TALES OF A LAZY SUNDAY BRUNCH: Tien restaurant review

It was a lazy Sunday morning, and we’d set out on our quest for brunch. The day had ambitious plans ahead, but first, we needed energy. The air was warm, sleepy and content as we made our way to Tien, a restaurant situated in Model Colony. It’s so small and cozily tucked away that you’d miss it if you weren’t looking for it. It’s constructed in such a way that during the daytime, natural light fills the room, making everything look well lit.

The wait staff were cloaked in black, dressed with a smile on their faces as they greeted us warmly. I ordered an open faced frittata with baked beans toast, and chose to add mushrooms and black olives to my omlette. Priced at Rs. 180, the omlette was warm and soft; of perfect consistency, served with a side of roasted baby potatoes.

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Baked beans toast with an open face fritata

There were also baked beans, served with tomato sauce, a sprinkling of cilantro on it along with wheat bread. The bread was toasted to perfection and when I spooned the baked beans on to the toast, the flavours took me to a completely different dimension. This ‘baked beans toast’ had some wonderfully sweet notes that served as a welcome break from the warm savoury flavours that the omlette and the baby potatoes brought to the table. What I liked the most was that the bread was firm and crisp and you could smell a whiff of butter when you picked up the bread to chew.

Also, this was close to the best damn omlette I've ever had.

Also, this was close to the best damn omlette I’ve ever had.

Since it was a warm sunny day out, I had to order something to help me cool myself off. I picked my all-time favourite drink- lemon iced tea, priced at Rs. 80. The menu claimed it was freshly brewed, but I was still a little skeptical.

Actual Lemon Iced Tea

Actual Lemon Iced Tea

It was served to me in a mason jar with a wedge of lemon and mint leaves casually sprinkled on top and I was pleasantly surprised when they actually stuck to their promise! I could taste flavours of lime and tea leaves and it tasted true to the essence of iced tea.

As main course, I ordered Pasta with Neapolitan sauce priced at Rs. 260. The Penne pasta was soft and well cooked, topped with grated parmesan cheese and more cilantro herbs.

Penne Pasta with Neapolitan sauce.

Penne Pasta with Neapolitan sauce.

It was slightly on the bland side and what it lacked in flavor, it made up for in quantity. I was served a huge dish of pasta that I honestly found difficult to finish. It was served with a side of wheat bread, which complemented the dish perfectly.

So here’s the final verdict!

Ambience- 4/5- cosy not cramped.

Food Quality- 4.9/5

Value for money- 4.1/5- most dishes are slightly pricey, but they definitely make up for that in terms of quality and quantity.

Overall- 4.8/5. Don’t think twice. Go right ahead if you’re looking for a gourmet meal on a budget.

BONUS!: Here’s a picture of an interesting dish I ate the first time I visited Tien. The Mushroom and Broccoli couscous combined two of my favourite vegetables served with grated red lettuce in a salad topped with a hint of vinegar. It was pretty unique in its use of the couscous which is something that continental food tends to do- shy away from Indian flavours. I wouldn’t give this dish a 5/5 because I do have my issues with how the couscous didn’t really get the taste across in the right manner,  but I’d be happy to give it a 3.8/5 for the brave attempts at uniqueness.

Mushroom and Broccoli CousCous. Quite an interesting dish.

Mushroom and Broccoli CousCous. Quite an interesting dish.

Everything is not as it smells!

My sister has loved strawberries for as long as I can remember. She loves eating them (and fairly, who wouldn’t? They’re packed with anti-oxidants and they really make your skin glow), loves strawberry ice cream, and also likes fruity products that smell like strawberries (EX-shampoo)

Let's not forget one of the most important thing you can do with strawberries. Image credit: CleanCuisineAndMore.com

Let’s not forget one of the most important thing you can do with strawberries.
Image credit: CleanCuisineAndMore.com

So then, why did she hate Sephora’s Strawberry Body Wash?

Anyone who has ever eaten a strawberry, will tell you that they don’t taste sweet, they’re tangy. They have strong, sassy flavours that make eating other fruit look like a walk in the park. The Sephora Strawberry Body Wash actually smelled like that. It had a sharp fragrance that was tangy, with a few underlying sweet base notes- not unlike the actual flavour of a strawberry, whose sweetness is dominated by its sassiness. So that really got me thinking? How many products actually don’t smell like the foods that they claim they’re made of?

