Monday, November 26, 2018

Relaxing at Dina's Hotel Mahabaleshwar

View of the main building

ahead is the garden, on right is the new block

The new block

garden view

We visited over Diwali 2018 for the first time.  Before this we had always stayed at the Mahabaleshwar Club.

We stayed in the main building -  in a room with 3 beds with a  huge bathroom. We chose a room with air conditioning but didn't need it. The room had a TV and netting on the windows, important to keep creepy crawlies away.

The service was good - old style - you ring a bell in the room and the person assigned to your room arrives to take your order, bring drinking water, ice, glasses etc

The food is outstanding, a multi course meal which is served to you at your table. The 5th generation owners feed you till you're stuffed with a mixture of Western, Indian and Parsee food!

Venna Lake hidden by the trees

View from our sitout

The Lower Level garden 

Support the local people 

To give you an example:

Soup, local bakery bread and butter
Mixed sauteed/boiled veggies and salad
Capsicum stuffed with prawns
Kid gosht
Black Parsee style Masoor dal, rice and roti
Chicken farcha
Caramel custard

For every non vegetarian item they offer a corresponding vegetarian item!!

The owners are very accommodating  of  special requests - i told them about my son's allergies and food was made without ghee or butter

At  tea time  french fries and pakoda's are available, this is an extra. the hotel provides biscuits and you make tea using the kettle in your room.

The sitout outside each room allows guests to enjoy the Venna Lake view and the flowers blooming in the expansive gardens.

There's alot of space for children to play.

The hotel allows a local chappal seller and the local Blind Association to sell their candles on the property

You can get a horse ride organised from the hotel itself.

All of us had a wonderful time - we cant wait to return .

Just right for a recharge!

There are air conditioned and non AC rooms

Those with mobility issues should stay in the main block on the ground floor. Access through the entrance near the office.

Tel: +91 9405254150 

While there ensure you go riding, take a boatride at Venna Lake, eat and buy berries (November through Early April) buy carrots and radishes to bring back! And of course, visit the market and if you dont want to shop much buy local footwear, chana and honey!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

O Pedro, The Blue & Jamjar Diner - Mumbai Gastronomy

This is a blog of the recent places visited and eaten in, in Mumbai!. If you follow my advice you can be sure you’ll eat well! 

O Pedro, BKC

From the good folks behind Bombay Canteen. O Pedro exceeded my expectations which were high. An extensive Goa themed food and drinks menu. The Goan experience starts when one calls to make a reservation…. Made me smile and Oh! So Goan

There’s an extensive menu with limited period additions. There are quarter plates, half plates, full plates and  home made poie baskets, Food presentation is very attractive.

Here’s what we had when we visited on Easter Sunday.

Half plates
Veal tongue – most yum and I’m definitely going to have it next time around
Easter pulao – full of seafood and delicately spiced (from their Easter menu)
Fried mussels – so Goa (from their Easter menu)
We had the sourdough poee basket – served with 4 butters
We had repeats of each item

Rawa fried mussels served on a bed of sand

The Tongue - yum

Easter pulao

All washed down with interesting drinks – the son had a Kiwi Pineapple punch, I had the Caju/Cashew Feni based “Finding Funny” and the husband had Mr Fernandez’s Fancy drink which is based on John Paul Whiskey.

Children under 18 not allowed after 7 pm

Access: Several shallow steps so please check about wheelchair access.

I’m going back soon as I lovelovelove the vibe and overall experience and to try their desserts – the Lisboa Pastel De nata (the egg custard tart) and the Serradura.

The Blue, Bandra, near Khane Khas

A small eatery (no daru) with a tiny AC section. Awesome food! Not sure about reservations. It’s very very popular, and I know why! The food is top quality in taste, freshness and presentation. 

We ordered:

Chicken Gyonza - served with a delish soya chili sauce,
Wasabi prawns - prawns friend with a wasabi mayonnaise drizzle and served in a bed of salad

Glass noodle salad - with prawns added
Crispy chilli pork (belly)
Soft shelled crab salad
Phad Thai with prawn
Green Thai curry with chicken
Red Thai curry with chicken

Wasabi prawns

Chicken Gyonza

Soft shelled crab salad

Glass noodle salad - with prawns added

Phad Thai with prawn

Crispy chilli pork (belly)

The food was excellent! And the service is good. Only challenge is squeezing yourselves around a tiny table, and then making space for the dishes you order on it.

