Book of the Month : At Large and at small

If you do know this book, you must be thinking this is a very very curious choice for a book review for a food blog to feature. But then again, if you have read it you’ll also guess why quite easily. This collection of familiar essays by Anne Fadiman has two of the most passionate and well written prose about food; ice creams and coffee in particular! 🙂

Anne Fadiman

Essay writing has been, for the most parts, seen as the pain in the posterior  piece of writing that we all had to endure in school. It was only on introduction to Fadiman that we realised that it can be as polished as poetry, as complete  and whole as a novel and as delightful as a short story. Familiar essays are an even rarer form of prose and Fadiman has fine tuned it to a whole new level.  The tone is always personal, one to one making the reader feel like we are sharing an intimate conversation with a close friend; one whom we had lost touch and now getting back into the groove with. The language she uses has a surgical precision with which it evokes the images, yet the images are far from clinical; because the thoughts range from the intellectual to the whimsical. It’s the equivalent of a multi-flavored ice candy ( or as the Harry Potter fans in our team like to point out, like a pack of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean, but without the barf one! 😛 )

And her range of topics is eclectic to say the least. From  butterflies to penchant for

Who's not addicted to the pursuit of happiness! 🙂

fatalistic Arctic explorers to , like I’ve said, Ice creams and her obsession with Coffee. When you read the dedication itself  ( For Kim – Collector of Tiger Swallowtails, Emperor of Ice Cream), you know you are going to be reading someone who relates to food on a personal level. And when you read the essay on Ice cream, is when you realise how much.  In her own words, ” As far as I was concerned, a vote against Jef-Freeze Treats was a vote against ice cream and a vote against ice cream was a vote against the pursuit of happiness” , and we could not agree more!  But her essay is more than her personal viewpoint or stand for ice cream. It is also a meticulously researched article on the history of ice creams served with dollops of humor. You know you are reading a rare talent when you learn as much as you enjoy reading it.

The same can be said of her essay titled with startling simplicity ‘Coffee’. We love her ramblings through the by-lanes of literature to find the coffee addicts and her musings on which piece of literature could have been the results of a much caffeinated muse! 🙂

Delicious essays! 🙂

But what makes this book truly deserving of Zoinker’s ‘Book of the Month’ is the recipe for Kim Fadiman’s Coffee Kahlua Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream! (which also reveals why the title given at dedication is well deserved!) 🙂 Yes, you read that right, it is Liquid Nitrogen. For all food lovers who love to experiment with food, this is a recipe which takes it a notch up and blends the art of cookery and science of chemistry! No, we are not sharing the recipe. It’s for you to read Fadiman and find out! Trust us when we say this, you’d be surely in for a treat when you do! 🙂

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A slice of Italy! :)

Mmm, pizzas. That piece of bread smeared with sauce, veggies, meat and oodles of cheese that make our office days so much better (we know you agree)! And these delicious treats are just 30 minutes away that make this an office habit come way too easy (we prefer the freshly baked wood-fire-oven-ones actually, but we don’t even let greasy boxes come in our way of our appetite)! 😀

Pizza is Greek in origin. The Ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. In Byzantine Greek, the word was spelled πίτα or pita, meaning pie. The word has now spread to Turkish as pide, and Bulgarian, Croatian and Serbian as pita, Albanian as pite and Modern Hebrew pittāh. The Romans developed placenta, a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. In 1889, cheese was added.

The bottom of the pizza, called the ‘crust’, may vary widely according to style—thin as in a typical hand-tossed pizza or Roman pizza, or thick as in a typical pan pizza or Chicago-style pizza. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with garlic, or herbs, or stuffed with cheese.

Be it an office lunch, a night out with friends or a party at home, a big food comforter for us has been that unforgettable pizza. And here are our top 5 places in the city that get it right for us:

1. Huckleberry:

Nestled in a small corner near Toit in Indiranagar, this little restaurant is the perfect pizzeria haven. One of the few places in Bangalore using a wood fire oven, Huckleberry uses fresh ingredients which makes their pizzas stand out in taste and quality. Try their Lamb and Caramelized Onion pizza and the Jalapeno and Sweet Corn pizza. It’s simply delicious!