1. First on my list was Clean and Clear’s Neem and Lemon Face Wash.

Neem and Lemon... Or is it?

Neem and Lemon… Or is it?

If you’ve tasted Neem and Lemon, you’ll know that what you smell is not very different from what you taste. So like the tastes, the smells of the foods are also strong, with no sense of sweetness. Anywhere at all. I understand that the actual smells of the two are too strong and too dominating of each other to be used to full effect, but where the heck is that sweet smell coming from?

2. Second up is Body Shop’s Creme Burlee body spray.

Because smelling like vanilla cake is important Image credit: thebodyshop.co.uk

Because smelling like vanilla cake is important
Image credit: thebodyshop.co.uk

If you’ve smelt vanilla essence in its true form, you’ll know that it has a distinct smell, which can be quite alluring. But the smell of it alone is not strong enough to constitute a fragrance that will last you the whole day. At least Body Shop’s Creme Burlee body spray is honest in the fact that vanilla is only one of its components, and that the patisserie fragrance is what they were going for.

3. Original Source vanilla and Raspberry body wash honestly reminded me of Alpenlibe’s strawberry flavoured candy.

82 sunrises is no joke people.  Image credit: thoushaltnotcovet.net

82 sunrises is no joke people.
Image credit: thoushaltnotcovet.net

I have no idea how a raspberry smells,  but hey, at least if you use this product, you end up smelling good enough to eat.

4. Biotique Papaya scrub is a really nice product that leaves your skin glowing and exfoliated.

Pa Pa Pa, Papapaya... Image credit: beautyandmakeupmatters.com

Pa Pa Pa, Papapaya…
Image credit: beautyandmakeupmatters.com

I will give Biotique credit for this as my nosy experiments revealed that it is actually quite difficult to match the scent of an element of nature in its true form. The scent ofelt slightly watered down but that might be because the scrub also claims to have mud or something in it.

5. Vim drop lemon dishwash liquid: because… lemon.

The closest and most accurate use of a lemon scent. Image credit: hul.co.in

The closest and most accurate use of a lemon scent.
Image credit: hul.co.in

The dishwashing liquid has a strong lemony scent with one or two sweet notes added in just so that the lemon doesn’t become unbearable. Their logic behind putting lemon in a dishwashing liquid is beyond just something that smells nice. Lemon apparently, has anti-bacterial properties.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Excuse me while I go dunk my head in a bowl of coffee beans. All this smelling is getting to me. Do comment if you have any products that don’t smell as good as the food they claim to be flavoured as. Until next time, much love!

Mushroom mania!

I took a deep breath, trying to calm my racing heart. My fingers trembled as I searched for what I was looking for on Google. I needed a hit. I was desperate. I thought that it would do if I got my fix at that dark shady restaurant that night… but I clearly needed more. That’s when I decided I had to take matters into my own hands. I had to come up with a secret formula that would help me scratch the itch and satisfy me.

I needed my [mu]shrooms.

So when I was prowling the restless aisles of the supermarket, my eyes widened as my gaze landed on a packet. They were right there. I had to have them. That’s when I decided. I was going to make BBQ grilled mushrooms at home. I laughed an evil laugh and the checkout clerk looked at me wearily as I harboured a maniacal glint in my eye. I licked my parched lips and laughed to myself. Nothing could stop me anymore.

All clean and ready for action!

All clean and ready for action!

I spent the next few hours, tirelessly prowling the internet, looking for the perfect recipe and when I found it, I got to work. Deja vu plagued me as I began mixing the marinade ingredients together. I had flashes of the first time I tried to bake a cake at home (Read all about it here) But luckily for me, the ingredients blended smoothly to make one hell of a spicy mixture that made my skin burn when there was contact. My mouth was burning and my heart racing as I put the marinade on the mushrooms and let it sit, in an test of patience. My journey had only just begun.

