I have a confession to make – I’m obsessed with jars, bottles and all things glass. I adore all shapes and sizes and can never get enough of them. I look at the jars first and the product inside it later. I wonder if I’m getting materialistic? But hey! I’m also thinking about nature and cutting down on the use of plastic 🙂
I recently received some glassware from Urbandazzle. Yes, yes the new website which sells crockery and other funky stuff . Urbandazzle sent me these lovely Italian made jars. I held them and felt the shape of the jars. The grip and the smooth finish lead me to realize that I was holding, fine crafted glassware from a factory in Italy. Few years back I wouldn’t have imagined receiving glass in a courier. I was impressed that the jars were neatly packed and reached me without any scratch!
Coming back to my obsession, I store most of my sauces, pastes in glass jars for home use. I like to see variety in my kitchen and I’m always hunting for something new. I like to serve my sauces directly off the jars and found these jars to be perfect for any table setting. First use for the new jars was preservation of my pickled onions off-course. They not only make any dish give a pink tinge but also gives a different flavour to my dishes. I recently topped my quinoa cutlets with pickled onions to give it a different twist!
Ingredients for Pickled Onions
500gms of onions, cut in rings
1 cup good quality vinegar, I used green apple vinegar
pinch of salt
1 bay leaf
2-3 star anise
2inch cinnamon stick
5-6 black pepper corns
In a small non-reactive pan bring all the ingredients excepts onions to a light boil. Add the onions and allow it to simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let it stand to cool. Once cool, bottle and refrigerate. The pickled onions should be able serve two people for upto a year.
I found several ways to use the jars – to store date & tamarind chutney left overs from my July cooking class. I also stored i2cook pesto for personal consumption and recently stored some pasta sauce for September cooking class.
You can buy these jars online and Urbandazzle can ship them anywhere in India.
And my obsession continues at pinterest….
‘Casa Mia’ which means “my house” in Italian is an Italian restaurant which may well be worth making your home!
A step out of the usual western line, is one restaurant that makes the central line and R-Mall in particular worth a visit. Catch a movie at Big Cinema’s latest movie multiplex but do not have a single bite of those ‘big offers’ if you really want to dissect your palate on some mind crunching Italian delicacies.
The huge glass doors with one that forms the entrance to a three part restaurant welcomes you into a cafe with off course, …coffee and books while the second part seats you in a Mediterranean diner from where you can see a lounge with a bar tucked in the corner.
While the Cafe gives you a pedestrian sit out feel with a view to passers-by peering into the warm yellow inside, your coffee can keep you engrossed in the Italian culinary section or the reference books that are housed in the magazine rack.
“Gianfrancesco Perrone”, says that he started Casa Mia with authentic Italian cuisine that Italians would find sourced out of an Italian la casa. However, the Indians are overwhelming; when it comes to exerting their alimentary influence and Casa Mia now serves Italian cuisine which has increased Indian patronage.
The wine list also took a turn from the docks to Nasik, albeit, not withstanding home grown vineyards are favoured over the commercial brands. The lounge also houses rock bands to events that involve young artists entertaining the rest-o-folk on event days.
Casa Mia has a young and energetic design combined with culinary class all brought together next to Reliance Big Cinema on the 3rd floor of R-City Mall. The logo is colourful and a perfect blend, pretty much similar to how the flavours of the food are blended in Italian, Mediterranean and a few pickings from world cuisine. Gianfrancesco tells me his Indian wife helped design the place through her design experiences at London, which explains the amount of interest in the warmth you feel in this place which tells you to Eat, Drink and chill!
For starters, you might just pick the Cajun chicken if you like your masala toppings, else you could dig into a ‘Prawn Tempura’ to taste the Japanese perfection in the blade of herb manifestation. I chose a Wasabi prawns that was all prawn sans wasabi! A starter is to apprise you of taste and not the meal. Casa Mia starters can do just that, choose carefully or take the suggestion of the young waiters.
Check the table pop-ups for the ‘days special’ and offers, trust me they are specially made for this day. You can never go wrong with a ‘Pan Seared Viatnamese Basa’ or a ‘pizza’ that comes out a specially imported Italian pizza oven.
Gian loves his mozzarella and la casa cheese is always the best cheese. So sink your teeth into anything that hoists up on cheese and you will not be disappointed.
Pastas, lasagnes or just plain stuffed capsicum can make you wonder what you did without Casa Mia!
Whatever you choose Casa Mia has their makings of flavour that will give you a craving for italian cuisine. While Gian spent a lot of time with us explaining how he started Casa Mia and kept its change in line with customer delight, I found his musings truthfully Italian at heart. We even pulled a few italiano jokes on him but he was a true sport. Do not miss his dessert specials cause they may not be authentically Italian but definitely prove this Cafe’s culinary prowess.
Casa Mia is not highly priced and ensures that a meal can be had within a movie goers budget. There is hardly a need for reservation on a week day, however a weekend may find you exploring R-City Mall to the last movie at the Cinema.
What is so special about a Michelin star chef? The cook at the local restaurant can cook without being rated by a Michelin Star! Read on to know if they really need to be marked or the star is just a media bubble.
So what is so different? Is it about small quantity and high prices, names in European lingua? Is it about the ambience or the presentation of food? All these questions get answered when one has the privilege to taste the food created and I repeat ‘created’ by chef Igor Macchio.
The restaurant is designed to exploit natural lighting using a curtain of coloured glass. The interior designer obviously made a killing on creating lines of glass holders and filled them with randomly coloured glass (probably left over from a previous job) which lacks imagination. I would not speak much of the décor, as it only reminds me of the lounges in an international airport. However, there is a little corner that contains a wine library and wine tasting table that is perfect for a group session adorned with some of the finest Italian wines.
I walked straight into the clean and organized kitchen where Chef Igor was in the process of creating a lamb marinated in Xanata coffee and served with sweet corn sauce garnished with cress. If you can digest the real name for the dish, “Agnello marinato al caffe’ con ragu’ di mais dolce e germogli lamb marinated in coffee, sweet corn ragout and aromatic cress.”
The Italians speak with their hands and work their mouth on every word rounding off the ends with precision and Chef Igor did the same with “scho-cho-laat’se” and “baat-saar”. It is quite a fresh breath listening and watching the chef make a complicated recipe sound like a tomato toast. While the presentation is a la 5 star complimenting the real test has always been the taste. So we sat in the Vetro over a glass of divine white wine while the chef explained the veg dish; pumpkin ravioli created in amaretti milk known in Italian as, “Ravioli di zucca con schiuma agli amaretti e pesto homemade pumpkin ravioli, pesto and amaretti milk foam.”
The taste of melting pumpkin ravioli is so different from the ingredients in solitary albeit precatory, cuts your interest in the world around you while you digest each sense on your face. Some of the recipes are more than 24 hours in preparation time to serve up quarter of a plate of mind watering taste, aroma and experience. For instance the fine risotto topped with a swirl of anchovies.
The staff at the Vetro comprehends Italian cuisine and aspire to learn more. They work in the background interacting with you in the most subtle manner to make sure that you need not lift hand or open mouth for service. The air-conditioning keeps you comfortable shielding the sun’s heat rays.
I believe that such hard work and precision can only come with substantial skill and experience and deserves a star rating which is done with equal diligence. Vetro is worth a visit not just by Michelin Star chefs but also Italian savouring audience. Are you one of them?