Saturday, September 21, 2019

Paul John Tasting @ Ferns Meadows Single Malt Club, Bengaluru

One of Bengaluru’s best kept secrets is the Ferns Meadows Club. Nested in the 37 acre orchard with private residences, boasts of verdant lawns, an inviting swimming pool and a host of other facilities.

Ferns Meadows Club- Pool side

The club was host to the launch version 2 of the Ferns Meadows Single Malt Club.
The setting was perfect with a few members bringing their personal collection for display, discussion and adding to the ambiance.
While the members were dressed for the occasion, the dinner table too was well appointed and gave a huge boost to the ambiance.

The little box you see on the plate, in the picture on the right, has a scroll displaying the very carefully planned and paired dinner menu for the evening.  

We had Venu from Paul John gracing this occasion and talking to us about the nuances of Single Malt and guided us through the tasting and appreciation of their three expressions, Paul John – Brilliance, Paul John -Bold and their recently launched Paul John – Nirvana.

As soon as we settled down into our seats, we had David Dass, our founder member, taking us down memory lane and refreshing us on the earlier malt tasting sessions. As he handed  over to Venu, we got into the act for the relaunch of version 2.
Assorted Cheese Platter

While we lined our stomach with the creamy goat cheese and salami platter that was served around, Venu took the floor and took us through some basic concepts of whiskies.

We understood the concept of “Vatting” which busted the very popular myth that a “Single Malt is a single whisky from a single barrel, whereas the truth being that the malts we consume are a result of “vatting” or “marrying” dozens or more whiskies from individual barrels.
Venu - Paul John

Venu explained, the amount of an alcoholic drink that is lost to evaporation when the liquid is being aged in porous oak barrels, also called Angels share, goes from about 2% - 3% in Scotland to as high as 10% - 12% in India each year.

We started our tasting experience with Brilliance. It is an unpeated whisky from Paul John Distillers, released in early 2013. It is made using barley from the foothills of the Himalayas and is distilled and matured in Goa, producing a fruity spirit with a creamy texture.

Nose:  Cinnamon-dusted-red berries, vanilla, honey

Palate: Chomp Bars - lots of chewy caramel and chocolate here. Picks up from lively spice along the way, with a little bit of waxy orange peel on the mid palate.

Finish: Orange lingers with a long finish.

Overall: A fine Indian single malt and my preferred expression from John Distilleries.                         
We followed this up with the Bold that was launched by Paul Distilleries in 2015 and is made entirely with Indian Barely and smoked using Islay peat to around 25ppm.
Spot the three Paul John Expressions amongst the
 FM-SMC members collection

Nose: Toasted barley, dried grass, citrus peels, green apple and brown sugar.

Palate: Honeyed oak and fruity coffee with that Islay peat.

Finish: Peaty and long

Overall: Fully peated Paul John single malt whisky preferred by most of the members present.

Finally we tasted the Paul John - Nirvana. The latest entrant into the long list of Paul John expressions. The Nirvana is a fruity, unpeated single malt.

Nose: fruitcake, honeycomb and caramel

Palate: Notes of apricots, raisins, honey, apples and salted caramel.
The Dinner Menu
Finish: Immensely long, and richly flavoured with dissolving honey, barley, and succulent vanilla.

Overall: A nice whisky but does not really stand out. I would personally go for the Brilliance.

As we were going through the wonderful journey of appreciating the three different expressions, the chef was working tirelessly in the kitchen creating from his repertoire a very exhaustive menu. A fair amount of effort was also put in to ensure the meal was paring well with the whiskies for the evening. 

Tomato & Olive Bruschetta
Our dining experience started with tomato and olive bruschetta. A Bruschetta is an antipasto from Italy consisting of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt. Variations may include toppings of tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat, or cheese.

 This was followed by chicken satay, which is a Southeast Asian dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served generally with peanut sauce. It is a dish from Indonesia, and popular in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Brunei.

Finally we were served meat balls tossed in a BBQ sauce.
Chicken Satay

Meat Balls in BBQ Sauce
This was followed by a piping hot tomato and basil soup accompanied with one of my favorites, Ceaser's salad with grilled chicken.
Ceaser's Salad with Grilled Chicken
We were completely satiated by the time we reached the mains, which was chicken breast with a spinach and cheese sauce.
Interestingly, we had a second main course, Chicken Stroganoff with sour cream. 

A Stroganoff is a Russian dish of sautéed pieces of beef or any other meat served in a sauce with smetana. From its origins in mid-19th-century Russia, it has become popular around the world, with considerable variation from the original recipe.
Chicken Stroganoff

Chicken Breast with Spinach 

Assorted Bread

The dessert was a strawberry cheese cake that we flambéed with Paul John – Brilliance. The residual whisky on the plate cut the sweetness of the cheese cake and enhanced the overall dessert experience. 