Eventually, I began prepping the OTG to cook them and I found myself putting the mushrooms into the OTG with an excited sense of trepidation. But this time, I was prepared. I wasn’t going to let an hour’s worth of effort go to waste. I propped myself up in front of the OTG on a tiny stool with a torch light handy. I felt like Dora the Explorer on a Culinary mission. I watched intently, as the mushrooms slowly turned. It was a climactic build up that had my mouth watering in anticipation. It was literally food porn, happening right there in front of my eyes.

I got them out of the OTG and when I bit into them, I knew that my life was on the right path. It felt so good because I actually made it from scratch and it was super spicy and yummy. There was just something so satisfying about actually getting it right. I always thought that cooking was never my forte, but I guess now might be time to revaluate that.

Aren't they beautiful :')

Aren’t they beautiful :’)

So it was ultimately 10:30 when I actually ate my dinner and it consisted of idlies, green chutney and the grilled mushrooms XD

IMG_1836

Because absolutely nothing on this planet can beat a home cooked meal. Especially Idlis.

Doing this was a ton of fun because I personally loved getting my hands messy. Taking matters into my own hands also meant a lot of gravy on my shirt, but like the Surf Excel ad says, stains are good, and I agree because damn, I had so much fun.

Messy me :P

Messy me 😛

Have you ever done crazy things for a craving? Let me know in the comments below! Also, here’s the recipe to make the grilled mushrooms, just like I did. Itch the scratch. Give in 😉

WIA: McDonald’s edition

I’m all for forgiving restaurants and giving them second chances, but I will draw the line when food from your restaurant makes me ill. Yeah, I’m never coming back if my bad experience extends beyond the taste of the food I ate and I end up having acidity or food poisoning or things like that.

On that note, hello again my lovelies! I’m back with the second post in the What I Ate (WIA) series. (Yay!) So for those of you who missed my last post, WIA is a section where I review the food I ate at a restaurant instead of the restaurants itself (there’s lots of blogs for that.). My first WIA post was at Haji Ali, Besant Nagar. Today, I’ll be writing about the food I ate at McDonalds(Though it honestly cannot be called a restaurant).

I remember the first time I ate at McDonald’s. I was 12, and we’d gone on a trip to Bangalore. Chennai wasn’t as posh as it is today and Bangalore was this big shiny city that had the coolest malls, the most amazing restaurants and so many great sights to see. I stepped inside McDonald’s in Forum mall and I still remember that excited feeling as I ate a veggie burger for the first time. I don’t remember how it tasted (I’m not superhuman the trip was 9 years ago) but I remember lovingly preserving the bright red paper cartons that the fries came in, as memories. It somehow didn’t occur to me that one day, Chennai would have its own McDonalds.

Which did happen eventually. An IT park by the name of Ascendas had a big swanky food court that had Chennai’s very first McDonald’s outlet. I remember being ecstatic at hearing the news and I was one of the first people to line up and buy something. Then my parents used to take me to Ascendas on Sunday mornings as an occasional treat, for breakfast. Of course, McDonald’s didn’t have their breakfast menus back then, but over time, things slowly began changing.

I soon began to realise that the food that McDonald’s was serving me, wasn’t actual food. I had a vague feeling of guilt when I ate it and when my friends and I began to frequent KFC, I realised how McDonald’s, though cheaper, actually tasted terrible. I also was aware that it was unhealthy and so that made it easier for me to stay away.

I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s for close to six months. Eating a dinner from McDonald’s today, was honestly one of the stupider decisions I’d made. A new McDonald’s had opened recently, about two streets from my house, and my sister asked me if I wanted dinner from there. I unwittingly agreed, thinking ‘hey, I could use a change from the food I normally eat’

I tend to forget that all change isn’t good.

Little did I know of the atrocities this plastic bag carried.

Little did I know of the atrocities this plastic bag carried.

My sister announced that she’d asked for foccacia bread topped with oregano for our burger buns. I honestly thought that was a pretty lame marketing gimmick, it’s like trying to make Rani in Queen posh without actually sending her to Europe. But I thought to myself if it tastes good, why not?

My dinner for the night. Apologies for the slightly shaky image, I was hungry and impatient.

My dinner for the night. Apologies for the slightly shaky image, I was hungry and impatient.

