Sunday, January 20, 2008

Antinori at Prego

Last night I had a delightful dinner at Prego, and I wanted to share the experience since I pretty much wrote them off in my previous review.

Prego orchestrated an evening of fine food and wines from the world renowned Italian wine-maker, Antinori. There was an elaborate four course dinner paired with an excellent wine from Antinori. We started off with an amuse bouche of prunes and mushrooms with a sparkling wine that was ever so light. That was followed by an artichoke and black truffle "salad" that was quite lovely. Every single dish was superbly matched with the wine served. We ended the reds with a Tignanello, the most famous of all the Antinori wines. I even sampled the dessert wine, which I'm usually loathe to try. With the coffees and teas came the Grappa. Ah. It was an amazing meal.

Antinori, originally from Tuscanny and Umbria, were the pioneers of the "super Tuscans". They have now expanded beyond Italy and have gone as far as Napa (and have acquired one of my favorite wineries in Napa, Stag's Leap). We met and chatted with Alessia Antinori, one of the three daughters of Piero Antinori, who together manage the family business. She was extremely friendly and filled with great tidbits and information for us amateur wine enthusiasts!

Kudos to Prego for organizing this evening.

If anyone wants details of the wines served, please let me know and I will post it here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy New Club

We spent New Year's Eve at the Madras Club. We were supposed to leave and go to other parties, but never got around to it because the Club turned out to be such fun. I'm not sure why, but I always thought there were too many old fogies at the Club and that it wasn't fun. But they really know how to throw a party. The music was very good, there was great food and lots of alcohol and loads of people.

I think the average age of the Club-goers has vastly reduced. Maybe because a lot of people have now moved back to Chennai from other countries, and are now in the same process of gaining membership into the Club. It could also be the fantastic new pool that they have installed after the renovation.

Whatever the reason, I'm enjoying being part of the Madras Club and I'm glad that my daughter is enjoying using their playground and pool, just like I did when I was a kid.

Ente Keralam 2

There was a lot of comments (both positive and negative) about my post on Ente Keralam. I must say that I did enjoy when I ate there. And the past few months it has gotten even better. I'm convinced they must have a new chef. The food is really superb. They are at the moment having a Moplah food festival (Moplah refers to a Muslim Keralite).

I must agree though that the prices are a tad high, but once in a little while, I find it's worth it. I drive by the restaurant regularly on my way to and from work and its almost always full. Do try and stop by again and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Haagen Dazs

When we moved to India, the two things I missed most were Bagels and Haagen Dazs. The desire for bagels never went away, though I did forget about Haagen Dazs (or maybe I willed it away!).

I was delighted (I was actually jumping up and down with joy, inside) to see Maison displaying a freezerful of Haagen Dazs. They had my husband's favorite Dulce de Leche, and my favorite, Vanilla and Almonds. Just having one brought back a flood of memories and nostalgia! Thanks Maison!


After the sad demise of the Patio, we were all waiting with bated breath for the opening of the replacement. Everyone hoped it would still have that great ambience, a relaxed elegance and a haven to escape to when you needed a long lunch with a good friend or a special place to celebrate a family birthday.

Well, Prego opened with much fanfare and I was lucky enough to be invited to a tasting menu and a pre-opening lunch. Well, the ambience was not relaxed and a little "flashy", the menu was nouveau Italian, and the waitstaff was very well trained. I went truly hoping that the food would speak for itself. It did not. I had an appetizer of different cheeses which was superb, and ordered fettuccine for the entree which was just passe. Another diner ordered chicken which was terribly overcooked.

The wines were superb though, and the one redeeming quality. The sommelier was very knowledgeable and recommended excellent wines. And, of course, you can't go wrong with chocolate - and so the desserts were amazing.

When we tried to make a reservation for a birthday, we wanted the private dining room and it was very difficult to organize with Prego. In the end, we decided we didn't want to go there anyway.

Madras Rains

In November, during the festival of Deepavalli, Chennai enjoyed lots and lots of rain. And I truly mean enjoyed. It was lovely listening to the rain and watching it and feeling the cool weather.

I visited a store in the Luz Area and took this photo from there showing just how much rain Chennai was subjected to.

As I was leaving the store, they had closed the main entrance which led out onto the main road because it was flooded. They told us all to leave through the back door. And they had posted this in main entrance, which was quite funny!

Ratna Stores

THE place to go in Chennai to buy anything stainless-steel is Ratna Stores in T Nagar. Its 4 floors of absolutely everything. And I mean Everything! I went to buy a simple idli pan and came back armed with stuff I knew I did not need!

The ground floor is filled with every single possible kitchen utensil. And when I say filled, I mean literally from floor to ceiling. Its quite a sight. One floor has all things plastic, one has electronics and so on. It was a fantastic experience. The service is amazing. There are service people everywhere who basically "attach" themselves onto you as you enter the store, and they don't leave your side until you've finished paying and even walk you to your vehicle (since you'll need all the help you can get lugging the large shopping bags!). Every chennai-ite and all visitors must visit just to go through the experience and I know you will find something there that you feel you absolutely must have!

Kosher Toys

Recently, I went on a toy-buying spree for my daughter. She had outgrown all her toys and I seemed to be forcing a 2-year old to play with rattles and silly caterpillars. Anyways, we went to the toy section at the Landmark in the Chennai Citicenter on RK Salai. They have a cramped little toy section that is quite badly organized - though they do have lots and lots of stuff if you dig deep.

We found the most amusing toy. I decided to get her a little house/kitchen-type set, and was going through the various types. The most common ones were very americanized with fried eggs and hot dogs and fried chicken. The funniest was the Indian veggie version! I guess its for those parents who are not only raising vegetarian children but who don't want the kids to know there is a world out there that is not vegetarian. Take a look. I thought it was very clever!

Here's the Fisher Price version - if you look closely you can see the fried egg and the chicken drumstick:

And here's the veggie version, complete with banana leaf and a thali meal:


Sorry for the long sabbatical! I needed to refresh/recharge/ re-energize! I'm back, armed with lots and lots of new stories about Chennai. Though I wasnt posting, I was definitely thinking about my blog and was clicking lots of photographs to post here...

Happy New Year everyone!