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There have been countless times I’ve walked into Marriott and come out a satisfied customer. But this time was different. On the ride over with a fellow blogger, I had asked her “What was the last meal which left you Wow?” Unexpectedly enough she took a while to answer which were seemingly haphazard combining dishes from meals here and there. As a blogger we are subjected such a variety of food that almost like an addict we still look for the initial Wow factor. Maybe that’s what Food Addiction can be rightly defined as.

We walked into the PDR room at Altitude to savor the “Inspire Me Chef” menu being recreated by Chef Yogender Pal and his team. The menu handed out to us was intriguing and had me excited right from the first glance. Of course the 8 hour braised Pork Belly on the menu might have had a lot do with the afore mentioned happiness.

An Amuse Bouche of Chocolate Macaroon with Chicken Pate #aboutlastnight

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We started off with a Clear Mushroom Tea soup. The robust flavor of the mushrooms gave a lovely flavor to the earthy broth. It was the Mushroom Ketchup Dumpling at the bottom which was a bit too sweet for my liking. After all this was an experimental menu and I was open to all possibilities.

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Among the appetizers were Vine Ripened Tomatoes with a homemade Buffalo Curd. It’s so incredible how much a freshly churned Buffalo Curd do magic to the flavor and aroma of a dish. Next up was the Crisp Chicken Leg on a bed of shrimp and bacon rice with a soya broth. This particular dish was a very Asian take on the Chicken and Rice served with a soya broth as street food across Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. The crispy skin atop the Chicken Leg was just wonderful.

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This is the point when the dining at Marriott took a whole another turn. I’ve had the chance to have numerous conversations with Chef Yogii and have known of his inspired dishes from Massimo Bottura to Manish Mehrotra which has been showcased in many of the dishes he puts up. And if you’ve ever had the chance to dine at Marriott, which you definitely should then you’d definitely notice the use of carnations bringing out the pop in color in the dish.

The Tomato and Cheese Tortellini was just what you’d expect but the stunner was the Rocket Pesto spread across the plate. A slice of the Tortellini with a dash of the pesto was delicious. Among the mains that I were sunning was the 8 Hour Braised Pork Belly. Now for a pork belly which has been braised for so long, that too finished off with a Jaggery Tamarind Glaze, there would be little things which can go wrong. The Glaze on top the Pork Belly especially had a nice sweet and sour touch of to it complementing it perfectly.

The tomato and cream cheese tortellini with a lovely rocket pesto

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Chef Ratheesh is a master craftsman when it comes to dessert. If you’ve had the chance to encounter having any of his fine work of arts that he displays at Marriott Hyderabad, you’d know of the elegance and finesse in his creations that I’m talking about. Titled “The Earth” he dessert was just beautiful arranged on the plate. Soon as you remove the top off you’d find Citrus Vanilla Mousseline, Sour Cherry Compote and Chocolate Soil with a hint of perfume.

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The Inspire Me Chef menu is one which should be high on your radar. The menu changes every Saturday and with Chef Yogi and his team, be sure to know that you’re going to get the best possible food.

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Sunday Brunches have been a must for us. Waking up late on a Sunday, brushing off the Saturday night party off you and heading on out for a perfect Brunch. That’s our idea of a perfect Sunday Brunch. I’ve been a regular at the Sunday Brunches hosted at Prego in Westin Mindspace. It was great to know that they’ve now revamped their brunch to include more options in grills along with fun activities.

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As I took a quick look through the spread, I couldn’t help but notice the decadent Ricotta Cheesecake right from the start. Turning away, I set my mind for later to anyhow get back to that. The Grills were the best way to start off a lazy Sunday. The Steak had been cooked Medium Rare as requested and the Jumbo Sea Prawns were quite enticing.

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I loved the Artichokes in the Salad counter. There was quite an array of dips to accompany the choice of dishes but it was the homemade cheese from Coorg which I thoroughly relished. Pizzas and Pasta options from choice of toppings and types rounded off the main course. The exciting part of the new revamped brunch at Prego is the personal interaction with the Chefs as they serve out food to the customers grooving to Italian tunes. Chefs have been the rockstars behind the kitchen and I liked the way at Prego giving them a fun time interacting with the people they serve.

