“If we’re not willing to settle for junk living, we certainly shouldn’t settle for junk food.”
Sally Edwards

Philips Foodathon“Has it come? Is it here yet? When can we have the 80% less fat French fries Mama?“…questions that the teen shot at me faster than I could answer but all well worth it! The ‘it’ in question was the Philips AirFryer I was lucky to win at a recent food event called Foodathon in the NCR, North India.

Philips AirfryerWhen sketchy event details started making the rounds on FB, we giddily thought it was going to be an ‘eat till you drop‘ event, a food marathon of sorts! Such a happy feeling. The suspense finally ended with the formal invite…

FOODATHON is a platform that will host the city’s online food influencers and connect them relevant brands. The event would see multiple angles of food represented in the form of food and lifestyle bloggers, F&B brands, photographers and experts. The primary sponsor for the first FOODATHON is Philips, and hence the event is being called the Philips FOODATHON. Our other sponsors include The [V] Spot Café and Dunkin Donuts.

Philips FoodathonThe event itself was packed with food related stuff. I got in late {post lunch} so missed the Philips AirFryer demo. I really wanted to experience it in ‘action’ as I had missed the launch which was held this summer as I was off to Goa!

Hemant SudThere was a interesting talk on food photography by ace photographer Hemant Sud who  talked us through the different genres of photography,  limitations of the camera, common issues that crop up from time to time related to shooting food, and commercial food photography.

Darren ConoleThere was also a plating / food presentation by Executive Chef Darren Conole at the Shagrila, New Delhi. I’ve met him a few times, most recently at the MasterChef breakfast meet. He has a great sense of humour and is a good orator like Hemant Sud. Together, they kept us in splits! Darren did a  small demonstration on old school or classic food plating which is the way we grew up looking at food …. flat across a plate, almost ‘scattered‘,  ‘relaxed‘ and quite nostalgic!

Styles of food plating contemporary vs classic old schoolObviously loads has changed since we grew up. The contemporary style of plating {the plating I did on the left above} is more dramatic, vibrant and ‘built upwards’ as opposed to plated horizontally. The comparison was refreshing. Points to consider while plating – the choice of platter, colours and layering of food, focal point and importantly garnishes. I enjoyed the talk, though spent a lot of time giggling with the girls!Philips Foodathon The demo was followed by a short crisp talk by Sid Khullar about blogging, the connect, the learning curve and making money from blogging. He conducted a quiz, where some of us who answered correctly were asked to participate in a contemporary food plating contest. I was picked one of two winners.

FoodathonThe concept of  a Foodathon is good though I’m not too sure that the location sponsor V Spot Cafe was geared up for an event of the scale, or if it was the best location. On our way out we were handed boxes of Dunkin Donuts Diwali Special boxes, tees from Philips Foodathon and colourful coffee mugs from V Cafe.

Dunkin Donuts Diwali Giftin PackThe donuts created to herald Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, are quite a nice idea. The garnish and  flavours match traditional flavours like cardamon, pistachio  saffron etc, the colours vibrant & festive. The son dived into the box … “Mmm NICE! Just like the ones we had in Sydney!”

Philips AirfryerWhen the AirFryer arrived I wasn’t prepared for the size and ergonomic design. It took my breath away. How pretty and how simply put together! We used it … LOTS! First out French Fries…that’s the ‘signature dish’ that the fryer is well known for and one that uses 80% less oil. It’s true. 2-3 large potatoes, 1 tbsp oil and seasoning is all it takes to deliver this deliciousness.

French fries Philips AirfryerThen the super excited lad marched me to make crumb fried chicken and potato crisps, both winners! How crisp can crisp be? Outstanding stuff, minimum oil, minimum fuss and easy clean up! The fryer was now on a roll. Philips Airfryer Next morning saw French Toast {which did get a little caught on the grill} but I’m learning as I go, then for lunch paneer tikka, and the left over marinade went over baby potatoes!

Philips Airfryer New Baby Potatoes & Paneer TikkaDessert was chocolate lava cake. Cake because Sangeeta mentioned in her post that at the demo they said that the AirFryer bakes too. I HAD to have a go. Followed the recipe from the AirFryer cookbook but used whole wheat instead of plain flour. The cakes was slightly on the sweeter side yet had wonderful texture. Gooey, chocolaty and warm, these were done in 4 minutes flat! {The paneer tikka took longer than the book said. The recipes for both the baby potatoes & cottage cheese was my own}.

Philips Airfryer Whole Wheat Choc Lava CakeThe fryer is quite exciting. I believe it can do loads of veggies too. The only negative is the small size therefore limiting the amount you can cook at a go, so for parties etc it can mean waiting between lots.

