A rooftop experience par excellence at Marine Drive, Hinjawadi Pune

This restaurant’s iconic namesake is probably one of the sexiest 2-mile stretches in the country, and is home to some of the most stunning rooftop views, too; the central character in these landscapes being that gorgeous South Mumbai bay.

rooftop 1.jpgPune’s version of the Marine Drive gets a 270° view of the massive Rajiv Gandhi Infotech park sprawling in the the backdrop, alight with activity. The setup, per se, is perfect for sunsets and post-sunset sessions, replete with dim lighting and neon aplenty.

rooftop 2.jpgDry-ice cocktails line the bar area, and a really great playlist makes up the rest of the ambience.

The food is a bit of a hit-and-miss story with the chicken preparations needing a bit of work, which the owner of the resto graciously accepted as feedback, and the rest of it being a good spread of options to pair with that great atmosphere.

Minestrone.jpgWe started with Minestrone Soup which isn’t on the menu (soups are ~₹150), which was great till the point we missed the crouton. The soup itself is full flavored and full bodied and would recommend it as long as it came with that crouton; but that’s just me being extra-picky.

prawn koliwada
The prawn preparations are simply amazing, with the Prawn Koliwada (₹325) being my favourite that evening, closely followed by the Peri Peri King Prawns (₹475). The Koliwada won this round because it was generously battered and deep fried to perfection while being succulent inside.
Fried > Grilled. End of.
The Peri Peri marinade was a great balance of tangy and just-about-spicy too, while being grilled just right. In summary, I’d still wholeheartedly recommend both!

nonveg platter.jpgThe Non-veg platter (₹575) needed some work around the chicken as mentioned before, especially with the kebabs being a tad too rubbery for my liking like it was done a second time. But I’m sure with a feedback system this good it’ll be sorted soon.

mushroom.jpgMultani Mushroom (₹250) was char-grilled just right, again, and the tang from the marinade went really well with the mint chutney served on the side. The Pesto Paneer Tikka (₹250) was a similar story on the charred-just-right and well-marinated fronts. The pesto could’ve used a little more basil to make it more pesto-ey, but again, that’s probably just me being extra-picky. It was good, I’ll grant them that!

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The Signature Vegetarian Pizza (₹250) made for a decent light-bite with a good helping of fresh toppings and a generous helping of cheese for good measure. Still, for a Signature Pizza, there could’ve been a little more pizzazz #PunIntended

Beer Battered Fish.jpgThe beer-battered fish fingers (₹300) came across as more of a bhajji-style preparation. My only gripe with this preparation was that it was neither a bhajji nor a proper fish-finger. Shame, because the fish seemed fresh and tender, and the batter was damn fine for a bhajji. If you’re torn between the two, though – this is perfect!

I didn’t stick around for the entrées or desserts so I can’t really comment on what a full meal feels like, here. That said, this isn’t a ‘full meal’ kinda place anyway. It’s perfect for trippin’ on a few beers or cocktails along with some light bites before you call it a night!

All in all –
Food – 4/5
Ambience – 4.5/5
Service – 4/5 with room for a little improvement but these are just teething troubles
Value for money – N/A (invited) but the prices seems reasonable given the overall experience

Marine Drive Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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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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cheesy potato

4

3

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.
AB's - Absolute Barbecues Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.

chicken in blankets
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!
fish
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 😉
Malaka Spice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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!

The Tap Room By Malaka Spice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.

Bottles

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.

Cart

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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The Spirits of Wychwood

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While beer may not be an indigenously English beverage, the English sure seem to have perfected it. And of all the 1400-something breweries that exist today in the UK, there’s one particular brewery that stands out as the UK’s largest producer of organic ales and the maker of ‘the unofficial beer of Halloween’– Wychwood, Oxfordshire. The name comes from Oxford’s local Wychwood Forest and for those who are wondering what I’m on about, they’re the blokes responsible for the phenomenon that is Hobgoblin – the Legendary Ruby Ale. They weren’t always called Wychwood, though – the site belongs to an ‘Eagle Maltings’ from 1841, and they malted barley for another brewery here back then. In 1990, ‘Eagle’ was renamed to ‘Wychwood’ and the rest, as we know, is history. There’s a story behind the name, ‘Hobgoblin’, too – the beer was being served at a wedding where someone attempted to draw the bride’s face on one of the casks and its highly likely this person had consumed more than they should’ve, because what they’d drawn looked like a Hobgoblin and the name stuck. At least that’s the story we were told by Chris, our brewery tour guide.

