Review: Posh Indian at Bombay Club Washington DC

The Bombay Club is right in the heart of Washington DC’s executive quarter, just a few blocks from the White House. Frequented by American Presidents and Hollywood stars this is not your everyday Indian restaurant. It was rated by GQ India as the third best Indian restaurant in the world. (Read full article http://www.gqindia.com/live-well/food/7-best-indian-restaurants-across-globe/ ).

Intrigued by what we had read and heard about the restaurant we saved it for our last night in DC and we were not disappointed.

From  the plush padded seats, starched linen tablecloths and the tinkling from the pianist in the corner, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Raj-era exclusive club.

For entree we chose the highly recommended Spicy Duck Kebabs- Minced duck, chilies, ginger, nutmeg and garam masala and the Dum Ka Shrimp marinated in black pepper, saffron, yogurt, cardamom. The kebabs were divine and spicier than we expected which to us bode well that the Bombay Club hasn’t “dumbed” down the spicing for Western palates too much. The prawns were more subtly flavoured and delicious too.

For mains we ordered an “unabashedly Indian curry” – Lamb vindaloo and Bhindi Do Piaza (okra), Dhal Makni, naan, basmati rice and lemon chutney. The lamb vindaloo was redolent of the aged vinegar, onions, chilies, cinnamon and cardamon it is cooked in with a perfect balance of tanginess and spicy warmth. The Dhal Makni is cooked for 16 hours and it tasted smoky and rich, like it had been cooked overnight in the tandoor. The okra is cooked with pickled onions, tomatoes and chilli and was an ideal vegetarian accompaniment to our meal, along with one of the best pickled lemon chutney I have ever tasted. Wish I could get the recipe for that!

Treating ourselves to dessert, we loved the Gulab Jamun served with cardamom gelato and the mango kulfi.

The entire meal was one of the best Indian epicurean experiences we have ever had and I would highly recommend eating at Bombay Club if you live in or visit DC. Here is the link to their website for more pictures and information http://www.bombayclubdc.com

 

 

Boston Legal Clam Chowder

Monday brought a snow storm to Boston and with it the perfect weather for soups and comfort food. We had enjoyed the milder weather over the weekend, making hay while the sun shined and walking the Freedom Trail learning about Paul Revere’s heroic ride to warn the Patriots of the approaching British troops and all about Boston’s contribution to American Independence.

But by Monday we were ready to hole up and take advantage of the weather to try out Legal Seafood down at the revitalised Seafront district for their renowned Clam Chowder. We had been assured by locals that despite being an ever expanding chain,the quality of food and service had remained and that this was the best spot to sample Boston’s acclaimed seafood.

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Located next to the fishermen’s pier and overlooking the harbour, Legal Seafood at the Seafront certainly puts one in the mood for fine dining, although more casual dining is also offered downstairs. This is by no means a cheap eats restaurant but at the same time prices for food and wine are excellent value for the quality and style.

We chose a Deloach Sonoma Pinot Noir, which little did we know at the time of ordering, was developed especially for Legal Seafood to go with their seafood centric menu.

Dinner started on a high note with the complimentary amuse Bouche sent by the chef.

The Clam Chowder certainly lived up to it’s reputation and was deliciously creamy – you can taste the sea in the freshness of the seafood ingredients. As a starter it is certainly filling but not heavy. Beautiful free breads were served at the beginning.

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For mains we tried halibut (rarely found in Australia), and of course lobster. The halibut was served with couscous,roasted fennel and aioli. And the lobster came with a parsnip puree, steamed kale, and one slow cooked beef brisket rib. Both entrees(mains) demonstrated a sophisticated approach to balancing flavours and tastes that “legitimised” for us Legal Seafood’s word of mouth referrals and food critic approvals.

The dessert menu was very tempting but we couldn’t fit it in so we settled for chocolates instead.

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A must try on you next trip to Boston.

Mild Potato Curry

This mild potato curry is quick and easy to make. Recently on a rainy Sydney day we were in the mood for an Indian breakfast, or more accurately brunch, so I made this accompanied by my Red Lentil DhalEasy Wholemeal Roti and Coconut Sambal. The resulting meal took us straight back to the streets of India  where these types of vegetarian combinations are favourites for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This Potato Curry is also a good staple side dish that can be whipped up quickly and is particularly nice with grilled fish.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 medium size potatoes peeled and cut into smallish cubes
1 onion diced
1 tomato cut into large chunks
8 curry leaves (optional)
2 cloves garlic and same amount of ginger crushed into paste
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup of water
coriander to garnish

Method
Boil potatoes first for 10 minutes in salted water(1/2 tspn salt) to which you have added 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric powder. The potatoes should be almost cooked, but not too soft and they will be a beautiful golden colour from the turmeric in the water.