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I was back for the Ricotta Cheesecake as spotted earlier and true to say was absolutely delicious. The soufflé was another highlight which I don’t think any other brunch serves fresh as part of the menu. Ending off the brunch with a lovely scoop of homemade gelatos, the brunch at Prego is one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Below is a Live Video of the celebrations at Prego during the Sunday Brunch.

 

Revamped Brunch At Prego

Prego, Westin Raheja Mindspace

Posted by Ashis Nayak on Sunday, 5 February 2017

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It was just a couple of months back that I was working closely with Chef Rakesh and Chef Srikanth of Kangan, Westin Raheja Mindspace for an article about the secrets of the Tandoor. The article was to be published in the Premier Starwood Online Magazine Momentum Travel. It was then that I was totally intrigued with the immense knowledge that Chef Rakesh had to share. You come across people in the hospitality industry who teach their trade and then there is the second kind. The kind of Chef who live and breathe their passion of food and Chef Rakesh belonged to this latter kind. More about the Secrets of the Tandoor can be read in the attached hyperlink.

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With an invite for the Nawabs and Nizams festival, I was quite excited to catch up with the astounding dishes that the Chefs at Kangan were to put up. Starting with a marvelous soup of Shorba-e-Barkhus which had tinge of spiciness and refreshing aroma of mint in the lamb trotter soup. It was the Starters which were the highlights.

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There were the succulent Kakori Kebabs which were so soft that they literally melted in the mouth. I quite liked that they’d kept with the tradition of serving the Kakori Kebabs with the Sheermals on the side as was the norm during the times. The Murgh Angare Tikka came along with a beautiful marination of the chicken on skewers in a whole lot of spices with bay leaves,mace, fenugreek leaves and chilies among others.

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The one dish which quite left me puzzled and quite new too have experienced was the Ande ki Nazakat. It wasn’t just your usual eggs but egg whites which had been beaten, frozen and then cut into cubes. These cubes of eggs were then marinated in Indian Spices and then cooked in the tandoor.I can so imagine how hard it’d be to work a tandoor in such a case when cooking a egg in it. With the temperatures of the Tandoor reaching quite high, it takes a master to gauge the perfect cooking time o the eggs which would be just about a couple of minutes. In the end when served at our tables, it’s resemble more as cubes of Paneer than eggs.

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The Tawa Machli which was served on our plates next had a bit of tanginess of lemon juice beautifully accentuated with a crush of curry leaves and spices. Among the vegetarian starters was the Hara Channa Aur Shakarkhand ki Tikki made of green chickpeas and sweet potatoes. The Mushroom Galawati rounded off our appetizers for the night as we took a short break for the main course.

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A while had passed and over some lovely conversations across the table, it was time for the main course. The Phaldari Kofta was a raw banana dumpling dish bringing with it the perfect balance in the gravy with sweetness from the cashews and sourness from the yogurt. It went well with the Naans served on the table. Also unique to the festival was the Dum ki Dhuli, which was white gram dal tempered with an exquisite aroma of onions and garlic.

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Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (14)

My favorite among the main course was the Gosht Badami which had been cooked in dum in a pot. The lamb morsels were so tender and soon as our server opened up the lid, out wafted a smoke resplendent of cloves. Also among the main courses for the night were some beautiful dishes like the Murgh Rizala, Bater Mussalam and Dum Aloo Bharwan.

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Considering that the festival was showcasing both the best of Awadh and Hyderabad, the difference between the two princely states Biryani was a must. So along came the Awadhi Style Murgh Biryani and the Nizami Mutton Biryani. Talk about favoritism but I’m mostly inclined to the Nizami Style of Biryani than the Lucknowi version of the Biryani.

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The night ended with a platter of splendid desserts. The Shahi Khubani Tukda was an unique attempt at bridging the gap between Awadh and Hyderabad with the sandwiching of the Shahi Tukda and Khubani ka Meetha. The apricots had been made into a compote placed between sweetened bread and topped off generously with reduced milk. The Yaquti was my favorite among the desserts which was a pudding made with white lentils.

