Some Easter beauties...

... para nossa inspiração! Que cores vão utilizar na vossa decoração de Páscoa? Ou é um almoço tradicional, sem grandes preocupações de enfeites ou cores?

Aqui vos deixo algumas ideias de combinações e pequenos apontamentos com o tema da Páscoa, da Primavera e das crianças... e com algumas peças bem antiguinhas, que eu adoro - acho-as sempre lindas e puras, como o papel de embrulho maravilhoso com os bebés menino e menina, ou o coelhinho da Páscoa com os seus ovinhos e cores garridas. E não me canso de perguntar: por que é que não se fazem mais coisas assim??...

... for our inspiration! Which colours will you be using this year? Or will your Easter lunch be a traditional one, with no particular care on colour or decoration?

I leave you with some ideas and details for Easter, reminding us of Spring and childhood... of course I couldn't forget some of my vintage treasures, such as the lovely wrapping paper with the baby boys and girls, as well as the Bunny centrepiece... And I can't help but wonder: why don't they do such beautiful things anymore??
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CBC meets at Zha Cafe & an anniversary

And finally it was 24th February. The day! What was so special or significant? Well, I was looking forward to attending the Chennai Bloggers meet [that also included a book exchange/sale] We had all been sharing book titles, reserving books, chatting away and generally creating a lot of buzz about the meet. It was my 1st time at the CBC meet, though i'd met quite a few during the Indiblogger meet and subsequently for the Evam Stand up show as well. The meet was happening at Zha Cafe, Adyar. 

This was my 2nd or 3rd visit to Zha Cafe in Adyar.. Well, technically 2nd since the actual 2nd visit turned out to be "oops, the place is shut, let us go sit in CCD" meet. You can read about the place here.

Would you believe it? The last time I was here at Zha cafe was on Feb 24th 2012, Friday and this year I was back there on Feb 24th, Saturday!! So, this is the anniversary post :D

I walked in around 3.10pm only to see the room at the far end filled with people, all standing yapping away. I looked around for a familiar face to make sure I was at the right event.  Ah, there was Kalyan, and then I spotted Bragadeesh, Aravind, Jothi and few others... Saying Hi Hello I finally met Susan Deborah [one of the admins and a pen pal of sorts.. we had been exchanging letters/postcards for a while and this was the 1st time we were meeting] 

Soon it was time to settle down and behave.. lol... Making sure there was a tiny pathway for the staff to walk around, we squatted wherever there was a square inch, or more. A round of introductions, some leg pulling, chocolates from Singapore courtesy Prashant and the meet was well underway. Arasi of Zha cafe kept sending out drinks, sandwiches, vada, smoothies and we were all in high spirits through the evening. A special mention to the vada- they were sinfully hot & good.. 

The book exchange section was fun, it was an opportunity to not only meet fellow book worms but come across rare books, authors I hadnt read and to learn of different tastes. It was also an evening where I learnt how some are looking at doing more than just meeting and blogging. Mahesh, Sashi & Venkat spoke about using CBC to make a difference to the society. Spend a few hours every week, help those in need, share the knowledge and change a few lives... make them better!!

The backyard [if I may call it that] at Zha cafe is just as beautiful as the front or interiors. There were a few stone benches, stones made of paper mache lit up, and green picket fences of sorts all around. 
The postcard I chose..

The postbox 

As the evening drew to a close, I looked forward to the postcard that Zha cafe is famous for. They have postcards that you can pick up, write a message and a To address on and drop into the Postbox in the main hall. They stamp it, post it and it is a cool endeavor to keep the tradition going! I for one Love this concept and hope they continue it for as long as they can!! 

One of the other rooms

This is a place where one can chill with a book and a cup of kaapi or kadala mittai, or maybe just enjoy a game of snakes and ladders or pallankuzhi. It is a cafe with a difference, there are no speakers blaring loud music, nor is there a TV showcasing cricket match or some random news channel. It is a space that allows you to do what you want to do. The rooms are all done up in different themes - kerala style with a boat, rajasthani style with jharokas and puppets, movie theme with chairs labelled Director, actor and shelves lined with movie posters, or the room with a life size snakes & ladder game board. 

