Food Event | Tom Alter & Anandini Himalaya Tea … when poetry & tea created magic in Lutyens Delhi

ime for you and time for me, and time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of a toast and tea.”
T.S. Eliot

Tom Alter & AnandiniIt was when ‘Tea & Poetry’ created magic. In the heart of Lutyens Delhi with Tom Alter and Anamika Singhs Anindini Himalaya Tea, monsoon winds, the 20th floor at Le Meridien, good folk, music too, life was good! So many shades of the uber talented actor, poet, writer Tom Alter and tea, so many!! The event ‘Reflections’ is part of the New Perspective event series, an initiative by the Le Meridien, New Delhi.

DelhiTea was the call and the day couldn’t have begun any better. With Delhi now blessed with the monsoon winds and thundershowers at the blink of an eye, Anandini added deeply to the romance.

Anindini Himalaya TeaThe romance that spells Delhi in the rains …  the smell of wet earth, dark skies, pregnant clouds that threaten to burst,  sudden downpours that catch you unaware, birds taking shelter on ledges … and of course that hot cup of tea! Traditionally chai, but TEA at Anindini created by the effervescent Anamika, tea taster and sommelier.Anamika Singh Tom Alter AnindiniIf you thought it couldn’t get any better, hang on! It certainly did. Thespian actor and poet, Tom Alter, a name we grew up with, who played many a ‘sahib’ in Indian films and Indian freedom fighter Maulana Azad too, blended some evocative poetry with Anindini Himalaya Tea. His deep rich timeless voice made for perfect pairing, the man himself a charmer to boot!

Tom Alter & AnandiniBorn and brought up in India, this son of American missionaries can easily pass off as a local. A brilliant command over urdu and english, the charming Tom held us in rapt attention. Such a beautiful evening. From TS Elliot to Ghalib, from the Beatles and Frank Sinatra to old Rajesh Khanna numbers, the man had us captivated. Absolute pleasure! And to add to the charm, there was Anindini in many different avatars.

Anandini Himlayan Tea“Tea for two or two for tea, me for you or you for me … ” the narrative engaged us as the tea delighted. Tom divided the day into seven sessionss with a special tea blend for each.  From the luxurious morning cup that gently awakens you to the second that relieves you of your sorrows, to the most needed post lunch afternoon digestive, tea came in many flavours …  Rosehip & Chamomile, Rhododendron & Himalayan Tulsi, Rose Petals and Mint, Fire Flame Blush and Mint, Pomegranate Flowers and Himalayan Tulsi.Anandini Himlayan Tea All natural, Anindini presents the finest tea delicately paired with herbs and flowers from the Himalayas. Romantic, intriguing and refreshing. I loved the first serving of tea in tall flutes of cold mint and rose tea. Such a pretty sight to greet you, perfect for the early monsoon evening that we walked in on.

Anandini Himlayan TeaTiny shots of brewed tea followed. You could pick out the slight undertones. We gleefully matched them with the fine print on the pretty containers, all colour coded! Tom Alters deep voice teased, mesmerised, cajoled, questioned the crowd. He held our rapt attention. Every now and then an applause would loudly break out, the gathering so appreciative of his immense talent, an encore heard every now and then!

He ended with tales of his childhood. His eyes gleamed with delight while recalling the memories of  his mum’s fresh cinnamon buns on cold winter days when he returned from school. Those warm buns served with tea were the best thing ever. I knew just what he was talking about. These quick Cinnamon Buns are a favourite in our home too …

Anandini Himlayan Tea & Anamika SinghCouldn’t have asked for a better celebration for this not so humble anymore cuppa. Anindini attempts to redefine the humble chai. Tea that adorns a new garb. Tea, herb & flower blends tease the palette, surprise you with the pairing. Behind the venture, a passionate lady. Anindini Himalaya Tea reflects the depth and beauty that Anamika personifies. She is warm, affectionate, passionate, humble and dedicated. Her passion is what Anindini is about. Try a cuppa and you will see what I mean!

Anandini Himlayan Tea

Thank you Le Meridien for hosting this beautiful evening and for taking the wonderful initiative. ‘Reflections‘, a perfect blend of tea and poetry, made for a great beginning! Thank you Anamika for having us over. And of course, thank you Tom for making the evening magical!