2. Little Italy:

This is one of our favourite Italian restaurants that never disappoints us. While they are purely vegetarian, their freshly made thin crust pizzas are really to die for. Our favourites here are Pizza ala Vodka (Mozzarella, Parmesan, jalapeno, red pepper, capers, pineapple and a dash of vodka) and the incredibly sinful four cheese pizza, Calabrese (Mozzarella, Gouda, Cheddar, Miraj cheese and olives). Orgasmic.

3. Pizzeria Romano:

One of the first through and through city-based pizzerias in Bangalore, Pizzeria Romano is a crowd favourite. A restaurant theme befitting that of Hollywood and rock ‘n’ roll, the pizzas rolled out are 100% Italian and spiced up to your liking. We suggest the Roadies Pizza (crushed garlic, Kalamata olives, marinated mushroom and Mozzarella) and the super indulgent Buffalo Soldier (grilled chicken in spicy Buffalo wing sauce, diced tomatoes, onion, Cheddar and Mozzarella).

4. Toit:

A great pub in Bangalore serving up some equally great food, this place is not famed too much for their pizzas, but we really like them. Something about the ambience, the great booze, the crowd and the music that makes those thin crust pizzas a whole lot tastier and crunchier. We are big fans of the Seafood Pizza (loaded up with all of the freshest seafood) and the Mexican Beef & Jalapeno Pizza (the flavours make it more exotic and tasty).

5. Domino’s Pizza:

Yeah, don’t kill us. While we like all of those amazingly exotic woodfire thin crust pizzas, we need our shot of greasy pizzas off cardboard boxes from time-to-time as well. And, Domino’s is really one of the best among the chains. We love the Mexican  Green Wave pizza (onion, capsicum,  tomato jalapeno and Mexican herbs) and Chicken Golden Delight pizza (golden corn, double BBQ chicken and extra cheese) loaded with the Cheese Burst. One bite and all of that cheesy goodness takes you to heaven. Guaranteed.

If you’d like to sample a variety of pizzas, without having the whole pie, try Vetos in Koramangala. You pay per slice and the slices are huge, mind you. But you can easily try a few and figure out your favourites 🙂

And those are our top 5 pizzerias for us in Bangalore. Do you agree? We’d love to hear your favourite hotspots in the city! 🙂

Tall tales about tall glasses!

One of the things we have always wondered about is, who the hell came up with all the cocktail names?! I mean who was the genius who wanted to ask the bartender/waiter for ‘Sex on the beach’ or *blush* an ‘Orgasm’?! Well, we have some of the answers and for others we traveled the web long and wide to find. But in almost all cases there are conflicts and controversies about who actually invented them. We’re not entirely surprised since after a drunk night with any of these drinks we barely remember our names, leave alone the bartender’s! 😛

Anyways, without further ado, here are the tall tales about the tall glasses we love!

Cheers to Churchill! 🙂

Manhattan : No, it’s definitely not after the city though the origins are not very far from it. The most popular story out there it was Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie who was the one who formally introduced this drink to the world. It was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall for a party that Jennie threw for the presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. It was hosted at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s and the drink was named, no prizes for guessing, after the club.  This is the pop version of the origin but unfortunately there are too many inconsistencies. For one, there are references to the drink which go further back and two, Lady Randolph Churchill was away in France and pregnant at the time. The only other note is that it might have been invented in the 1860s by a bartender named Black at a bar on Broadway. But we fondly like to think that the woman who gave Britain her war-time hero is also the woman who would have understood the need for the drink, ergo credit – Mrs.Churchill!

Cheryl's Cosmo!

Cosmopolitan: The absolute favorite of the ‘Sex and the City’ fans and most women out there, it only deems fit it was invented by a woman! Cheryl Cook ( Is it just us or is that the perfect name for the inventor of the Cosmo!) created the drink in about 1985 in South Beach,Florida ( Again, is it not too perfect?!). According to her she created the drink, quote-

What overwhelmed me was the number of people who ordered Martinis just to be seen with a Martini glass in their hand. It was on this realization that gave me the idea to create a drink that everyone could palate and was visually stunning in that classic glass. This is what the Cosmo was based on.