So, next time you are looking for a place that is different or curious about Tamizh and traditional games, head over to Zha cafe.. They have an outlet in Porur as well :-) 

Where is Zha Cafe?

Kamaraj Avenue 2nd St, Rukmani Nagar, 
Chennai -600020
Ph- 044 4211 6027


10, Shakthi Nagar,
Mount Poonamallee Road,
Porur,Chennai -600166.
Phone : 044-30064810.
(Behind ICIC bank and next to Shell Petrol Bunk)

What is Chennai Bloggers Club?

Well, as the name states, all of us hail from Chennai [or have some connection to the city] and are bloggers :-) Visit the 
Facebook page to know more
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Noodles & Company Giveaway!

Have you ever heard of the restaurant Noodles?  We've been there several time over the last few years and love it.  This last summer, I went there with a bunch of girls and I ordered the Backyard BBQ Salad.  I LOVED it and kept wanting to go back and get another.  It's out of season now but I hope it comes back this summer.
February is also actually heart disease awareness month. Although you don't always think of pasta being the healthiest meal option: A great pasta option that's recommended for a heart-healthy diet is whole wheat pasta. To offer you a heart-healthy pasta option, Noodles serves whole wheat linguine. It's featured in their Whole Grain Tuscan Linguine.

I went with the salad last summer because I'm trying to eat gluten free now. Well, when I explored their website last week, I found out that you can sub rice noodles for regular noodles. 
I was skeptical if they'd actually be good.  Uh, they were awesome.  The picture above shows the Penne Rosa with chicken with the rice noodles. The portion was huge, my daughter Danielle and I split it.  It was super flavorful and it had just a little zip to it.  Perfect!

We also shared the Spinach and Fresh Fruit Salad.  We weren't quite as impressed by the salad.  There wasn't much dressing and all the chunks just fell to the bottom.  My friend has tried the Med Salad and loves it.
Hubs got the Japanese pan noodles and loved them. I'm pretty sure he always gets these. He's not much for change. The portion was huge again. It might not look so huge in the picture but there are a LOT of noodles here! 

My oldest son Jacob ordered the Mac and Cheese. This is certainly one of the higher calorie items on the menu but he's 13, he can handle it. He's pretty picky with his food but he loved this and said it had a ton of cheese, which he loves.
Jory stuck to his usual.  Spaghetti and Meatballs.  He pretty much orders Spaghetti and Meatballs wherever he goes.  He did say that this spaghetti ranked right up there with his favorite.  Pretty high marks for a 10 year old boy who has tried many, many dishes of spaghetti in his short lifetime.

 Noodles & Company' has a new "menu map" online, that helps customers navigate menu choices that are available for 500 calories or less. You can check it out here:
Noodles is letting me give one of my readers, 2 free bowls of pasta or salad. I just gave you a few of the many, many Noodles choicesCheck out their website and find all the tasty, healthy choices they have.  Come on back and leave a comment letting me know which dishes sound awesome to you. 

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Saturday Pizza Night

Saturday night is often pizza night at our red house.

I make a double quantity of a simple pizza dough and roll it out to fit two large rectangular trays.

Usually I make a vegetarian pizza and one with some kind of meat, such as bacon or ham.

Last night the vegetarian pizza was topped with caramelised onion and garlic; tomatoes, grilled squash, silverbeet and basil from the garden; and some pre-cooked slices of potato.  The other pizza had bacon, ham, caramelised onion and tomato.

If I don't have mozzarella cheese on hand I grate a little of whatever cheese I have.  Last night I used colby.  Then it was into a very hot oven for 12-15 minutes.

