Grilled wishes, now at AB’s BBQ Hinjewadi

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All-you-can-eat can never get old. Or boring. Or obsolete. And when it comes with more options and at a competitive price, you know you’ve got the answer to ‘where do I throw my promotion party?’ or ‘where do I take my South African clients for dinner?’ The setup isn’t new at all, but comes with frills in the form of an extra live-counter (wish grill) of customizable exotic foods like zucchini, tofu and meats like octopus, squid, rabbit, emu, quail and duck.

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The menu is fairly exhaustive with options ranging from grilled veggies, cheese-loaded potatoes, kebabs and tikkas, crispy corn, chilli garlic prawns, bbq fish, jerk chicken, chicken wings and the gool ole well-done chicken tangri.

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Live counters had Paani Puri. I rest my case.

Main courses, which people rarely bother had the usual suspects like Biryanis, meats, veggies and paneer in rich gravies and noodles. Notable mentions included kurkuri bhindi, which was worth going for seconds. Honest.

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Desserts ranged from pastries and cakes to more traditional preparations (which were the better ones of the lot) likethe ras malai, phirni, and so on.

The very best dessert on the menu was the paan ice cream.

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AB’s is almost reminiscent of another popular chain of restaurants operating an all-you-can-eat model, till the point you pay the bill. That’s when you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Full marks for value and just as effective in satisfying cravings, if not a little more. I’d recommend it for the odd parties and team dinners, if you work in the neighbourhood.

 

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Out on a craic for a second innings @Irish Village, Mundhwa

The Leprechaun’s missing, but the rustic-like Jameson poster is still there to greet you. There’s about enough green to bear an Irish brand name but no Irish songs playing on the jukebox. Instead, there’s a live show by a local band and aye, it’s quare fine! I quite like my Friday evenings to begin that way!
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We were then led to our table-for-twenty and after some awkward exchanges with new faces and some warm hugs from familiar ones, we got down to business. No time was wasted in serving beer samples but I already knew what I was there for – the Stout. The wheat beer was pretty good too, but the cider and IPA weren’t as good as what I’m otherwise used to.

The Stout was well poured; the head stayed on for a while to retain a thin, but creamy lacing. It came on strong with its roasted notes and more-bitter-than-coffee-like flavors so if you’re not used to dark beers this one isn’t for you. I, on the other hand, loved it!
Wheat Beer
The wheat beer was a universally likeable well rounded sweet-citrusy, refreshing, easygoing beer. In fact it was so light, it’d even pass as a session beer. You’d have to have like four or five of those if you were looking to get plastered; not that I’m recommending it!

The IPA wasn’t as hoppy as I’d like it to be and felt a little watered down, too. And the Cider wasn’t as ‘dense’ as I’d like it to be and the sweetness seemed almost ‘forced‘ so I gave it a pass, as well.

The food was a hit-and-miss story, with the hits being –
Paneer
Chimichuri Cottage Cheese – well-marinated seared paneer that went well with green chutney. Could’ve used a little stronger marination, IMHO. Can be paired with the wheat beer.

potato
Aloo Ki nazakat – little parcels of potato and mild flavors and a palatable mixture of textures, too. Stout was what did it for me with this one.

Salt & pepper mushroom – Probably the best starter of the lot – strong on flavors (I didn’t mind the extra salt) and pan-fried just right. Frying mushrooms is tricky business. Definitely a wheat-beer partner.
Mushroom Fish
Fish in banana leaves – fragrant and succulent, these mildly steamed fish parcels were a thumbs-up for most of us. Stout material.

croquettes
Smoked Croquettes – super-mushy (and bland) on the inside but perfectly crisp and golden on the outside. Best had with the strong, piquant dip that came with it. Potatoes go down with anything.

prawn
Hot Chilli Prawns – perfectly grilled, well marinated juicy prawns that are best enjoyed by themselves. The portion size was the only issue – we wanted so many more of these!!

..And the misses being –

nachos
Nachos – well loaded and crisp, but nothing special about them. Meh.

fries
Loaded fries – Ditto like the Nachos. The fries were well done, though…if you should know.

maas
Tabak Maas – Mutton is either perfect, or it isn’t. This wasn’t. There just isn’t any middle ground. The meat felt rubbery and the flavours/textures were localised to only the coating.

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Chicken in blankets – I’ve had these aplenty when I was in the UK and had something of an  expectation, which this just didn’t come anywhere close to. There were too many confusing textures and smells and wayyy too meaty if you’re not used to it. Plus, I’m used to the pastry version.