Philips AirFryerOtherwise it’s simple to operate, has an alarm which is a great built in feature, is kid friendly, really easy to clean up, designed beautifully with smooth knobs and the mesh ‘drawer’, and a retractable wire {like the Thermomix}. The AirFryer and Thermomix are ‘counter cousins’ in my kitchen now, black & white, sitting side by side!AirFryer that bakesI got even more adventurous yesterday and baked a cake in the AirFryer! I believe that the AirFryer comes with it’s own special cake tin. Mine didn’t but I found a tin that fit. The cake post is up next, so please stay tuned. Yes, it’s a Fryer that bakes cakes too … and it’s darned good! Good for people on diets or restricted diets, good for kids and a good lifestyle kitchen appliance in general!

{Disclaimer: I have not been paid anything for this review, nor have the sponsors asked me to write a review on the appliance. All views are my own.}

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

The Leela, GurgaonThe Bloggers Table was privileged indeed to be hosted at the award winning Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon for a memorable Italian meal at Zanotta a few nights ago. It’s one thing having a philosophy of “Atithi devo Bhava – Our Guest is God”, and it’s another thing delivering it in every sense of the word. The Leela did just that! Hospitality and culture so seamless that in many ways it felt surreal!The Leela, GurgaonThe Leela culture is noticeable in every employee. You can see the deep rooted Indian tradition, the entire team that works seamlessly to deliver the promise. Enter  the lobby and look around, magically a genie appears; helpful, polite yet completely unobtrusive. It’s a beautiful hotel but more importantly run by outstanding folk!The Leela, Gurgaon  That was pretty much the ‘experience’  through the evening enjoyed in excellent company – GM Leela Roger Wright, Head – PR & Marketing Communications Vinay NarangF & B Manager  Shisheer Manohar and Exceutive Chef  Emmanuel Guemonl from France.

The Leela, Gurgaon
Photo courtesy Rekha @

It was a pleasure to share the table with Roger Wright. His stories that ranged from Fiji, Down Under {a New Zealander}, his family, his commitment to staff training and motivation … and of course his tempting invite for a dosa Sunday brunch the next day {We sadly declined as ‘the table was off to Rose Cafe the next afternoon. That turned out to be another story altogether}The Leela, Gurgaon

The Leela Kempinski Gurgaon was presented the Best 5-Star Deluxe Hotel (India) award, March  2011 & 2012. Zanotta was Times Food Award’s pick for Best Italian in the Region in both 2010 and 2011. If they hadn’t picked it for its outstanding Italian cooking it would have won awards for architecture and ambiance. The open display kitchen and private dining rooms are surrounded by the  see-through wine cellar of breathtaking proportions. 

The Leela, Gurgaon

Zanotta did not disappoint. From the welcome drinks served in the retro lounge that adjoins the restaurant on the 6th floor, to the company, the evening was delightful.The Leela, GurgaonWhat a memorable meal. We found ourselves reaching out for the bread basket time and again. I opted for the  vegetarian selection and absolutely LOVED it! The soft mozzarella and arugula salad with tomato, orange and basil pesto had everything right. The Minestrone alla Zanotta with pumpkin and rice was amazing too. I am not ‘soup person’, but was transformed rapidly into one! The Leela, GurgaonThe next course was common for both  vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Home made ravioli stuffed with wild mushrooms floating in a silky smooth tomato sauce. A sprinkling of freshly ground pepper and you could sense how nicely the flavours married! Perfect again. The Leela, GurgaonThen came the show stopper, something Roger introduced to Leela from Down Undera sorbet but not just any sorbet! It was dramatic sorbet served in a snow globe of sorts, sitting on a bed of ice. You could hear a loud collective gasp when the very delicious sorbet appeared. A work of art!The Leela, GurgaonCrespelle with spinach & ricotta {♥♥♥} followed. These were  ‘Florentine style’ pancakes stuffed with ricotta and spinach, served with tomato and parmesan. Amazing, cheesy and to die for! The portion sizes were just right and fresh produce brought out the best flavours in each dish!The Leela, GurgaonExcellent wines were paired with each course. They included Chardonay from New Zealand and another from France, Allegrini from Italy, and a Cabernet Shiraz from Australia. Time for dessert and once again a winner! Bitter chocolate semifreddo with candied orange peel. Really nice!! {I had to finally abandon the camera because the light was really low!}The Leela, GurgaonThe NCR has some beautiful luxury properties, and The Leela is one of the finest examples. The group takes pride in it’s people, the ‘bedrock of the organisation‘. Warmth, positivity, camaraderie; the ease of relationships up and down the hierarchy is so visible and so comfortable.