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Speaking of which, this blog is the tale of one such brewery trail that traces the journey of a humble grain to the brilliant beverage it transforms to – The Wychwood Brewery Guided Tour. However, you may sometimes find me reeling off about random nonsensical gibberish, so please excuse my ADD.

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Left: malt in sacks | Centre: Rolling mill | Background: whirlpool separator | Right: hops in boxes

Let me start with the very basics of brewing – grains are ‘malted’ and ‘mashed’ to release fermentable sugars, which are fermented to produce alcohol (the thing that causes you to uncontrollably reveal your darkest secrets to complete strangers) and carbon dioxide (the bubbly thing that…never mind).

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Our ‘welcome drinks’ –  cask-poured Brakspear Oxford Gold and a Wychwood Hobgoblin Gold
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Note the huge embarrassment that is the King Star lager. I was reluctantly offered some and it wasn’t nearly as good as their ales. Obviously!

Based on the type/strain of yeast you use, the temperature you brew the beer at, and a few other parameters, you get either an elegant Ale or generic rubbish (lager). I won’t bother explaining lagers (for obvious reasons 😉) because this is a blog about Ales.

tumblr_m9s7mwhske1r97w8wo1_1280PC: Wychwood.co.uk 

Ales can be broken down into Milds, Bitters, Goldens, Pale Ales, Porters & Stouts and what I like to call ‘miscellaneous’, or ‘everything else’.

And now that we’ve established what Wychwood brews, let’s move on to how they do it.

We were shown about four different types of malt that are used as the first ingredient in their brewing process –

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Pale Malt – produced by roasting the Barley for a lower amount of time in the kiln

Crystal Malt – produced by roasting it a little further; this had little bits of white sugary residue released from the process and so was a little sweeter than the Pale Malt

Chocolate Malt – produced by roasting the barley till it’s a dark brown, causing it to taste like cocoa, and smell like coffee from the time spent in the kiln. Most sugars are burnt away, and using more of this malt therefore produces darker and stronger beverages like porters and stouts

Black Malt – I think you know where this is going, right?

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Foreground: Whirlpool separator | Background: Mash tun

These malts are milled in this roller mill to break apart the kernel (not Col. Sanders, he’s unbreakable just like his franchise). This makes it easier to extract the sugar during ‘mashing’, which is the next step in the brewing process. This milled grain is mixed with hot water in a large vessel called a mash tun. The plates in the mash tun allow the resulting mixture called ‘wort’, to seep through the vessel’s plates to produce a sugary concoction…which Chris pronounced as ‘wert’, but since he’s the expert, I’m not going to challenge that. Although I would’ve pronounced it like ‘court’.

Fun fact – The Brakspear mash tun filter used to look like this, and is now adorns the brewery’s floor.

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What used to be the Brakspear Mash Tun floor used to separate the solids from the liquid wort

Anywho, moving on – this ‘wort’ is moved to a copper tank much like this one where its boiled with hops (the second most important ingredient in brewing), of which we were shown two varieties but I’m sure Wychwood use more – English Fuggles (no that’s not the name of the owner’s cat) and English Goldings. Mr. Fuggles was grassy and mild, whereas Ms. Goldings seemed to have a sexy perfume on and smelled like Spring. After all, it was almost April. Both tasted like sh*t, though. Yeah, we ate some. We weren’t supposed to, but I couldn’t help myself. If you’re a blithering idiot like me, you’ll probably not heed Chris’ advice and regret it after approximately 45 seconds of putting it in your mouth.

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This is what hops look like. Of course, these are past the stage of being useful but they have them there for effect, anyway

Now to accent the hops, brewers add sulphates to the water, in a process called Burtonisation. The name comes from the town of Burton upon Trent – where the local water’s chemical composition had these sulphates naturally occurring in the water, leading to a lot of hoppy local beers and presumably, a lot of happy drunks. Wychwood sources their water from this town to avoid having to add these minerals artificially.

Right – so the resulting mixture is then separated in a whirlpool separator and cooled through a heat exchanger for cooling it to a temperature suitable for fermentation (18 degrees Celsius). Cold water and the warm wort flow through pipes in this heat exchanger in opposite directions exchanging heat, and the resulting hot water is re-used again, thus conserving energy. This wort is then fermented by adding yeast. If the wort is too hot the yeast will die; too cold and the yeast won’t activate. The temperature needs to be just right for controlled fermentation and not too (allowably) warm, or you’ll have yeast growing all over the brewery! Also, there’s different types of yeast for the different ales they brew, and its little differences like these that give each of their ales a distinct character, too. I wonder if that’s where their tagline of ‘Brewers of Character’ comes from.