Then came the entrées –

The Oriental dumpling soup, which came after the entrées was refreshingly nice; it was earthy, flavorsome and the dumpling were nice and juicy. The ginger notes added that extra zing to the soup. If you’re not used to thin soups, though, I wouldn’t recommend it.

farmers pizza
Among the Pizzas, I thought the Farmer pizza was better than the Irish meat feast. The Pizzas weren’t traditional, but rather ‘Indianised’ versions, so very palatable and fairly loaded, too. Not to mention that they weren’t very heavy at all (which is a good thing IMO), unlike the more commercial heavy-base pizzas that are sold by chains.

veg stroghanoff
The Veg Stroganoff was nice and cheesy, and can make for a one-pot-style meal by itself given how heavy it was.

drunken potato
The Irish drunken potato used to be so much better before, it seems like just white sauce and boiled ‘tatos, now. Shame, I quite liked this the last time I had it, here.

Whatever comes to your mind when you think ‘Butter Garlic Prawns’, un-think it. This was well-done, cheesy prawns that were (maybe) sautéed in butter and gartlic before they were drenched in white sauce. ‘Butter‘ and ‘garlic‘ seemed misleading but the preparation was nice by itself, to be fair. Just don’t think butter and garlic, think prawns with bite and in cheese, instead.

Oh, and the burgers weren’t impressive. As were the Panna Cotta and Red Velvet Cheese Cake. That’s all I have to say about it.

In summary then, I don’t take you for someone who can down more than 1-2 appetizers, 1-2 entrées and a few pints. I’d suggest skipping the stuff that doesn’t work and calling for what does; it’s that simple. Ask the few thousand regulars who seemed to have crowded at the venue. They’ll tell you.
The Irish Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

21 new surprises as Malaka turns 20!

‘Regional’ cuisines can be inspired by the ingredients locally available, those traded, traditions, climates and culture(s). Imagine a place that’s been exposed to India and China and was colonised by the British, Portugese and the Dutch. What you have is a proper medley of ingredients and cooking styles, and is probably what sets Malaysian food apart. You’d expect Chilli peppers, coconut, soy, lemongrass,  tamarind to be kitchen staples along with rice, noodles and roni canai (bread). Oh, but there’s so much more!
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Mamak and Nyonya are two such cuisines which were born out of a figurative ‘marriage’ of cultures and people. Celebrating them is Malaka Spice on a rather special occasion – their own 20th birthday!

Witness first hand to the effort that went into crafting their brand-spanking-new menu, I can wholeheartedly vouch for –

Chan Choy Tong – Malabari Mamak Spinach Soup that strikes a perfect balance between the spinach and the mutton; the texture is on point too. Best had while it’s warm.

Kanji Kedah – there’s something ‘homely’ about this soup…maybe it’s the fried onions, or maybe it’s the coconut milk or maybe it’s something else.
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Sambal Steamed Okra – just the right level of spicy, and a near re-invention of the humble ‘Bhindi
Ayam Goreng Garam Kunyit – probably the most rustic preparation in the menu; a perfect marriage of turmeric and chicken. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes delicious…just not that ‘special‘, if you’re asking.
Kurma Ayam – an interesting juxtaposition, this – simple ingredients combined together to produce such complex flavors and aromas!
Dry mutton curry – Don’t let the dry masalas and curry leaves fool you – it’s almost like it’s Tamilian cousin…mind the almostit’s Mamak after all.
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Borneo fish with Sabah veggies – I’d have these just for the Sabah veggies; for how exclusive a superfood it is and the chefs at Malaka have totally nailed the recipe.

I preferred pairing the entrées with plain rice just so I could enjoy the flavors for what they were; I didn’t much fancy Malaka’s rice preparations, to be honest.

The roti tissue was another miss for me in that its an excellent palate cleanser but it loses its near-perfect texture in mere minutes.
desserts
I’d probably have only the jaggery syrup and the ice cream bit of the Pudding Raja; the rest of it didn’t really cut it for me. But I was stuffed anyway by the time I got to this part, so maybe that was my brain telling me to stop eating. Who knows?!

Whatever the occasion or excuse, there’s now 21 more reasons to make that trip to KP! I wouldn’t wait around if I were you 😉

 

The Cologne-ization of Pune’s beer scene

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I don’t know about Reinheitsgebot and all that but if I can get a top-fermented German-esque lager this close to home, that tastes refreshingly citrusy, crisp, smells sweet-ish and looks the part, I’m happy in my ignorance. See, the ‘original‘ Kölsch enjoys a PGI/PDO status, so for Pune’s Kimaya Brewery to call their recently launched beer a Kolsh might be a bit of a stretch.

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Buuuut I honestly couldn’t care less ‘coz this stuff’s good. Like, 5-pints-in-a-row good.

What can you pair it with? I’d say anything ranging from mild to sharp flavors; that’s basically anything off the Malaka TapRoom menu. Exempli Gratia –

And that’s not even the best part! You get this view at no extra cost!!

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Spread the word, y’all. Pints and stories are meant to be shared! Cheers!

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Hello, 6Xey!

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Wiltshire. Home to the world-famous 5000 year old Stonehenge, 8-century old Salisbury Cathedral…and this little gem. At the very heart of this little county is the quaint little market town of Devizes, best known for the massive Victorian-era Wadworth Brewery. You’d think 2 centuries is a mighty long time to be brewing beer, no? As the local saying goes – Old cool is the new cool! Have a 6X and you’ll know what I’m on about.