Couldn’t have asked for anything better! Thank you Roger Wright and your wonderful team!









The other bloggers at The Leela that night were

Sid @ Chef at Large
Rekha @ My Tasty Curry
Himnashu @ White Ramekins
Charis @ Culinary Storm
Parul @ Shirazine
Sangeeta Khanna @ Banaras Khana
Ruchira @ Cookaroo
Antara @ Antypasti

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“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Virginia Woolf

Café G, Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon Time for the Bloggers Table and this time it was a cozy little do at the beautiful Café G at the Crown Plaza Gurgaon. The moment I entered I was hit by a feeling of déjà vu. Such a familiar, almost Ottolenghi like atmosphere, quiet, open, airy. This was one culinary experience worth the visit! Live cooking, real food, authentic flavours … and ‘silently attentive’ excellent staff!Café G, Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon The Café offers fine dining with a daily buffet that changes regularly. The interiors are aesthetically done, wood and beige neutrals, nice lighting and a wonderful ambiance. A salad bar greeted us as we walked in …Café G, Crowne Plaza, GurgaonSo much variety, loads of colour and attention to detail. The cheese platter looked slightly bare, like someone had made  a meal out of it. Maybe they had! The cumin cheese and pickled olives beckoned loudly! We sampled 4-5 salads. Nice!Café G, Crowne Plaza, GurgaonMoving on, a central island of sorts tempted us with live cooking for the buffet {which is truly excellent by the way}. Le cruesets filled with worthy dishes added to the temptation. The menu for the day was Italian Café G, Crowne Plaza, GurgaonSmall portions cooked fresh and laid out … Lamb Osso Bucco {reminds me of my lovely friend Meeta in Germany}, Melanzane Parmigiana, Hassle-back Potatoes {I♥ those}, Fresh Lasagna, Sea Bass Baked in Parchment …. Café G, Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon The question … what to eat and what not to! The main course set up is divided into different cuisine zones. Alngside, nested in a little corner is a popaddum stand with little earthen jars presumably full of pickles! These little personal touches make the place feel warm!Café G, Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon The cafe appears to be particularly popular with the ex pats as they began at saunter in by 8.30pm, the stream growing steadily as the clock ticked! Since it’s a multi-cuisine restaurant, there’s something for everyone here …Café G, Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon Back to the layout … the central island had a bread counter and once again the passion shone through. A variety of different breads, bread sticks, ‘amul’ butter, crisp thin cracker breads… Café G, Crowne Plaza, GurgaonAnd if that wasn’t enough to gladden the heart, the next step took us straight to a dessert bar – it blew us away! It was dessert heaven. I have yet to see such an extensive variety of desserts under one roof here. Each one created with a lot of thought, detailing and love. Café G, Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon The pastry chef Chef Ayub Quereshi and his magic weaves a spell – fruit desserts aplenty, mousses, cakes, panna cottas, pies, eclairs, compotes … individual portions each!Café G, Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon Then came the signature dishes specially prepared by the talented Chef Arup Sarkar and Chef Prashant … compliments to them! Salad of wine pickle tomato and buffalo boccancini, toasted pine nuts and basil and Stir fried shitake wonton  and baby spinach with pok choi , red pepper, tomato and Asian condiments. The latter was simply amazing. Flavours, textures, warm salad, cold dressing – such a treat! You must try it if you visit the cafe! MUST! We were also served a watermelon, feta and rocket salad … this one too pleasing, light and flavourful!Café G, Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon By now we were kind of feeling full. Then, along came the show stopper, a main course signature dish that will be remembered for a long time – Moroccan lamb tagine with chick pea and mint couscous. We begged for small portions each … it was so good. A nibble here, then another … and soon the tangine was all gone! The lamb cooked to perfection, melting in the mouth, falling off the bone, the flavours beautiful, the tomato balancing the tangine in a delightful manner with the pine nuts, the chick peas, the couscous! Café G, Crowne Plaza, Gurgaon Happily it was time for dessert! Baked Yogurt Mousse, Panna Cotta, A Passion Fruit Mousse, Mud cake {excellent truffle on top}. You know what I missed though – a coffee dessert! Sadly there was none. {Thanks to the sweet knowledgeable Parul, we were served some drop-dead delicious coffee ice cream on request!}

Thank you Mr Oswal and your team for having us over. Café G is an absolute treat! The food excellent, the staff are impeccable and the ambiance wonderful!

Others on the table that night
Himanshu @ The White Ramekins
Parul @ The Shirazine
Ruchira @ Cookaroo

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