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The Nawabs and Nizams Food Festival is on till 28th January 2017 at Kangan, Westin Hyderabad Raheja Mindspace for dinners.

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There was a time when food focused on flavors rather than each chef throwing in their Masala mix when it came to Indian food. A time which focused on the food rather than the fancy plating on shiny new gadgets. With Rivaayat now it’s third edition,it was time to bring back soul food. I’ve been a big fan of the Rivaayat food festival that Trident Hyderabad hosts every year. The reviews of 2016 and 2015 editions can be read in the attached links.

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For our readers who’ve visited Kanak during the Rivaayat festival would be pleased to know that most of the appreciated dished do continue to feature on the menu. But the ones we’ll take a look around in this post is of new dishes introduced.

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We started off our dinner with the Khumb ki Galavat which had been beautifully done. I swear it’d be difficult not to appreciate a Galawati Kebab made of Mushrooms when they can be on the same par with the non-vegetarian version. The Aloo Kachalu had tempered potatoes and colocasia (arbi) with sweet and tangy chutney.

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Now the time was to delve into the non-vegetarian starters with the Khatti Kairi ka Rampuri Jhinga and Lagan ki Boti. The cooking of the prawns owe their recipes back to Rampur where the marination was both with yogurt and raw mango.You’d think that a mix of yogurt and raw mango would increase the sourness of the prawns but not so. In fact they’d been so perfectly balanced that you’d get only a bit of the sourness at the back of the palate.

The new Rivaayat menu has put a bit more of a focus on new dishes in this edition with the introduction of the Lagan ki Boti. Truly loved the tempering of the spices along with the onions until dark brown. So along with the hint of sweetness of the onions you get delectable chunks of meat to savor on.

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The main course was elaborate with our table featuring quite a dishes from the North and Eastern sides of India. Trust me when I say that if you do miss your home dal and want to savor some of it, cooked exactly how it’s done in most North Indian homes. Then head over to Kanak in Trident Hyderabad. It’s the no-frills, dialed down in spices and perfectly awesome with Puran Singh ke Dhaba wali Chicken Curry and Rice.

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Considering that it’s still winters in some parts of the country yet, so time for Makai Roti with Sarson ka Saag. The Sarson ka saag was absolutely brilliant with another simplistic and yet rustic Baingan ka Bharta.

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The dinner ended with a truly content meal and desserts to look forward to. In the dessert section we tried the Dry Fruit Halwa and Gulab Phirnee with the phirnee being a favorite of mine among the two.

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The new edition of Rivayaat is on in the evenings at Kanak from January 15th to 25th 2017 for dinners. It’s Indian traditional cuisine that you’d not want to miss.

 

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I vividly recollect my childhood days being spent outdoors. Cycling to school and tuition along with friends and stopping by to purchase Phantom Cigarettes. Yeah, Phantom Cigarettes played a big part while growing up as we sat by the river bed, our cycles on the side and acted out movies scenes with the sweet cigarettes in our mouth.

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Then along came the luxury of Magic Pops. Magic Pops were a bit of a luxury because they were a few rupees costlier than the daily pocket money which was handed out. So these could be purchased only when I went shopping with my mom. The nostalgia of having them pop in the mouth soon as you put them in. Those were days which have now given way to the Cadbury’s and the Bournville’s of today.

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Thankfully, the Kid’s themed Saturday Brunch at Amara brought back a tide of memories of those glorious times. The thought to having to spend your school money to buy samosas from the stall beside the school, Kathi Rolls and Pakodas. The Brunch featured a lot of dishes like Chaats, Masala Papads and the likes. It was like a pure reminiscence of the times spent while growing up.

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The live Maggi and Pav Bhaji Station was a delight. The Maggi could be ordered in any style you wanted it, be it Nainital, spicy Andhra way or an absolutely new way of cooking Maggi just the way you like it. I also adored the Keema in the Main Course which was absolutely perfect with a buttered pav.