Drain potatoes in a colander and set aside.

Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and add cinnamon stick, cummin seeds, curry leaves if using and mustard seeds and fry until mustard seeds start to pop. Be careful not to burn, remove from heat if necessary and add onions.

Cook onions over medium heat until transparent, add ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute.

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Add to tomato, chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon, turmeric 1/2 teaspoon salt, cummin powder and mix through until spices just start to change colour, add potatoes and gently coat with onion spice mixture then add water and simmer until reduced and potatoes are tender and almost breaking up (about 5 minutes).

Garnish with coriander and serve.

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Indian breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!

Review: New Year’s Foodie Nirvana at Mozaic Restaurant Ubud, Bali

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Tray of fresh herbs and spices featured in menu

Our special treat for New Year’s Eve 2015 was to book in to the acclaimed, award-winning Moziac Restaurant in Ubud for their special seven course degustation.

Chef Chris Salans opened Mozaic in 2001 bringing together the indigenous flavours of Indonesian herbs, spices and vegetables with first class imported ingredients such as wagyu beef, black truffles, foie gras all prepared with sophisticated French and European cooking techniques.

The resulting menus and dishes have earned Chris Salans and his team a list of awards as long as your arm, not to mention, calls for a Michelin Star from Mozaic’s international diners.

As you can imagine, our expectations were set very high as we stepped through the beautiful wooden doors into the Mozaic Lounge for a pre-dinner aperitif and complimentary appetiser. We were brought an appetiser of a light as air tiny profiterole filled with a luscious savoury, truffle infused custard.

Our host explained the wine pairing menu with dinner which we decided to go with, and we were very well rewarded , as each of the wines complimented the complex flavours of each of the courses perfectly.

We entered the atmospheric garden pavilion surrounded by beautiful tropical plants and festive new year decorations to be seated for dinner. Divine setting!

One of the best initiatives is the tray of fresh spices that is brought to each table and as each course is presented, the waiters explain which of the spices and herbs are used in each dish. With many of the ingredients unique to Indonesia, this is a great way for diners to touch and smell them and understand more about what they are about to enjoy.

Each course is inspired by a theme of the local flavour featured e.g torch ginger flower or kaffir lime.

Our seven course eating odyssey began with a complimentary amuse Bouche of sweet lobster with a light cucumber and lime foam. It was an delicious introduction to the greater things to come.

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It would be too difficult to try to explain each of the courses in detail so instead all I will do is post my photographs with the menu titles and short descriptions.

I can only recommend that if you are going to Ubud that you visit Mozaic for a truly amazing dining experience. At $170-350 per head depending on your wine choices, it is by no means cheap but it is in comparison to what you would pay in any major city for the same quality of food, ambience and service.

Foodie Nirvana indeed!

For restaurant information visit http://www.mozaic-bali.com

Dabu Dabu (Indonesian sambal)
Fresh chilled oysters with Dabu Dabu Relish and Russian Sturgeon Caviar

Kecicang(Torch Ginger Flower)
Seared Freshwater Sulawesi Yabbies, Radish puree, Ginger flower, chargrilled watermelon and Black Truffle

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Seared Freshwater Sulawesi Yabbies, Radish puree, Ginger flower, chargrilled watermelon and Black Truffle

Sereh(Lemongrass)
Duo of chilled and smoked Foie Gras with apples and lemongrass

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Duo of chilled and smoked Foie Gras with apples and lemongrass

Tempe (Fermented soy bean)
Stockyard Wagyu Beef, Fermented soy bean and Fresh Winter Black Truffle Crumble

Kemangi (Lemon Basil)
Balinese Lemon Basil and Celery Sorbet with Ciroc vodka

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Balinese Lemon Basil and Celery Sorbet with Ciroc vodka

Pala(Fresh Nutmeg)

A.O.C. Vacherin Cheese with Fresh nutmeg Pericarp and reduction

Jeruk Purut (Kaffir Lime)
Kaffir Lime Clay with Valrhona Chocolate and Kaffir Lime Sorbet

Review: Smorgasbord of Indonesian specialities at Hujan Locale

Hujan  Locale in Ubud is the latest offering in Australian chef and entrepreneur Will Meryck’s “chain” of contemporary Asian restaurants in Bali, including Sarong and Mama San in Seminyak.

