Take A Closer Look

Caution: Some of these tight skins house regular, everyday stuff. Don’t trust your eyes. You need to stop, breathe and take a closer look!

 titleIt started out as an idea to present a series of pictures on the textures of food, but moved on to becoming a lavish spread of artistic photographs that pay tribute to food, drink, colour and texture.

The exhibition is a special one as it is a first for Gallery Caperberry, and a first solo for photographer Sudeep Gurtu. The idea seems to have emerged when both wanted to do something to recognise the amazing tastes and textures of food. And so, while it might have taken Sudeep Gurtu twenty-five years to take his camera more seriously than his career in interior designing, it took him just a month to come up with his breathtaking series on food and drink.

 The series simply called, Take A Closer Look, features a total of 20 pictures printed on textured fine art paper. Seven of these are pictures of bottles and are displayed in the lounge area of Caperberry, and the rest are food ingredients – spices, veggies and fruit – displayed on the walls of the restaurant area.

A look around at the pictures, and you feel that Gurtu fooled around with the camera for quite a while before suddenly seeing potential for that super shot, then he froze the frame and worked on it till that desired look was achieved. Talk to him and it’s not much different. “I didn’t have a clear idea of what the shot should look like beforehand but played around, moved things and suddenly would get the feel I liked. The morel was the first shot I did and it gave direction to the rest of the shoot,” he says.

The bar and lounge features a series of sensual bottle scapes in vibrant blueTake A Closer Looks, greens and oranges. Gurtu is the first to point out that though the pictures have a feel of being a painting – so easily doable on Photoshop – they’re not. Everything that you see is part of the element itself. None of the pictures have props – the colours, in this case, come from the drink bottles themselves. The levels of bottles were altered to let the interesting shapes mingle and the results are quite pleasing.

Dine at the restaurant, and you’ll look at pictures featuring leeks, chillies, mushrooms and some twists on bell peppers and onions that will have you a bit embarrassed. Embarrassed, because for one, you won’t be able to tell what it is, and embarrassed once more because of what you thought it looked like! Fortunately, the photo captions will assure you that you weren’t the first to think of it. In this context, the picture of the bell pepper must be mentioned – the shiny tight yellow skin contrasts comfortably with the blurry grey back ground to give you new interest in this common veggie. The picture (see right) is called ‘bell bottom’. I told you it wasn’t just you!

Like it happened with many other veggies, Gurtu says that the concept of this picture was different to what he initially had planned for the shot. The first idea was to have a transverse section of the bell shot (much like the chillies that finally made it to the series) but Gurtu says it ended up looking pretty dreadful – “like an endoscopy”! Some veggies like the morel needed to be presented in not as much detail (the closer you go, the less appealing morels get). The treatment was then changed to presenting each individually as this giant, mystical tree which worked magically.

Sudeep Gurtu

Sudeep Gurtu

The shots are appealing, for their colours are pure, backdrops are made from the subject alone and in this sense, the pictures are very organic. Some subjects, like the chillies, were just placed on wood and shot  to stunning effect. Gurtu says this series was fun to work on  after all it was his favourite subject… food! It was also liberating for him to do a creative job rather than a “perfect, proper job” that would have been the brief  if he was doing an ad shoot. “It was nice that I could use food with imperfections and make them look good,” he says pointing to the ravishing red and green chilly picture with one missing a part of the stalk.

 Many foods didn’t make it to the series simply because they didn’t fit in with the rest, or looked too picture perfect. Some like the shots of strawberry and kiwi seemed clichéd and yet others needed more experimentation and have been shelved for a later show. I’ve suggested Gurtu make it a ‘hot summer fruit series’. That way, the fruity curves can simply slide in with the hot, naughty theme. 

This exhibition is just one in a number of bi-monthly food-related photo exhibitions that will be hosted here. The hosts, Chef Abhjit Saha and director, Shruti Shibulal are clear that they will feature works that are in tune with their concept of food and those that share their sensibilities.

Till then, Take A Closer Look is on view at Gallery Caperberry. Only three prints of each picture are available for purchase. If you liked reading this, you’ll be rushing there for sure. Get your fresh veggies here, today!

