Monthly Archives: April 2013

Respect to My PR Friends

Public Relations (PR) is a profession that is associated with fun and glamour, and of course, the media! At least, that was the picture in my head. Three months ago, I joined a communications firm which is popular for PR. However, I belong to the digital (social media) department. Today, at lunch we started discussing the relationship between PR executives and journalists. And the conversation that started keeping food bloggers in mind anchored at how terrible journalists in today’s day and age are. Journalists need PR execs and vice versa. We all know that! But what do these execs do when journalists throw up a fit or lose control or demand something completely irrelevant? Let me explain.

BLOGGERS

Food bloggers: These guys are invited with the expectation of feedback and coverage. But what happens on the flip side? Food bloggers hog on delicious food, gulp down expensive, high quality wine and other spirits, have a merry time, burrp and forget why they were actually at the event. Some at least take the trouble of tweeting. The rest don’t care. Right now, I’m just being the mouth-piece for my PR friends. They have a client to report to. And such behaviour will only degrade you and your so called blogging hobby.

Fashion bloggers: Fashion is another sector that depends a lot on bloggers. Various “fashionstas” like to run their own blog that gives tips on the latest trends, beauty, DIYs etc. etc. In order to feature a particular product, some (I think it’s majority of fashion bloggers) ask for vouchers to the store or free products in return. A barter, they call it. Half the time, or even more than that, there is minimum coverage. But the gift needs to reach their door step on time.

JOURNALISTS

I’m not quite sure if this applies to hard news journalists, but soft news, definitely! These friends were  narrating incidents back-to-back. My conclusion is that Delhi media is very greedy. Mumbai, on the other hand, hasn’t reached that stage yet. In Delhi, there are journalists who demand a cab/ taxi that will aid their commute to and fro. If they’re deprived of this luxury, they will ensure that they present the bill so that you can reimburse the amount. This is just one instance. if I start, this will never end.

The aim of the PR firm is to get enough coverage in the media. And I sense that this is a daunting task for these executives. For instance, if the press conference features a celebrity, invariably questions asked are not at all related to the event. Journalists enjoy delving into the celebrity’s personal life.

I could cite a lot of examples. I lost count of the number of instances that were shared with me. I always assumed that this sector was the sloppiest and most annoying. As an amateur journalist (I don’t even know if there’s anything like that), I really feel sad for these friends and PR executives at large. Every single day, I see these guys struggle to meet the clients expectations of maximum coverage. Well, considering that the Indian media is the country’s fourth estate, there’s a lot of importance given to this field. And PR guys are just doing their job. Journalism may not all that fancy, but it has its own perks that we’re not ignorant about.

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Otto Infinito Review: Eight to Infinite

(Please note: This review was first published on Indian Food Freak)

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The Mediterranean (Med) cuisine is majorly made up of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, wholegrain and olive oil. Let’s not skip the fact that this is considered one of the healthiest diets across the globe. Gradually, a lot of Mumbaikars have started adapting to the Med diet, including office goers. So, if you are one of them and if your office is situated in BKC, you know which restaurant I am referring to. This toddler Med restaurant focuses on eight cuisines from countries surrounding the Mediterranean sea with a goal to offer infinite options around the same theme.

Apart from the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner, Otto Infinito has a pick-up-and-go as well as a delivery option. I was at this spacious, softly-lit restaurant for lunch last week, and was welcomed with cheerful smiles. My companion and I settled in, and were pleasantly surprised to be offered freshly baked breads. The server is en route to every table with a basket of multigrain and seasame bread. The breads were soft and light, and served with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbed butter. An amazing start! I was handed the lunch menu, which surprisingly featured more veg recipes than non-veg. But Med cuisine is a lot about fresh food, so this menu is not a letdown.

Selecting a drink is never easy for me as there’s so much to choose from. However, we settled on a Bittersweet Martini (Limoncini, Campari, fresh lime, sugar) which was strong, and Otto Ginger Blend, a mix of fresh ginger, red chillies, vanilla, black pepper and lime soda. The latter was an excellent choice considering the rising temperature. It was all ginger-y!

So as it happens, we ate brilliantly at Otto Infinito.  What I loved was the Harissa Spiced Prawn— Five flavourful prawns cooked in hot chilli sauce.  Next to seduce my taste buds was the Chicken Lasagna. I couldn’t help but compare it to the lasagna that’s served at Candies in Bandra. It has a thin layer of batter and the minced chicken spreads its flavourful juices across the egg and spices. Lovely! Unlike the regular round pizzas, the Quattro Formaggi was a 12” X 10” square pizza. What I loved about this dish is that the crust did not get soggy even after 10 minutes. The Grilled Fish in Olive Oil and Italian lemon came on a bed of sautéed spinach and baby potatoes were its neighbours. I loved those cute and tiny unpeeled potatoes more than the black pomfret. The fish was grilled to perfection. This was all good. The only recipe that was not-so-good was the Balsamic Chicken and Green Apple Salad. We started off with this dish, but it didn’t have the same impact as the ones mentioned above. It was presented beautifully and reminded me of an aircraft. Four pieces of chicken were laid out like the wings of the aircraft, but it lacked taste, and was mainly lettuce. There was very little of green apple and chicken.