Her original recipes called for “Absolut Citron, a splash of Triple Sec, a drop of Roses lime and just enough cranberry to make it oh so pretty in pink.” Yep, that sounds so SATC! 😀

Bloody Mary : Our first guess was it might have been inspiration from Mary Antoinette but we were sorely wrong! Instead it was named after a Mary who worked at Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago. The credit of this nifty, healthy alcohol seems to go to Fernand “Pete” Petiot working at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris during the 1920s.

For the healthy drunk! 😛

So, the story goes, it was pure luck, not strategic planning, when Petiot combined tomato juice and vodka. It’s supposed to have been initially christened Red Snapper but somehow it dint catch on. So one of the boys suggested it be called Bloody Mary “because it reminded me of the Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago, and a girl there named Mary.”

The first recipe as you can see has only tomato juice and Vodka. The Tabasco Sauce was later added when some patrons asked for a little more spiciness to otherwise bland drink.

Anyways, we think there’s something sweet, and a bit morbid, about naming it after the girl from the ‘Bucket of Blood’ bar! What say?! 🙂

Sex on the beach :  Well there are two versions for the naming. The urban myth has it that it was named after the famous William Kennedy Smith rape trial. It supposedly was invented by bartenders in Miami Beach, Florida during the (first) trial back in 1991. The story goes Smith went for a walk with the girl after getting her drunk and then raped her at the beach.

Hopefully with a sexy bartender! 😉

While this version is very popular thankfully there are too many contradictions to the story, mainly that the drink was already quite popular much before the trial. Phew! We would not want to think that the kindly bartender who plays agony aunt to our sorrows would be so heartless.

Instead the story which we love is the one where the young bartender named Ted Pizio invented it for the during the contest for selling the most peach schnapps. His combination of peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and grenadine was the most popular drink. When asked what it was named, he  explained that the reason people came to Ft. Lauderdale for spring break was: The Beach and Sex – ergo , Sex on the Beach.

As for the reason why there are so many variations, the story is that the drink gained fame that spring, thousands of college students returned to their areas of the country and asked their local bartenders for Sex on the Beach. Since they had no idea what the real drink was they made up their own recipes.

Long Island Iced Tea : No, it’s not named after the New York Long Island.

The perfect Sunday noon drink!

Instead it’s supposed to be named after Long Island in Kingsport Tennessee. The inventor is credited as Old Man Bishop who passed the recipe on to his son Ransom who perfected the drink.

It supposed to have been invented in 1920’s during the period of Prohibition when alcohol consumption was illegal. It was not uncommon to disguise cocktails as harmless drinks, and with the mix of Rum, Vodka, Whiskey, Gin and  Tequila it would have given enough punch even to the most hard boiled gangster which would explain it’s popularity.

Of course, there are competing claims.The generally accepted theory is the story about a bartender, either Chris Bendicksen or Robert Butt who invented the cocktail at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island, New York. But we like to think it’s Old Man Bishop’s sneaky idea because it’s just so much cooler 😛

Well, that some of the stories about our favorite drinks. We know we have missed out a few, but don’t worry, we’ll be back with more! 🙂


For the Lust of Food!

Sexy food? Edible delights in the bedroom? Little treats in your meal that would make you want your lover jump right into bed with you? (yeah, we know hot underwear would work too). Yes, we’re talking about aphrodisiacs – the wonder foods that boost your sexual desire, and make your after dinner party a little more, er, eventful. 😉

The name Aphrodisiac comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sexuality and love. Throughout history, many foods, drinks, and behaviours have had a reputation for making sex more attainable and/or pleasurable. However, from a historical and scientific standpoint, the alleged results may have been mainly due to mere belief by their users that they would be effective (i.e., the placebo effect). In particular, Western medical science has no substantiated claims that any particular food increases sexual desire or performance.

So we were snooping around (and experimented on our own love hamsters) for some delicious aphrodisiac foods that could be innocently used in your meals to ignite all senses in your partner. Here are top 5 aphrodisiacs that are a MUST.