Christobelle Joseph

 ‘Take a Closer Look’ runs through the second week of Aug’09; for details, contact Sudeep Gurtu at sudeepgurtu@gmail.com, or Gallery Caperberry at 2559 4567.

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Modern Thai at The Park

Chef Nut Kunlert
Chef Nut Kunlert

Transport a Thai Chef from the bustle of Bangkok to the stillness of Zen, the pan-Asian restaurant at The Park, Kolkata and voila, you have a chef whose shocked mind perhaps starts concocting traditional Thai with a hint of the modern. Perhaps, in this, is the genesis of Chef Nut Kunlert’s Modern Thai festival at Monsoon, The Park, Bangalore.

 So you have interesting appetizers like a Grilled Caramel Chilli Glazed Chicken Skewer with Tangy Cucumber Salad; Crispy Bean Curd with Tangy Raw Papaya Salad that provides for an interesting medley of flavour and texture; and a Thai style Samosa with Sweet Chilli and Basil Dip.

 The Modern Thai festival runs through 2nd August 09, and if you visit, don’t leave without trying the Herb Marinated Lamb Chops with Chilli Sauce, Sweet Pumpkin and Peanut Curry and the Kolkata influenced Beer Batter fried Bekti. Our unusual desert pick is the Fried Gingered Chocolate Truffle with Coconut Ice-cream.

 Monsoon, The Park, Tel: 2559 4666

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Bodega Norton Wine Dinner at Zaman

malbec reservaYet another wine dinner at Ista, which is fast gaining a reputation for hosting some rather smartly, priced wine experiences in the city. From the Food Lovers Club’s ‘Flights of Wine’ programme on wine appreciation to the food and wine paired dinners at Zaman which have now almost become a monthly ritual of sorts, it does seem that the hotel’s management is doing its very best to draw in the city’s wine enthusiasts.

 “Argentina is the fifth largest wine producing country in the world”, said Michael Müller, representing Argentina’s largest wine maker Bodega Norton, situated in the Luján de Cuyo region of Mendoza valley at the foothills of the Andes. And if you didn’t know this impressive piece of statistic, you would be forgiven for it is not until as late as the early nineties that the Argentineans considered sharing their wines with the rest of the world. Up until then, all wines produced were consumer locally – the per capita consumption of wine is now at half the mind-boggling 90 litres that it used to be then!

 The first wine of the evening was a 2008 Bodega Norton Sauvignon Blanc – extremely fruity on the nose with notes of green apple and passion fruit, and some acidity on the palate with a short finish, it would make a good aperitif – that paired well with the salmon gravadlax, served with warm blini and dill cream.  

 Up next, was the Bodega Norton Chardonnay 2008; mellow on the nose, this full-bodied and creamy wine displayed hints of smokiness. And it was a cracker of a pairing with a succulent breast of chicken stuffed with foie gras and a superbly weighty sauce Périgord.

 As for the reds, Michael had arranged for a tasting of two Malbecs – a 2007 and a Reserva Malbec 2005 – a varietal now considered iconic of Argentinean wines although its origins are in France as one of the six varietals allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wines.  The 2007 was a deep red with mild spice on the nose, very tannic not too rounded though. On the other hand, the Reserve Malbec, aged first in French Oak for 12 months, before another 12 months in the bottle, asserted itself with its aroma of mild pepper and chocolate; on the palate, it made for a persistent well-rounded finish. Unfortunately, the slow braised lamb seemed to pale in comparison to the wine.

 What’s wonderful about these wines are the prices; the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are available for Rs. 630 and Rs. 675 respectively at Metro, whilst the Reserva Malbec sells for Rs. 1155. The last two, surely wines that I will look out for.   

Kripal Amanna

Luján de Cuyo: A heaven for vine growing

Image - 03From time memorial, those who know about wines have not hesitated to clujan de cuyoall Luján de Cuyo city in Mendoza province as “The First Zone” given the fact that it is located in a privileged spot for high quality wines production.

 There are many reasons that make this region special: an average height of 900 m above sea level; rocky soil of alluvial origin which is not deep; a watering system of crystal water resulting from the Andes melt waters; one of the world’s highest luminosity rates with over 250 sunny days a year; little rains (five or six days in a year); and a mild climate with big temperature differences between day and night.

