Cantonese Cuisine: At Home

Gavin struts his stuff

I enjoy “Indian Chinese” food. I even enjoy “American Chinese” food. That said, I have often wondered what the good people of China think of perversions like “Gobi Manchurian” and “General Tso’s Chicken”. A random tweet, from Gautam John of Pratham Books, bemoaning the lack of authentic Chinese food in Bangalore, sparked an idea.

Gavin Mak, who belongs to one of Bangalore’s oldest ethnic Chinese families, has been catering at our home for years. While Mak Hospitality, his catering company, dishes out some very good Indian, kinda-European, and desi-Chinese cuisine, Gavin  never serves authentic Chinese food, because he believes that “no one will eat or appreciate it”. I made a deal with Gavin: If I could find 10 people who would enjoy the “bland” flavors of true Cantonese cuisine, he would have to come and cook it himself.

Keep reading…

Goodbye Haroon!

Haroon Sait passed away last week. If you’ve ever had anything to do with food scene in Bangalore, you know who I’m talking about, and why it matters to me. If not – this is the man who established The Only Place in the 1960s, and gave this city steak, burgers, pasta, and pie when they were unheard of here. It was, truly, The Only Place you could get ’em. Keep reading…

Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

If you’ve watched ‘No Reservations’, the television travel show hosted by Anthony Bourdain, you probably think of him as a chilled-out and somewhat zany seeker of gastronomic pleasures, willing to try anything once, and prepared to go to any lengths to try it.

What you probably don’t know (I certainly didn’t!) is that he is also a CIA-trained chef (not that CIA, dummy, the Culinary Institute of America) and a kickass writer. Kitchen Confidential is a no-holds-barred memoir of Bourdain’s journey from oyster-struck young boy to his ultimate goal: Chefhood. Keep reading…

Thinking About bon South

As I battle my way through traffic on Koramangala’s own 80 Foot Road-to-hell each day, I’ve been eyeing bon South, Venkatesh Bhat’s new restaurant. When I interviewed him for a magazine article last year, he had mentioned his plans to open a non-vegetarian avtaar of South Indies, his maiden standalone restaurant venture in Bangalore – and one that I, as a consummate meat-eater, don’t visit too often.

Venkatesh impressed me as a down-to-earth man who (unlike so many others in this city’s flashy hospitality industry) isn’t running away from his roots as if practicing to be the next Usain Bolt. He’s doesn’t seem to need the facade of hi-tech gizmos, designer labels, page three parties, and a fancy car to tell you he’s arrived where he wants to be. My kinda guy. I’m going to check out Bon South just as soon as I can.

Farewell Ferdy!

As 2007 came to a close, the hospitality world lost a fine denizen: Chef Fernando da Costa, one of Goa’s best-known chefs, passed away on 6 December, leaving behind an invaluable cultural and culinary legacy.

‘Ferdy’, a professionally trained executive chef, studied at Christ College, Bangalore, when only the ‘bad boys’ went there. He was a talented musician, mastering percussion as easily as he unlocked the secrets of the kitchen. His grin seemed to say “life’s cool, man!” and he had a wicked, tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. More than anything else, however, Ferdy was defined by his fiery passion for all things Goan.

Giving up an international career to open Fernando’s Nostalgia in Raia, Goa, Ferdy dedicated his time to keeping traditional Goan culture alive through food, art, and music. The restaurant itself is an extension of his ancestral home, flowing naturally from living space to dining area. An eclectic array of hand-picked, lovingly rescued garrafaos, jars, bottles, musical instruments, and traditional furniture speaks volumes for his determination to prevent the “old ways” from dying out. Mario Miranda and his son have painted a mural on one wall in tribute to Ferdy’s dedication, and his love for art is further evidenced by the menus, each painstakingly hand-painted on a plate.

Ferdy truly cared about preserving the Goan culinary tradition. Although Nostalgia’s menu features carefully retrieved and revived traditional recipes rarely found in Goan restaurants today (including ox tongue, feijoada, and bolo sansrival), Ferdy went a step further, establishing St. Sebastian’s Culinary School. His goal: to educate young boys of the surrounding area, provide them with a vocation and training, and help them cash in on Goa’s remunerative tourism trade while ensuring that otherwise-dying recipes were not lost forever.

Ferdy’s wife, Margarida De Noronha Távora e Costa, has decided to keep his dream alive. Although she feels unable to continue to run St. Sebastian’s, Fernando’s Nostalgia will continue to dish out old favourites and encourage Goan musicians and artists to showcase their talents. As of now, the stage seems to wait in silence for Ferdy to stride up and set up his drum kit.

We miss you, Ferdy. Wherever you are, we know people will be laughing and well-fed.

Fernando’s Nostalgia
608, No Bairro Ozro, Raia, Salcete, Goa
Phone: 91 0832 2777054 / 91 0832 2777054