Access: Not for those with wheelchairs or walkers. (no space). 

Tip - Try and go for early dinner or brunch or v v late lunch to snag a table. we went for a very early lunch 

Jamjar diner, Bandra

My 1st visit to this fun place. Lovely happy cheerful colours abound - think pastel pink and ice blue/green.

Lots of board games available – we could see people having fun playing and a jukebox! So great music.

Here’s what we ate: Chicken Quinoa Salad, Black Bean Quesadilla, Char Grilled Chicken Habibi, Spaghetti Aglio Olio and an Apache salad with grilled chicken.

Chicken Quinoa Salad

Black Bean Quesadilla

Spaghetti Aglio Olio

Apache salad with grilled chicken

Earl grey tea served stylishly!

We finished with Earl Grey tea which was served very stylishly!

Drinks were fun due to 2 Zomato_gold members! 

Loved the lively ambiance even on a Tuesday and the attentive service. The food was good! I will return soon with family.

Access: One step and then an elevator to the 1st floor... so those with walking sticks could visit, Check about walkers and wheelchairs.

We then walked to La Folie Lab for dessert, try their Paris Brest ... yum

Final word of advice - Do NOT eat in Benedict Bistro - they got the order wrong and one persons food was COLD and the other items were only ok! AVOID

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Unwind in Luxury in Ubud, at The Chedi Club, Tanah Gajah, Bali

This is the 2nd of a 3 part blog on our recent visit to Bali. Read below the 1st one about our stay at Space at Bali at Seminyak. Coming next is the handpicked list of what to do in Bali!

Entrance - The walk to Reception

The Ganeshas 

The venue for the twice weekly Kecak fire dance 

Though most of our time in Bali was spent beach side, we visited gorgeous Ubud and experienced The Chedi Club, Tanah Gajah. This gorgeous GHM hotels and resorts property is nestled amidst the green paddy fields and consists of 20 villas on a 5 hectare property, which was once the private hideaway of an Indonesian art collector.

The 1 bedroom pool villa is gorgeous with a lot of space – though the interiors are super comfortable and luxurious the days are best spent lazing by or in your private infinity pool overlooking green rice fields. There are several room sizes and the entire property can be booked for an occasion.

Throughout the property are artworks, enriching the surroundings with local culture and history. Such beautiful ancient Ganeshas..  

The foodie in me enjoyed the fantastic meal we ate in The Restaurant. Surrounded by paddy fields and french windows making you feel as if you are outdoors! On offer is an eclectic menu, the son opted for the Wagyu steak while the husband and I opted for the traditional Indonesian Rijsttafel (rice table). It was mind blowing - the presentation and the flavours – just delicious!

We ended the meal with an amazing local coffee – the Tanah Gajah coffee which includes the local arak. Yum! Not only were the drinks, food and service superlative, we learnt that the herbs (in our cocktails and mocktails) as well as the rice served are grown on the property itself!

The traditional roofed building is The Restuarant

Mocktails and cocktails with herbs from the garden

Soup to start the Rijsttafel

The Amazing Indonesian Rijstaffel

The Wagyu 

Vegan coconut icecream for the boy who cant eat dairy

My Tanah Gajah coffee laced with local brew arak

Check out the sugar coated stirrer 

Local Indonesian sweets to end our meal 

Many guests opt to eat in the villa and can request Chef to make something special for them. One can  book  dinner a deux, among the rice fields!

Breakfast is included, along with afternoon tea, sundowners and complementary mini bar which includes large helpings of spirits among other goodies!

One can indulge doing nothing, enjoy spa sessions, yoga, watch the sunset or just walk through the property!

No wonder most guests stay for 3 days upwards and many for a couple of weeks!

GHM Hotels and Resorts will soon open its doors in Mumbai and bring its thoughtful and intuitive brand of luxury to India after Andermatt, Switzerland, Muscat and Lustica Bay, Montenegro. It will offer breath-taking views over serene Powai Lake and seven exceptional and innovative dining options!

I can’t wait to experience The Chedi Mumbai and I’m definitely returning for a longer visit to The Chedi Club, Tanah Gajah at Ubud Bali.

An intricately carved door handle 

The pool

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Space at Bali - Enjoy Bali in style

This is the 1st of a 3 part series on our recent visit to Bali. Next is Ubud followed by our activities that is beaches and restaurants/cafes and beach clubs to visit.