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A fermentation vessel

Wychwood use a method called ‘double dropping’, which basically means that the fermentation happens in two stages. In the first stage, the wort is fermented in a vessel and is then, ‘dropped’ to another vessel (typically under the first one). This results in the inactive yeast being left behind in the first vessel, and in the second vessel – activation of yeast from the dripping and splashing about, of the wort. This method is unique to the Marston’s brand of breweries.

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The unique and efficient double-drip filtration system

Anyway, so Wychwood tend to do their brewing in two batches, one at 3 AM and another at 9 AM, for which they store almost 3 tons of malt, the wort and all of these ‘intermediate ingredients’. The resulting beer is bottled off-site whilst been taken away in large trucks labelled ‘Fosters’. Strange. But then again, I’ve seen stranger things.

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The tour ended with us sampling six of their beers in thimble-sized glasses. Not that the size of the glasses mattered, because we were helping ourselves from the bottles anyway!

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All this was after the half pint of Hobgoblin Gold I was welcomed with. Full marks for hospitality! And if this wasn’t enough, we were each presented with a Wychwood-embossed half-pint glass as a keepsake! 😊

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What a way to spend a lovely sunny Saturday! And off we were, back to the Oxford City Centre for a course of world food at Oxford’s street food market.

The brewery is located at –
10-12, Eagle Maltings, Eagle Industrial Estate, The Crofts, Witney OX28 4DP

How to get there – 
By Road – via the A420
By Bus – Stagecoach S1 from Oxford City Centre

More details of the brewery can be found on their website – http://www.wychwood.co.uk/

If you liked this blog, please let me know in the comments! (If you didn’t, please click the small red ‘x’ on the top right corner of this window and pretend the last 15 minutes of your life never happened). Cheers!

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Sorry for the long post – here’s a Hobgoblin shaped bottle opener

A wee slice of Irish awesomeness at the Irish Village, Pune

For a place that welcomes you with a Leprechaun and a menu touting loads of potatoes and a craft-brewed dark ale (among others), the Irish Village is about as much Ireland you’ll get without having to board a flight. Not to mention all the green you see inside and outside; it certainly helps bring out the Irish spirit as well.

leprechaun

Speaking of spirits, that’s basically what this place is famous for and after my experience, I know why, too. Now if you don’t know your beer that’s not a problem here because samplers were invented for a reason. I know my beer all too well but I still asked for a sampler (because that’s how you get an extra 50 ml of beer absolutely free!) and called for a pint of everything anyway. Everything but their Lager.

samplers

To add to the super-chilled vibe this place oozes, there are dozens of speakers spread out across the huge vastness of this property that play great commercial house at just the right volume so you can enjoy your conversations just like you’re enjoying that pint.

And back to pints, we come.

The Wheat O’Mullins is a ‘Hefeweizen’, or wheat beer (obviously)  and is full of those malted wheat flavors you’d expect.  I also found it to be comfortably devoid of the hoppy flavors that I didn’t need in my Weissbier, too. I didn’t watch it pour so it was all lacing by the time the beer reached my table, which wasn’t much for a wheat beer. I’d say it was light-bodied and not heavy on carbonation either. A fairly straightforward thirst-quencher if you ask me.

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Same as the wheat beer, this pint of the Ale O’Connor had also reached me some time after it was poured so the head had dissipated to a thin lacing. The color was a beautiful golden and there wasn’t much in the way of hops on the nose. Carbonation and mouthfeel were light and made for an easy-drinking beer; the amount of alcohol also ‘seemed’ less, so this may even pass as a decent session beer.

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Then came the star of the show – the Irish Stout. A beautiful dark brown ale, this; the Stout O’Sullivan sat in that tall glass with a half inch lacing. Complex on the nose with the roasted malt and coffee notes, the ale tasted of toasted wheat with a coffee-ish aftertaste and had just the right amount of carbonation for that ‘neat’ mouthfeel. Sláinte mhaith!

Disclaimer – but Guinness is Guinness. Amen.

Now I like to feel that I’m not an alcoholic so I tend to order food as well…Sometimes.
Here, I’d called for –

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Garlic Mushrooms – Button mushrooms. Garlic, herbs and butter. Deep fry. Simple. So tasty. Oh, so tasty!

