everyone to indulge in the fantasies of chocolates. Today's blog is about a sweet's story that is 'The Sweet Story'.

It was a regular get together of a few foodies at Pizza Republic and assuming that I would be indulging only on pizzas, I was at Pizza Republic totally unprepared for what was in store. In due course of the evening, I was informed that today would be the launch of a new home venture by Chestha Malik. Known as 'The Sweet Story', it indeed led to a very sweet story about how the rest of the evening transpired. 
(Rocky Road)
'The Sweet Story' is an attempt at making different dishes mostly with a single core ingredient. Almost every offering from The Sweet Story makes use of this ingredient in one form or the other. I'm sure you would have guessed that wonderful ingredient by now, yes Chocolates.

After having relocated to Chennai from New Delhi, Chestha Malik and her husband have followed their long time passion of sharing joy by means of dishing out different dishes made up of chocolates. The concept behind The Sweet Story  is that you can not only order for home made chocolates but take it a step further by also ordering home made desserts based on chocolates. 

Arriving a little behind schedule, this team of husband and wife instantly got on with the preparations for the launch of The Sweet Story. While the foodies were anticipating what was in store for us, Mr. Ramki from Pizaa Republic delighted us with another of his specialty. Keeping in theme, he dished out a very unique Dessert Pizza with sauce of chocolate and other sweet toppings (More on than at a later post).

(Dessert Pizza/Courtesy: Bharani Shivakumar)
Once the offerings from The Sweet Story were aesthetically arranged on a make shift display table, all we foodies pounced upon each other to see what was so special. Boy were we excited. The entire table was filled with delicacies that had the chocolate stamped all over it. Even a chocolate hater would have converted to an ardent chocolate lover. No wonder Chocolates are aphrodisiac. This was the moment I truly regretted for not having my camera with me. But that did not stop me as the spread was so tempting and a review worthy. So I ended up borrowing the camera from Chestha's husband to start with the clicks. 
(The Sweet Story)
To begin with, let me first list all the desserts that were presented to us.
  • Rocky Road
  • Fruit Trifle
  • Boozy Coffee Pana Cotta
  • Watermelon & Blackcurrant Cup Cakes
  • Chocolate Mousse
  • Chilly Chocolates
  • Berry filled Chocolates
  • Sweet Hearts
  • Chocolate enrobed fresh Strawberries
  • Marzipan soft centered chocolates in Water Melon, Blackcurrant & Caramel
  • Ginger Pineapple Pudding
(Boozy Coffee Pana Cotta)
(Cup Cakes)
To start with, the Rocky Road was just as the name suggests, a real rocky road with a different taste with every bite. The Rocky Road was also the name banner for The Sweet Story. The Fruit Trifle was a nice dosage of fruits with a small quantity of chocolate and was indeed very refreshing after the pizzas. The Boozy Coffee Pana Cotta were infact boozy. It had an almost impeccable balance between coffee and chocolate and was served in a beautiful miniature cup. Though didn't personally taste the cupcakes, heard from peers that it was mind blowing. 
(Chilly Chocolate & Berry filled Chocolate)
(Chocolate Mousse)
(Chocolate enrobed Strawberries)
Coming to the Chocolate Mousse, it was so rich and creamy that I had instantly fell in love with it. It will probably be one of the best mousses I've ever had. In regards to the different flavored chocolates, the chilly really took me by surprise as this was the first time I was indulging in one. It had a tinge of the chilly which was complimented by the smoothness of the chocolate. The Marzipan's were really chocolaty and the caramel one that I had was very subtle with the taste of caramel along with chocolate. The Chocolate enrobed fresh Strawberries was probably the closest competitor to the Chocolate Mousse. I guess that reveals how yummy they were. The strawberries were not too sour but were of the right taste. After this enormous indulgence with the different chocolates, decided to skip the pudding. I heard good opinions about this too from the other foodies gathered there.

If just reading the review made you yearn for chocolate, then wait no further. You can also begin your indulgence in yummy varieties of chocolates immediately. All you need to do is mail Chestha Malik at or call her on +91 98405 99101. You can also check out their facebook page at

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Sunday 25 November 2012

The voice of someone screaming Ice Cream!!! Ice Cream!!! Ice Cream!!! on the streets... 

Does this sound familiar to you? For many of us who grew up in India, we are so accustomed to the Ice Cream Man/Wala who pushes his ice cream cart through our streets. His mere voice will instantly transform us into joy and pleasure. I still remember vividly that my ice cream man even knew the flavours that I liked. Well that was an Era. The only ice cream carts you get to see now are in the beach and an ice cream endor on your streets is like a miracle. 

Thanks to the advent of commercialization of grocery/kirana stores, one now no longer need to depend on the street vendors to have an ice cream  But over the last decade or so, even this has changed. The concept of ice cream parlours cropped up almost all over the city. But then people started getting bored with these parlours as they kept serving the same monotonous ice creamover and over again.

This lead to a paradigm shift in the ice cream parlour business in Chennai. The result of people getting bored with the usual ice cream gave birth to a new trend of specialty ice cream parlours. Over the last couple of years a large number of such specialty ice cream parlours have opened in Chennai. Some were internationally known brands while others were budding entrepreneurs with a creative idea. 

One such ice cream parlour that serves up on specialty ice creams  in Chennai is Bellaria. Bellaria, which in Latin means desserts, prides itself in promoting their ice cream as "Completely customized Ice Creams". Yes, true to their commitment, the ice creams at Bellaria are completely customized. Owned and run by Mrs. Avanthi Vissa & her husband, Bellaria prepares ice creams customized to your preferences right before your eyes. 

(Order Wall)
The process starts by first selecting an ice cream flavouring. Once you choose the flavour, your order is noted on the wall (Yes, you read it right on the wall). Then you get to choose what kind of milk would you like your ice cream to be made with. The available options are Regular, Fat Free, Soy & Coconut Milk. Next you select the type of sugar. Again the options are Regular, Brown & Alternate. Now the process kicks in. All the ingredients are blended into a thick cream like consistency in a blender. 
(Cream being poured evenly)
(Spread across the Ice Pan)
(Ice Cream ready)
The flavoured cream is them poured over a refrigerated plate called 'Ice Pan'. This Ice pan has the capability to freeze the cream and convert it into a ice cream in less than 3 minutes. I was amazed at how quickly the ice cream had set. This is worked on and if you would prefer some toppings, the same is added and given to you. There you have, your very own customized ice cream made right in front you.

I had ordered a Honey Cinnamon ice cream and an Oreo ice cream to start with. While the ice creams were being prepared I decided to beat my time by quickly having a cupcake. The cupcake was from Adoniya, who had recently started making available their produce at Bellaria.
(Choco Vanilla Cupcake, Adoniya)
(Honey-Cinnamon Ice Cream)
(Oreo Ice Cream & Cup Cake)
The ice cream tasted fresh and creamy unlike the frozen one. It was more on the lines of a gelatto. The flavourings were perfect on the Honey Cinnamon ice cream while the Oreo ice cream had a little too strong flavouring of Oreos. Maybe this could just be a personal preference. Overall, the ice creams were pretty tasty and cannot really be compared with other specialty ice cream parlours as the concept here is indeed unique. Coming to the price point, they start their standard ice creams from Rs. 80 and extend their range upto Rs. 200. It depends on how you customized your ice cream. Also most of their ingredients are imported. 

Final verdict... 

A very different and unique concept... A must go for all the health conscious ice cream lovers... 

P.S: below is a video of their ice cream making method. 

Bellaria is located in Alwarpet. If you are coming from Cenotaph Road, Bellaria is right before the IN gate of Park Sheraton. 

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