The advantage of home-made pizza is that it is cheap and you can control the quality of toppings and the amount of cheese used, leading to a healthier meal.  And home-made pizza tastes really good.
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Back from a Blogging Break

Walking from Middleton to Port Elliot, January 2013
I realised that I hadn't blogged for a long time when I logged into my Blogger account today and discovered 76 spam comments awaiting moderation.

I deleted the whole lot and now feel ready for a fresh start.

Anyhow, here's a brief update on life at our red house.

I'm still working four days a week and juggling family life, the house and garden, and a range of other commitments.  Life is busy but fun. 

In 2012 my eldest son finished school with a fantastic ATAR (Australian tertiary admission rank) and a merit (perfect score) in physics. He will begin university in March, doing a double degree in electrical/electronic engineering and mathematical/computer sciences.  At this stage he plans to major in maths.

My daughter is 16 and in year 11.  She combines a part-time job, schoolwork and a very active social life with apparent ease.

My second son is in year 9 and enjoys sailing and debating.  Tomorrow he will compete in his first regatta as skipper.

Finally, my youngest is nine and the most cheerful, happy young fellow you could ever meet.  He is a joy to us all.
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Aromas of China in Chennai

Yet another Thursday evening amidst friends, and this time we were at a new restaurant on Khader Nawaz khan road. Over the past few days I’ve noticed that quite a few places have shut, but a few new ones have cropped up. “Out with the old, in with the new” I guess and wondered how long these new places will survive… But that road has changed drastically over the years, it has become a landmark locality of sorts in the city. A road known for the “poshness”, high end shopping, eating and lounging.

Ok, so I headed up the elevator to the 2nd floor and noticed Aromas of China on the left and Khansama on the other side. They both belong to the same group of hotels. At the entrance was welcomed by a giant Buddha face on the wall and a lion near the maitre de’s table.

Slide into the space on the sofa, was a tad tight, but what the hell... Chit chatted and while waiting for the soup, nibbled on the Kim chi and tried to pick a few with chopsticks and must say I succeeded. Yayy!! Along came the soup, veg sweet corn soup- it was bland and felt empty. I added quite a bit of Chilli in vinegar water and soy sauce to add some flavour. Reminded me of the good ol days when Sweet corn soup used to taste exactly like this[bland that is].  I wondered and joked that maybe the guy who orders the spices was out of town or gone missing!!

 And then came the series of Veg starters- 1st came the momo, tried picking it up with chopsticks and did succeed. Was reminded of Kung Fu panda where Master Shifu & Panda train with a bowl of momos..This momo was just about alright, I've had better, what was missing? Flavouring, n it was nothing like the momos i've eaten [heck I even make em at home] !! .Anyways, back to food, there were quite a few corn based items- one was corn cooked in white sauce with other veggies; another was crispy corn which i liked, and finally came the Crispy fried veggies[ an assortment of veggies- cauliflower, carrot and baby corn]. I ate these with ample chilli sauce, and the mustard sauce. There was another sauce which was dark in colour, nearly black, a black pepper sauce [if i remember right]

In between mouthfuls we caught up on life, and everything else, while some were busy photographing the place and the people. For a Thursday evening the place was nearly full, which had me amazed [Chennai people do get out, amazing] The main dishes began coming out, one by one. The 1st in line was Noodles [which was quite good, esp since i prefer noodles over rice any day]. It was served along side a mix veg gravy [don’t know the name], it had cauliflower, snow peas, baby corn, capsicum and onion [tasted alright, like any Chinese dish]. The other dish was Veg dumpling, which had a flat cutlet kind of dumpling in soy based sauce. I liked it..especially since the other one was very bleh. I noticed the restaurant slowly filling up, and buzzing with customers. Always good to see a packed house :)

Then came the Schezwan Rice, it was red in colour making me wonder how spicy it was, but with the 1st spoonful I realised it wasn’t spicy at all. The rice was just about cooked and had a generous splash of spring onion, i wondered if perhaps they added colour to give it that scary look.

