Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tuscan Food Festival - Cook Off with Chef Antonello Cancedda !

Italian cuisine has a great variety of different ingredients which are commonly used, ranging from fruits, vegetables, sauces, meats, etc. In the North of Italy, fish (such as cod, or baccalà), potatoes, rice, corn (maize) and different types of cheeses are the most common ingredients. Pasta dishes with use of tomato are spread in all Italy.

I was invited for a cook off with Chef Antonello Cancedda at JW Marriott hotel. It was Tuscan Food festival at Alba, a specialty Italian restaurant, serving Italian and Tuscan Cuisine. The Restaurant has beautiful decor, Ambiance and lighting with a fully equipped open kitchen.
I was welcomed by the friendly staff and got introduces to chef Antonello Cancedda, a very modest person. I was carried away by his simplicity. He was cooking a few Tuscany dishes for us!

Chef Antonello Cancedda, the expat Italian Chef De Cuisine at JW Marriott Chandigarh and looks after the culinary operations of Oregano Restaurant & Bar.  With over two decades of experience Antonello brings with him rich experience, exceptional talent and understanding of an authentic Italian Kitchen to the hotel.  He is passionate about creating unique flavors, catering to distinct tastes as he cooks to the guest's taste and preference.
He is known for his passion for Italian food and attention to details that marries the classical Italian flavors and ingredients with contemporary, fine dining presentation and cooking techniques.  He strongly believes in retaining the authenticity despite the contemporary fashion of cooking.  A native of Sardinia, Italy, Antonello has worked in some of the most prestigious Hotels and restaurants in Europe, Canada, Asia and United States.  A Graduate from Scuola Alberghieria Restaurant and Hotel School of Genoa.
In his leisure time he enjoys playing guitar and sings Hindi songs too. He loves butter chicken and biryani and speaks a little Hindi too.  He is also an avid practitioner of yoga and never misses his daily practice.
Simplicity is central to the Tuscan cuisine. Legumes, bread, cheese, vegetables, mushrooms and fresh fruit are used. In Tuscany and Umbria pasta is usually served alla carrettiera (a tomato sauce spiked with peperoncini hot peppers).
I was asked if I had any special request before they start the cook off and I asked them if they can make something vegetarian for me :) The chef decided to make a veg pasta! The rest were made according to the chef's taste. The cook off started with Tiramisu - the desert. It was let to set in the fridge while we proceeded for making the Pasta from scratch!
The pictures show a step wise process of pasta making from the pasta machine.
This pasta is called Chianti Pappardelle made with flour and red wine which gives a slight red color to the pasta!
The vegetables were gently sauteed and the pumpkin puree was simmered. Pasta was cooked and tossed with the veggies. The recipe was not very complicated with many spices. It was just some salt and pepper. The Chef said he likes to keep it simple. He plated the pasta and topped it with pumpkin puree and some cheese.
Tiramisu meaning "pick me up" or "lift me up" is a popular coffee-flavored Italian dessert. It is made my assembling layers of Savoiardi lady fingers with cream of mascarpone and espresso!

The Tuscan food festival was on until the 24th of August and sorry I am late on my writeup :) But you can always visit Alba for a romantic Italian dinner and experience the Tuscan cuisine.

Alba JW Marriott Hotel
Vittal Malya Road,
Bangalore - 560001

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Apple Salad - Go healthy with Washington apples!

Apples are Really Good For You! Eating fresh apples is always good for you, but to get the full nutritional benefits associated with eating apples you should eat at least one fresh apple every day.

I was sent some fresh Granny Smith apples by the SCS Group and Washington Apple Commission for me to taste and make something. What can be more refreshing than a salad. This is how I like my everyday salad.


Fresh Granny Smith Apples-2
handful of walnuts (slightly toasted)
Romaine Lettuce- 1 cup
handful of Mint leaves
Italian seasoning-1/2 tsp
lemon juice- 1/2 tsp
olive oil- 1tsp
any cheese (optional) - 1 tbsp for sour taste


Wash and dry the apples, lettuce and mint leaves. chop them roughly into bite size and toss them in a bowl. Add toasted walnuts, Italian seasoning, olive oil, lemon juice and mix. I do not add salt.

Granny Smith apples are green, extremely tart, crisp, juicy and versatile. They are popular for making Pies.
Apples have lots of health benefits like cancer prevention, healthy lungs, heart disease and stroke prevention and weight loss!
For more information visit

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cafe Infinito - A Mediterranean experience !

Eat, Drink, Dance, Repeat is the concept of Cafe Infinito, a Mediterranean restaurant where I had been last week. I was impressed by the simple elegant decor and seating arrangements. There was a small bar and a live pizza counter.