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The Dessert section was the “Trump Card” of the brunch though. The desserts had been modelled in the theme of Cards we used to play. For people who’ve spent quite a large part of their adolescence playing with WWE or Cricket cards would understand the joy of trying to win over the other person’s cards by using the Trump Cards. Also neatly spread out were sachets of Magic Pops, Boxes of Phantom Cigarettes and Poppins. There were also Muffin Burgers. Jujubes, Waffles among the dessert section which would definitely get the kid out in you.

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The past few years have been interesting when it comes to food industry. Chefs have started to concentrate more on ingredients and restaurants focus more on the eating habits. The same change process could be seen in the new menu being showcased at Pavilion, ITC Kakatiya.

The ITC Kakatiya is a premier property in Begumpet which has just completed 21 Year Anniversary. Pavilion at the ITC Kakatiya changes it’s menu every 2 years and this time around they’ve adopted a the healthier menu for the holistic wellbeing. With the ITC Hotels following the ‘Choose Wisely’ Program by WWF, the new menu had been re-designed as per the ‘Choose Wisely’ guidelines.

The focus of the menu has been on the freshness of flavors and clean eating of Sattva and Swasthya, a direction that quite a lot of restaurants have been inclining towards lately. The new menu carries local and international flavors that are curated with locally sourced ingredients, rarely used grains. This also provides the local dishes with a touch of modernity.

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The lunch started with a spectacular Burrata with Anise Poached Pears. This was beautifully accompanied with currant celery pistou and rucola leaves. Burrata is not easily available in Hyderabad and Chef informed us that it was sourced from Bangalore. The burrata cut in the center gave the rich tasting creamy taste and went well with the celery pistou. This is definitely one of the signature “Best of Pavilion” dishes and is must try.

ITC Kakatiya New Winter Menu 2016 (3)

We then moved on to fresh soups from the tureen. The Singaporean Laksa again is one of the signature dishes that can be a complete comfort meal. The Shrimp, fish and chicken provide enough meaty flavors and the coconut broth accompanied with rice noodles brought back our journey to the Asian cities we’ve been in the past.

ITC Kakatiya New Winter Menu 2016 (1)

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The Chicken Katsu Burger and Lamb Rib and Broad Tagine is another of my favorite dishes here. First, these dishes are not available at any restaurant in Hyderabad and the taste is bang on. The Tagine with mint couscous provides the much needed texture to the dish.

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We do suggest you to definitely try the local cuisine that are specially curated by Chefs to give you the authentic taste of the Hyderabadi Khaana. The Tarkari ki Luqmi gives a rich taste to the evening snack that we have all loved in Hyderabad. The soft melt in the mouth Shikhampuri Kebab added a spark to the meal. Do also try the favorite combo of Kaddu ka Dalcha and Baghara Khana which is absolute comfort food for the soul. You can end your Hyderabadi treat with Tarkari Biryani or Kacche Gosht ki Biryani that’s cooked with succulent pieces of meat that’s gives off the perfect flavor.

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The dessert was the much need closure to the amazing meal we’d been eating so far. The dessert can sometimes make or break the entire course of the meal for us. The Crème Brulee was served with apricot fig biscotti and served with mono floral litchi honey and lime elixir. Chef informed us that the honey was specially flavored by feeding the bees only litchi flowers and hence there was a distinct litchi taste.

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We were in for a surprise when the Pavilion Chocolate Fudge with the jaggery caramel sauce was kept on the table. It looked like a piece of an art on a platter which only an artist can recreate. The soft fudge doused with the jaggery caramel sauce was heaven in a bite. The Vanilla bean ice cream can be used to cut through the sweetness of the caramel sauce but I’d definitely have shot of that sauce to end almost every meal.

ITC Kakatiya New Winter Menu 2016 (4)

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Amara has been one of my favorite buffets in town. I’ve seldom been a buffet-kind of person yet Amara in Trident Hyderabad is one I’ve had my best of meals. It isn’t just about it’s extensive spread that Amara puts out but the freshness of the ingredients all which makes the food so much more delicious.

With the Coast to Coast promotion, Amara pays tribute to the freshest of seafood this time around. Mostly when restaurants do Coastal food promotions they concentrate on the coasts of India,but not Chef Manik and his team. Trust Chef Manik to think out of the box and cover the coasts of the world at Amara. It’s almost like docking at every port of entry of a new country with each dish.