That was what I loved. This is what I loved the most – Hazelnut Baked Cheesecake. Before placing an order for dessert, I was tied between blueberry cheesecake and hazelnut cheesecake. I’m glad I chose the Hazelnut Baked Cheesecake. If you’re on diet, put it on hold! You must try this little delicacy. It was consistently delicious. On the other hand, we also ordered for a Hot Chocolate Mousse with Vanilla Ice Cream. This was served in an unusual manner. We were expecting both the ingredients in two different vessels, but surprise! Surprise! It was all mixed and served in an old-fashioned glass.

Otto Infinito is an elegant restaurant with beautiful interiors. I liked the lamps that were suspended from the ceiling. Italian and Arabic numbers topped the playlist. The restaurant can house around 150 hungry people – 100 inside and 50 outside. I would rate service 10 on 10. No 9.9! Every time my attendant, David, came to our table, the service was garnished with a smile. I like!

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Bittersweet Martini & Otto Ginger Blends

Grilled Fish in Olive Oil and Italian Lemon

Harissa Spiced Prawns

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Quattro Formaggi

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Column: Brushing Shoulders with Celebrities

(Please note: This is my weekly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)

Mumbai is well regarded as the financial capital of India. It may sound clichéd, but it is indeed the city of dreams. It is a city that has hosted and will continue to host celebrities who’ve made their way into tinsel town from different parts of the country. In fact, Bollywood has elevated Mumbai to international fame with its entertaining films. So, when I go to Goa for a vacation, I am quizzed by family, friends and neighbours who are curious to know if I’ve met any celebrities during my stay in this metropolitan city. The answer is – yes, a lot of them.

When I was still in college, I had taken up an internship with a production house that used to make television series including Dill Mill Gayye. In between sets, I used to find myself chatting with actors from this soap opera. Aspiring actors and actresses would often visit the production house for auditions. Some, I recognized and made a conversation, but to a lot of them, I just delivered a smile.

Earlier, I would be excited every time I spotted an actor. I was thrilled about seeing them in person. Back home, these guys were only limited to a television set or a movie theatre. Now, they can easily be spotted. There was this one time I saw Arjun Rampal and went speechless for the next one whole hour. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

If you love hanging out around Bandstand, you should never miss the crowd that desperately waits for Salman Khan to come to his balcony and wave to the public. They hope to get a glimpse of the star for real, and many a times, a lot get lucky. In Bandra, it’s also Shah Rukh Khan’s Mannat that attracts loads of people. Come towards Juhu, and its Amitabh Bachchan’s mansion that gets captured in photographs along with happy, smiling faces.

A few weeks ago, I stepped into a beauty store and the lady next to me was a small screen actor. I spared her a glance and then another one. The second look exchanged a smile. It was my way of saying, “Hey, I’ve seen you on television”. The most recent celebrity encounter was when Imtiaz Ali entered the same restaurant as I for a Sunday brunch, and sat at the table next to mine. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to smile, but I eventually did. The director initiated a conversation that was limited to the food we ordered. I couldn’t stop smiling, and spent all evening narrating the story to my friends.

You don’t need to be working with an agency to meet actors and actresses in this city. Often, they will be walking beside you in areas such as Bandra, Four Bungalows, Lokhandwala, Goregaon or even Malad. Most of them go unnoticed simply because they look like any other Mumbaikar. So the next time I come to Goa, you know I would have seen and met many more celebs.

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In Talks with the Amazing Sidd Coutto

Siddharth Coutto popularly known as Sidd is in the midst of completing at least three albums for different bands in Bombay. Read more.

Sidd Coutto epaper pic

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Mexifornia at California Pizza Kitchen

Today, I skipped my evening snack. Why? I was attending the bloggers’ meet at California Pizza Kitchen to try out the menu that’s rolling out for the Mexican festival called Mexifornia from April 29 to May 19. CPK boasts of (in a nice way) celebrating international festivals and appealing to various palates globally, and this culinary festival is to celebrate Mexico’s favourite holiday — Cinco De Mayo. So here’s my verdict!

Cranberry Mist: I love when I start a meal like this – by sipping on a refreshing drink. I chose to give alcohol some rest and called for this mocktail. Cranberry Mist is a blend of cranberry juice and lime juice topped with soda. The slight tint of lime was lovely. Just the kind of drink I was longing for.