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The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Food Event | Foodhall … an Olive Oil Bar, fresh brewed tea, spices … & more

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
George Bernard Shaw

Foodhall @ DLF Promenade, New Delhi The Indian food scene is growing in leaps and bounds. New eateries are mushrooming across town, sometimes faster than it takes me to get the next meal on the table. Speakeasy bars a new trend, exotic ingredients suddenly commonplace, and Jamie Oliver practically rubbing shoulders with Ongs on every local grocery store! Taking this food festivity one step further, we saw the opening of the Foodhalla unique high-end destination for food lovers; a new shopping experience.

Foodhall @ DLF Promenade, New Delhi While the concept of a foodhall is pretty common place in the West, Indian is waking up to a food shopping experience that will leave you spoilt for choice, returning often! The Foodhall from the Future Group in DLF Promenade Mall, New Delhi promises you the best of ‘everything food’{read gourmet} under one roof. A well stocked  bakery with cakes, muffins, cupcakes,endless breads, flatbreads all baked fresh in their in house bakery.

Foodhall @ DLF Promenade, New Delhi You wander around through endless galleries with well displayed shelves full of everything you could ask for. Baking trays, fondue sets in colours that would make the heart sing, silpat, cupcake liners … and more. The baking trays are priced quite high, the silpat too; but the quality appears good. I did miss a dedicated baking ingredients aisle … the baker in me disappointed!

Foodhall @ DLF Promenade, New Delhi The pleasant surprise was the Olive Oil Bar from Leonardo. A unique concept where you can taste different varieties of quality olive oils from Italy in addition to infused olive oils. I loved that they have pretty little 100ml and 250ml jars that you can fill with your choice of olive oil from caskets stored on shelves.

Foodhall @ DLF Promenade, New Delhi The spice market was intriguing. Wooden boxes with little partitions were being readied for display and maybe sale with some of the finest hand picked spices from across the globe. The folk manning the spice counters were sadly aloof and rather preoccupied. Sad because spices can conjure up fascinating conversations, and have a huge connect with the Indian soul!!

Foodhall @ DLF Promenade, New Delhi With a well stocked frozen section and delicatessen, daily essentials, fresh produce, herb plants, cereal dispensers, a ‘dips and anti pasti’ counter, a kanafa counter, desserts, ready to eat food too, Foodhall is ready to rock the food scene in the capital. Never has the interest in gourmet food been so great!

Foodhall @ DLF Promenade, New Delhi

Foodhall @ DLF Promenade, New Delhi It was an enjoyable launch with plenty of good food making the rounds. There was a ‘live kitchen’ dishing out a variety of culinary delights. Each one of them were excellent, especially the kanafa. Absolutely delicious.

Foodhall @ DLF Promenade, New Delhi The Foodhall is a great beginning for food lovers, home cooks, adventurous foodies, passionate foodies. The Future Group has taken food retailing in India to the next level. However, I do hope we see some support for more locally sourced produce in the near future.

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Bloggers Table | Blue Ginger,Taj Palace … Vietnamese Cuisine & a Bento Box Lunch

“Cuisine is the tactile connection we have to breathing history.History and culture offer us a vibrant living society that we taste through cuisine.All cuisine is a reflection of the society from which it emanates … in the end cuisine is the result of culture”
Clifford Wright

Blue GingerIt’s been a while that the Bloggers Table got together and what could have been a better, more beautiful place than Blue Ginger at the Taj Palace, New Delhi. A beautiful hotel, steeped in culture, a landmark among Delhi hotels. The interiors are enchanting, and the Private Dining Room which hosted the boisterous and chatty group of us, stunning.

Taj Palace, New DelhiBlue Ginger takes its’ design cue from the influence of the French-Colonial aesthetics that still suffuse Vietnamese society. A private dining room seating 12 is located off the main hall. The center-piece is a mother-of-pearl inlayed dining table and a beaded chandelier- amazing works of hand-crafted art in them.

Bento BoxIt was an invite to sample a Business Bento Box Lunch, at the Blue Ginger, the Delhi handle of a series of Vietnamese restaurants the Taj runs in India. A call to experience the brand new culinary journey of the unexplored land of Vietnam at ‘Blue Ginger’, the capitals contemporary Vietnamese restaurant.