The first mess up was that she’d ordered the focaccia bread on both our McSpicy Panneer burgers, but they only gave us the said bread on one burger. I ordered a McSpicy because when I’ve consumed a McSpicy Panneer burger before, it was hardly spicy at all (I mean I’ve tasted Maggi my mom makes which is spicier than that). However, today, when I bit into the burger, I had to pause and acknowledge that they actually got it right this time. It was actually kind of spicy, but the burger still tasted pathetic because the flavours of the Foccaccia bread were completely overshadowed by the dominant spicy flavour of the burger. The menu on the McDonald’s website claims that the McSpicy Panneer burger is a burger which is supposed to have a mix of flavours and keep you guessing at every bite. Um, y’all actually failed. Big time. It just tasted spicy, and maybe if you had used more than a tiny teaspoon of sauce, there might be an inkling of flavour apart from bland spice and panneer. (I know bland spice is an oxymoron, but that’s what I call it when food has no flavour but spice)

IMG_2007

Look at those strangely white fries.

It also made me feel weirdly full when I was done eating it, but the fries weren’t done yet, so my sister and I agreed to finish them together. I kid you not, those terrible fries were nearly white, weren’t warm, and tasted squishy, bland and felt so weird in my mouth. The only saving grace was McIlhenny’s mild jalapeno bell pepper sauce that I purchased recently (Will review that one as well), but I only finished it because I don’t like wasting food. It was one of the most terrible meals I’d had in a long time and I honestly do not want to eat at McDonald’s again as long as I’m alive, unless its for a good reason. Good reason being apocalypse.

The burger even had some sad, brownish green leaf like things lying beneath the burger. Note even going to try eating it or figuring out what it was.

I felt ashamed to put my blog's watermark on this photo.

I felt ashamed to put my blog’s watermark on this photo.

So good or bad, here’s WIA

McSpicy Paneer burger- 1.0/5

It was honestly just a sad little burger with no purpose in life other than to carry McDonald’s brand name. I will however, give it points for its consistency and for the fact that it seemed remotely cooked. Though paying extra money for a foccacia and oregano bun was a waste because the burger was so spicy, it completely dominated the already vague and subtle flavours in the bun.

French fries- 0/5

These fries redefined rock bottom as far as standards were concerned. McDonald’s, please take note, albino french fries are the worst type of fries. Maybe you could try actually cooking your food before serving it to us- cold and soggy the next time?

McIlhenny’s mild Tabasco Bell Pepper sauce- 4.9/5

I’ve always been in love with McIlhenny because they recognized that not everyone can handle a super spicy tabasco sauce and they actually went and made a mild sauce. It’s flavoured with Jalapenos, so it’s still got that slight spicy tang to it, but it won’t set your tongue on fire, and has slight undertones of garlic, pepper and some sort of sweetening agent I can’t quite put my finger on.

What a waste of money. Oh well. At least my blog gave me an opportunity to vent.

Have you had a bad experience with McDonald’s before? Let me know in the comments section below.

UPDATE: After eating dinner last night, I suffered from mild acidity. After all my efforts to keep my acid reflux at bay, something as dumb as a McDonald’s burger brings it up again. That’s just great. 😐

What I Ate (WIA): Taste of Mumbai, Haji Ali

After a brief hiatus, I am back on my beloved blog! Of course, it was a long and difficult journey, having to overcome all sorts of ridiculous obstacles like a faulty internet connection, a new obsession with shopping for weird things from a chinese website (this includes mood rings and fedora hats) and of course, eating all sorts of food cooked by my beloved mom.

Today, I am going to do a post about What I Ate (WIA for short.) It’s not a review of the restaurant itself, but a more detailed review of the food that I ate. The logic behind it is simply this- I believe in second chances. A restaurant may have 9 terrible tasting dishes but 1 saving grace of a dish that makes your visit worthwhile. Or it may have 9 stupendous dishes but 1 dish that makes you blanch. Most of the time, such situations play a role in the restaurant getting a good or a bad review. Let’s also not forget the fact that sometimes restaurants have good days and bad days. I’m willing to overlook that.

My day at Haji Ali, was an amazing one.