Enchiladas: A corn tortilla roll that was filled with vegetables and chicken. For the vegetarians, it was vegetables and paneer. The roll was soft and spicy. Something you can definitely look forward to at the fest.

Chicken/ Paneer Taco with Mexican Rice: This came with tiny pieces of chicken/ Panner. I wouldn’t call it the best recipe, but it’s okay. My palate refuses to give this a green signal. The rice turned out to be a little sour due to the lime that was squeezed over it. Not a fan.

Chicken-something Pizza: I couldn’t register what exactly the pizza was called, but all you need to know is that it was delicious. Shredded chicken coupled with onion that’s sliced straight down from the centre were lying on a thick crust bed. The crust was soft and fluffy. I like!

Baja Supreme Pizza: Ah! This was the highlight of the show. Just before it arrived at my table, I was trying hard to make the vegetarians feel bad about their food preferences. This Baja Pizza was a tight slap on my face. It turned out to be the best recipe! It was a burst of spice in my mouth. The orange sauce was playing it well. Chopped mushrooms, onions, beans and corn toned down the spice.

Churros: We ended on a perfectly sweet note! The Spanish donuts made it to our table with a bowl of Chocolate Mousse. It was a sugar rush and as I like it to be, a perfect ending! 🙂

Cranberry Mist

Cranberry Mist

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Enchiladas

 

Chicken Tacos with Mexican Rice

Chicken Tacos with Mexican Rice

 

Paneer Tacos with Mexican Rice

Paneer Tacos with Mexican Rice

 

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Baja Supreme Pizza

Baja Supreme Pizza

 

Churros

Churros

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The Man of Words

Jerry Pinto, a Goan, first started off as a mathematics tutor in Mumbai. His penchant for words led him into a flourishing writing career. Read more.

Jerry Pinto

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Queen of Many Roles

From copywriting to walking the ramp and baking cakes, Alisha Sequeira has her hands full. Read more.

Alisha Sequeira

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Feature on photographer Geraldine Menezes: Shooting for a living

The twenty-something Goan, Geraldine Menezes carves out a career as a professional photographer. Read more.

Geraldine

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The Post Breakup Story: 7 Rules

I never imagined myself writing this, but it’s something I’d like to share. It’s for all those girls who assumed they were in a serious relationship, but for awkward reasons had to part ways with the guy. Well, this can get really tough if you allow it to, but divert your precious attention towards the better world, and phew! in less than a year you’ll be doing excellent. Believe me ‘coz it’s experience talking. Here are a couple of pointers that act like panacea.

  1. Set out on an adventure trip: I was lucky enough to join my friends on a road trip to Coorg. It’s an amazing place and has the potential to divert your mind completely. You can always choose another location, but go! Just go.
  2. Meet new people: I don’t think there’s any harm in meeting new people. Over the last 10 months (post my breakup) I’ve met a lot of people, initiated new friendship. And very importantly, retain these friends. As much as possible, avoid spilling the beans about your breakup. It will only call for sympathy and self-pity.
  3. Guy friends are just friends: The next guy you meet is not the ‘replacement’. I know that sounds really immature, but wait. Be patient. That spot will be filled, not immediately but eventually.
  4. Read/ watch movies: Ah! There’s nothing as blissful as a novel in your hand. Read. Read. And read. Please, I beg you! DO NOT get your hands on a love story. Choose adventure novels, thrillers, murder mysteries. These genres will ensure that Mr Ex is not on your mind. If this is not your cup of tea, opt for a cup of coffee – movies. I need not say more!
  5. Silent Therapy: While you continue to meet people, it’s always better to keep yourself on discreet mode. Observe as much as you can. Absorb as much as you can.
  6. Do what you love the most: I love singing, so I joined my parish choir. That felt good!
  7. Learn something new: I recently enrolled myself to dance classes. I’m a Goan-catholic who wouldn’t easily step onto the dance floor. So, I decided to do something that I’ve never done before. I’m literally taking one step at a time. In my opinion, dance turned out to be the best therapy. If you’re already good at dancing, learn a foreign language. I may do that next.

Good luck! 🙂

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Summer Delight at Yauatcha, Mumbai

Quick update: Yauatcha is catching up with the summer heat. Quench your thirst with some refreshing Cilantro and energizing Xanadu and for the teetotalers out there, don’t miss the Kumquat Jasmine Iced Tea. Plus the restaurant has also introduced new dim sums that will go along with these summer drinks. Try healthy Oatmeal flakes coated veg salad roll or Shredded Kataffi crab meat roll starting from Rs. 275

Shredded Kataffi crab meat roll

Pan fried Sesame prawn beancurd roll with basil 1

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