Media Fam Trip | Jaipur Marriott … memories of a lifetime #JaipurMarriott #roadtrip #travel #Jaipur #India

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
Arthur Conan Doyle

Jaipur MarriottIt was a weekend to remember, a road-trip to Jaipur that took us for the most beautiful and memorable time well spent. It was an experience that brought whole new meaning to the phrase “little things that matter”. A visit to Jaipur, the Pink City, will always hold the promise of magic. A visit to the Pink City hosted by the Jaipur Marriott resulted in magic, also doubling the joy and memories.

Jaipur Marriott, JaipurIt was also a ‘WEEKEND of EXCESSES’ … excessive pampering, excessive fun, excessive food and excessive care. ‘Little things that matter’ took whole new meaning at Jaipur Marriott. It was a media fam trip that has left us with withdrawal symptoms and nostalgia. ‘Yeh dil maange mor‘ was the common feeling. The Pink City grows on you. So does the Jaipur Marriott and the brilliant team behind it!

Jaipur, IndiaWe were a small ‘privileged’ group of 7, a mix of media, travel and food bloggers, and many of us were meeting for the first time. With us too was the very sweet and chirpy Binisha who was the best coordinator ever. Someone who never stopped charming us with those characteristic dimples, exuberant energy, positive attitude helping make the weekend totally worthwhile. There was of course the team from the hotel … exemplary in every way.

Delhi Baking Company, JW Marriott, New DelhiIt went like clockwork from word go. Picked up from home on the dot as advised, we proceed to the Delhi Baking Company, JW Marriott, New Delhi to meet for breakfast. Couldn’t have been a better beginning! It was a beautiful start with possibly the best croissants we’ve had in town. Ceramic mugs of hot tea, coffee & chocolate, tall glasses of cold coffee and fresh juice did the rounds. Efficient breakfast service, fresh muffins, cupcakes. Then a stunning handmade card from General Manager Rohit Dar, Jaipur Marriott as a pre-welcome with a  box of goodies from the DBC… and off we went.

en route jaipur The promises of a languishing sleep, resting along the way from Ruchira were blown in the wind as we drove. It was non stop banter, mad laughter and ‘eyes popping-jaw dropping‘ information exchanged as we bonded. Strangely enough, most of were meeting for the first time and we hit it off splendidly. En route Jaipur, November 2014First stop en route … a local dhaba on the way for addictively good stuffed parathas and piping hot sweet tea! Yes indeed, the promise of fun days to follow! The next stop was the Jaipur Marriott. A different world from the dhaba, but beautiful again. I love how we can change gears from one world to another in seconds … from croissants to parathas … and much more.

Jaipur MarriottJaipur Marriott Hotel is entrenched with the cultural legacy of the Pink City and sports refined elegance and a contemporary look. The Hotel displays the finest blend of contemporary architecture with subtle ethnic design elements. Plenty of natural light in play with natural elements of water, plants, stone, bamboo offer a peaceful soothing ambiance. With 317 keys and the option of going up to 365, this is perhaps the biggest hotel in Jaipur.

Jaipur Marriott Given the royal treatment on arrival with tilaks, welcome drinks and silk scarves, we were individually escorted to our rooms, checked in within minutes and soon headed for lunch to Okra. I love the name the Jaipur Marriott has coined for this all day dining restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet, supported by an exotic ala carte menu available 24 X 7. Okra offers a wide array of continental and Indian delicacies, the ‘world on a plate’, leaving you spoilt for choice! With bakes from the Jaipur Baking Company adding delicious weight to the menu, go prepared and on an empty stomach.breakfast @ Okra, Jaipur MarriottHeading Okra is the affable and talented Executive Chef Sahil Arora, his vast experience and expertise in heading the team shines through. It is easy to see how popular the restaurant is as it is always buzzing with activity, run like clockwork by an efficient and passionate team. The Sunday brunch appears to be extremely popular. Given the range out on offer, and the sumptuous lunch and breakfasts  we devoured there, it is easy to see why.