5. Bananas: 

Well, we don’t mean to be dirty, (or maybe we do), but by the mere shape of the banana, its connection with sexuality is quite obvious. Also find that bananas are loaded with potassium, magnesium and B vitamins. It also contains chelating minerals and the bromeliad enzyme, said to enhance the male libido. No splitting after that banana split then, eh? 🙂

4. Figs:

This sexy fruit has long been thought of as an arousing stimulant and an open fig is believed to emulate the female sex organs. Figs are steeped in history and are one of the oldest recorded fruits. They are reported to be Cleopatra’s favorite fruit and the ancient Greeks held them as sacred and associated them with love and fertility. Pop in plenty of these figs with ricotta cheese, walnuts, lettuce and few tablespoons of honey Balsamic  vinaigrette to serve up an unforgettable salad (and possibly an unforgettable night) to your lover. 😉

3. Chocolate: 

Pure chocolate, the king of natural aphrodisiacs, contains a host of compounds including anandamide, the psyochoactive feel-good chemical, and PEA (phenylethylamine), the ‘love chemical’ which releases dopamine in the pleasure-centres of the brain and peaks during orgasm (this is our subtle way of highlighting the last word of that previous sentence). PEA is said to help induce feelings of excitement, attraction, and euphoria. Go on. Bake that chocolate cake and lick the batter right off each other’s fingers! You could find an easy fudge recipe here.

2. Oysters:

Oysters are probably the food most associated with being an aphrodisiac, and most people are aware of their reputation for increasing sexual desire. Oysters may be thought an aphrodisiac because of their high zinc content, which helps produce sperm and increases libido and also for their shape (stemming from sympathetic magic). Raw oysters are best served with a glass of chilled Champagne for a truly romantic meal. Nibble away!

1. Honey: 

Yes, this is the biggest surprise and  the winner of them all. Honey. The only edible that hasn’t spoled for thousands of years (and possibly contributing to keep this population number high). Sweet, sticky honey is a great source of boron, a trace mineral that helps the body use and metabolize estrogen, the female sex hormone. Studies have shown that this mineral may also enhance testosterone levels in the blood, the hormone responsible for promoting sex drive and orgasm in both men and women. So what’s it gonna be tonight? Honey chicken wings? Honey mustard dressed salads? Or just drizzle some honey over chocolates and bananas and see what pans out! 😀

And those are our top 5 aphrodisiacs that have certainly worked. Do share what works with you. And if you find none of them having any effect, a bottle of tequila and a lemon should do the trick, if you know what we mean! 😉

Ginger for a ‘Ale and Hearty Summer! :)

Cold glass of Ginger beer!

Summer’s slowly making itself felt and accompanying the summer heat, is summer nostalgia. It is the time of the year we start wishing (more than usual!) we were back to being kids and had three longggg months to fill with things to our hearts’ content! It’s also the time when we start reminiscing about childhood treats we have had. And nothing like a tall, cool glass filled with ice and ginger beer to get you started.

Ginger beer goes back a long way into childhood for all the people who have ever grown up on Enid Blyton.  All the perfect picnics that was ever packed by either Aunt Fanny or perhaps by Mrs.Hilton, Pip’s mom were incomplete till they found the bottle/s of ginger beer. Nothing was ever as perfect as a glass of ginger beer to quench either a disappointing hot day without clues or to celebrate the end of a mystery. There was something about a ginger beer that made it seem so ‘Grown Up’.. most likely the word ‘beer’ 🙂

So a sip of Ginger Ale/Beer was a childhood dream. It was as English as ham and bacon sandwiches ( remember that we are talking about early 90’s in India ) and seemingly impossible to get your hand on unless you traveled all the way to the seaside village of Kirrin.