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Getting here by road is easy – get to the A361 and you won’t miss Devizes. By bus, hop on the Stagecoach 49 and voila! Point is, if you’re about and not doing much, it’s worth a pop-in and it’s easy, too. Even if you are doing anything, it’s still probably worth a visit anyway.

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No matter where you are in the town centre, you’re likely to spot at least the tip of the brewery. As you walk closer, you’re able to fully appreciate how massive the brewery really is. The entrance is right next to the main structure and once in, you can purchase tickets to their brewery tour which is followed by a tasting session – the best part of the deal! 😉

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Tours are timed, so one can take a few minutes to savor the museum-esque decor if you’re early.

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There’s also an actual Penny Farthing on display which used to be driven around by Henry Alfred Wadworth himself as he did the rounds of local pubs selling his ware, to *ehm* ‘quality-check the beer’. I’m not entirely sure how he managed getting back up on that thing after he’d ‘sampled’ beer from twenty pubs!

Right…On to the entrée, then.

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The £12 tour lasts about 2 hours give or take and starts on the upper floor where we’re introduced to the most fundamental ingredients of beer – Malts and Hops. The most commonly used Malts are Barley and they constitute the sugar, colour, and flavour components of the beer, whereas the hops provide the aroma and bitterness. The hops also serve as a natural preservative.
(Fun fact – the name ‘India Pale Ale’, or IPA came about when strongly hopped beer was shipped overseas to the East India Company with the high hop-content serving as a natural preservative and just like that, a style was born! The more you know).

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Malts are germinated and roasted before they’re milled, to expose the sugars inside the malt. The nature of the roasting determines whether a malt is pale (hardly roasted), crystal(pretty roasted), black (seriously roasted) and so on. The more it’s roasted, the more coffee-ish the flavor of the ale, the darker it is, and paler malts provide for more sweeter, light-coloured beer. Most ales use a combination of malts to achieve that unique characteristic which makes it different from other ales. The hops used here are ‘Cascade’, ‘Fuggles’, ‘Golding’, to name a few. The next process is mashing, where hot water, the grist (powdered malts with a short shelf life) and hops are mixed to produce a sugary solution called ‘wort’. Wadworth’s Victorian heritage means they still have a working Copper Mash Tun from 1885 running side by side a modern Stainless Steel Mash Tun which I thought was pretty darn amazing!

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The wort is ‘brewed’ in the likes of an Open Copper (used seasonally, now) which used to be heated by fire kept alive by the one person with the worst job in the world. It was only in 1938 that a steam coil was added to heat the wort instead of the fire below. The hood you see was added in the 1960s, which did the public service of funnelling the steam from the wort out of the building to the nearby schools and factories, early in the morning. I know I’d have loved to wake up to the smell of that!

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Next in the process is the hopback, which separates the wort from the hops; and the leftovers are given away to local farmers as food for their cattle. Lucky cattle.

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Next in line is the pièce de résistance – the fermentation vessel. Wort is basically food for the brewer’s yeast which converts the sugar to alcohol and Carbon Dioxide; the most fundamental brewing process. The end result is the final product – what you enjoy every Friday and Shaturday and Shundayy…*hic*

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Commercially, Wadworth now produce most of their beer in a more modern facility (under the same roof) using more efficient and eco-friendly machinery manufactured by Steinecker.

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That doesn’t mean that the quality is any different from what they used to make back in the day. Or so we’re told. I wasn’t around back in the day so I’m just happy for the present-day 6X, Swordfish, Bishop’s Tipple and the rest of their ales.

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The tour ended for us with a round of their most loved ales –

Wadworth IPA – easy drinking, hoppy, light pale ale

Wadworth 6X – the traditionally brewed, well balanced amber ale

Dirty Rucker (to celebrate the seasonal Rugby games) – Deep golden hoppy-bitter ale

Wadworth Swordfish – absolutely loved the light sweet taste from the infused rum

Wadworth Horizon – a crisp, citrus-ey light ale that went down easy

Wadworth Corvus – deep black with very evident coffee and roasted malt notes. I’m used to thicker, creamier heads than what the Corvus had to offer, though. Still, I enjoyed that it was different.

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The icing on the cake were Monty, Max and ‘the silent one’ (I forgot her name!), the shire horses that, to this day, transport kegs to local pubs that bear their famously famous hand-made signs.

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In the vicinity of the brewery, there’s also Reeve, the famous sourdough-bread baker nearby should you be interested and plenty of restaurants nearby for a quick bite, too.

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We also visited the famous Cain Hill Locks that sport the two-mile long canal system up the Avon and it’s quite the sight!

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It’s a great little stretch for a casual stroll after lunch. There’s also a pretty little afternoon-tea cafe for those who suffer from those classic British ‘urges’! 😉

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