We got to see how the the pizza was made, right from scratch which my son enjoyed a lot.The cuisine is primarily Cafe-ish with influences from Italy and Med but not limited to it. This forms the major inspiration to create an offering that exists from breakfast to desserts and drinks for a post dinner offering. One can hop in anytime of the day for a quick bite of a crostini or attend out-of-office meetings devouring varieties of small eats and salads; work on creative projects on work table or indulge in home preparations of pastas, wood-fired pizzas, healthy sandwiches, burgers and wraps.
We were served with assorted bread basket which was fresh from oven along with some condiments.
 Their Vegetarian Pizzas have signature smoked cherry tomato sauce & house salad
Greek pizza‐ crumbled feta, pitted olives, red onions, sun dried tomatoes & torn basil,
Garniture pizza ‐ seasoned potatoes , fresh thyme, sizzling brie & sour cream,
Margarita pizza ‐ mozzarella, plum tomato sauce with torn basil,
Been to Mexico pizza ‐ salsa , re fried beans, jalapeno, cilantro & sun dried tomato (this was served to us) are some of their specialty.

These days I am much into salads so loved the Arugula, goat cheese crumbs, red wine poached pear & balsamic fresh salad. to my surprise the menu had veg-pastas, Penne with smoked cherry tomato sauce & broccoli florets and Spinach & ricotta ravioli in porcini cream sauce kept me asking for more.
Oven cooked spinach & ricotta cannelloni with pine nuts was nice and creamy.
I loved the wide chioce for kids. There are huge burgers with Soya, barley & crack wheat, with onion tomato relish & harissa mayo and many variety of milk shakes.
We were so full but could not resist the desserts even veg options!
Bakewell tart, Classic crème brûlée and Tiramisu were some to pick from! You can see what a feast it was :)
Address:Cafe Infinito Level 1, Inorbit Mall, EPIP area, Whitefield, Bengaluru.

All were reasonably priced and it is a nice place for a simple weekend brunch with family or friends!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Chocolate Indulgence with Royce !

JW Marriott Bengaluru is Launching a premium chocolate and confectionery from Japan and I was invited for the tasting session.

ROYCE’ was founded in 1983 in Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.
ROYCE' chocolate is made in a truly special place surrounded by the beauty and contrasts of
all four seasons.
ROYCE' has brought together the best ingredients from all over the world and developed cutting-edge production techniques to produce a truly unique range of high quality and exquisitely packaged chocolates.
Chef Jolly, Director, F&B started with an introduction to the chocolate tasting session.

 Avani  Raheja and Samir Gadhok, Directors, Burgundy Hospitality spoke about Royce, and the products they plan to launch shortly in Bengaluru on 20th June.

These are a range of NAMA CHOCOLATE-Velvety smooth chocolate that will melt in your mouth
Ghana Bitter-A liquor-free bitter Nama (means Pure) Chocolate with an excellent acid-bitter combination. This was true chocolate indulgence! Egg free, smooth and creamy, these come with a thermal bag to help retain the delicate texture during the journey from the store to your refrigerator. They are similar to truffles and have to be refrigerated. it has a limited shelf life. When I heard the name Nama I said " Nama chocolates in Namma bengaluru"!

Mild Cacao-The smooth flavor and fragrant aroma of cacao fill your mouth in this liquor-free Nama Chocolate.

CRIOLLO CHOCOLATE-Bitter Chocolate that fully conveys the intense flavor of the rare Criollo cacao bean.
CRIOLLO CHOCOLATE Sweet-Moderately sweet chocolate with the delicate flavor of the rare Criollo cacao bean.

PURE CHOCOLATE-The beautiful facade and shape of the Pure Chocolate was designed to enhance both the texture and the shape. This chocolate is available in six varieties, ranging in cacao percentages. Each box contains a set of two varieties - 20 pieces of each - a total of 40 individually

POTATOCHIP CHOCOLATE-The eye-opening combination of salty potato chips coated with chocolate. This was the first time I was tasting a combination of potato chips dunked in chocolate!

BATON COOKIES-Coconut Golden-baked coconut cookies coated with chocolate on one side.

BATON COOKIES-Hazel Cacao Finely crushed cacao nibs blended into a cocoa. These are made of eggs so could not taste them!

We were served with canapes and water in between so as to differentiate between the taste of chocolate.
On the whole I carried my sweet tooth with me :)
The Price ranges from 500 to 1000 and upward. Currently being retailed out of their outlets in Mumbai at JWM Mumbai and Palladium Mall, this range will be launched at JWM, Bengaluru on the 20th of this month.