It all started on one random evening. I was craving sandwiches, and exhaustive research revealed to me that a tiny shop in Royapettah called Royal Sandwiches was one of the best in Chennai and had close to 150 varieties of sandwiches. It had a 4.7 rating on Zomato, and thats kind of a huge deal. So imagine the crushing disappointment that I felt in my chest as I stared at the closed shutters. It was closed on account of it being a Sunday! 😦

However, I was not to be deterred. The drive from Royapettah to Besant Nagar was one that involved a good bit of traffic and a cow. But we made it to Haji Ali and our table had quite an interesting view…

I guess that's what happens when you go with a fashionista lol.

I guess that’s what happens when you go with a fashionista lol.

We then placed our orders for the food and waited impatiently. I wasn’t very impressed when the food arrived because it didn’t look very different, but the taste is what had me dancing to a whole different tune. The first thing I noticed about it was that it wasn’t piping hot- in fact, it was just the right temperature. Hot, without being scalding. I hate eagerly biting into food that has arrived, only to hurt my teeth and burn my tongue (I have really sensitive teeth). The bread was white and perfectly toasted. I have huge issues when the bread is too hard, but what I loved, is that the sandwich remained soft throughout the time I took to eat it; and that’s a huge deal because I’m a really slow eater.

Look at that beauty.

Look at that beauty.

As you can see in the picture, the sandwich was oozing cheese and I just loved it. I love it when you bite into something cheesy and a long string of cheese follows. It’s so much fun playing with your food like that. Also LOVE grilled sandwiches above all else. What I ordered was a Mozarella veg cheese grill sandwich that had tomatoes, potatoes, capscicum and (of course) mozarella cheese. It had a single tiny chilli next to it on the menu, but the actual food that arrived was really subtly flavoured. Yours truly has been recovering from a mild case of acidity, so it was a really really good option to go for.

My Mozarella Veg Cheese Grilled Sandwich.

My Mozarella Veg Cheese Grilled Sandwich.

Admittedly, the flavouring was so subtle that it was borderline bland. So we went ahead and asked for chilli sauce. Surprisingly the sauce itself tasted really good. That’s rare coming from me because I have this strange hang up because I don’t like tomato sauce or any sauce that’s sweet to taste. We also ordered Masala French fries that day. I’ve tasted masala fries at other restaurants before, and what I was expecting was a bunch of fries with garam masala thrown on top. I was so not expecting what we actually got.

Masala Fries

Masala Fries

What we got, was possibly the poshest version of masala fries, ever. It had no garam masala at all and I was so grateful for that. I could taste salt and pepper and a third flavouring agent which mildly reminded me of Oregano. Thyme, maybe? I dunno.
IMG_1238(final)

All I know, is that these fries tasted epic.

So this is WIA

Veg Mozarella Cheese Sandwich
Price: Rs. 95
Rating: 3.8/5
– I would’ve liked the sandwiches to just have a tad bit more flavour and actually give the chilli next to it on the menu, some meaning.

Masala Fries
Price: Rs. 90
Rating: 4.2/5
– I loved how it took three people to finish this bowl of fries. Great taste, but a tad bit stiff. If the fries had achieved the right mix of soft and crunchy, then I wouldn’t hesitate to give it 5 stars.

Water
Price: Free!
Rating: 3.5/5
– I really like restaurants that leave a full jug on your table along with empty glasses. Haji Ali, unfortunately, wasn’t one of them! The water tasted alright, but I hate having to flag down a waiter just for water. Restaurants, please take note.

So that’s WIA at Taste of Mumbai, Haji Ali. Don’t forget to let me know what you think by commenting, liking or reblogging this post. Much love people. Until next time! ❤

Posh Nosh Chocolate Fudge sauce review!

Many girls get excited when they go to malls. Their hearts race when they’re walking along rows of shows in the colours of the rainbow. They sigh in ecstasy as they stand before racks of jewllery, hanging daintily in the pale yellow light of the store. A happy smile plays upon their lips as they triumphantly grasp their shopping bags in their fingers, a bedazzling necklace, an elegant scarf or a timeless dress nestled inside of it.

Me?

I feel the same way at supermarkets.

A smile automatically finds its ways to my lips as I step through the glass doors, welcomed by the air conditioning. I sigh in joy as I stand before rows and rows of brightly coloured fruit juices, promising to back your health up in no time. I need to suppress a gleeful giggle as I walk past the rows of potato chips in different shapes and sizes. My eyes light up as I look at all the different chocolates, just waiting for me to grab them and put them in my basket.