lunch @ Okra, Jaipur MarriottChef Sahil brings with him the vast experience and multicultural learning through a rich career spanning various countries and diverse cuisines. His areas of expertise include Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisine. He also possesses strong skills in French and Italian cooking, the influences visible in the extensive laid out menu. Jaipur Marriott, O2 SpaIt was a long, delightful lunch … after which we retired to our rooms to rest, and then set off for a complimentary spa session at the O2 Spa. Located at the pool side, O2 is a celebration of nature, right from ambiance and décor to the luxury treatments. Rejuvenated and fresh from the spa experience, keeping in line with a pretty paced schedule it was time for Lounge 18.

Jaipur Marriott Lounge 18An interesting concept this one. The lounge was conceptualised as an experiment of sorts and is a transitional lounge. By day it’s a lounge for the business traveler, well equipped and stylish, or for friends to get together, unwind and sit back. By night it transforms into one of the most successful nightclubs that Jaipur hosts. With a DJ zone, ample room inside with a spill-out next to the pool, it’s a concept that has even party goers from the NCR heading for a weekend break. Playing  exclusively house and techno rap, the lounge invites DJs to play there over weekends.

Jaipur Marriott Lounge 18 2 We enjoyed an informal earlyish evening there. Sangria, Pomegranate Cosmo and other cocktails did the rounds along with some well thought up mezze platters. With a great assortment of cheese, fruit, cold cuts and crackers, the cheese platter was addictive and is a great addition to the menu as well. Finger foods galore poured in from both Saffron and Okra…and we were pampered once again! Just when we thought we couldn’t have another bite, along came dinner!! Keeping us great company were GM Rohit Dar, Lovesh Sharma, Director of Sales and Marketing and Sudeep Sharma, Director of Food and Beverages. It was a lovely relaxed evening.

Jaipur Marriott Lounge 18 The best end to the day was dessert – the most divine apple crumble with an in house cinnamon ice cream that was to die for! The pictures don’t do justice as the light was dimming quickly, with the bouncers now taking position, queues building up outside and the music beats going up. One peep outside and the lobby was filling up with the young and restless headed to the club! We called it a night as we’d been on the go since early morning.

Jaipur , the Pink City courtesy Jaipur MarriottUp early the next morning, it was a filling breakfast at Okra again, before we headed off into the heart of the Pink City for a day tour. Such a beautiful day, such wonderful company! Looked after like royals once again, accompanied by the ever sweet Ankit from the  Jaipur Marriott and a city guide from the hotel, we fell in love with Jaipur. So much heritage, a city steeped in culture, and so well maintained.

Photo courtesy Maneesh Srivastava @ Mystic Foodie Mantra

‘The Jaipur Gang’ – Photo courtesy Maneesh Srivastava@ Mystic Foodie Mantra

Jaipur CityIt was a day well spent, with most things on our to do list touched on. No shopping as such as Jaipur markets are largely closed on Sunday. We did buy the worlds best ghewar at LMB, some bangles at the City Palace etc.

Around JaipurIt was a long tiring day and heading back to the comfort of the hotel was like coming home! Tranquil surroundings, familiar feel and faces, a special gift bag in our rooms to greet us, we couldn’t have asked for more. A little rejuvenating rest later it was off to a much awaited dinner at Saffron, the contemporary specialty Indian restaurant that offers signature dishes from North India and Hyderabad. Saffron is headed by the enthusiastic, creative and talented Chef Paramjit Singh Oberoi.

Saffron, Jaipur MarriottIt was a nice surprise to see the set up outdoors at the poolside. Interestingly, Saffron opens into a deck along the poolside and is ideal for hosting  small private parties and get togethers. The hotel has been thoughtfully designed and the flexibility to use additional space alongside restaurants, the banquet halls etc is praiseworthy! Little wonder that ‘Weddings by Marriott’ is a concept that has become really popular here.

