Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Mahotsav Art collection. Elsie Gabriel

The Mahotsav Art collection.

Elsie Gabriel.

A riot of colours and heady sensations enveloped me as I walked into an array of  colourful art displays by more than 50 artists at the Kohinoor art Gallery,Mumbai. I  was excited about the invitation by imminent artist Rukshana Hooda and she did not let me down. It was such a visual and healing experience.

Surrounded by  landscapes, charcoal art, wild life scenes, exotic animals in oils, acrylic on canvas, water colour, abstracts and figurative art, I found my visit very healing. The artists, who come from all over the country, showcased an array of  paintings, sculptures and graphics in the show. Mahotsav Group show was curated by Guruprio Paul. Says Guruprio who is an inspiring artist himself, “The title of the show was derived from the fact that it reveals the works of different artists, who share a common platform to display their works. Art brings people together."

 Rukshana Hooda, is a Visual Artist, painter from the Sir J.J. School Of Art and Sophia College Mumbai. Layers of visual sensations were portrayed  in Rukhshanas works taking you deeper into the meaning of life while showing off its intense colours. Elaborated Rukhshana, “ I have an assorted genre, very varied, from abstracts, landscapes, charcoals, moghal-Art, human forms, warli, history and Nature around me.Nature in its own self has always stayed absorbed in my expression. Human forms, stones, clouds and landscapes with types of vegetation take transformation on paper, plates, canvas, marine-ply, teak, etc. Beauty has no form still I try to capture and create on my canvas.”

I fell in love with Bhagvati Naths art works, what an excellent offering to planet Earth with her nature portraits. She had the Tigers, owls and leopards staring me in the face, springing to life. She is one artist par excellence. When you meet Bhagwati, you will see that she has been there, done that, and is in peace with  her self, half sage and sanyasi herself, her art works captivate you with striking messages of deep love, concern for animals and nature,all of which stole my soul.  “ I have lived in the wild and outdoors. Nature offers her own peace and lifestyle.I need to get out the message that all things natural are sublime and that animals are an essential part of our world.”

Deepika Misra is an artist to look out for,her offerings were also a delight, crisp and clear. I loved the colours which were very therapeutic. J.S.Munmoli, an artist whose many years in Africa resulted in striking jungle animal art forms were enriching. Extreme clarity and form were the elements which I came away with.The Leopards in the African jungles were paid a rich tribute.

Considered India’s cultural capital, Mumbai always offers a continuously developing and vibrant art scene.I simply loved the focus on introducing new artists and  experimental innovative art  which promoted a multi-disciplinary approach to contemporary art in India. The exhibition surprised me completed and that’s what I like.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lavinia Hansraj presents her eclectic collection of luxurious soft furnishings! Elsie Gabriel

Lavinia Hansraj presents her eclectic collection of luxurious soft furnishings!

Lavinia Hansraj spells classy luxury! Lavinia has adorned many high profile and celebrity home interiors over the years and left her mark with her trendy approach which I would call ‘maximalism’ truly making the most of the  space assigned.
 Her taste for spectacular eye catching quality fabric and good finish is what you will get when you set your heart on each custom made piece of designe. She does not make bulk nor does she cater to everyday styles.

Her collection ‘Lavinia Hansraj’ coutour soft interior furnishings are striking as she makes the most of any space with eye-catching textiles, interesting furniture pieces, runners, curtains, corner pieces that accent, stand out and demand attention. Her mix in vibrant, velvet and silk fabric designs and lots of interesting little embroidery help her achieve this eloquent style. 

Visiting her exquisite offering was an eye opener. Insightful to know that Lavinia and Chetan both have an eye for design and art. But Ethan their little son floored me literally yesterday, when he took out a lovely neat blue print from his pocket and showed his creation of the ‘eternal circles’ which was his addition to the design on the cushion. Amazing family, very artistic and creative. What better way to bond, than over art!!  They inspire each other.

It was also good meeting Marylin, Lavinias sister. Of course both the parents of Chetan and Lavinia graced the occasion too, in full support.
Says Chetan Hansraj, “Lavinia is fantastic and her offering is for Diwali and Xmas.The bright colours sure will light up any room.We have worked over six months to put this together. I do assist and offer some designs too.But this is her passion.”
Of course the one by Chetan was an electric owl with crystal eyes, amazing black velvet and bewitching.

Actress and writer Pooja Bedi walked in to relish all the sensational colours, “I have Lavinia’s collection all over my house. I love her colours and mostly her Dragonfly theme. They are a class apart.”

 Loving these contemporary styled home d├ęcor was also Shruti Agarwal supermodel, “I love her clean-lined approach, I love the ‘bling’ and  brightness.”
Lavinias collection no doubt focuses first and foremost on function and tries to avoid excessive decoration used within other styles.

Lavinia works closely to achieve color combinations that compliment any setting designed by the most sophisticated individual. The result is an interesting accessory for the home which is a work of art as well as a luxurious addition to any decor.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Zenzy Mumbai-Sawadee Karp!! Elsie Gabriel

Zenzy Mumbai-Sawadee Karp!!

Meet Akshay Chitre….who has spent time in UK for his MBA but came back to give his home ground, Bandra East in Mumbai India, a run for it’s money where Thai cuisine is concerned!!

This young guy is the strong and silent type, no airs, no frills and no drama king. He just spells ‘thai food’ out for you through his elaborate menu at Zenzi Mumbai, the newest spankiest Thai food restaurant in Bandra East.
Says Akshay, “It has been only eight months now that the restaurant is here and am enjoying the Thai journey. Bandra East is home to many restaurants so why not some good Thai food.I am happy with the delivery orders that I get and can barely keep up. I am hoping that more corporate here in Bandra east order in bulk for parties and corporate lunches, that’s my aim and am working hard towards it.”

