LAVA-TALKS are....

 Soft Peaks,alias LAVA-TALKS are Conversations with  Sebastian and   sharing  his love of food and being inspired by delectable dishes  and  stories from the stove that create moments of "food magic" 

The Deccan Plateau Speaks Gourmet

posted Oct 24, 2015, 4:49 AM by Sebastian Simon   [ updated Feb 11, 2016, 1:55 PM by Unknown user ]

5 years is what it took to be back in my old stomping ground, Bangalore City or Bengaluru as it is now called. Seeing what Chefs have been upto on a stove in every city I visit has been my passion. With meagre expectations and a pessimistic view I decided to go where the foodies go. Much to my surprise these food spots had cool names and an Uber following. Having spent most of my cooking life in Auckland, the City of Sails and Melbourne, the melting pot of cuisines, I had set the bar very high. These restaurants had to be Avant -Garde .I needed to jump right in and see what has changed the culinary landscape of this iconic city.

First stop was the Black Rabbit, very chic, organic wood panelled interiors with a rabbit as its logo, must be all hype I thought!! , I must say I was impressed with the inverted Pot light features symmetrically hanging from the high ceiling with a rustic al –fresco .I had the Jack Daniels beef Burger and the bacon and cheese bombs. To find a gourmet burger with the perfect Pattie and the right density bun has always been a struggle for me . But the Black rabbit burger did put a smile on my face. Another silent hero was this awesome Red, “The WOLF TRAPboekenhouttskloof a gorgeous purple hue with long legs, amazing import from South Africa wine, takes me to Rhone, great crème friache like smoothness with a  really lovely sweet blueberry  cream flavors, with a somewhat velvety mouth feel to compliment the sensation. It was a great find!

The View of the ceiling lights- Black Rabbit Bangalore

Al-Fresco area –Black Rabbit, Bangalore

Move a few blocks down the road was the best find of my trip. An interesting name with a smack bang South East Asian looking ambience, The Fatty Bao, I was seated at the terrace and the beautiful ambience felt like listening to Queens Bohemian Rhapsody.  It was eclectic, abstract, simple floors, I loved the vibe.  It felt warm and creative.

I dived into the Bao’s, and the Char Sui and spicy fried fish were a standout. No pretentious food I must add. Simple yet bold combinations, letting the flavors speak for it self. Finally I found dishes that had a point of difference. Pure and simple. Zeroing in on the flavor profiles .Not drown in a sea of fancy words and over seasoned spices .I was thoroughly impressed.

The Fatty Bao, Bangalore

Shengjian Bao BBQ chicken, The Fatty Bao, Bangalore

Char Sui Bao

The Fatty Bao PB & J –Imported Pork Belly

Café Noir gave me great caffeine hit. Top shelve roasted coffee beans with a suave ambience to match .I do feel that barista’s in Bangalore need that extra Je ne sais quoi. But they do pack a punch and on the way to creating a fabulous café coffee culture.

Café Noir, Bangalore

One night in Bangkok
made my night with a burnt garlic fried rice and retro music to match.

Succulent prawns @One Night in Bangkok

The Humming Tree gave me the two most important things I crave for. Good live music, thanks to Ctrl-Alt-Delete (A must have experience for any music lover) and gourmet food to match .The slow roasted pork and pepperoni jalapeño wood fired pizza was impeccable. These three floors of goodness reminded me of the old Bangalore I knew. Nostalgia was in the air

Filter Coffee has paved the way for the future of Darshini’s a.k.a South Indian fast food. The fried savoury doughnut (udin vada ) with  sambar and the chicory laced coffee were the dishes that  encapsulate the essence of south Indian fast food.

The best filter Coffee@ Filter Coffee

Another Jewel   out of suburbia and in the heart of Bangalore City was JW Marriott’s Breakfast offering .A very carefully selected variety, with an indulgent spread made respect the hard work these chefs put it  to  set up an ocean of decadent  treats for the early riser.

                            Jams and conserves @JW Marriott, Bangalore             Dairy options galore @JW Marriott’s                            Fruit and legumes ensemble @JW Marriott, Bangalore

On a blistery afternoon I wanted to try a place that had a lot of good being said about it among the foodies in Bangalore .I got my act together and decided to give Smoke House Deli a go. If you ever wanted an alfresco dinning experience that screams a calm serene ambience, this was it .All white with a great artsy scribble on the walls, made be fall in love with its creative streak .If you didn’t mind the smokers, the outside seating area is a great place to settle on some brunch options, The truffle and caper egg scramble and the alio olio pepperoncino my favorite, even though I did ask for my choice of pasta to be the classic spaghetti, cant see farfalle work in this dish personally  .But overall a very tastefully written menu  that  summed up the modern Bangalore an.