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From the shores of Marseille in France, the delizioso food of Italy, Caribbean Islands and Western Coasts of the US, the fiery, spicy and tangy food of the Asians and Indians, the buffet at Amara had it all. The soup section has been their strengths and this time too it didn’t disappoint. The Thai Coconut Chicken soup was especially wonderful. The Seafood Bar had us in glee with crabs, shrimps and extensive selection of fish with choices of dips and sauces.

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Among the salads I especially enjoyed the seafood ceviche and shrimp cocktails. The Appetizers on our day at the buffet had Kerala style fried fish among other Asian starters. Now it was the Main Course which is the one going to leave you spoiled for choice. Oriental, Italian, Indian and Caribbean…phew it was task that I thoroughly enjoyed going through.

The highlight of the buffet was always going to be the seafood and it was the Gulf Coast Seafood Stew which stood out among them all. Notable mentions among the ones on my plate was the sweet and tangy Doi Maach of Bengal with plain rice and also the Phuket Massman Curry. As is my habit when dining at Amara, I had ordered up a plate of the ravioli. Amara is one of those restaurants which dishes up the best pasta ever as part of it’s best. In fact the one served at the buffet can beat any standalone restaurant a-la-carte dish while at it.

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If you have a sweet-tooth,you’re going to be spoilt for choice here at Amara. It features nearly everything from Creme Brulee to Pastries to Mousse. The Coast to Coast promotion is on at Amara, Trident Hyderabad till the 30th of November 2016. Not a bad way to dine out in style to end the month of Movember.

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I still remember my walk through the street of Naples, Milan and countryside of Italy as I backpacked through the country. From the gorgeous houses, the lingering smell of cheese and pasta, pizza in the air, the way the locals made me feel comfortable in a new country. The Special Italian Food Menu at Prego brought back a lot of those memories.

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At helm of the newly introduced dishes was Chef Roberto Boggio, with a handcrafted menu so unique it had us wanting more. Chef Roberto is part of the Le Meridian, Pune and a quick chat with him, you’ll know of his passion as he talks about his home-cuisine.

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We started our meal with the Tartara Di Asparagi Con Salsa Di Taleggio. Think of the Tartara as a healthy pudding of Asparagus with a feel good subtle after-taste as it goes down smoothly with each bite. It’s topped off with Taleggio Cheese sauce rounding off all of it’s deliciousness in a bowl.

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A lot of the dishes as part of the promotion bring with it an underlying theme of Winter.  The Minestrone Soup is a classic which I absolutely hate having been tinkered with. All Chef Roberto had to do instead was brush off some Pesto and it did wonders to the classic dish. Don’t miss to try the Minestrone Soup Ala Genovese. 

When I usually go along with a group of friends and they’re in the mood for “Italian”, It’s only fair enough to say that Pasta and Pizza favor prominently among the top choice of answers. If the French finessed the food, the Italians gave us PIZZA. We have them to thankful for the single best dish to have been created for man. Served on the table was the Double Wafer Marinara Pizza with beautiful seafood toppings of squids, tuna, crab, prawns, pesto and tomato sauce.

The Pasta course of the Menu by Chef Roberto Boggio turned out to be my favorite. While the Sundried Pomodoro Ravioli was stunning with filling of sundried tomatoes and topped with four cheese sauce, it was the Agnolotti Alla Monferrina which was a stunner. Much like most countries, the food of Italy too differs with it’s region. Going along with his heritage, Chef Roberto does a gorgeous Monferrina style (Northern Italy – Piedmont style) of Agnolotti. The Agnolotti comes wrapped in a towel, just so that it doesn’t dry up and keep it moist.

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For the main course, I settled for the La Cotoletta Impanata which was crumb fried chicken served with a side of salad and rosemary potatoes. This was a welcome change to the heavy cheesy (Not that I was complaining…) afternoon. It was right after the main course when I look back to see Chef peering over my shoulders. Why do you ask? Just so that I scoop up my Tiramisu than concentrating on the multiple photos I had been instagramming. The Tiramisu was perfect and the Pannacotta a wobbly piece of heaven.