Blue Ginger  Executive Chef Rajesh Wadhwa joined us briefly to introduce us to a lessor known cuisine. He spoke about the influences on the cuisine, local, Thai, Burmese and French of course as Vietnam was a French colony. He also spoke about the challenge of incorporating vegetarian food into the menu in India as the concept of vegetarian food is practically non existent in Vietnam.

Blue Ginger The lunch was FABULOUS … though I definitely over ate. We expected to eat out of bento boxes, and that the portions would be controllable! However, the management decided to spoil us and took it upon themselves to have us sample everything the menu had on offer.

Blue Ginger, Taj Palace, New DelhiWe ate non stop, we talked non stop, sometimes guffawing loudly, enjoying the company and the ambiance of the beautiful interiors. Just as well that we were in our own private room which meant we didn’t disturb other patrons with our incessant chatter. First to appear was the amuse bouche, a sweet little bite laced with sriracha that gladdened the heart.Blue Ginger 2 I chose the vegetarian first course as I am a very partial vegetarian! It was brilliant!!  Fried tofu, tangy well balance fresh mango salad and spring rolls. Individual helpings of dipping sauces, lime and a chili mix were on hand and the first course went down in a second.

MenuWe reached out and dug into Sangeetas‘ peppered lamb morsels, served again in salad leaves. It was nice! The salad was common to both courses; maybe the spring rolls too. The grilled chicken was really nice, seasoned delicately and succulent. Never easy to get it so perfect, and Ruchira next to me made neat wraps of it in the lettuce it was served with, expertly dipping into the sauces … making a delicious meal of it.

Blue GingerThe palette cleanser made us swoon … a neat soft melt-in-the-mouth sweet tamarind sorbet! Who would have thought? It was refreshing, teased the palette  and was outstanding! A beautiful new sorbet flavour to consider if you ever have the opportunity. … We marched on to the main course!

Blue Ginger The crispy lotus root was ‘pièce de résistance’ ! It stood out and how. Very close to a well made ‘aloo ki tikki’, it was reminiscent of Delhi’s street food. A crisp outer coating, finger licking good flavours and a sticky sweet and sour sauce that clung on to it! Excellent and worth going for seconds! 

Blue Ginger Then came more food, and more. Lemongrass scented braised lamb shanks, a reflection of the French culinary influence, and were succulent and falling off the bone good! Then, along came stir fried lobster, edamame beans, sticky rice, noodles, spicy vegetable red cari {really nice}.

Blue Ginger It’s never easy to develop a parallel vegetarian course from a cuisine that doesn’t offer anything ‘vegetarian’ but the chef and his team achieved it. A challenge no less, and a result quite remarkable. I think I forgot to mention the baguette! That was excellent too, one of the best I’ve eaten, and once again a reflection of the French touch!

Blue GingerThe dessert brought forward a loud cheer, as we were served petite portions of 3 different desserts. Chocolate Bombe with Coffee Mousse with Amaretto Chocolate SauceLemograss Ice-cream, and Ginger Coconut Caramel Custard. The coffee mousse was really light as air and was dug into first, and then left for the end.

Blue GingerI enjoyed the lemongrass ice cream too … refreshingly different and connecting well to the flavours of the far east. The caramel custard was slightly overbaked as it wasn’t wobbly and light. It was my least favourite of the three. I was happy to return to the coffee mousse.

Blue GingerI have always liked the concept of a bento box. I think it’s a brilliant way to offer a business lunch. With such a varied and well balanced menu, there is enough and more on offer for both vegetarians and non vegetarians at Blue Ginger. The flavours delicate, lilting, caressing and beautifully understated, yet quite intense,  my first ever Vietnamese meal couldn’t have been better. Thank you Blue Ginger for hosting us.

The other bloggers at the Taj Palace that afternoon were
Sid @ Chef at Large
Rekha @ My Tasty Curry
Himanshu @ White Ramekins
Parul @ Shirazine
Sangeeta Khanna @ Banaras ka Khana
Ruchira @ Cookaroo
Mukta @ Bake-a-mania

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

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