Strawberry Cheese Cake
Flambé is a cooking procedure in which alcohol is added to a hot pan or a dish to create a burst of flames. By partially burning off the volatile alcohol, flambéing reduces the alcoholic content of the dish while keeping the flavors of the liquor. Studies, however show that 75% of the alcohol is retained when flamed.

 This experience would not have been possible without the efforts of David & Jacob and the Paul John team. 

FM- SMC Members


Venu from Paul John on the left.


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Zeebop by the Sea, Utorda @ South Goa (Goa Series #3)

Plan Goa and the excitement sets in. It is probably the only destination in the country where the excitement or the buzz sets in right from the time you board the flight.
There are groups of families, friends, couples etc. all excited about their oncoming holiday in the fun city. As the flight takes off, you can almost hear the roar of excitement from the passengers on board.

While in Goa there are options galore, be it North Goa or South Goa to match your expectations. So this time is was Zeebop by the Sea located in South Goa’s Utorda beach.
The view is simply amazing, if lucky (read: early), you can get your table placed under the palm overlooking the sea. The shack is on the beach and one can slip into the sea for a swim and return quite easily. There is a provision for a shower that you can use to get rid of all the sand that comes along from the beach.

We were a large group and had taken up the entire left section of the shack. While all of us were enjoying our beers & gin n tonics, there was this immediate need to satisfy our hunger pangs.

Calamari Rechelado

Prawn Rawa Fry

Beef Chilly Fry
Our order must have kept the Chef’s on their toes. Our starters included, Calamari Batter Fry, Calamari Rechelado, Fish n Chips, Beef Chilly Fry, Prawn Rawa Fry, Chicken & Paneer tikka and my personal favorite , Goan Chorizo, a hot and tangy Goan pork sausage.

The Goan sausage or chorizo is a typical reflection of Indo-Portuguese cuisine from Goa, Daman and Diu, which once were part of the Portuguese State of India.

Goan Chorizo 

This sausage is made with pork, vinegar, garlic, hot chili peppers, and spices like turmeric, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, which makes it extremely spicy. After filling the casings, the resulting sausages are dried in the sun and then smoked slowly. Goan sausage is usually served on a piece of pao, which is the word "bread" in Portuguese. Goan sausage is also prepared into a pulao or rice dish.

Being right on the coast , there is always the option of indulging in the catch of the day. While this is a very tempting option, it can set you back by about Rs 7500/- to Rs 8000/- per piece depending on the size and season.

Catch of the Day -  Crab

Catch of the Day
After a great day at the beach, as you walk along the shore in the evening it's time for the sun to say good bye as it sets into the far horizon into the sea. It's time to bid adieu to the beach as well as we get into our coach and head back to our resort.

All good things don't necessarily need to come to an end . Till next time.... 


Celebrations @ House of Lloyds, Goa (Goa Series #2)

The occasion was special and therefore the location had to be too.  So Goa it was and the "House of Lloyds” in Saipem was the perfect choice. 

House of Lloyd

Private Residence -
The House of Lloyds
Nested in the garden of a spacious 100 year-old Portuguese-Goan home, House of Lloyds serves the local Goan fare as well as some scrumptious steaks and starters from its continental kitchen.
The candles on the tables add to the ambiance and bring out the romantic side of the restaurant. The live band in attendance rendering retro music of the 80's elevates the entire experience. Also on display are bikes and scooters from the past like the Vijay Super,Rajdoot bike, Jawa etc. Don't miss the  humorous side of the restaurant, demonstrated by it s unique and interesting posters on the pillars.   
I would worry about the
unsupervised kids here.

The Bar

The bar is housed at the far end of the restaurant and is very well stocked with the mixologists very enthusiastic to demonstrate their skills and impress customers at the counter. Apart from the straight drinks, we decided to take on their offer of trying out three different types of Margaritas.

Lemon Margarita

A good margarita is undoubtedly the king of tequila cocktails. While there is no clear clarity on the origin of this cocktail, it is widely believed that the cocktail started as a version of the Brandy Daisy in the 1800's. In this version the tequila is replaced with brandy. Interestingly, margarita is the Spanish translation for Daisy. 
Tamarind Margarita

Jalapeno Margarita
We started with the traditional lemon Margarita. The cocktail was refreshing, as always with the lemon giving it a flavourful twist. This was followed by the tamarind margarita. The drink was interesting but a little too tangy for my liking. The Jalapeno margarita was my choice of the three. I enjoyed the spice on the palate immediately after taking a sip.