Ok, so where were we? Ah yes, food. We waited and waited, laughing, catching up, cracking up and some more when suddenly there were the waiter serving us some yumm looking desserts. The 1st one was Daarsaan [ flat noodles deep fried coated with honey and served with a few chopped up almonds] and vanilla ice cream. Now, I am not a big fan of Vanilla ice cream, but I did like this one and it went well with the dessert.  The other one was a spring roll of sorts, it resembled a cigar, except this had gooey chocolate inside and was HOT. Lip smacking, so much so that I had a 2nd piece and another dollop of ice cream to go with it.

Well, even though the food is Indo-Chinese, the kind we get almost everywhere, and even though I've had better food, if one was to go by the crowd piling into the restaurant, I’d say the place was a roaring success. They are doing something right.. whatever that is!

Ambiance: The only quip I have is the sofa seating was very uncomfortable, getting in, sitting and the cushions, almost got backache, request the management to change the cushions
Price: A meal for 2 should cost around Rs1500 [little more if you are Non veg

Aromas Of China 
2nd Floor, #15, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, 
Nungambakkam, Chennai- 34
Ph- +(91)-9962379494 | 43178111
The place where Mocha was, it is  opp the building with Kryptos/Atmosphere.

This was part of a CFG Showcase that I attended and was conducted by Chennai Food Guide.

The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :-) 
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Zuka, Pondicherry

"Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies." - John Q. Tullius

Imagine being surrounded by Chocolates- in their true form, as mousse, cakes, pastries, drinks and much more? It would be heaven for those who love Chocolate. Now, even though I am not crazy about Chocolates, I don't mind indulging once in a while. 

When I was visiting Pondicherry last week, a friend of mine who lives there insisted on taking me to this new dessert place that she said was "awesome". So, we drove down towards Mission Street, almost to the end and there was "ZUKA". My friend mentioned they were earlier called Choco- la. 

We walked in and were greeted by Srinath Balachandar, the man behind Zuka. He also owns the cafe next door where they serve Sandwiches and quiche, soon they will be serving Coffee he told us. 

Simple interiors, a grand display counter and about 2-3 tables with chairs to sit and indulge in. The display showcases the variety of desserts made using chocolate, each one such a treat for the eyes. Srinath went on to tell me about his favorites and those that he recommends. He suggested I try the Hot chocolate and I took him up on it, while my friend went for the "awesome cake", it was a multi layer cake with hazelnut filling combined with chocolate layers. 

 My hot chocolate arrived within seconds, a small cup with the drink, served alongside two small square cups made of chocolate containing chocolate shavings [to be added to the drink], a normal spoon and a spoon made of chocolate [that melts as you stir] .. It was hot, rich, sinful and divine.

The Awesome cake did full justice to its name. Every layer was different and the flavours came together beautifully.  [the one on the right in the photograph below]

Art decor at ZUKA... 

A chocolate bouquet... 

Wait, am not done. You are in for a surprise. The next day, once again, just before bidding Pondy adieu we decided to visit Zuka. Yes, twice in 2 days.. :-) 

This time we decided to try something different. I once again turned to Srinath who recommended the Expresso mousse dessert, it came in a shot glass and with every spoonful there was a burst of coffee in my mouth. 

My friend ordered the Crunchy Caramel cake, a soft cake where the base had been soaked[rather sprayed] with caramel sauce and topped with crunchy caramel bits. Yumm... 

Started in 2009, "Choco- Là" by Srinath Balachandran is a place that does true justice to Chocolates. While chatting with him, came to know he went to France and worked in the master chocolate maker Mr. Jean Luc Klugesherz's chocolate kitchen. He imports all the raw materials from Belgium and makes each of the items here in Pondicherry.  

Choco Là gift boxes, T-shirts and mugs are also available! They even had a portrait of Thalaivar, Rajinikanth made from Chocolate up on display. 