Our 2 bedroomed villa

Space at Bali – Our luxurious villa stay at Seminyak

Located in the heart of buzzy, beautiful Seminyak, in a quiet bylane, a mere 10 minutes walk from the beach, shops and cafes is Space at Bali. A friend’s recommendation led us to book and enjoy a superlative stay at this luxury  villa property.
Three of us were in a 2 bedroomed villa and our Jakarta based cousins in the one bedroom villa opposite. it is so glorious that we didn’t feel like going out at all, but you have to…

Each villa property has a pool set in a beautiful tropical garden with sun beds, a cabana with a thatched roof with a large daybed and fan to keep you cool! The walls around the villa give you privacy, and entry is through a Balinese wooden carved foor. Our butler Bagus, ensured our every wish was his command! We never had to lift a finger! When he found me making coffee in the coffee machine he said – why didn’t you call me....

Spacious comfortable bedroom 

The bedroom ceiling 

The twin vanity bath/shower area

The living area is open to the pool and garden while the bedrooms have sliding doors. The bedrooms are spacious with high ceilings and provide air conditioned comfort with TVs, a day bed, desk etc and lots of lights – great for my late night reading! There’s a walk -through dressing room and a spacious luxe indoor outdoor bathroom section at the rear of the villa.
And the food! We booked a package inclusive of breakfast and what a breakfast it was – the usual suspects and lots more including smoked salmon! Freshly prepared in our kitchen and served when we want to eat. (I could really get used to this).
We ordered room service (or should I say villa service) from their extensive menu which included Indian cuisine. You can request a private poolside BBQ (seafood) or a romantic dinner on your own poolside deck!
Thoughtful touches abound – the cane bag in your dressing room includes 2 lovely sarongs! We used them when we spent the day at Potato Head Beach Club. Hand sanitiser and mosquito repellent spray are provided.
There’s lots of complimentary mineral water, and a fully stocked fridge (instead of a tiny mini bar).
Space at Bali consists of 10 pool villas from one bedroom, two bedroom to three bedroom. Ideal for a family or a group of friends holidaying together.
Strongly recommended. I’m going back and spending more time lazing at the villa as soon as I can. Garuda now has a Mumbai Bali direct flight. You can also go via Singapore or KL.
Check out the website: says its excellent and rates it 9.5

Thats' the husband swimming in our pool

The pool and garden at night

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Our recent visit to Alibaug

The Entrance
The tree lined driveway
The Lovely pool

View of the dining and partial view of the sitting area

Yummy lunch 

Sitout outside our room 

Indulgent pizza breakfast 

The 1st stop was at Ccaza Commodore at Mhatrephata. I’d heard so much about this gorgeous private villa property and was really pleased we were going to be staying there.
On weekdays, you can book a room, on weekends you have to book the whole property.
We visiting on a weekday and had one of the downstairs bedrooms which opens onto the big verandah which leads to the large garden with many trees.
There’s also a lovely pool where we swam.
Outstanding food – a large menu comprising Western and Indian.. all yum including the most amazing thin crust pizza.
Service was great    
Room was large and comfy, with AC and TV and a spacious loo!
Pricing is luxe in keeping with the property
Strongly recommended  - go with a group and get pampered to bits!
Check it out here

Air Bnb hosted by Sanjyot - The wooden chalet where we stayed 
Garden view from our Air BnB room & sitout

The yummy fish thali

Air bnb at Varsoli Beach Alibaug
Found this little gem on Air bnb - A wooden chalet consisting of a compact bedroom with bathroom and open sitout overlooking the green lawn and palm trees. We stayed here too!
A dining hall (restaurant)  on the premises had a basic but very satisfying menu (veg thali, egg thali, chicken thali and what we had, fish thali) served fresh, home style tasty food. We told them what we wanted for lunch and dinner a couple of hours in advance and were very satisfied with the meals.
Breakfast was a la carte – we had omelette and aloo paratha.
The bedroom, though fairly compact, had AC, TV and good lighting for bedtime reading.
The husband got to watch the IPL matches.
The property has generator back up.
We had our evening tea, cocktails and morning tea in the sitout enjoying the breeze and the greenery.
The staff were service oriented.
The location is wonderful – a short walk away from the broad and clean Varsoli beach, where we had our evening walk.
Strongly recommended – it’s a good value stay with good food and an excellent location
Check out this place – as there are several cottages in the compound you can plan a visit with family and friends. The Air bnb is hosted by Sanjyot and you can find it here 

The lovely Varsoli beach whic is walking distance.