I’ve always been the kind of person who believes that food is nothing short of magical.

So one day, I was idyllically standing in front of the open fridge at Nilgiris, contemplating on buying a block of blue cheese and some sour cream when I met her for the first time.

There she was, between happy cow cheese and a jar of Mayo. That’s when I first met…

She was so beautiful

I picked up the intriguing looking dark jar and I turned it over, trying to know more. Turns out it was by an Indian entrepreneur and was actually marginally cheaper than Nutella. It was founded by Aditi Gupta, a foodie who studied in Britain. She came back to India and realised that the foriegn ingredients you get here are not only expensive, but they’re also full of preservatives! (*GASP!*).

So that’s when Posh Nosh foods was born(In early 2014). She swears that the ingredients are preservatives free and the sauces she makes are a 100% vegetarian. That’s great. So far, so good.

It took quite a bit of effort to crack open the jar and we had to try all sorts of crazy tactics that included inverting the jar upside down in a vessel of hot water. (I was personally just happy that the jar didn’t crack)

It was so good looking that I couldn’t resist taking a swipe at the lid and I was astounded by how amazing it tasted. It had the same consistency as a bar of fully melted dark chocolate and tasted just as good. The flavour played out easily on my tongue, just the right blend of sweet and bitter.
It was nearly dinnertime and I was super excited to try this new spread on some toast.
Yes. I most definitely licked the spoon clean.

So I was all riled up to try the new spread on some goddamn delicious brown wheat bread. I took one bite and stopped short. Something was definitely not right. I took another and my tongue got thoroughly confused with what was going on. The toast on the surface tasted sweet because of the spread, but it tasted… odd otherwise.

Something’s not right…
I suddenly remembered something my mother had told me. That my cousin’s friend who is a chef, runs a cafe nearby had sent over some whole wheat bread and masala rye bread. I asked mom which of the two it was and she shrugged and replied that it was one of the two and that she didn’t check which one it was. A few more bites of my toast left spicy notes at the back of my mouth and I realised my mistake.
When you facepalm so hard your glasses disappear.

But then again, I am a foodie! I am resillient and I was not ready to give up so easily. So after finishing dinner, I decided to try something a little safer.

That is a generous helping of the chocolate fudge spread on a Marie biscuit.
Now, I had a chance to properly try out the amazingness that is the chocolate fudge sauce. At first, the chocolaty taste takes over your mouth. A more slow, lingering taste reveals a deeper, richer flavour that is characteristic of the pure cocoa that it says it has. It tasted to me, like a blend of two very familiar flavours- that of Diary milk and Amul dark chocolate but there was a third flavour that I couldn’t quite place my finger on and that’s what makes me love it so much. It’s consistency at room temperature is slightly thick, just like a freshly melted bar of chocolate and has a bitter, chocolaty scent to it.
I like it because in my opinion, this one gives Nutella a run for its money. Some people complain that Nutella is too sweet and this is just perfect for people who feel that way. I like the packaging as well because it is quite sturdy and though it was glass, it wasn’t the least bit slippery (Which is great for someone like me because I tend to be a bit of a butterfingers). I liked the fact this is also supposed to be just as versatile. You can use it on toast, on ice cream, as icing on cake… The possibilities are endless.
Oh and also, I’ve tried a jar of Hershey’s hot fudge sauce once. I love Hersheys and everything but this is SO not the same. This is way way better. So go ahead, give an Indian entrepreneur some ‘brownie’ points for trying and splurge on this jar of Chocolate fudge sauce. If you like anything remotely chocolatey and… well, fudgey, you won’t regret this.
Rating: 4.5/5.

The best foodie music ever

So instead of writing about food today, I’ve decided to try something slightly different. Here’s a list of songs that I love listening to while eating or when I’m having a fun night out in general.

1. Madari- Vishal Dadlani, Clinton Cerejo and Sonu Kakkar.

This song obviously HAD to be the very first on this list because it is an eternal favourite. Everytime I hear it, my mood instantly perks up and I have to resist the urge to sing along because I can never get the words right.

2. Naan Nee- Madras