This young lad, knows what he wants and how to get it. He is very patient and calm for a young lad just back from UK. He says he tried his hand at working and then ultimately wanted to throw it all up to be his own boss and command each day as it comes. His restaurant , actually converted from a garage opposite the MIG Club in Bandra East is an amazing story of a young entrepreneur who saw a future in food and turned it around to spell success. It is always such a pleasure see young people invest good quality time in their dreams and work hard to make them a reality.His is one good example.

Akshay also writes and will soon publish his love story book he says on “Three women who narrate their love story woes.” Basically the boy, doesn't have a single lazy bone in his body, always up to something progressive and smart, he says he writes his book on his phone on three days, Mondays , Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when the crowds are less in his restaurant. He has his schedule chalked out and you can tell him apart.

Of course coming  back to the Thai food he offers which are very reasonable prices, the Prawn in baby onion and spinach was to die for, the Green fish curry with coconut spicy rise was good, but nothing to beat the fresh dumplings and Thai Tom Yum soup.You have to try it out.
It was a culinary journey to the flavours, colours and aromas of Thailand, all right. So if you are in Bandra East and in need for some good Thai food, check this small cozy Thai restaurant out,  It’s not fine dining or hi fi but if you are hungry and want to simply relish food, step in!!!

More than the food, I can vouch that Akshay will go far in life! His cool, warm and enterprising hard working qualities will surely catapult him to higher culinary accomplishments .His gourmet journey has just begun.. and how!!

Sawadee Karp!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Barbeque Mari-Nation with Master Chef Pat Chapman. Elsie Gabriel

Barbeque Mari-Nation with Master Chef Pat Chapman.

Master Chef and Chilly king-Chef Pat Chapman, as he is fondly called kicked up a hot storm behind the counter at Barbeque Nation, Worli, Mumbai. Soft spoken and very articulate- is how he stirred up some fascinating marinades for some good protein lovers.His vegetarian offerings were no less.
So Chapman knows it all, been there,done that and at 73 years now he is a gentle giant and delivers one masala grill after another with such finesse. He knows every spice at the back of his hand, even more than we Indians could rattle off. He lives and cooks and breathes spice!! May be I could anoint him as Spicy Chef!!

With his effervescent 14 new marinades, both veg and non-veg, that he introduced across India to mark the entry of a completely new genre of grilled food, Chapman was on a grilling journey alight. I enjoyed Chapmans ease with handling ingredients, he mixed Basil with lemon, oil with red chillies, dalchinni with turmeric; all with such respectful measures that one could see the reverence for the spices, almost in adoration.

Dominique his elegant wife is the researcher. The lady behind all the preparations and such a silent strong assistant, you know that Chapman is King and of course Domnique is Queen of his kitchen. They have been working together for the last 24 years she says, side by side .I guess this is how their love story with spices evolved and together they make a spicy team alright!!

Imagine a life committed to spicy gourmet tours and chilly dishes, together, year after year. My hats off to that. They are truly a ‘curryholic’ couple.

In 1982, Chapman founded The Curry Club to share information about recipes, restaurants and all things spicy. And ever since he has been on a culinary expedition around the spice world.
“I am in heaven, here in India I love the food. This is my 44th trip to India and nothing could be better than eating good spicy food.”

To date Pat has written thirty-four books, with sales topping 1.5 million copies.Most of his books concentrate on curry, while others feature recipes from China, Thailand, the Middle Eastern and the Americas. His Balti Cookbook was the first on the subject and became a Sunday Times Number 1 best seller.
Pat regularly appears as a celebrity chef at major food shows abroad and in the UK. In 1999 he hosted his own "Rice and Spice" theatre at the BBC's Good Food Show.
Chapmans offering of the Yorkshire marinade, Spanish marinade, Arabian and Persian marinade as well as the Australiasian and Jamaican Jerk marinades at the counter cook off was so welcoming and he drew the audience into the spicy details with such easy steps.

I was pampered at the Baebeque Nation at Thane which according to me is the spiciest grilling place with live stations on your table. It couldn’t get better than this. Sabir Raza of the Thane outlet had dancers and good music to enthrall the crowds at a sunny Saturday afternoon. Bliss!!
Meeting Vijay Anand Bakshi the chief culinary head was insightful, while we chatted in smattering Bengali, we knew it was food that could connect people from any part of the world.

 “Chef Pat Chapman is a legend in the UK and the great ambassador for Indian food. Barbeque Nation is delighted to partner with him to turn the culinary experience the other way around: get him to share with Indians the famous marinades of the world with his own interpretation and many his own creation.,” said Uday Menon, CBO, Barbeque Nation.
Vikram Varma, Head – Marketing, Barbeque Nation adds, “gourmet lovers  today seek the thrill of deriving maximum pleasure for their taste-buds. Chef Pat Chapman is a great ambassador for what Barbeque Nation seeks to achieve for Indian food lovers. Come enjoy this  food adventure.”

Chapman says that the best way to grill any protein is to cook it over a moderate charcoal fire, turning it around slowly. But when asked what dish in India fascinated him the most he quipped, - Bhel puri’!!!! Its light and spicy yet deliciously different says the chef. Oozing of simplicity and humility, I came away impressed. I was so fortunate to present my book Get Out Get Going Outdoors to Master chef,he was curious to see my chapter on Outdoor cooking inside.
Master Chef Chapman you sure put fire in my belly and spice in my soul. I want to cook with more chilly!

After all, they say Chilly is good for the health when used to extract its delicious essence. So fire up your lives,folks!