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Chicken Goujons – You can’t go wrong with Dijon mustard and dry herb marination on mini-fillets . You just can’t. And when you crumb-coat and deep-fry those little bite-sized bits you’ve got yourself a winner. God bless the French for this.

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We went a little off-course and called for Peri Peri wings too. Because you know, why not? Succulent meat falling off the bones that had soaked the tangy-spicy marinade so well. ‘Twas one of those times I wished I had a spare stomach.

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And because the evening was supposed to be about Irish specialties, we went ahead and called for the Irish Drunken Potato. Now mushy baked potatoes aren’t for everyone so you’d want to get your expectations right before ordering a portion of an entire potato full of veggies floating in a creamy gravy. I, on the other hand, loved it.

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Dessert had to be a sticky toffee-based something so we called for the sticky o’brown which was a date cake drizzled with sticky caramel and served with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream. Such elegance exists in simplicity and this plate was testament to just that.

All in all, you’re guaranteed a whale of a time here if you even remotely enjoy beer, good music and great food so in all honestly there’s hardly any reason why your arse is still so firmly planted in that Goddamn chair and you’re not booking an Uber to Mundhwa or Baner right now. Like, why? And yes, they’ve opened in Baner as well, now. Cheers!

In summary –
Food – 4.5/5
Service – 4.5/5
Ambience – 4.5/5
Value for money – N/A (invited) but it’s still pretty good value for the whole package

The Irish Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Healthy Brekkies @ Fahrenheit Custom Pizza

Picture this – it’s 6:30 AM and you’ve been snoozing that damn alarm for the past thirty minutes, the music deviously blending into your dream and your brain refusing to believe that it’s well past time you had woken up. You wake up to the sight of the clock, now showing 7:00 AM, and you suddenly have all the motivation you need to finish most of your morning chores faster than Usain Bolt can do 40 yards. You jump out of your ‘jamas and put the kettle on with the toothbrush in your mouth, already. Twenty minutes pass and you’re done taking a shite and a shower (in that order, hopefully) and you’re halfway into your undies. Within the next ten minutes you’re back at the dining table to pick up the bus pass/car keys which you’d forgotten, but remembered when you got to the main door. You pick up two digestive biscuits and stuff them in your mouth. ‘Breakfast’.
Timecheck – 7:30 AM. Booyah! I’m gonna make it! Awwyiss… you tell yourself, but did you notice that you’ve forgotten to properly break your 8 hour fast just to beat the 8 AM rush….AGAIN?

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It’s plain sad that we (me inclusive; I try not to be a hypocrite) don’t give the most important meal of the day its due importance. I’ve promised myself that I’ll manage at least one fruit and a huge bowl of wheat flakes with milk, in the least; if I can’t manage anything serious. So far so good.

However, there’s much better options available to Punekars thanks to ‘on-the-way-located’ restos like Fahrenheit. I happened to sample one such breakfast, one fine weekday, and it fit perfectly into my schedule too. Yep, that’s right. They open at 8 AM.

What I had was a breakfast fit for a king, and lasted me till 2 PM solid.

_mg_3180I started with a round of a watermelon based refreshment, designed to counter the effects of the potations you’ve had the night before. It’s a crying shame that they dropped it ‘cos I don’t see it on the menu anymore. Loved how it was all grainy, fresh, just the right amount of sweet and about enough to wash down whatever else was on the table.

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Then, I moved on to the waffles with maple syrup, apples, bananas, pomegranate and a generous dollop of fresh cream. The waffles were a tad too thick for my liking but I’m sure they can make them to your liking if you just ask nicely. The rest was right on point.

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Then came the real deal – a fluffy Mexican Omlette replete with veggies (could’ve used some more veggies in the Omlette, though) in a subway-style sandwich bread served with with delicious, crisp potato Rosti, juicy chicken sausages and boiled veggies on the side. There was broccoli, green and yellow zucchini and cherry tomatoes – the good stuff. And just to make sure it’s not too healthy or anything, there was a nice helping of table butter on the side 🙂 Exactly how I like it. I think you can call for margarine as well, but I know I wouldn’t.

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So there you have it. A sweet breakfast option that isn’t expensive or anything and can kick-start your day the right way, just around the corner (Baner is pretty much on everyone’s route to work).

All in all –
Food – 4/5
Service – 4/5
Ambience – 3.5/5 (hope they’ve solved the housefly issue)
Value for money – N/A (invited; but I’d still rate it at a 4.5/5 had I paid)

If you liked this post (or even if you didn’t), do leave me a comment below…I’d love to know what you think of the most important meal of the day!

Fahrenheit Custom Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato