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June 2014

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Recently I was invited to try out Starbucks Frappuccino® and also design it in my own way, just the way I like it. That means I could choose my own milk, whether it is regular, non-fat or Soy. Also I could adjust my coffee to be extra, decaf or half decaf. And finally I could add a lot of flavor like Vanilla, Caramel, Mocha, Chocolate Chips, etc.

I met the store manager Vibhor who was very friendly and explained to us the history of Starbucks Frappuccino® and how it’s been introduced in India recently. He mentioned that the Frappuccino® Blended Beverage was invented 17 years ago at a Starbucks in Santa Monica, California, by a store partner looking to provide an iced beverage for his customers. The new beverage option became so popular that it was offered at 10 more stores in California. In 1995 Starbucks created a proprietary blend of ingredients and the Frappuccino® blended beverage was launched across the country and spread across to the world slowly! He also talked to us about Starbucks passport where we could have 12 different drinks on the menu and get a tumbler free after trying them out and also this helps in trying out the menu.

We had a lot of samplings of Mocha Frappuccino®, Java Chip Frappuccino®, Caramel Frappuccino® but my personal favorite was the Green Tea Frappuccino® and the Vanilla Cream Frappuccino®. It was very yummy and then it was time to try out making our own Frappuccino® just the way we wanted it!

Since a long time I had been hearing about Loft 38 in Indiranagar which is the latest hip lounge to open in Bangalore. In a area where there are more than 200 restaurants, pubs and lounges, it was very surprising to see many people wanting to get into Loft 38 during the weekends. I was really intrigued to check out the place and try out the cuisine and drinks so made a trip there on a relatively quieter Wednesday evening.

As you can see Loft 38 is a huge lounge with more than 3 levels. The ground level is the bar level, second level is a more private level for dining or parties and the third level is the more lounge level. We settled ourselves in the third level. Only issue is that there is no elevator so be prepared to stay fit taking the staircase. Also the air conditioning on third level is too high. Hope that could be reduced. The ambiance and the lighting of Loft 38 is brilliant and really set the place as a world class venue to be at! The music being played by DJ was very uplifting and relaxing too.

Recently I had been invited to review the Espetada Carnival at Nando’s India. As you know, Nando’s is a South African Casual Dining Restaurant Group which specializes in Afro-Portuguese cuisine. It was a 45-day long ‘Discover Espetada carnival’ which celebrated the Espetada chicken which is flame grilled peri peri chicken thighs stuffed with garlic, parsley and feta. It’s one of the signature dishes of Portuguese cuisine and was an instant hit with the masses even when it was introduced in Nando’s India.

We started with a veg appetizer which was the Peri-Peri Hummus and Pita. This was Nando’s spin on the the classic dish. The hummus was made with legendary Peri-Peri sauce and had olives for company too. The warm pita bread was just right for the amazing hummus which we relished with enjoyment!

My favorite starter was the Chicken Liver which I really like at Nando’s as it has got amazing authentic taste to it and also spicy to my liking. I also tried out the Butterfly Chicken Breast which is succulent chicken breasts in crispy skin with nice Peri-Peri sauce. My favorite Peri-Peri sauce is Hot Peri-Peri. The other Peri-Peri sauces are Extra Hot Peri-Peri, Mild Peri-Peri and Lemon & Herb Peri-Peri. These are mentioned by me in the decreasing order of spiciness!

We tried some really nice designer drinks like Citra, Citrus Bliss, Madeira Red, Refresh Mint, Ponch Zurra and Rosa Fresca. My favorite designer drink was Citrus Bliss which is made with Mojito mint syrup, grapefruit juice and Sprite coupled with ice cubes and fresh mint leaves. It is also spruced up with slices of fresh citrus fruit. This was refreshing to go along with the spicy food.

I’m not a big fan of salads but upon insistence from my vegetarian friend, I tried out the Vegetarian Caesar Salad. This was made with cos lettuce, Parmesan cheese and Nando’s croutons. It was topped with unique Caesar dressing from Nando’s. This was a healthy start to the main course as we were going to indulge there!

My vegetarian friend tried the Veg Espetada which was tender marinated Paneer and fresh peppers, served on a skewer with 2 regular sides. My friend Nivedith loved the Paneer and said it was one of the most juiciest and succulent Paneer he had ever tasted in his life! He choose the Mild Peri-Peri sauce to go with it as he doesn’t like to eat too much spicy stuff.

And finally the grand entrance of the start of the Espetada Carnival was bought in – the Espetada carnival meal which is Flame grilled Peri-Peri chicken thighs stuffed with garlic, parsley and feta skewered with mixed peppers and served with a side of butternut squash and grilled corn, PERI chips and mango sangria. This was amazing and I loved the brilliant way in which it is presented. Also I could indulge without any guilt feeling as Nando’s chicken are always flame-grilled and never deep-fried which ensures that any fat that may have been left on the chicken is burnt away. It’s reasonably priced at around Rs.580 (exclusive of taxes) and it easily can be had by 2 hungry people! I would definitely recommend everyone to go to Nando’s and try out this amazing Espetada dish.

My rating – 4/5

You can find Nando’s India Restaurants here

To celebrate the excitement of the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup™, UCWeb is launching its mega Rs. 1 Crore World Cup Guessing Contest on UC Browser. Termed the ‘World Cup Bonanza’, it gives participants the chance to prove their football prowess by predicting the winners of each match. The more correct guesses made, the closer the participant is to winning the grand prize. Upon correctly guessing every winner of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ group stage (total of 48 matches), the participant will walk away with a cool Rs.1 Crore grand prize. Overall top ranked participants will stand a chance to win an array of fantastic prizes including an Apple iPad mini, Apple iPhone 5s, and a Lenovo ThinkPad E431. Launching on June 11th, the World Cup Guessing Contest is open for free to all users of UC Browser.

To provide the most comprehensive FIFA content and services to football fans, UCWeb has released an exclusive “2014 FIFA World Cup™ version” of UC Browser for Android and UC Browser for Windows Phone. This will allow millions of enthusiastic fans across the country to quickly and conveniently access the most complete and up-to-date World Cup information including live scores, text broadcast, stats, photos, videos and group updates. This special “2014 FIFA World Cup™ version” of UC Browser goes live on June 11th.

I first heard of Tangerine, Sizzlers & More when it used to be in Indiranagar around 4 years back. We had celebrated our friend’s birthday there around 3 years back and really enjoyed the food there specially the steaks and the sizzlers. So when I saw around 2 years back that the cafe was closed in Indiranagar, I was really disappointed. I felt as if one of the best food joints of Indiranagar and Bangalore will be missed by foodies and food connoisseurs! But I was very happy to know sometime back that it had reopened in Koramangala near the busy Sony World Junction. I was really hoping to visit it soon to taste all my favorite steaks and sizzlers in the same way as before!

Ambiance of Tangerine

The cafe has wonderful views of the traffic outside specially during the evening times as there are full length glass windows. It gives a good feel of enjoying a relaxed time while the world passes you by. The decor is very minimalistic yet well light which gives you a cheerful and relaxed feel. We made ourselves comfortable with some wonderful mock tails like Blue Hawaiian and Tangerine Fizz.

Crab Cakes

In the starters, I particularly liked the non-vegetarian starters like Crab Cakes which were served with a capers dip and Garlic Lemon Prawns which were Tangy batter fried prawns with peppers and garlic. The prawns were very juicy but I felt maybe that Crab Cakes could have been a bit more juicer rather than being dry like the way they were. Another favorite of mine was the Take Five starter which is Chicken grilled with lemon grass, oregano and garlic. In vegetarian starters, there were Corn Fritters and Potato Skin which were very well received by my vegetarian friends.

I love the IPL season and specially my favorite home team Royal Challengers Bangalore. I always look forward to meeting their players and interacting with them. One of my other favorite people from IPL are the White Mischief cheerleaders who cheer for my favorite team Royal Challengers Bangalore. I have had chances to interact with them earlier during IPL after match parties and events, but this has been mostly only for photo opportunities but never really got to interact well with them.

That all changed recently when thanks to White Mischief and their digital agency Ginger Claps, I was able to meet White Mischief cheer gals who were very friendly and cordial. I could relate to the humane side of them as most often we mistake them for blonde or dumb people who just showcase their dance moves. It was great to know that most of them are students who take up these jobs so that they get to travel the world and understand about various cultures. They were also very serious about their dance moves and wanted to incorporate Bollywood and Kollywood dance moves in their dance routine too!

Who doesn’t know PVR bluO? It is one of the most popular entertainment destinations in India which are not just in metros but also in some tier 2 cities too! bluO is a perfect concoction of bowling, world cuisine, live music and fun concepts coming together. Bowling at bluO is not just a game but a phenomenon that has been brought to consumers as per all international standards and guidelines. The bowling lanes, the weight of the balls, bowling shoes and trainers present at bluO ensure a seamless bowling experience and assorted entertainment.

We met the very bubbly and enthusiastic Vishal Sawhney who is the Country Head & Chief Operating Officer of PVR bluO. He is a seasoned professional with over 18 years of experience. He is responsible for managing Operations, Business Development & Projects and Sales & Marketing for bluO. His last stint was with the Landmark Group officiating in the capacity of President where he led the verticals of Entertainment Centres, F&B and Fitness. His professional tenure spans companies in Middle East and the United States besides his extensive experience in India. On the academic front, he completed his Bachelors in Hotel Management from IHM, Lucknow and advanced certification in Hospitality Customer Interface Management from Cairo, Egypt. He interacted very well with us and explained to us the entire concept of bluO and how they are making inroads into all parts of the countries by offering a quality product at affordable prices.

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