What I found very special were the unending options I could choose from. A gorgeous looking juice bar with an array of fresh fruits and legumes to choose from .A perfect way to give my aching body a boost .A smorgasbord of cereals, Bircher muesli, dried fruits and nuts, live yoghurt, live cooking stations, live south Indian varietals and if there was anything more “Live” you wanted, Voila, welcome to the live egg station .It was a very Good morning indeed. I did wish for Moo-  “four stomachs” by the end. But Wow!! , This would be the best ever breakfast buffet t I have every seen and tasted

I must add this point as well .I can clearly see how restaurants like this have spawned in the famous Pub City. A well-travelled audience with a knowledgeable foodie Gen Y generation, the crowds want more of a distinctive flavor profile. With the advent of Master chef, the boundaries have been re aligned .The food culture has had reemerged with a selective crowd baying for unique cuisines and masterful presentations. With 350 million youth to boast in India, there is a new audience emerging that wants food to match

 With a modern city that always proved ahead of its time. Immigration stands as a key driving force in population growth. Due to its thriving high-tech industry, Bangalore has been attracting migrants both from within and outside of Karnataka state. During the 2007 to 2012 period, an average 186,000 annual net migrants arrived in Bangalore. According to a study published in 2013 by the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, 48 percent of migrants to Bangalore are university graduates and post-graduates.

This has created a class of young consumers with high disposable incomes. This growing class is increasingly inclined to global cuisines and styles; namely, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, American (burgers and fast food),modern European, molecular gastronomy,street food re-hashed  and the like. Bangalore has seen a rise in international food and coffee chains in the recent years, too. Also, a wide variety of imported foods and beverages are seen on shelves in retail supermarkets and hypermarkets. With the rise in the upper middle and high income class of Bangaloreans and fast paced work life, spending relaxed evenings and long weekends has increased demand for restaurants and hotels to offer multi- cuisines and serve local, international and exotic foods in a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere.

Overall this was an eye opening food education for me in the old city I grew up in, experiencing new things with the food stepped up a few notches, Bangalore has become the new mecca for any culinary enthusiast.

Of Umami and Salted Caramel Ice cream

posted Sep 21, 2015, 1:37 AM by Unknown user

I've always found it very surprising how hordes of regular folk find a flavor or taste very appealing. Take for example salted Caramel. It is in every thing. Ice cream, coffee, peanuts, yogurt, chocolate, shakes.... The list is endless.

But Salt in Ice cream!!!!! . Never in a million years would we have even looked at it let alone taste it just a few years ago. But now all it takes is a Cooking show to drip feeds this counter culture of food paring, and voila!! We humans salute this magical combination of salt and caramel.

So what is salt? What does salt do to food? Ferran Adrià once declared salt "the only product that changes cuisine". This is because, as he and all seasoned cooks know, sodium chloride not only adds saltiness, which human beings innately adore (because we need it to live), but it also skews the overall flavor to positive effect. It makes food sing by suppressing bitterness, enhancing sweet and savory, and turning up the volume on the aromas. But how on earth does it do all this? The magic lies in the taste system, our glorious body holds together. 

Here are some cool facts about our taste system

  • A single taste bud contains 50–100 taste cells representing5-taste sensations (so the classic textbook pictures showing separate taste areas on the tongue are wrong).

  • Each taste cell has receptors on its apical surface. These are trans-membrane proteins which

      1. Admit the ions that give rise to the sensation of salty;

      2. Bind to the molecules that give rise to the sensations of sweet, bitter, and umami.

  • A single taste cell seems to be restricted to expressing only a single type of receptor (except for bitter receptors).

  • A stimulated taste receptor cell triggers action potentials in a nearby sensory neuron leading back to the brain.

  • However, a single sensory neuron can be connected to several taste cells in each of several different taste buds.The sensation of taste — like all sensations — resides in the brain.

  • And in mice, at least, the sensory neurons for four of the tastes (not sour) transmit their information to four discrete areas of the brain.

Wow... no wonder my tongue can straight away tell me if my food is over-seasoned .In the pantheon of great chefs and food scientists you will always have salt as a crucial part of the recipe base. Some recipes ask for salt to be added, and then removed, or at the end of the finishing process. But when adding salt to caramel the magic of gastronomy plays out like a smooth ballad with crisp lyrics and a memorable tune. Well, here is why we find that salted caramel ice cream mind blowing.... Our intestines are full of sugar sensors, and some of them are in your mouth too. Scientists already knew that many human organs have sugar sensors, which are there to help process glucose and insulin in your blood. It turns out, however, that these sensors have a different job in your mouth. 

An intestinal glucose sensor also found to be located in the sweet-sensitive taste cells may hold the key to the mystery of our sweet taste. Why would just a pinch of table salt taste sweet or salt added to baked goods, ice cream or a shake enhances this amazing sweet taste. It is known as SGLT1, this sensor is a transporter that moves glucose into the sweet taste cell when sodium is present, thus triggering the cell to register sweetness.

Well, the next time you taste a scoop of salted caramel ice cream goodness, think of this amazing co relation between your taste buds, your brain and your intestine. Basically a normal working day for this incredible body of ours. Some creative genius (God) I must say. .

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