Saffron, Jaipur Marriott Chef Paramjits enthusiasm and creativity soon had us eating or rather overeating out of his hands. Melt in the mouth outstanding mushroom galouti kebabs,  chicken tikkas, garlic prawns, crisp crumb fried paneer, mutton kebabs,  and plenty more. The poolside ambiance was beautiful yet low lighting meant I abandoned my camera pretty soon. Dinner was set to be served indoors, but given that the party was flowing so well outdoors, an impromptu decision was made to shift the service out poolside. I love the flexibility of decisions, the informal camaraderie and the ease with which the team works.

Saffron, Jaipur Marriott Dinner was outstanding with possibly the best raan {leg of lamb} we’ve had, to a signature smoked butter chicken, , silky smooth saffron paneer, finger licking good maa ki dal and garlic naan to die for. On the side were a plethora of pickles and preserves that Chef Paramjit has learnt from his mother – garlic pickle, amla murabba, ginger murabba. And yes there was dessert too. Award winning crisp brandy schnappes with gulukand ice cream. Also phirini tartlets and an ingenious tomato halwa. Live ghazals played in the restaurant within, while light piped music filled the air outside. A fitting farewell dinner for a pampered weekend.

Jaipur Baking Company, Jaipur Marriott 600Time to bid adieu next morning, and we stopped by briefly at the Jaipur Baking Company. Led by Pastry Chef Anil Dutt, whose parents were incidentally great cooks too, the JBC has a drool-worthy menu on offer. The patisserie counters are magical, the baguettes and sourdough breads freshly baked every morning. There is even a candy counter at this bakery and  café which overlooks the pool. If there was one thing I missed, it was a visit to Chef Dutts bakery to see him at work. I would love to stop by and help him in his kitchen some day. I guess that’ll be another story!

Outside Lounge 18, Jaipur Marriott, Jaipur.Thank you General Manager Rohit Dar and your entire team for looking after us superbly. You have left us rejuvenated, in love with Jaipur and with a lifetime of fond memories.

Restaurant Launch/Review | Burger King comes to India … #ChefVickyRatnani #RockyandMayur #BurgerKing

“I never needed much, and I never thought I’d get more than what I had. A trip to Burger King was the biggest thing in the world to me. Heaven.”
Dave Grohl

Burger King IndiaDriving down to the Burger King launch yesterday and I noted how funny it is that a foodie focuses on food signs on the way. A sign whizzed by ‘Chicken biryani masale wali’. It had me thinking about the key word there …  masale wali or spicy. It’s a word that we in India associate with tasty food. It’s  universal acceptance across the length and breadth of this land … spicy is good! Add juicy and crisp to it, and the party is on!!

Burger King IndiaLittle did I know the thread of thought would continue. I was headed to Burger King as I was thrilled it was opening in India, a chain I have long waited for to show up. It’s possibly the one I enjoy most and have a nostalgic connect with. Back in my days with British Airways, the blistering cold winter days meant heading for Burger King to sink our teeth into a juicy crisp burgers. Flame grilled called my name. On a shoe string budget, and an outlet on every high street, Burger Kings flame grilled burgers were the ultimate nirvana.

Deeba and Rocky, Burger King India

Photo courtesy Ruchira @ www. cookaroo.com

And that connect completed my chain of thought once the launch took off. To enter the yet to be opened to public restaurant on time to find the sweet hosts already there and waiting warmed the cockles of my heart. I was swept with nostalgia seeing the ever sweet Rocky Singh, my old buddy from my days in British Airways. A big bear hug later meant all was well in the world, followed by hugs from the warm {and rather huge} Mayur, and then Chef Vicky Ratnani and I couldn’t have asked for more. I was in comfort ozone, familiar trappings, the old nostalgic burger king crown….India launch Saket, New DelhiBurger King India Launch, Saket, New DelhiYou need to talk to the large-hearted and down to earth Rocky {of Rocky & Mayur fame} to understand his passion for food, and importantly here the conviction with Burger King. One to call a spade a spade, this rather no nonsense very clear headed stalwart held a mesmerised audience hand in hand with the equally affable Mayur. Of course I wanted to know why fast food, why the burger chain association, why an international brand …. what brought them together.