Most items on the menu are priced between Rs50 and Rs80. Next time you are in Pondy, make a beeline for Mission Street, and you will find Zuka right there... It is also adjacent to Pasta Bar Veneto. 

Ambiance: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Price: 8/10
Overall: 9/10
Open daily from 9.30am to 10.30pm
# 319 Mission Street
Ph- (0413) 222 1191

The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :-)
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I have a memory of popovers from when I was really young. They obviously didn't make a regular appearance at meals because I remember them being special. Like for company or something. 

I hadn't had a popover since.  Until now.

I've seen recipes now and then around the internet and always think, 'I need to make those!"  But never do.

Until now.

For The Secret Recipe Club this month, I was assigned NY City Eats. Lacy has a whole bunch of awesome recipes.  I seriously spent about 2 hours debating what to make. I have many printed that will get made soon for sure!

I had to choose the popover recipe when I saw it though.  They looked so easy.  I'm not much of a baker so I had my doubts.  I thought for sure they wouldn't resemble the popovers that I remembered at all. Boy was I wrong!  These came out perfect!  Crunchy on the outside and soft and hollow on the inside.  I so should have gotten a picture of them from the inside. I was so proud of them!

We all loved the popovers but I specifically had my son Jacob in mind when I made them. He's all about bread. It seems like all he eats is bread.  As expected, he loved them and at most of them.  I've actually made this recipe twice.  I meant to try to make a gluten free version but didn't get a chance. I have no idea if it would even work but I want to give it a shot. I'll let you know if it works. :-)

Recipe from NYCity Eats

1 cup milk
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 450.
Have all ingredients at room temp. Butter deep muffin tin or popover pan and set aside.
Beat milk, butter, flour & salt just until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time without over beating. Pour batter in pan filling cups only 3/4 full, and place in oven immediately.
Bake at 450 for 15-17 minutes. Lower temperature to 350 without opening door. Bake about 20 minutes longer or until popovers are golden brown & you can remove them from the pan without the outside walls collapsing.

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Haji Ali once again...

It was 28th January 2013. How do i remember the date so well? It was the day I got the Tata Indica Vista D90 for review :D

 That evening piled the family into the car, and we did a drive around the city, the marina beach, a quick bite at Vrindavan, New Woodlands and finally for desserts headed to Haji Ali on Greams Road. This place had a lot of memories for all of us.. The most recent being of friends landing here after dinner while I had to head back home. And they kept sharing pictures of stuff they ordered and dug into.. grrr... 

We walked in, found a table empty near the counter and started browsing through the menu card, wondering what to order. I wanted to try something different. 

While we were pondering over what to order, I spotted an entire order of Falooda waiting to be served to another table. Requested the guys behind the counter to allow me to take a photograph :D

And finally, we placed our order and waited....Here is Gramma's Strawberries and ice cream[ she had actually wanted cream but ordered ice cream]

 d I chose the Fresh Anjeer shake 

and finally Mom's Dry fruits Falooda, 

What a fun evening it turned out to be... as always.. To read about my 1st visit to Haji ali, click here

Service: Quite prompt- 8/10
Ambiance- Cosy and comfortable -9/0
Cost- Reasonable - these costed Rs268 [approx]

Haji Ali Juice Centre 
85B, Murugesa Naikar Complex,
Greams Road. 
Call             (044) 28292220       or 28292227 for details or home delivery.
Haji Ali juice Center
#124 Sterling Point, Near Bharathirajaa Speciality Hospital & Research Centre, 
G N Chetty Road, T Nagar, Chennai - 600017
Call             (044)-28342704      ,28342705,28342706
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Tadka talk by Chef Arora, Vegetarian Delights

One of those days when I was all set to travail across the city, to the other end of the world, well not nearly other end, or of the world, but I was headed to Velachery. Yep, you read it right.. Managed to wind up work, and headed out around 5.30, as a bunch of us had decided to do a mini meet at Pheonix Market city, the newly opened mall. Surprisingly, it took me less than half an hour to reach the mall. Spent about an hour there and were once again on the road. This time to a restaurant in that part of town, Tadka Talk, behind Chennai Business School.