Tucked away in Jalan Sri Wedari, off the main street – Jalan Raya Ubud, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Singapore ore Vietnam colonial interior, featuring a mix of wood, bamboo, tiles and even a chandelier.

The warm, inviting interior is filled with diners the night we visit. Bookings are highly advisable. We asked for a table upstairs which gets the through breeze and views over the street to one side and a Balinese family compound on the other.

The menu features a diversity of dishes inspired by the various regions of the Indonesian archipelago with most ingredients supplied by local farmers. It is a smorgasbord of Indonesian delights and uncompromising in it’s inclusion of chilli and spices, so would not recommend if you don’t like spicy food.

We choose the Pig Ear’s served with sambal spiced aioli and a crackling and the Gorengan or “fried platter” to start with. Admittedly, this was probably a wrong combination as both dishes feature deep frying but the tomato chilli sambal, lemon, green chillies and aioli provide fresh,spicy flavours.

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Crispy Pig’s Ears with crackling and sambal aioli

Our favourites were the corn fritters and fried tempeh with bites of fresh green chilli in-between which is as the locals do! The serving size of the starters is very generous and the Gorengan Platter which also features delicious lumpiah (Spring rolls) and average curry puffs could be further refined for a smaller and more focussed offering. I found the Pig’s Ears interesting but rather chewy and flavourless on their own but okay dipped in the aioli.

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Gorengan platter with fresh green chillies and tomato chilli sambal

The mains we ordered, on the other hand, were really delicious! We had the Kari Kambing Aceh – slow cooked Sumatran Lamb Curry (with Australian lamb) with roti canai, the Karangasem Sambal Udang – prawn sambal and Pelecing Kunkung – stir fried water spinach.

The lamb cooked in a rich sauce with star anise, cardamom and  curry leaves was “melt in your mouth” perfect. The roti canai was not of the soft, fluffy variety that we are accustomed to but crispy, still providing a good medium to dip into the curry sauce.

The prawns are cooked with the heads off but shells and tails still on. The shells come off easily and are delicious to chew on, the prawns themselves are perfectly cooked, tender and sweet cooked protected in their shells but still redolent of the spicy sambal sauce.

The Pelecing Kankung, stir fried water spinach features spicy chilli and hints of sambal belacan(shrimp paste) with roasted peanuts scattered on top, is a perfect green accompaniment to the other two dishes.

The overall experience of Hujan Locale was very pleasant and a good way to get a sense of the smorgasbord of tastes available in Indonesian regional specialities. Once again we were too full to try the desserts.

2015 in review

Here’s the completed “Year in Review” post!

Happy New Year!! As we start the new year I thought I’d reflect on the first six months of my Free Spirit Food blog. It’s certainly been very interesting starting this blogging journey and I was amazed to receive my “annual report” from WordPress telling me that there had been almost 5,000 views since June 2015 – apparently almost the equivalent of four full New York subway trains!

My aim when I started was to get to 100 followers by the end of the year and as we enter the new year I would like to say thank you to the 105 people who find my recipes and reviews of interest. Some of you are friends and family, but the majority of you are from around Australia and the world with very informative, interesting and beautiful blogs of your own.

I wanted to say a special thank you to my most loyal supporters and give their great blogs a plug:

From the family table
What’s Bec Cooking
My little space in the sun
Delights of the Algarve
Arpita’s Travelogue

I also thought you might be interested in the top 5 most popular posts from Free Spirit Food in 2015.

  1. Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt
Roasted eggplant
Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt

2. Pulled pork with garlic, thyme and chilli

Pulled pork

3. Lamb and potato curry

Lamb and potato curry with rice and red lentil dhal

4.Durban style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry

Durban-style mince and pea Samosas
Durban-style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry

5.Review: Pau Sat: Satay Street in Singapore

Lau pa Sat Market Building
Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market

And that’s the wrap of 2015!

Looking forward to another year of great foodie and travel adventures which began with an amazing seven course meal at Mozaic restaurant in Ubud last night.