Would definitely recommend you give this version a try. 

Bacon wrapped prawn
The refreshing  cocktails were accompanied by appetizers. I really enjoyed the prawns wrapped in bacon. The bacon was cooked just right that it did not overpower the flavour of the prawns.

The chicken peri peri was served on a stick along with onions and capsicum enhancing the flavor of the chicken. The prawn recheado was also a local speciality relished by us.

The cheese quesadillas were served with a salsa which was enjoyed by both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

Chicken Peri Peri

Prawn recheado

Fried Fish with Tarter sauce

Cheese Quesadillas
The main course had a nice compact buffet laid out and I would like to call out the pork vindaloo, a traditional Goan pork dish which is flavoured with chillies, garlic and vinegar. It is both spicy and tangy best eaten with Gaon pao.

Fiery Pork Vindaloo 


Interestingly, for the first time I ate a dessert that was not too sweet not too heavy and I went back for a second helping and a third. It is the Serradura, a Portuguese sawdust pudding. Serradura translated in English means sawdust and the powdered biscuits give the sawdust texture to the no-cook dessert. 

This dessert is from Portugal however it became famous in Macau and is now a very common dessert there. The Portugal influence in Goa probably brought this dessert to Goa.
The crushed Marie biscuits used in the dessert provide a change in the texture and cut the sweetness of the creamy layer made with thick cream, condensed milk and vanilla extract. This is a must try on your next visit to Goa.

We had a fantastic evening with great friends, food, drinks and ambiance. What more can one ask for? Special thanks to dosts and hosts Gunit & Sam, celebrating Sam's 50th.

दोस्त & Hosts 

With Lloyd
Speaking with Lyod, he will tell you with pride on how popular their place has been over the last decade that they have been in operations and the special meats they import from places like New Zealand for their steaks. So the next time, it's going to be steaks for me here. 

The reason for their success is probably because the family is involved in the kitchen. The local Goanese food was cooked by Lloyds mother and the very special dessert by his wife. 

I must also compliment them for their physical presence during the evening.  This makes the whole experience special. 


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lazy Lagoon Sarovar Portico Suites

When in Goa, the Lazy Lagoon Sarovar Portico Suites is a great option. It is a nice quaint hotel in Baga. 43 km from Dabolim Airport. The hotel boasts of 44 rooms, a very lovely swimming pool and two restaurants.

The hotel experience starts right at the airport. As soon as we landed and were in the airport coach to the terminal, we received a call from the hotel chauffer, telling us that he was waiting for us at the terminal.
So as soon as we got our baggage, we were well on our way to the hotel. Being a Sunday morning, we encountered little or no traffic on our hour long drive to the hotel.

A light drizzle welcomed us at the hotel. Check-in was seamless even though we arrived early. Soon enough we were in our rooms… and wow…. were they spacious? The room opened into a little sitting room that led to the bedroom. Nice and spacious. I was particularly impressed by the bathrooms. They seem to be recently renovated and were big and contemporary. Unfortunately, I do not have a photograph that I can share.
The hotel has a very nice swimming pool that is very inviting and with a depth of 5’ in the deep is relatively safe for both swimmers and non-swimmers alike.

They say, "A way to a man’s heart is through the stomach and so to 'woo man', good food is a must." Although in Goa there are many other options.

I am personally not a great fan of buffets and I tend to choose just a dish or two from the buffet. But our group, almost 28 of us, probably tested the elasticity of the hotel staff with extended timings and personal requests. The kitchen and service crew obliged smilingly.

Fried Egg - Masala

Fresh Fruit Salad

Tossed Vegetables 
Paneer Tikka

Goan Anjal Fish Curry

I personally enjoyed my masala fried eggs with croissants and anjal (seer) fish curry with rice, during my meals at the hotel. Goan Fish Curry is a warm and tangy fish curry that is cooled with coconut milk. Seen in the picture, is a little bit of kokum that has been used to make the curry tangy.

I think we also pushed to the extreme Lennoz, the mixologist at the OLA, He was at his best making dozens of Margaritas,, Mojitos, Whisky sours etc. #Lennox4Life 

Two sides of a coin

  • A breakfast is never complete without a good cup of either tea or coffee. If you request for a beverage beyond the standard masala chai on the buffet, it takes forever to reach the table. The hotel needs to improve this part of their breakfast service. Help the hotel beat the issue by ordering early. 
  • Desi Masala Chai

  • Croissants are my favourite breakfast roll and I do not appreciate them being cut into half and served on the buffet. The hotel could do better by baking or outsourcing a smaller size so we can enjoy them as a whole

I would definitely recommend staying at this property in Baga. It works great, both for groups and well as for families. 

#goa #goanexperiences

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