Burger King India Launch, Saket, New Delhi

And there is much. He spoke in depth about the association, the passion, their journey together, the tasting sessions, the trappings, menu development, the team behind it, the research specialist Dr who was quiet and charming. I was convinced. I might not be the daily burger chomper, but I am happy to reach out for the once in a while burger. Burger King meets me there. The taste, the selection and the old world charm with a special menu developed for India!

Chef Vicky Ratnani, Burger King launch, Saket, New Delhi

The menu is has been developed in India and is based on 3 parameters that popped up in every research held locally – JUICY, SPICY, CRISPY! A special addition, the Chicken Tandoor Grill, a tandoori chicken burger developed by the very sweet Chef Vicky Ratnani that he demonstrated at the launch too. You will be spoilt for choice. I’d recommend the Chicken Tandoor Grill which is already promising to be a runaway success, the Whopper of course, and the Chicken Royale. Oh and don’t miss the onion rings … they were delicious good!

Burger King launch, Saket, New Delhi The vegetarian line is impressive. I absolutely loved there paneer cheese melt burger and the red bean burger too… quite a leap of taste & creativity from a rather insipid aloo tikki burger that we see elsewhere. Now your chance to go to Burger King India! Burger King launch, Saket, New Delhi Oh did I mention that we made burgers behind the scenes too? Yes we did, and the cleanliness and the routine followed is impeccable as it is impressive. Not an easy job to do, it makes you sit and look at the team behind the counters with greater respect and admiration!

Baking |Light Pumpkin Pie … pie that thinks it’s a cheesecake #fall #dessert #pumpkin

“Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.”
Yogi Berra

Light pumpkin pie 1Light Pumpkin Pie. It’s difficult to not think pumpkin and get deluged by orange thoughts once fall is in the air. Come autumn, and pumpkin pie spice is the on the top of my head. It breaks my heart to say goodbye to stone fruit when summer draws to a close, and somewhere in the hot summer months I always forget the charm of fall. These days there’s loads of pumpkin on the table.

orangeOh the orange hues. persimmons, pumpkin {which is there pretty much all the year around here though}, and the little bitter kumquats. Such bright colours and so much fun! It’s around this time that the boy will gently come and request for a pumpkin cake on Halloween. For him it’s customary to ask. For me, it’s another opportunity to experiment. With a steady source of good quality pumpkin pie spice from the sister in the US, I am happy to take the pumpkin route.

fresh pumpkin pureeThe pumpkin pie came along in a hurry as usual. The ingredients were very basic with fresh pumpkin puree and some left over condensed milk thrown in. There was an orange sitting on the counter so in went some zest as a last minute thought, then a dash of Grand Marnier to compliment it. You can always skip the liqueur, but try and add the orange zest. The flavour  orange zest added was amazing.

Light pumpkin pieWhenever I experiment with pies or cakes, there is a sense of panic on the other side. Will it set, won’t it set. Will it slice cleanly, or maybe not??? Then again, hope it tastes OK! Heaved a mighty sigh of relief when it left the pan easily and didn’t flow like lava. YES! It had set. A few pictures, then a slice later, a sense of jubilation. It set beautifully AND was firm enough to be sliced, staying light and moussey!

Light pumpkin pieThe boy wolfed down a couple of slices in the evening. Is it dessert Mama he asked, before eying another slice. It was his after all, made on personal request. I would have done him a pumpkin pie latte on the side but I got a little lazy.

Light pumpkin pieThe husband gave it a thumbs up too. Is it pie, is it cake I asked? Cheescakey he said. It’s a pie that thinks it’s a cheesecake I guess.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India


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