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The Cucina Italian is on at Prego, Westin Hyderabad Mindspace till the 29th of October 2016.

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Copious amounts of beer, spirit of camaraderie and bonhomie, schnitzels, sausages and German recipes. Oktoberfest celebrations are here in town. Oktoberfest started in 1810 on the occasion of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese’s wedding and has since been a 16-day celebration in the town of Munich.

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Altitude at Marriott Convention Center is hosting an Oktoberfest celebrations in the city with a whole range of German sausages, selection of beers and German dishes. With a live-band performance, it’s like a bit of merry-making from Bavaria to Hyderabad.

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O’Zapft is

We got to sample a few of the brilliant Beer Cocktails and dishes at Altitude. Even though I’ve not been much of a Beer Cocktail guy and mostly enjoy my Beer as is, the Get Me Fresh was the refreshing cocktails that I liked quite a bit. A beer pot with tequila, vodka, rum, gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, syrup, fruits and bottled beer. This is one of those Beer pots you sit down with your mates around to drink along.

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The Suppens (soups) of the night were near brilliant. There was a Beer and Cheddar Soup and the other being a Bavarian Style Onion Soup with Thyme. Beer Battered Onion Rings, Sausage stuffed Jalapenos and Fried Potatoes with Poached Egg featured prominently among the Appetizers. The chefs at Marriott have taken the underlying theme of beer really serious with infusion in most of their Oktoberfest dishes.

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After all what’s German celebrations with the well-known German Sausages. Pork Curlies, Bratwursts, Nuremberger Sausages, Weisswurts, Pork Wursts and lots have been specially stocked for the Oktoberfest celebrations at Marriott.

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Now moving on to the specialties that Altitude has come up in the spirit of Oktoberfest. I especially loved the Mushroom Pot done up beautifully in herb cream sauce with bread dumplings and the Beef Schnitzel.

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Ending on a high note were the purely decadent desserts. An absolute, heavenly Beer Caramel Ice-Cream made in-house and the Black Forest Cheese Cake.

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It is time to say Prost!! at Altitude to ring in the Oktoberfest.

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“HOLA Amigos”. Yep that might just have been how I’d walked out after a breezy Mexican lunch at Oakleaf. Oakleaf is the restaurant in Oakwood Kapil, right in center of the Financial district. This is the first food festival at Oakleaf and what better way that to kick it off with Mexican. The menu options are evenly balanced between vegetarian and non-vegetarian served in huge-sized portions. So yeah if you are looking for your Nachos and Burritos fix, you might as well walk into Oakleaf to have them over some lovely cocktails that they’ve been whipping up.

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We started off with the Fajita Nachos with the Nachos being served on a bed of refried beans and cheese. The pico de gallo was truly good and freshly made. I’m going to be honest that I did switch to the non-vegetarian side of the menu quite fast having a bit of the vegetarian bites. The Layered Tortilla Pie was quite interesting and a looked like a true Chef’s take on the Lasagna. The tortillas had been layered in between beans, jalapenos, lotsa cheese, picante sauce and baked. The icing sure had to be the guacamole and sour cream on top.

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Another of the delicious dishes and quite a color highlight had to be the Mexican Fire Rice. The rice had been cooked with vegetables and cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, capers and cilantro with this in turn had been filled into bell peppers with ranchero sauce and cheese. Baked and Cheese had truly become synonymous with delicious.

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Moving on to the non-vegetarian section of the menu, the Texas Fajita and Fajita Tacos were quite good. The tortillas had been prepared fresh with the sour cream and pico de gallo again playing wonders with the dish. The Carne Asada at Oakleaf is served in a baguette. In between is a juicy piece of steak topped with sweet onions. The Chicken, Red Beans and Rice Burrito was quite good too with a mix of Mexican spices.

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The Mexican Food Festival at Oakleaf is one way to go delicioso for your taste-buds. The have a really nice and compact menu with most of the dishes right.

It’s on from 19th Sept. – 2nd Oct with most dishes being priced between Rs. 400-600.

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