 All these elements come together to provide excellent fruit ripening and concentration, developing colours, aromas, flavours and textures in an ideal manner, thereby yielding balanced wines of particular characteristics, with deep colours, fruity aromas and intense flavours.

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Five dishes of the fortnight – 25th May 09

khao suey Khao Suey at Yvonne Pinto’s

Hands down the best Khaow Suey I’ve eaten this side of the Irrawaddy. Picture delicate egg noodles sloshed over with generous ladles of flavourful beef curry, and garnish of spring onions, golden-fried garlic, grated hard-boiled egg, chilli flakes, dried shrimp, coriander, crispy noodles and for the final flourish, a twist of lime. If ever there was such a thing as khao suey heaven, Yvonne Pinto has the key.

But of course, you’d have to get past her petulant husband Stanley Pinto first! For those with weak hearts and the desire to live a bit longer, I am told Gina Braganza of Opus (2344 2580) makes a mean khao suey herself.    

 Prawn Risotto at 12th Main, Mercure Homestead Chef Gaurav Shiva

Old patrons of Mynt may remember Gaurav Shiva, the ever-smiling sous chef who left Bangalore to chill out on the beach at Alibaug, Maharashtra in between managing the kitchens as Executive Chef of the Radisson Spa Resort. Well, he is back, this time at the Mercure Homestead, a nifty stylish apartment hotel in the leafy by lanes of Koramangala’s 3rd block.

When here (at 12th Main, the hotel’s all-day-dining restaurant), request for Gaurav to make you the Prawn Risotto. A moist, soft creamy mass of Arborio, intense in flavour and speckled quite liberally with juicy bits of prawn, it’s guaranteed to make you go back for more.

12th Main, 3rd Block, Koramangala, Bangalore 560 034; tel: 4512 1212

 Field Mushroom Crêpes at Toscano

You would literally have to beg Chef Goutham Balasubramanian for this one, for these crepes are just not on the menu. We were fortunate enough to taste this as part of the food-and-wine pairing exercise for the upcoming session of the Food Lovers Club ‘Food and Wine Experience’. Goutham fills up the crêpes with a combination of five types of sautéed mushroom, before serving them up with a cheesy white wine sauce. Beg, grovel, and plead. Do what you have to; these crêpes are worth all that and more.

The Collection – U. B. City, Level II, Concord Block, 24, Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore 560 001; tel: 4173 8800

Sautéed Roast Chicken in Raisin Brandy Sauce at Sunny’s

As consistent as ever, and cooked to a perfect juicy doneness with just the right-sized dollop of potato dauphinoise and bok choi. I think Arjun Sajnani doesn’t employ chefs, but instead has a retinue of robots in his kitchen who go about assembling every plate with military precision!

#34, Vittal Mallya Road, Embassy Diamante, Bangalore 560 001; tel: 4132 9366/ 9391, 2212 0496

 Veddi Errachi at Windsor Pub

Veddi ErrachiDerived from a traditional recipe of cooking game, this is roast beef painstakingly shredded to singular strands, before being tossed crisp (almost) with button onions, garlic, chilli and spices.  

#7, 1st Main, Vasant Nagar, Kodava Samaj Building, Bangalore 560 052; tel: 2225 8847/ 4114 8006

 Kripal Amanna 

25th May 09

 

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Welcome to the Food Lovers, Bangalore blog

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Hi, this is Kripal Amanna, Publisher & Managing Editor, Food Lovers, Bangalore. I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Food Lovers, Bangalore blog.

Every now and then, we will update this blog with thoughts, musings and notes from our many wonderful and varied experiences from restaurant reviews, foodie trails, wine tastings, dinners and more. Basically, all things interesting from a food lovers’ perspective. Rants, reviews, points of views, on every subject from foodie jaunts to modest eateries to detailed notes from opulent wine dinners – expect to find all these here.

Needless to say, this blog will evolve (hopefully for the better), as we better understand this fascinating new medium, and also as we hear from you in response to our many endeavours.

So keep coming back for more. And let us know what you think – of this blog, and of Food Lovers, Bangalore.

Cheers!

Kripal Amanna

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