Ohh God, I love brunches. I love brunches as much as I love chocolate. And Sundays. And all-you-can-eat buffets. This particular brunch had all of these – a Sunday Easter buffet brunch. Good food, on a laid-back Sunday afternoon, with wonderful company and conversation brings me lots of joy. This post has all of those. Read on.
The occasion was Easter Sunday. The location was JW Cafe at the newly launched JW Sahar. This fine dining cafe cum restaurant is situated in the newly launched JW Sahar, on the international airport road, and I was there to try their Sunday brunch. Sprawling, green manicured lawns greet me, leading me up to the palatial hotel which was buzzing with people even before they had officially launched.
I had read and heard so much about the magnanimity of the brunch spread at JW Cafe from fellow bloggers and the internet, that I had come all prepared. Skipped breakfast, wore Joey’s ‘thanksgiving pants’, and I had my game face on. But no amount of pre-reading or starving could have prepared me for the variety of food I was about to witness. This one’s the big daddy of all Sunday brunches. Counters of food, fitted into any space available at the restaurant, what I found noteworthy was the presence of different cuisines, along with different chefs specializing in those cuisines, manning the counter.
We all have that one corner in our house that we just don’t know what to do about. A space that is either blank, or too cluttered and just does not fit in with the entire scheme of things. I’ve been experiencing the same with this one corner in my living room. A blank area that is not that small to ignore. And not that big to fit anything productive in. So basically this space was like a gaping hole, just lying there, staring at me every time I spent time in the living room.
And then we all have those relatives who need an excuse to critique, pick, and grumble about the smallest things. The aforementioned relatives were planning to stay over for a couple of days at my place, and I was going all paranoid over what I would feed them, how I would entertain them, and most importantly how the house would look. (I sincerely hope the aforementioned relatives do not read this post). Out of sheer frustration and desperation, I decided to give the living room a make over of sorts, so that it would at least look presentable to the guests I was expecting over.
A friend and I were driving around in Juhu recently, looking for a place to stretch our legs, sip a beer, and eat a leisurely meal. Not wanting to repeat any of the places either of us had dined at before, we had run out of all options. Until we passed Hotel Oakwood Premier situated in a leafy Juhu bylane, and a quick run through the good reviews on their Zomato page ushered us inside.
The Oakroom is the Hotel Oakwood Premier’s restaurant cum bar that is open all night long. Walk through the hotel’s marble patio into the restaurant that is open to all. The entire space was beautifully done up – the inside section screaming elegant vintage with plush armchairs, opulent lights, elaborate sofas, and an illuminated wine rack.
I love it when an under dog wins. And Brent Owens’s journey on MasterChef Australia was just that. A dark horse if you may, running stealthily and silently towards the finish line without anyone noticing. A dark knight if you may, performing his tasks and challenges quietly and perfectly to the best of his abilities. While everyone cheered for Sarah because of her Indian roots, or Laura because we were all amazed at this young girl’s ability to perform magic with Italian cuisine, or ‘panna cotta’ lady Emilia and her no-nonsense demeanour, a man in the foreground began to steal my heart.
I first noticed Brent Owens for the same reason every woman noticed Brent Owens…he was so darn cute! And every time I saw that half ponytail on his head while he cooked my heart skipped a beat. A bobcat driver, who gave up his job after being forced to audition for the sixth season of the world’s most popular cooking show courtesy his girlfriend of many years; his was the turn-around, success story that was guaranteed to grab eyeballs and warm hearts. On his recent visit to Mumbai, to promote the upcoming seventh season of MasterChef Australia premiering in May, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet him thanks to The Grand Hyatt and Food Bloggers Association of India (FBAI).
Greeting us wearing folded khakhis, rolled up shirt sleeves, and a mysterious glint in his eyes, Brent is effortlessly good looking. But when you get talking with him do you actually realize what a warm, friendly person is. Easy to talk to, patient enough to answer all of our randomest questions, and generous enough to oblige all the ogling women at the table with a peck on the cheek, I was floored. And then I tasted the meal he had especially curated for us at Celini, and I was floored so bad that I never wanted to get up.
I am a 90’s child. I grew up in an era where life was simpler, less commercialized, and cell phones were kept away at dinner tables. Where Happy Cow cheese was our idea of international Swiss cheese, and where you had to request your neighbor aunty to buy you Toblerone when she returned from the ‘Gulf’. And chocolates in the country were limited to Dairy Milk and the likes. And then there was Fantasie – exquisite, gourmet, specially crafted chocolates – that seemed like such a prized catch back then. And in some ways it still is.
My introduction to Fantasie chocolates happened via an old family friend of ours. This lovely lady, a classmate of my grandmother, would come to visit us every six months. And everytime she visited, without fail, she would bring along a huge box of assorted Fantasie chocolates for the family. My grandmother knew I loved the chocolates so much that no one else was allowed to eat them. It was my first introduction to the world of gourmet chocolates, the first time I may have tried caramel, or praline, or mint in a chocolate. I would guard the box with all my life, and sustain every bit of self control to eat only one piece from the box everyday after dinner. Aah, memories!