Tucked away in a narrow lane, the restaurant is one you just might miss if you dint know the location or its existence. Had been hearing rave reviews about it, and a few who attending the Tasting session also spoke highly of the place.

The first thing that catches your eyes as you make your way to the restaurant is the Gym, it is right there, in front of your face. Came to know there were service apartments upstairs and the gym was part of amenities for those who stayed there.

Was received by Shafee, the man who owns the restaurant. As we walked in through the thick glass doors, I fell in love with the light fixtures hanging in the corner. The reflection on the wall was beautiful. Noticed a small washroom, and we made a beeline for a quick wash.

The restaurant has 2 seating areas, with enough space between the tables. There were  a few seating area near the wall, with a park bench of sorts with colourful cushions. On the other side is an open kitchen, where we could see the dishes being cooked, while the tandoor was inside the kitchen.

The USP of this restaurant is Punjabi Ghar ka khana [home style food- literally]

The evening began with a welcome drink - Spiced kiwi & raw mango served with a slice of kiwi on a skewer. I quite liked it, though it did remind me of Hajmola, and Jaljeera.  Another drink also did the rounds, it was a Kesar badam lassi, and I liked that more than the kiwi drink [I like yoghurt based drinks].

We were then served a spicy black channa soup (choliya di rassa) - which was good, filled with flavour but felt almost like a korma[bottom left image in the photograph on top].  Just as we were trying to figure out the flavours, the starters platter arrived, it consisted of (L-R) Lahori Seekh Paneer Chollia, Paneer Amritsari and Tandoori Phul. The Seekh was just about average, I liked the paneer Amritsari,  soft and tender with the typical tangy Amritsari marinade. The Phul (made with corn) was alright [I was tad confused about flavours, it had been mashed and wrapped on a skewer]  

These were served alongside three kinds of chutneys- A raw mango one that I loved, Tamarind & date chutney and ofcourse the quintessential Green chutney [ coriander, mint & green chillies]. There was also a bowl of Cucumber raita on the table along with another small cup with a pickle of sorts.

For the main dishes, we had the Lahori Subji Biryani [ almost like a pulao overdosed with masalas] served along side 3 gravies- there was the Phul Aloo [potato cauliflower curry], it was dry and tasted ok, wish it had a bit of gravy.  The highlight among the mains was the Kadai Paneer, with nice big pieces of Paneer. Then came the Rajama, which was a dish I was looking forward but it was a let down[to be brutally honest, tasted like the one you get the ready to eat packets].

Apart from these, we sampled an assortment of Indian breads: Roti, Butter Naan and Kulcha Paratha [all 3 were good]. I was busy playing with Arnav that I dint take any pics of the main dishes. You can check them out at Deepa & Divyan's Blog.. 

There was suddenly talk of Gajar ka halwa and my mouth began watering [ I like a well made hot gajar ka halwa], but alas, we were served two other desserts, the Gulab Jamun [warm & good] and Rasmalai[dint like the overpowering rose water essence that dominated].  And with that the dinner came to an end. 

My final verdict- well, if you live around Velachery and are looking for a pure veggie restaurant, you can head here for a simple meal. Let me know what you think of it. 

This menu is priced at Rs385 plus tax, which makes it a value for money deal. Most of the items on the menu are priced around Rs190 to Rs245  

Ambiance: 8/10
Flavours & Taste: 5/10
Portion Size: 7/10

#6 & 7, Baby Nagar First Main Rd, Ramagiri Nagar, 
Chennai - 600042
Phone: 044 4321 3838
Tadka Talk is located in the narrow lane right opposite TCS Velachery, it is behind Chennai business school.


This was part of a CFG Showcase that I attended and was conducted by Chennai Food Guide
The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :-)
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