Ginger is a tricky little spice. It’s an unassuming little fella who packs a power punch when it comes to the ways and benefits of it’s uses. Apart from being a prominent ingredient in Indian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese cooking, it’s also been a major power player in traditional medicines from all these cultures. Why? We did some research and found out that it can be used to cure stomach aches/upsets, to reduce pain of osteoarthritis, and may even be used in heart disease or cancer. Check out this site to see the amazing things this spice can do for your health!
Other Ginger trivia – Did you know that original word root of this spice roots actually owes itself to Tamil ‘Inji Ver’? Ginger is native to Asia where it has been used as a cooking spice for at least 4,400 years. Now that’s what we here at Zoink call ‘Old Spice’! 😛

And another thing we love about ginger is how versatile it is. It can be powered, pickled, boiled,sliced,diced, candied and best of all, made into Ginger Beer! There are so many versions out there but this one is our absolute favorite coz it’s the quickest one to make! Makes about 4 serving! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peeled, thinly sliced ginger
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups club soda
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
In a covered saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the ginger pieces and sugar and cover. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and allow it to sit for 20 minutes.  Strain the mixture and set aside the liquid. Once it has reached room temperature, cool it in the fridge. Although you don’t need the ginger pieces any more, you can keep them to make crystallized ginger.

Mix the ginger sugar water with two cups of cold club soda. Add the lime juice. Stir and serve.  So here’s your recipe for making your own home made ginger beer 🙂

Well, all that remains is for you is to kick off your shoes and sit back with a tall glass filled with ice and ginger beer and continue reminiscing about your childhood summers! 😀

Oh, Pancakes!

Pancakes are one of our breakfast foods at Zoink! (well, there are plenty in that list). We love those thick, fluffy pancakes drizzled with plenty of maple syrup that simply makes the pancake melt in your mouth! Mmmmm. Fkgkgkhl. Sorry. Drool on the keyboard. Had to clean. Ah, yes. As we were saying. Pancakes.

Today is February 27, and the Pancake Week has officially come to an end today. Just for you to pancake lovers (and our team), we decided to dedicate this post to the pure awesomeness of pancakes. Yeah, we know. You’ve been waiting for one too.

Extra Maple Syprup for us, please!

So what is a pancake? (lame question, we know; but we wanted the technical answer). A pancake is a thin, flat, round cake prepared from a batter, and cooked on a hot griddle or frying pan. Most pancakes are quick breads; some use a yeast-raised or fermented batter. Most pancakes are cooked one side on a griddle and flipped partway through to cook the other side. Depending on the region, pancakes may be served at any time, with a variety of toppings or fillings including jam, chocolate chips, fruit, syrup or meat. And we just prefer plenty of whipped cream and maple syrup, thank you very much.

The pancake’s shape and structure varies worldwide. There are numerous variations of them throughout Europe. In Germany, pancakes can be made from potatoes. A crêpe is a Breton variety of thin pancake cooked on one or both sides in a special crepe pan to achieve a network of fine bubbles often compared to lace – a savory variety made from buckwheat is usually known as a galette.

So that’s enough history. Pancakes still remain our favourite. And it was (and still is) a luxury to many of us, considering the effort that goes into it. Mums prefer offering pancakes to their kids only when they aim to reward them or when it’s their birthday. Sigh. We tried our hand in the kitchen – flipped the pancakes right outside the pan. Double sigh.

Well, we stumbled upon this video on how to make those sinful pancakes. The painful flipping part is skipped here and they show how easy it is to just toss it the other side when it is evenly browned. That’s the trick apparently. So while we’re off to try this, we suggest you too, and let us know how it goes.

Happy Cooking! 🙂

Our Love Affair at Huckleberry! :)

So we decided to head to Huckleberry for Valentine’s Day finally. And boy are we glad we did. The food was simply out of this world! Just a few shots of the gorgeous food at the restaurant – hope you enjoy it! 🙂

The exclusive menu for Valentine's Day

We caught them red-handed making our pizzas!

Wine, Hearts and Corners 😛

Basil Chicken with Garlic Butter to start off our meal

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza - can you see that beautiful egg right in the middle?

Here is a shot for you to get a better look at that glorious egg. And that bacon!

Spinach, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Oh, who says spinach is not tasty? Top it on a pizza!

And Beef Tenderloin for the mains please!

Droolworthy enough?

Almond Crusted Sea Bass - best dish of the night!

"Eat me!" 😛

Strawberry and Cream Pudding

The simply orgasmic Cinnamon Pudding!

Pics Courtesy:

Amith Krishnan

Zoink! Foodographer